Doorstop Launceston

Albert Van Zetten: I want to welcome you all here and thank you indeed for coming and there's quite a number of people that have come to support what is a very significant day in our city. The City Deal has been so important already. We're now two years in and it's something that we're very pleased about, and obviously with the Federal Government and the State Government to do the extension, it's been extremely important for us as a city.

I'm pleased to welcome today the Honourable Alan Tudge, who is the Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure and also to welcome the Minister for State Growth, Michael Ferguson and Bridget Archer is here with us as well and the Honourable Rosemary Armitage, I’ve seen, and quite a few other people are with us supporting, especially people from the university structure. I think it's so important that they are here.

The City Deal, as we know, has been probably in the workings now for some three to four years. We committed two years ago into signing, and since that time, a number of projects have commenced already in our city. We've obviously seen the City Heart Project, which is part of the City Deal, and we've seen the success of Civic Square, been absolutely fantastic for our city. A lot of the events bringing people into the city centre.

We now know that the other events that or programs about to start the northern suburbs My Place My Future, which is extremely important for the northern suburbs. We also know that it's going to be starting with the Tamar Estuary, some money has been rolled out. There'll be more to be said about that later. So I'd now like to introduce the Honourable Alan Tudge, who will speak further about the City Deal. Thank you.

Alan Tudge: Well, thank you very much to the Mayor and it's also great to be here with the Minister Michael Ferguson, I've known for a very long time, as well as of course our new Member here who's just doing a fantastic job, Bridget Archer, along with the other state members of Parliament.

Just over two years ago, we announced this City Deal for Launceston and it was a very significant deal with the vision of making Launceston one of the most liveable and innovative regional cities in Australia. Two years in, we are delivering upon that vision. The document which we are releasing today is the annual progress report after two years of this deal being in operation. And you’ll read through this annual progress report and you'll see that we have already achieved so much in terms of delivering for the people of Launceston.

I think the most visible part, as the Mayor mentioned, is obviously the Civic Square and also the mall, which is being upgraded. But this document perhaps is the best snapshot which covers so many of the other elements as a highlight which have already been achieved. We've had an 88 per cent increase, for example, in the number of planning applications, constituting $211 million worth of investment since the deal was signed. Over 12,000 individuals have been helped by the entrepreneur facilitator and that means there's going to be future small businesses created into the future.

Of course, we agreed just before the election that we would, at the federal level, put in an additional $55 million and extend this City Deal by an extra five years as well because that provides more certainty for communities here in Launceston. We’ve had over 100 expressions of interest in the first round for the Tamar Action Grants and that means we're going to be able to clean up the river and make sure we're looking after the river well into the future. Of course there’s so much more to go as well and most importantly, the relocation of the university and that planning is well underway. We'll see the sods being turned in the next six to 12 months, and if there's further details in relation to that, we've got Professor Rufus Black from the University of Tasmania is here as well, who can provide further comments in terms of those plans.

But overall, this was a plan to make a liveable, innovative city. We're well on track at the two-year mark. We've got a lot more to do and I'm so pleased to be able to stand here with the Mayor, with the State Minister because ultimately, city deals are about the three levels of government working cooperatively, working together, to outline a long-term vision for a particular geographical area and that's exactly what is occurring here. The three of us working together, laying out a road map for the next 10 years and making this place an even better location than it already is today.

Michael Ferguson: Thank you, Alan. It's fantastic to have you here in Launceston and I'd also really like to acknowledge and pay respects to the Mayor Albert van Zetten. On behalf of him and his councillors, together with my friend Alan Tudge, it's great to welcome you back to Tasmania and celebrate the achievements that we've been able to work on and deliver for Tasmanians and for the people of Launceston; to my good friend and federal colleague, Bridget Archer; and I’d also like to acknowledge my parliamentary colleague, Rosemary Armitage from the Tasmanian Parliament and as Member for Launceston with a particular interest in the deal. May I acknowledge also Rufus Black, who's become not just a Tasmanian himself, but a great innovator in his own right and leading his team through a period of great transformation. And I'd also like to acknowledge briefly the Office of the Coordinator-General, John and his colleagues, who on behalf of Tasmania have been working on implementing.

