Doorstop with the Premier of Tasmania, Minister for Urban Infrastructure and Cities, and Mayor of the City of Clarence

Transcript
16 Jan 2018
Hobart, Tasmania
Prime Minister, Premier of Tasmania, Minister for Urban Infrastructure and Cities, Mayor of the City of Clarence
Hobart City Deal; Tasmanian abortion clinic closure; jobs, growth; government salaries
E&OE

THE HON. WILL HODGMAN MP - PREMIER OF TASMANIA:

Welcome again, I take the opportunity to officially welcome the Prime Minister and Minister Fletcher and our federal team joining the state team today with local government leaders, to kick off what is a really exciting chapter in the future of this remarkable precinct, our city.

A great collaboration between all tiers of government working together, this deal, the agreement we’ve struck today, highlights the priorities of our governments, the opportunities that we recognise that are significant for the development of the greater City of Hobart. It targets areas where Tasmania has a rare competitive advantage - Antarctic connections, the opportunity for the development in the space that is STEM, that presents so many opportunities for our state. The ability for councils to come together with the state government to work collaboratively on transport networks and infrastructure upgrades, it really lays down the blueprint for the greatest Hobart city and it’s future.

This is very much the most significant point to now, in our collaborative effort. But clearly there’s a lot of work that needs to be done to realise the potential that this plan covers and the opportunities they present. But this is a classic example of state, Commonwealth and local government working collaboratively. A shared vision, it really looks to the future for the greater City of Hobart and all it offers.

Can I make the point again, that when people wonder whether or not the Commonwealth Government has an interest in our state, consider that there are only a handful of City Deals underway. Only two have been struck to this point, one is in Launceston and this memorandum of understanding which we’re signed today, signs up Hobart to the next deal. So I want to recognise the very significant commitment that the Commonwealth has to our state and the work that has got us to this point.  Prime Minister?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well thank you Will and it’s great to be in Hobart with Paul Fletcher and my Senate colleagues Jono Duniam and Eric Abetz and or course with Peter Gutwein and your ministers Will and above all, with mayors, the leaders of local government.

You know, people always say Governments should work together. They say: "Why are state and federal governments arguing with each other and local governments arguing with each other?”

Well, these City Deals are a big game-changer. This is a new way to approach development and investment in our cities. Having the Federal Government, the State Government and local governments and big stakeholders like the University of Tasmania, both here and in Launceston, on the same page. Agreeing on what the objectives are and then working together and making sure that we bring all of our resources and our inputs into the same plan.

It’s a very big change. Very often you’ve found in the past, federal, state governments have been like ships in the night; sometimes going in the same direction, but not working together. So that's a big change.

Now, in terms of the priorities here, well we're standing on one of them here - Macquarie Point. Nine hectares of real opportunity to build an outstanding Antarctic centre here in Hobart, to make this the most important hub for Antarctic research in the world and so much more. I was just talking with Rene Hidding about the opportunities for the adjacent land here and in the future belonging to the port. There’s a lot of government land around here, all of which can be brought to bear in a big master plan that will see continued investment and growth here in Hobart.

Of course, transport is a big agenda in every city in Australia and Hobart is no exception. We’re going to be looking very carefully at the plans for light rail, the plans for enhanced ferry services, or indeed additional bus services.

We’ve got to look at every angle to make sure that we get that investment. I’ve been familiar with the work on light rail here for some time now, Peter Newman did some good work some years ago. There is a lot that can be done, cooperating with local government and the private sector, to capture value that’s created by transport infrastructure and bring that to bear to support the investment. Of course, the University of Tasmania - just as they are doing in Launceston, where I will be later today, where they are bringing their campus into the city in Launceston - here in Hobart, they have a big plan to bring their STEM faculties right into the centre of Hobart. Again, we will be working with the University and the State Government just as we have in Launceston, to see how we can support and cooperate on that.

So there’s a lot of work to be done, but the most important thing is we’re working with together. We’ve got the same vision, the same objectives. So for the first time in Hobart, you’ve got the Commonwealth, state, and local governments all completely aligned with the same objective; to make this remarkable city even more remarkable, even more livable, even more successful in the years ahead.

