ABC Radio Hobart, Drive, Interview with Gary Magnussen

Gary Magnussen: Well, do you know what a city deal is? Some say it’s political spin and that’s about it. Others, however, say it’s a way of getting all three tiers of government to agree on priority projects and to agree on how to make those projects happen.

There’s been a bit of concern about the future of the Hobart City Deal that was announced by Malcolm Turnbull, but today Alan Tudge was in town; he’s the Minister for Cities, Urban Development and Population. He’s in town for a series of meetings to try and turn this talk into reality.

I spoke to him a short while ago and, believe it or not, we ended up talking about population first.


Alan Tudge: So, I had a good series of meetings today, but perhaps the two most important were a population discussion with a bunch of different stakeholders from planners from councils to developers to academics and other stakeholders.

There we were largely discussing the population aspirations of Tasmania and how we can better plan to adapt and cater for those population aspirations.

And the second- sorry, go on.

Gary Magnussen: [Interrupts] Alright, so just on population, then - are you looking to continue with the Prime Minister’s plan to use visas to increase Tasmania’s population?

Alan Tudge: Well, what we want to do is have a considered population strategy for the country, and that has to be bottom up as much as it is top down. And what we mean by that is that we want to understand what the population plans are for each state and territory - do they have the services in place to cater for those population plans, and then we can then join with them and support those plans.

That’s what we’re talking about.

Gary Magnussen: Okay, so anything on that is a way off yet?

Alan Tudge: Oh listen, we’re working on this at the moment and going through a consultation process, but one of the key things which we’ve got happening in the country as a whole is we’ve got quite fast population growth nationally, but it’s very concentrated in some particular areas when there’s other areas that actually want to grow faster and need more people.

Now, some regional areas in Australia need more people; some of the smaller cities want to grow faster. In Tasmania, you’ve got quite slow growth, and sometimes negative growth, in areas outside of Hobart and so there is that challenge of how can you support the growth - the economic growth and the population growth - of those areas whilst you’re dealing with the population pressures of a relatively fast-growing city like Hobart now.

Gary Magnussen: Okay. Now, let’s talk about the Hobart City Deal, which is on the table. What came out of your meeting there today?

Alan Tudge: Sorry - you just broke up when you were asking the question.

Gary Magnussen: What came out of your Hobart City Deal meeting today?

Alan Tudge: So today we had a meeting of myself; Peter Gutwein, the State Treasurer; plus the four mayors who are involved in the city deal. And we were really going through the next level of detail with those participants and our ambition is to finalise this city deal by the end of the year, if we can. We went through some of the broad architecture of it and the fact that we now need to go and consult with the various councils, because we’ve got four [indistinct] finalise the details by the end of the year.

Gary Magnussen: Well, one of the mayors is dead against a plan to move the Antarctic Division from Kingston to the city, into an Antarctic Precinct at Macquarie Point. Is that plan still on the table?

Alan Tudge: Oh, well the plan to create an Antarctic and scientific precinct at Macquarie Point is still on the table and we wanted to- in part we have to do that because when the new ice breaker comes in, as soon as we can build a ship, that will need a new port, so that can go at Macquarie Point around the corner.

There’s also the opportunity to potentially move the quarantine station across there as well and look at other opportunities to create that precinct. It doesn’t have to involve Kingston at all. Personally, I haven’t been convinced that the case has been made yet for that. If any people do move at all, though, out of there, Peter Gutwein the Treasurer today made the commitment that there would be no net loss of jobs for the Kingston area, which I think was an important commitment made.

Gary Magnussen: Okay. Well, moving on to another big part of the city deal that people are interested in, and that is light rail. Are you giving a commitment on that, because it seems that the Prime Minister was wavering?

Alan Tudge: Oh, the single biggest commitment which we’ve already announced has been the $461 million commitment to the Bridgewater Bridge, and above and beyond that the details will be finalised over the months ahead. But I guess the key thing is that this city deal which we will announce hopefully in the next month or two won’t be- it’s not a Christmas stocking, if you like.

The most important part of it actually is setting up a governance structure so that we can plan better across the three levels of government; that’s the key part of it. And then of course there’ll be a number of initiatives underpinning that.

But the most important thing is this is going to be a ten year plan for Greater Hobart across the three levels of government, and that hasn’t been done before and that’s what’s so exciting about this city deal.

Gary Magnussen: But with respect, the Bridgewater Bridge has already been announced and that’s- I find that very interesting that you’re now winding that into the city deal.

Alan Tudge: No, it has been announced and when it was announced it was said right at the get-go that this was going to be a part of the city deal.

Gary Magnussen: Okay, okay. Look, let’s just go back to light rail - so, you didn’t really answer that. So, are you committed to light rail?

Alan Tudge: I can’t tell you what the other commitments in the city deal will be at this particular stage; we haven’t finalised it yet but we do hope to finalise it by the end of the year.

Gary Magnussen: Alan Tudge, thanks very much for your time this afternoon.

Alan Tudge: Thanks very much.