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Turnbull committed to Tasmania

AAP logoAAP 29/09/2016 Andrew Drummond

Malcolm Turnbull's first visit to Tasmania since the federal election has included a vow to turn around the lacklustre economy of the state's north where voters rejected his party at the polls.

During Thursday's tour of Launceston the Liberal leader spruiked his fulfilment of two election promises: $150 million toward an expansion of the University of Tasmania's northern campus, plus $7.5 million for local government to give the city a makeover.

"The key to the prosperity of Tasmania is innovation, education, investment and the jobs that come from that," Mr Turnbull said.

"We know that education attainment in Tasmania is less than it should be, we know wages are lower on average than they should be and the key to addressing that is ... to ensure we're investing in education and in the cities that will bring that education into the heart of the city and drive that growth."

Internal critics blamed the coalition's superannuation policy plus a Medicare scare campaign for a backlash against three Liberal MPs who lost their seats across the north of the island state in June.

The removal of Andrew Nikolic, Brett Whiteley and Eric Hutchinson, all replaced by fresh Labor faces, means the opposition holds four of the state's five seats, plus independent Andrew Wilkie.

Entering the ALP stronghold on Thursday, Mr Turnbull was keen to focus on the positives.

"Right across the board we are backing in the promises we made at the election, we're delivering on an exciting future for Tasmania," he said.

Now bereft of lower house representation in Canberra, Tasmania's Liberal senate team are left to fly the flag, with the most senior player, Abbott government minister Eric Abetz, missing from Thursday's list of attendees.

While Senator David Bushby and newcomer Jonathon Duniam were present to greet the prime minister, Senator Abetz later issued a statement acknowledging the visit.

"I'm pleased that the prime minister has taken the time to personally come to Tasmania ... which shows just how seriously the government takes our state and the effectiveness of the Tasmanian Liberal senate team in ensuring our election commitments are delivered," he said.

Work on the university expansion is still at a consultation stage with vice-chancellor Peter Rathjen noting that all necessary planning permits should be lodged by mid-2017.

"The cheque will depend on the timetable ... it will be delivered over time," Mr Turnbull said of the money.

The $7.5 million is ready to be paid when the Launceston local government area wants it, he added.

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