PREMIER OF TASMANIA:

Thank you Prime Minister. I might invite the Mayor Doug Chipman to speak on behalf of the local government sector.

ALDERMAN DOUG CHIPMAN – MAYOR, CITY OF CLARENCE: 

Thanks very much Premier and Prime Minister. Fantastic to have you down here in southern Tasmania. This is a truly exciting day for not only greater Hobart itself, but also all of southern Tasmania. It gives me a huge amount of pleasure to be able to congratulate the Federal Government and the State Government for this initiative, on behalf of all the mayors of southern Tasmania, but more particularly on behalf of the mayors of the four metropolitan councils in greater Hobart.

Clearly there are some exciting projects on the horizon as part of this City Deal, but it is really important to deliver those projects, that we get the governance right. We as four metropolitan councils will be working and have been working very closely with the State Government to develop a framework under the auspices of a Greater Hobart Act, to ensure that we’re able to deliver these projects and look at issues confronting greater Hobart as a whole. For example, urban growth boundary, city-wide planning. We need a vision for greater Hobart. It’s been growing rapidly and we're already confronting growing pains through transport issues and there are other issues as well.

We look forward, as four metropolitan councils, to working really closely under a Greater Hobart Act with the State Government to help deliver these amazing projects that are being funded by the Federal Government.

I’d like to acknowledge the work that’s already gone in to this cooperation and the project that we’re underway at the moment with the City Deal. I’d like to recognise the Lord Mayor of Hobart Alderman Sue Hickey who is on leave from her council duties at the moment, Mayor Kristie Johnston and more locally we have got Commissioner Sue Smith, and Mayor Steve Wass from Kingborough. The four of us have been working very closely together and with the Treasurer, Minister Peter Gutwein, to deliver what we can to ensure that we get the governance for greater Hobart right, the vision right and we retain the identity, the excitement of the place and our continued growth. So, thank you very much and congratulations once again, Prime Minister and Premier.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you. So, any questions?

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, why is this more than just agreeing to have a chat? I mean, what new dollars are available now for any of these projects?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well it's very important that you get the planning done right at the outset.

You've seen what we've done with other City Deals, in Launceston where we're making substantial investments with the state and the city indeed and with the University of Tasmania.

You've seen what we're doing in Townsville with the City Deal there. So this is part of a process, we want to roll these out right around Australia. I think it’s a testament to the enthusiasm and the commitment of Will Hodgman's Tasmanian Government that we're seeing now a second City Deal underway here in Hobart in Tasmania.

JOURNALIST:

Do you have a dollar figure on how much investment actually could be in store for Hobart now as a result of the City Deal?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well the projects that are being considered are very substantial, but of course it's too early to say, really, what the total investment would be from all sources. Of course, you've got to recognise too that with these urban renewal projects - whether it is here at Macquarie Point, whether it is light rail infrastructure for example - there are big opportunities to recover a substantial amount of the investment cost from the improvement in land values, from transport-orientated development for example, in the case of light rail.

I could ask Paul Fletcher, the Minister for Urban Infrastructure and Cities to say a bit more about this, but it is very important that we use, we have our own innovative financing agency that is a specialist group in the federal government working on this. We have got to make sure that we get the maximum bang from the taxpayers' buck as we invest in this type of infrastructure.

Paul, do you want to add to that?

THE HON. PAUL FLETCHER MP – MINISTER FOR URBAN INFRASTRUCTURE AND CITIES:

Thanks Prime Minister. When Prime Minister Turnbull assumed his job, he committed that the Turnbull Government would have a strong focus on cities policy. If you look around the world, there are some really important policy levers to make cities work better, to be more economically productive and efficient and to be more liveable. Of course, a city like Hobart is extremely liveable and we want to maintain that and improve that.

Now one of these levers is making sure you have got the right transport infrastructure. Another important lever is making sure the transport is well-integrated with urban planning. So if you look at some of the elements the governments, the Tasmanian and Commonwealth Governments together with the relevant local governments have committed that we will be working through, as part of the detailed City Deal negotiations. We talked about a greater Hobart transport vision and also a Greater Hobart Act. And with the State Treasurer Peter Gutwein who will be taking the lead from the Tasmanian Government perspective, I expect to work closely with Treasurer Gutwein, with local councils and of course we’ll have Commonwealth and state officials working closely across these areas to identify how best we can deploy these various policy levers to make Hobart an even more liveable, but also a more economically productive city.

