The Labor Party has committed $75 million to upgrade Launceston’s water infrastructure, if elected.

Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek, MP Helen Polley and Tasmanian Labor candidate for Bass Ross Hart announced the funding commitment.

Over the next ten years TasWater needs to invest $1.8 billion to upgrade Tasmania’s water infrastructure to meet modern day standards.

Labor’s investment will be used to deliver a modern standard tertiary treatment plant to service the whole of Launceston.

The funding aims to put an end to the release of raw sewage into the Upper Tamar Estuary, contributing to unsafe and unsanitary water quality. This will mean cleaner water for Launceston and a safer water quality for the Tamar River.

In a statement, Ms Plibersek, Ms Polley and Mr Hart said that over the last three years, infrastructure has not been able to keep pace with the growing Launceston community and has fallen further into disrepair.

Only 33 per cent of wastewater plants met their environmental license in 2015, and there are 23 towns where residents are not able to drink the water directly from their taps.

Local government owners of TasWater have agreed to contribute $400 million over ten years if the State and Federal Governments also invest.

Ms Plibersek said that the State Liberal Government now needs to commit.

“The Federal and State Liberal Governments’ failure to act is putting our environment and the safety of Tasmanian communities at risk,” Ms Plibersek said.

“I’m calling on the State Liberal Government to match Labor’s commitment so TasWater can start to deliver this critical investment now.”

Senator Polley said Labor was serious about this infrastructure project and would work with TasWater, local councils and the State Government to ensure it is delivered.

“Not only will this investment deliver modern water infrastructure for the next 50 years it will deliver thousands of direct jobs in the engineering and construction phases,” Ms Polley said.

Mr Hart also highlighted the role of local community advocacy in securing the announcement.

“Over the last 12 months Labor’s Tasmania Taskforce has engaged with local communities in a frank conversation about how best to get Tasmania moving again,” Mr Hart said.  

“Tasmanians have raised this issue as one of the key factors to growing the economy and providing additional jobs and prosperity.”

The project has been independently assessed as a priority by Infrastructure Australia on the basis that it benefits the economy and society as a whole.

This funding is contingent on the finalisation of project business cases and the matched funding from the State Government.

Lauren Cella

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