City Deal Delivering on Ambitions for a Revitalised Launceston

Kurt Jones had to lay off ten people in the first half of 2020.

Like many Australian companies, the one he heads-up had to stop or stall projects as the impact of COVID-19 took hold.

But by June the tide turned for VOS Constructions.

Under the Launceston City Deal, the company was awarded the contract to build part of the University of Tasmania’s Inversek Campus. As a result VOS Construction were able to shore up their workforce across Northern Tasmania.

Three months later its CEO says jobs have been saved and his business has had the confidence to employ three new apprentices.

All thanks to one of the largest infrastructure projects in Launceston’s history.

The $260 million relocation of the UTAS Launceston campus is the centrepiece of the Deal and the economic benefits for Northern Tasmania are immense. The first campus building is now coming out of the ground and will be completed by the end of next year.

Construction on the first elements of the campus, the Library and Student Experience building and the new footbridge, is expected to create over 150 jobs. To date, 65 people have been employed on the project.

While the importance of the Morrison Government’s more than 85,000 jobs generated across our $100 billion pipeline of projects cannot be understated, it’s when those huge numbers are broken down that the impact for local businesses like VOS Constructions can really be felt.

It means a wage for an Australian family who are bringing up their kids, who are paying off their home, who are having a go for Australia and their local community.

Yesterday we launched the Launceston City Deal’s Third Annual Progress Report and it contains similar success stories for Tasmania’s north.

We don’t need to tell locals about the remarkable transformation that has taken place since the Deal was signed in 2017.

Progress can be seen everywhere.

The university campus redevelopment is not only providing jobs now, but will attract 10,000 students annually by 2032 and support an ultimate target of 16,000 students and staff engaged annually on the new campus.

All up, this once-in-a-generation project is expected to create around 430 jobs during the construction phase, with 225 jobs across teaching and support staff roles after completion.

Government and private investment is channeling $509 million into a broad range of initiatives that are also increasing jobs, improving the city’s liveability and delivering educational opportunities.

Over 30 commitments are being progressed to deliver the City Deal’s vision making Launceston one of Australia’s most liveable and innovative regional cities.

By the end of this year, the pedestrian and cycle bridge across the North Esk River is expected to be complete.

Next month celebrates two years of operation for the Building Launceston’s Apprenticeship Pipeline Projects initiative. Over the past year, 26 new apprenticeships within the construction industry have been delivered through this initiative. Since the Deal was signed we have seen the youth unemployment rate in Launceston drop from 19.2% (2015-2017) to 13.4% (2017-2019).

To support indigenous employment, UTAS and TasWater have both committed to a 3 per cent Aboriginal employment target and 3 per cent Aboriginal supplier use during the construction phase of the new campus and the upgrade to combine storm water and sewerage system.

The City Deal’s River Health Action Plan is reducing pollution in the Tamar Estuary so that people can enjoy a cleaner river and flora and fauna can thrive in the estuary.

Over 175 kilometres of waterways are being protected by local landholders. Overall, our investments in the Tamar will exclude around 12,000 head of cattle and 140,000 head of sheep from entering the river.

This has significantly improved the water quality and helped with the broader health of the Tamar Estuary – the latest report card demonstrated higher water quality grades in all zones of the estuary in 2020 compared to 2018.

Three years into implementation of the City Deal, we can count the benefits. Launceston's Gross Regional Product (GRP) has improved from a low base, increasing by 1.2% year-on-year over the past 3 years.

Launceston’s City Deal is delivering results for the local community, boosting the economy and providing local job opportunities now and into the future.