Near record 81 per cent increase in construction forecast Wed 4 July 2012 Lara Giddings Premier The pipeline of investment in the Tasmanian engineering and construction sector is one of the strongest on record, according to ABS data released today. The Premier, Lara Giddings, said forecast investment in the engineering and construction sector was $758 million in March, which represents a massive increase of 81 per cent for the quarter. "This is a strong sign that conditions in the Tasmanian economy are improving and it should provide a confidence boost to the construction sector, which we know has been flat in recent times," Ms Giddings said. Ms Giddings said much of the around $435 million of the planned spending was in the electricity sector, reflecting the importance of major projects like Hydro Tasmania's Musselroe wind farm. "The Musselroe project is providing a real boost to the North East region, providing 200 jobs during the 18 month construction period and supporting around 30 local companies. "The Government is also helping to stimulate the construction sector through our investment in major irrigation infrastructure around the state." Other major projects currently underway or soon to commence include: - The Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies; - The Menzies Research Institute; - The Myer Redevelopment; - The $35 million renovation of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery; - The transformation of Macquarie Wharf 2 into an Antarctic research and cruise ship terminal; - $50 million to remediate the Macquarie Point rail yards to prepare the massive site for commercial development; - The accompanying construction of a new Brooke St Pier ferry terminal;- Confirmation this week of Bunnings' plans to build a second store in Launceston. Ms Giddings also acknowledged a fall in retail spending in May of 0.2 per cent in trend terms. "There is no denying that this is a disappointing result and it highlights the need to boost consumer confidence," Ms Giddings said. "The forecast increase in construction activity is a sign of strength in our economy but that confidence has not yet filtered down to households, despite welcome interest rate cuts in recent times. "That is why it is so important that business leaders and politicians from all sides work together to build confidence. "Unfortunately, the constant negativity of the Liberal Opposition is doing nothing to support our retailers or the broader business sector."