We're very pleased today to be releasing the annual progress report for two years into our 10-year deal. We've actually converted the deal from a five-year to a 10. This gives greater longevity, greater certainty. It means that while the commitments made in the first five years will continue to be honoured, we've actually got a framework and a structure within which we can continue to work together between our three different levels of government into the future. We are delivering, the results are on the board as people walking through our city are able to see immediately. But there's a lot more contained within the pages of the progress report, where the local community are able to quickly see exactly what's being done and what's yet to occur. And if they're waiting for something and hoping for an achievable to be done, they'll also be able to see what work has been happening in the background between our three levels of government.

I'm particularly thrilled that we are able to bring together a plan that's about making our city much more liveable, more enjoyable, a happier place for families to live, work, and invest, but also a place of jobs and employment opportunity, creating business, driving an entrepreneurial culture. Making our city a smart city with traffic solutions that actually work. Building the infrastructure that our growing city needs so we can reduce congestion. And, for example, make sure that using smart technology, our signalling system allows traffic to move more freely.

There's so much more yet to come. But I want to make a particular fine point that the Tasmanian community, and in particular Launceston community, can be assured that these three levels of government are working together like never before. We're getting results, and there's a lot more yet to achieve, which we will focus on and with the achievements that have been reached already. We’re particularly on this spot here mindful of the enormous work that’s about to unfold with the University of Tasmania transformation.

This is a very, very significant project for our state and for our country. And where we're standing of course is in line with the three stage development, which will include a bridge over the North Esk River here to our north. So this is a place of future vibrancy, and we particularly commend the university, not just for completing its precinct plan, but also now placing its development application with the Launceston City Council, which I'm sure going through its appropriate processes will nonetheless result in progress where we can see building works commencing in the coming year. Thank you.

Alan Tudge: Thank you. Happy to take any questions for any of us here, and the Vice Chancellor as well.

Journalist: What is being done to address the health of the Tamar River as part of this city deal?

Albert Van Zetten: There's a progress of $94.5 million that has been set by the State and the Federal Government. Out of that there's $10 million which is now in process for people to apply for to put fences up on properties to stop a lot of the animals getting close to the water so make an impact on the water. There's also work now being set up by us and the City of Launceston and TasWater, looking at the combined system and how we can divert some of the water from going through the combined system, especially in times of heavy rains and flooding. We're looking at catchment areas, so when there is again heavy rain and some of it would go through the combined system, that will be caught in the catchment areas, and it won't flow through. And on top of that, apart from all of those, TasWater’s also looking at upgrading their systems which would be hopefully a $300 million commitment in the next, what, three to five years.

Journalist: So has the health of the river improved at all yet? Since the money’s come into play?

Albert Van Zetten: It's about to start to improve.

Journalist: When you think that will happen?

Albert Van Zetten: Look, it should start to happen. Obviously with the $10 million that’s rolled out now. And then the next lot of works get coordinated through TasWater. And I'm not sure the exact timeline, but I would hope by within three to five years, we're going to see significant difference in our river.

Alan Tudge: This is a huge investment in the river. $95 million all up, and the first $10 million is about to go as the Mayor was saying. But then it's over the medium term as well that we would be making further investments to make sure this is as healthy as it possibly can be.

Albert Van Zetten: Can I just add to that, though? I think the public can play a role already for today by not throwing their rubbish on to the ground, not throwing cigarette butts onto the ground, plastics. People just throw it and put it into the river. That’s creating issues so if we cannot have that happening, we’d be starting to clean it up already, then with the extra work, that’s going to make a significant difference.

Journalist: As major investors in the university transformation project, are you happy with the progress so far?

