Federal and state bodies join forces

TWO new government bodies to be based in Launceston and tasked with fast-tracking development in the state will join forces.

The federal government is in discussions to co-locate the Tasmanian Major Projects Approval Agency with the state Liberals' Office of the Co-ordinator-General, which are due to start operating next month.

Both were election promises designed to attract new investment and streamline complex approval processes often blamed for stalling or putting off potential development.

The two tiers of government have reaffirmed the July 1 start date, despite being yet to finalise an office space or staff appointments.

The $2.7 million funding over three years to establish the federal approval agency was secured in the federal budget.

Bass Liberal MHR Andrew Nikolic expected Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane to make an announcement shortly about the exact location and head of the approval agency.

Mr Nikolic said it made sense for the state and federal bodies to work closely together.

"At the end of the three years, this will be the gold standard about how we encourage new investment, streamline and identify a path," Mr Nikolic said.

He named Barnbougle's sand farming venture and the proposed $185 million Musselroe Bay eco- tourism resort as the type of projects that could be assisted through the layers of approvals needed.

Mr Nikolic said it was not a matter of weakening the environmental and building standards required, but helping proponents navigate the process much quicker and avoid double ups.

State Growth Minister Matthew Groom said yesterday that there had been significant interest in the position of co-ordinator-general, which was advertised nationally last month.

"It's a very important position, we're very confident we can secure someone of real ability, someone that will make a significant difference in advocating opportunities that exist in Tasmania to national and international markets," Mr Groom said.

One of the new office's first tasks will be to assess and assist respondents to the government's call for ideas for development in national parks and World Heritage areas.


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