WILD weather yesterday forced Prime Minister Tony Abbott to abandon his visit to Launceston.
Mr Abbott’s RAAF aircraft circled Launceston Airport several times before being forced to land in Hobart.
‘‘You’re in the best possible hands when you’re with the RAAF,’’ Mr Abbott said.
‘‘They had two attempts to get in at the airport in Launceston, they decided it was a bit hairy even for them.’’
The Prime Minister was due at the Launceston Town Hall for the first meeting of the Commonwealth and Tasmanian Economic Council, of which he is co-chairman, but strong winds meant he had to join via teleconference from Hobart Airport.
The council is made up of Mr Abbott, Treasurer Joe Hockey who travelled with the Prime Minister and also landed in Hobart, federal Industry Minister Ian MacFarlane, Premier Will Hodgman and state Treasurer Peter Gutwein.
It is co-chaired with Elphinstone Group executive chairman Dale Elphinstone and other business members include University of Tasmania pro-vice chancellor Professor Janelle Allison, Grange Resources Ltd managing director Wayne Bould and Tasmanian Irrigation Pty Ltd chief executive Chris Oldfield.
The newly appointed Tasmanian Major Projects Approval Agency chairman Bob Calvert is also on the council.
‘‘We had a very good discussion about what the Commonwealth and state governments could together do to revitalise the Tasmanian economy,’’ Mr Abbott said.
‘‘This is a great state with great people and great potential.
‘‘We want Tasmania to be an economy as well as a national park.’’
The announcement of the tender process for a new icebreaker to replace the Aurora Australis was evidence of this, he said.
Mr Abbott said within the next day, Mr Hockey, on behalf of the Commonwealth and Mr Hodgman, would sign the memorandum of understanding for the TMPAA, which is funded from the Tasmanian forest peace deal money.
The TMPAA aims to smooth over the approvals process for proposed projects worth more than $50 million.
In Launceston, Mr Hodgman welcomed the start of the council.
‘‘It’s a chance for both levels of government to listen to Tasmania’s business leaders and to understand how we can work co-operatively to understand to kick-start our economy, standing proud as a state again and a leader again,’’ Mr Hodgman said.
He said he was also keen to work with the federal government to identify where the road blocks in the economy were, red tape and regulation and was committed to reducing those factors.
Issues raised in the council meeting included the freight subsidy scheme, international shipping, sustainable use of resource industries and growing areas such as aquaculture, dairy and tourism.
The council will meet at least twice more this year.