Regions to benefit

THE predominance of Northern and North-Western members in the new Liberal government means the regions will get more attention, political and business commentators say.

In the Hodgman Liberal government's landslide victory, 10 of its 15 seats are from the North and North-West of the state: three in Bass, three in Lyons  and a record four in Braddon.

Former Tasmanian Liberal premier Tony Rundle said the North used to be the state's ``engine room''  but had lost  much of its industry during the recent downturn.

``(The number  of Northern members) is obviously going to mean they have quite a bit of influence in cabinet, and influence on decisions that are taken,'' Mr Rundle said.

``It's reasonable, given that the North-West in particular - and the North and North-East as well - have been very hard hit by the downturn in the economy.

``People are saying the forestry industry is never going to recover, but I don't believe that.

``I think there's a cyclical downturn in industry, and a cyclical downturn in the international situation in forestry.

``We need to find ways of replacing some of those closed businesses.''

Rebuilding was going to be a long and difficult process. ``You don't just flick a switch: it takes a lot of hard work,'' he said.

``You need to go out and develop investment opportunities and find companies to move into the state.'''

Mr Rundle said the assumption that government tended to be Hobart-centric was not just parochial sour grapes.

``The assumption that the South has a significant influence is true,'' he said.

``Hobart has huge natural advantages; 70 per cent of the public sector is based in the South.''

It was a smart and overdue move to relocate some of the bureaucracy to the regions, Mr Rundle said, but not without its challenges.

Launceston Chamber of Commerce executive officer Maree Tetlow said the chamber was looking forward to more attention for the North.

``The business community felt the previous arrangements with the power sharing (between Labor and the Greens) was not successful for Northern Tasmania,'' she said.

``The regions suffered more significantly, with regards to employment and business conditions.''

Ms Tetlow said the chamber was pleased to have met with Premier-elect Will Hodgman and Bass MHA Peter Gutwein last week, to outline the business community's issues.

The move to create a Co-ordinator General office in Launceston was also welcome, Ms Tetlow said. ``There's plenty of opportunity for new business and industry, and we need some focused attention,'' she said.

Tony Rundle

Tony Rundle


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