Albert Van Zetten: Obviously from my point of view, we'd love to see that done quicker. There's no doubt about that, but we're happy that we've come to a stage where it's going to be something that's meaningful, that's going to be relevant for Launceston, and we’re going to be able to work together to ensure it’s the best for what our city and what our city needs. And I think that's important. Rather than rushed into it and done it, it’s obviously, changing staffing, has been sat down and they thought about it. Now I think we’ve got a model that can work into the future.

Alan Tudge: This was one of the centrepieces of the city deal overall and the major funding commitments from the Federal Government was to move the university campus to its new location. Now, the sods will start to begin to be turned this financial year, and we're going to see progress and the buildings completed by 2024. Obviously the design’s changed somewhat from what we initially envisaged, but it will be worth the wait, because at the end of the day, this will be brand new buildings going up there, just across the river, there’s going to be up to 16,000 students and staff located there. They'll be able to walk across the bridge and then access the CBD. So you'll be bringing real life into the city centre as well.

This has been a pattern across Australia with city deals, where we've actually been supporting university campuses to get closer into the CBD because by doing that, you bring students, you bring life into the city centre. It makes them safer. It brings customers to the cafes and shops, and it overall adds to the amenity of the city. So it’s a really exciting component in relation to it. Rufus I don’t know if you wanted to add further details in relation to the plans there. But we're ready to go, money’s there, plans are developed, and we’re looking forward to it starting.

Rufus Black: It will be fantastic for Launceston. I think we now have the right plan. Development applications are in and we’re looking forward to getting those buildings out of the ground.

Journalist: Two years on from when this money was first promised, what assurances have been given to the State and Federal Government that the project will be on budget?

Alan Tudge: Absolutely the projects will be on budget. We’ve got a set amount which we have allocated. I understand that actually in that time the Vice-Chancellor and university have been able to secure more private funding towards the projects as well. So it’s underway and we want to see the building’s occurring as the Vice-Chancellor said they’re going to be happening very soon and it’s going to make the University of Tasmania fantastic here in Launceston.

Journalist: And Alan, how is the Hobart City Deal progressing?

Alan Tudge: Yeah, that’s progressing well. I’ll be catching up with the mayors tomorrow and we'll be discussing the implementation plan there. It's only six months since we actually announced the City Deal in Hobart just near the airport there and the implementation plan will soon be finalised, and we're releasing that very soon.

Journalist: When do you hope to have it finalised by?

Alan Tudge: We're down to the final details now, so we'll be discussing this amongst the mayors and Minister Ferguson and myself tomorrow and then we’ll be releasing it shortly afterwards.

Journalist: Back to Launceston, part of making the City Deal is making the city more liveable. But with the negotiations breaking down with Glebe Farm, what are we looking at in terms of traffic solutions and parking?

Albert Van Zetten: Glebe Farm was only ever part of the traffic solution, so we’re moving to other options that we’ve always had on the table. With Glebe Farm, it’s really important that commercial relationships work well so that we’re spending public money wisely and appropriately. We’ll never do a deal that isn’t in the broad public interest, and we’ve got lots of other options and it’s fantastic working with the council in solving these kind of challenges.

Journalist: When can the people of Launceston expect to see tangible results from this next phase of the City Deal?

Alan Tudge: Well we’ve already seen tangible results. I mean, you see that in the city square directly and we’re about to go into the next phase as well. We’re going to the next phase of cleaning up the river, we’re moving the university campus as we’ve been discussing, there’s so many other elements which are going on. This is what was a five year plan, now we’re extending it to being a 10 year plan.

At the federal level we’ve put in an extra $55 million, and that includes $15 million to develop a community hub in the northern suburbs and Bridget Archer was absolutely critical in securing that money and we want to get that underway shortly as well. I know there’s been progress between the state governments and the local council over the parcel of lands there. So we’re progressively going to see things roll out according to the implementation schedule which we’ve outlined. We’re largely on track here. There’s some things which are a bit in front, couple of things a little bit behind, but over the next few years more and more will be rolled out.

[Doorstop continues on State Government matters]