Launceston City Deal widely welcomed

DEAL SIGNED: Premier Will Hodgman, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Launceston mayor Albert van Zetten. Picture: Scott Gelston
DEAL SIGNED: Premier Will Hodgman, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Launceston mayor Albert van Zetten. Picture: Scott Gelston

The signing and release of Launceston’s City Deal on Thursday has been applauded across the board by local stakeholders, Labor and the Greens.

A need for further clarity on the proposals for the Tamar Estuary was a common reaction from those eagerly awaiting the signing of the deal, but the majority of feedback saw an eagerness to get the ball rolling.

JOHN PITT | Chair of the Northern Tasmania Development Corporation

The NTDC is the regional economic development agency for the Northern Region, and is a signatory of the Joint Statement of Support of the City Deal.

Chair John Pitt said the corporation had been asked to lead the development of a new Regional Economic Development Plan for 2018 as part of the agreement.

“We have been working off the Northern Regional Futures Plan targets set in late 2015 that targeted our Gross Regional Product to increase 50 per cent over 10 years, increase the number of jobs by 8,000 and increase the average pay by $100 per week over the same period,” he said.

“We expect that the new plan will review these targets and put more ‘meat on the bones’ of how we intend to achieve this.”

Mr Pitt said he was pleased the stakeholders took on the NTDC’s request for region-wide measurement of our economic performance and ultimately the results of the City Deal initiatives.

“We need a ‘single source of the truth’ that will monitor our progress in the region. This Regional modelling will also help determine how important various projects are to our region – by modelling jobs and GRP - to help with the decision-making process on which regional projects will make the biggest contribution and are the highest priority,” he said.

The NTDC was also pleased to see an acknowledgment in the City Deal of the Australian Maritime College as a globally recognised provider of Maritime Education, Training and Research.

“We have been actively lobbying for clarity around the future of the AMC with the announcement of a maritime technical college in South Australia,” he said.

“The Commonwealth have indicated they will continue the strong support of AMC through a Defence Science partnership and training contracts.”

But Mr Pitt said he was still waiting to hear from Minister Christopher Pyne regarding an invitation to visit Launceston and the AMC on behalf of the Northern Mayors.

BRIAN WIGHTMAN | Tasmanian Executive Director of the Property Council of Australia

Mr Wightman said the signing of the Launceston City Deal was a significant milestone and presented huge opportunities for Northern Tasmania.

”The Property Council supports City Deals, particularly when they highlight the capacity for all three levels of government to collaborate successfully,” he said.

“City Deals must provide a platform for private sector investment and be used to deliver confidence, jobs, and opportunities for aspirational Tasmanians.”

The centrepiece of the Deal - the move of the University’s Launceston campus from Newnham to Inveresk – would result in cultural change to facilitate greater uptake of post compulsory learning, according to Mr Wightman.

The Property Council was also encouraged by the focus on inner-city residential opportunities which it believes will create vibrancy and diversity.

“Launceston and Northern Tasmania require population growth, and for that to occur, the economy must continue to improve at better than national rates,” Mr Wightman said.

“There must also be a range of improved housing and accommodation options made available, with this development and investment underpinned by growth in the education sector.”

Mr Wightman was pleased that the health of the Tamar was being considered but said further significant funding would be required to complete major infrastructure projects such as improving the water quality of the Tamar River.

“Any money spent on the health of the Tamar River Estuary is welcomed, however a growing and aspirational city must have compliant water and sewerage infrastructure,” he said.

JAN DAVIS | Executive Officer of the Launceston Chamber of Commerce

Ms Davis said the City Deal provided a vital framework of transparency that would ensure public investment in the region is used to best effect.

“However, it is about much more than simply dollars. Development of a robust and aspirational plan for northern Tasmania will enable everyone - governments, business, and community - to be working towards the same goals,” she said.

“By putting in place clear deadlines and responsibilities, and outlining expected outcomes, we will be able to hold governments and other partners to account in delivering on their promises.”

She said the chamber was also keen to play a role and contribute to the achievement of the outcomes laid out in the City Deal program.

ANDREA DAWKINS | Greens' spokesperson

No major funding to address the the city’s underlying, and crippling, issue of ailing water and sewerage infrastructure was the major critique from the Greens.

“The Launceston City Deal projects can’t flourish without the water and sewerage infrastructure underpinning the city being upgraded. Increased development and population will only add to the already over-stressed, aging system,” Ms Dawkins said.

“The UTAS move has wide support because of the opportunities it will create for students and Northern economy. Before the additional students can be properly accommodated, however, critical water and sewerage infrastructure upgrades need to be done.”

She said the Greens welcomed the liveability aspects at the centre of the City Heart project.

SCOTT BACON | Labor spokesperson

Mr Bacon said the Prime Minister’s visit to Launceston was a major disappointment in terms of investing in water and sewerage infrastructure.

“The Liberals snubbed Launceston’s water and sewerage requirements during the last election campaign and now they’ve done it again,” he said.

“At the very least the Prime Minister should have matched the $75 million that Bill Shorten committed to fixing the storm water problem in Launceston.”

ANDREW CONNOR | Meander Valley Councillor

The City Deal process was criticised by Meander Valley councillor Andrew Connor who said ignored the needs of significant parts of the Launceston Urban Area because they are in different local government areas. 

“The major suburbs of Prospect Vale, Riverside and adjacent areas of Hadspen and Legana, accepted as being part of Greater Launceston, are administered by the Meander Valley and West Tamar municipalities, however these councils have had little if any consultation about the City Deal,” he said.

“About 10,000 residents of Meander Valley Council live in Prospect Vale and Hadspen, a similar number live in West Tamar Council’s Riverside and Legana but these residents will receive no benefit from the CBD-centric investments of this City Deal, despite its brief mention of wider flow-on benefits to the region.”

CRAIG PERKINS | Meander Valley Mayor

But the mayor disagreed with Cr Connor's sentiments, saying the Northern Mayors had several meetings with the relevant minsters before the City Deal was signed.

“One of the things we did was make sure we used the NTDC to drive the regional economic strategy, so to say that Northern councils haven’t been involved is incorrect because the mayors have had engagement with the minister to ensure there is regional representation,” Cr Perkins said.