Transcript - Press Conference Launceston, Tasmania

Subjects: UTAS Launceston Campus; Launceston City Deal

I am absolutely delighted to be here today with this official sod turning of the UTAS Transformation Project. It's been some time in coming and it's a very exciting day for Launceston. I've got Minister Alan Tudge here with me, City of Launceston Mayor Albert Van Zetten, Infrastructure Minister Michael Ferguson and, of course, Rufus Black, who is going to tell us how we've got to this point. Rufus?

Thank you, Bridget. This really is an exciting day for Launceston and it's an exciting day for the north of Tasmania and it's a really exciting day for the whole State. This is the cornerstone project that gets our whole transformation to move the university here to Inveresk underway. The building that we are building here that is going to get underway is our student library and student experience building. A truly beautiful response to this remarkable kind of context here, talking to the old buildings that are all around us and yet are fully equipped to provide the most contemporary kind of learning spaces that students could want.

A building not just for students but a building also for the community that provides a really important facility that will be the cornerstone of this campus. So, it's a real thrill to see this happen. But these kind of projects don't happen without the extraordinary group of people coming together and so it's a real delight for us today to have so many of the people who have been supporting and making this happen.

This is a project of every level of government. We've had incredible support from the Commonwealth, wonderful support from the State and an absolute power of work by the local council and local councilors who have made such a difference to actually working this through, to create a building that is a real response, not just to the needs of the university but also to the community's hopes and aspirations for it.

We would not be here today without all of those levels of government collaborating around a sense of what education can do for Tasmania, for Launceston, indeed for the State. That shared vision of how it can be transforming our society, our economy, helping to revitalise it, to add energy and growth, create next generation of jobs here and, of course, to support greater social inclusion. All of that happens when the levels of government come together around an exciting vision of what education can do for a community.

So today the university is here with gratitude and thanks for all of that help, all of that support, all of that collaboration. Ours is a day of appreciation for what’s got us here and we look forward to pursuing that vision in collaboration with the community in just the same ways that got us here today. So, it's my pleasure to introduce to you the Honourable Alan Tudge to say some words for the Commonwealth. Thank you.

Thank you so much, Rufus. It’s great to be here with my colleagues Bridget and Wendy along with Michael and Albert, the Mayor, for this very exciting day. I thank you for putting on such beautiful weather for us here today as well. This is a tremendous day for Launceston and for Tasmania.

From what I'm advised, this is the single largest infrastructure project in Launceston's history which we are kicking off today. $260 million worth. Half of that is from the Commonwealth Government, the rest from the other partners of whom is represented here today, including the University of Tasmania. This is all about jobs. It's about boosting the economy and it's about providing more opportunities for young people here in Tasmania.

It's particularly about jobs. In the short-term, this is going to create 430 jobs during the construction phase. 20 per cent of those jobs are going to be apprentices and trainees. In the longer term there is going to be 230 ongoing jobs at the university site, which comes about from this project. So it's jobs now and its jobs for the future and it's creating opportunities for young people. That's what this partnership is about between the three levels of government and the University of Tasmania.

It's so exciting because in 2032 when it's all completed, up and running and it's at full development, we'll have an extra 10,000 students studying here at the University of Tasmania, here in Launceston, interacting in with industry, to cutting edge research, international students coming here and providing opportunities for young people across Tasmania as well.

I really just want to thank the University of Tasmania led by Rufus Black who is such a dynamic Vice Chancellor for the work, which he has done to get us to this particular point in time. I also want to thank the partnership that we have with the Tasmanian government along with the local council in pulling this together. It really is a great partnership this effort, and of course, it's the centerpiece of the overall Launceston City Deal, which is aiming at transforming and boosting Launceston over the years ahead.

So it's really great to be here to kick this off, turn the first sod and in 2024 it will be exciting to be back here and to officially open this for new students, for the greater opportunities which this presents for Launceston.

Thank you, Alan. It's a fantastic day. It's a beautiful day because of the weather but it was also a beautiful day yesterday when it was pouring with rain and I know our farmers really appreciated the soaking. But it's a special day because today we celebrate the fact that the talk is over, the budget preparations are done, the planning has been completed and we are actually now down to work.

As Alan has said, it's exciting to see the partnership delivering hundreds of new jobs. It does include 80 new apprenticeships here on site and as we today kick off the library and student experience building and together within the next few weeks the commencement of the new bridge across the North Esk River, this is about connecting this campus really to the heart of Launceston. And it's about sending a very clear message to Tasmanians, young and older Tasmanians that education is for you.

It is our future, whether it's an academic or a vocational pathway, we value all of our jobs and the contribution that everybody can make to our economy. Vitally as well, it's a partnership that has seen massive investment in our city. We are seeing the partnership model develop to such a point that it is the centerpiece of the City Deal that has been struck between the three levels of government and the university, of course, has been central to that.

I do want to say a big thank you to my parliamentary colleagues, particularly Bridget Archer and Senator Wendy Askew and, of course, the Premier who have been so instrumental from the Tasmanian Government's point of view in bringing the parties together. But we could not have done this without the Commonwealth. And so Bridget Archer and Alan Tudge, it's been fantastic to work with you and the energy that we've been each able to bring this, including through the Office of Coordinator General has been absolutely phenomenal.

So as I conclude, I will make the point that there has been a lot of discussion. There has been a lot of community consultation. There has been a lot of interest. There has been supporters and there have been the detractors. But now we deliver this project and we can all look forward to the completion of this fantastic redevelopment of Inveresk and indeed the transformation of the university here and see a vital student learning and research, the excitement that can come from more generations of Tasmanians seeing their future life potential being achieved through better education pathways. And from that point of view the Tasmanian Government is a proud contributor of the $60 million towards this project and we want to wish it all the very best into the future. Thank you.

I agree with everything that has been said and a little bit more. No, It’s absolutely fantastic and as a city we have been extremely pleased to work through a process and it has been a process. I want to thank my councilors that are here, Councillor McKenzie and Finlay in particular, who have been part of that working group. Working very hard along with many at the university to make sure we can iron out those differences that we've had over the journey, and there have been some differences and different ways of doing things, but it's been fantastic the last few years the way we've been able to work extremely well together and make sure that we deliver, as has been said, not just the building and the jobs for the next number of years when the building is happening but also for me it's the long-term impact on our community. The long¬term impact of helping people through education, realising that there are so many people in northern Tasmania, and it's not just about Launceston, but northern Tasmania that do not go on to further education.

That is something that is an issue that affects a lot of things in our community, including health. So this is so important for the city. It's really great that we've finally got to this stage. I will be more excited even still once, we see the opening because I think that is always the better stage, to see the opening and see it happen.

I want to thank obviously the City Deal that we've had with the Federal Government. The City Deal is continuing to deliver for our city. This is one of the projects, obviously a major one, but the City Deal has other projects to do with the Tamar Estuary, our City Heart projects to do with our northern suburbs revitalisation. We want to continue to work together to ensure that we get that investment of the dollars into this city to make this community an even better community than what it is today. We are a great city, a beautiful city and a normal day in this city, as each of you know, this is a normal beautiful day in our great city and it's something that we want to continue to develop for Launceston to be one of the great regional cities of the world.
That's something that we continue to work on and continue to work with and this project will help us to do that along with all the other projects. So to everybody involved, thank you very much and it's been exciting to work with the Liberal Government, State and Federal to get this City Deal and we stress how important that's been to our city and how important it's going to be for the next five to six years as well. Thank you.