So the work that we have ahead of us and we have a lot of work ahead of us, as we work through all of those details, it is important to do that before we then work out what the commitments from the various parties are going to be.

JOURNALIST:

Will this commitment still stand regardless of losing power following a state election?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I am looking for to the Hodgman Government being re-elected. They are doing an outstanding job. I mean, we've just seen today by the way, the new consumer confidence figures nationally are at the highest level in more than four years, highest since October 2013.

I have focused on economic growth, jobs and growth. You may recall me mentioning that during the election a little while back. But you’re seeing strong growth and strong growth in jobs here in Tasmania and that’s a great credit to Will and his Government.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, when Darren Chester was dumped from Cabinet, you said that was a matter of geography. Why then hasn’t a Tasmanian been promoted and why don’t you have faith in the Liberal Senate team?

PRIME MINISTER:

I have got a fantastic Liberal Senate team and you know, one of the great things about our federal party, our Coalition Party Room, is that we've got many more people of ministerial talent and capacity in the Party Room, than we have places in the ministry. But it's a very, very talented Party Room and I can assure you that, as you can see today, that Tasmania is very much foremost in our thinking at all times.

We’re a national government, we obviously have focus on every part of Australia. But you shouldn't ever imagine that Tasmania is not key to our thinking in terms of investment and infrastructure and of course, it goes beyond what we're talking about today in Hobart and Launceston. We’ve got big plans. We’re working together in terms of Tasmania becoming the battery of the nation. The opportunities for investment, further investment in Hydro Tasmania are enormous.

JOURNALIST:

But how can you prosecute the argument that on the basis of geography, Darren Chester is out, but no Tasmanians are in?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, that was a really an issue with the geography of the National Party Room. That was the background to the changes there.

JOURNALIST:

Is this to soften the blow to potential changes to the GST, which would severely hurt Tasmanians?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, this is part of my – as Paul Fletcher said - this cities policy is one that I set out shortly after I became Prime Minister. This is about, for the first time, ensuring that federal, state government and local government are not like ships passing in the night. You know, generally wanting the right thing but not working together.

So what this does, is ensure that the planning here and wherever the state and federal governments can work together in Hobart, they will be working together. This is so important. We need to make sure we do a better job on investment in our cities. We've got some of the best cities in the world, the most liveable cities in the world and none more liveable than Hobart. So we want to do is keep it that way and that’s why cooperation is so important.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, Tasmania’s only abortion clinic closed its’ doors just a few weeks ago. Should abortion be funded through public hospitals and should there be a Medicare number for them, so that women aren’t having to pay upwards of $700?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, I think that was dealt with by your Health Minister earlier yesterday, I think, Will?

PREMIER OF TASMANIA:

Yep.

JOURNALIST:

But looking nationally, should abortions be funded through a public hospital?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, I'll leave this issue - I know this is an issue of big concern here in Hobart - but I think the Minister and the State Government has been dealing with it.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, Chinese Embassy officials told Labor MPs at a dinner that it only has three education officers and couldn't exert influence on Chinese students in Australia. How accurate is that statement?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, I can’t make a comment on that. I don't know, you're asking me; do I know how many education officers there are in the Chinese Embassy? The answer is, I don't know.

JOURNALIST:

Well do you agree then with Minister Fierravanti-Wells’ assessment that China is funding useless buildings in the Pacific in an attempt to build its’ influence?

PRIME MINISTER:

The Foreign Minister has already dealt with that issue.

JOURNALIST:

[Inaudible]

PRIME MINISTER:

Hang on, one second. Your enthusiasm is admirable, but I would just like it to be one at a time. We'll have one question from you?

JOURNALIST:

Is it fair that political staffers get a pay rise when wage growth is so low?

PRIME MINISTER:

My Government's determination is to ensure that we do everything we can to put more money into the pockets of hardworking Australian families. You can see we're doing that already.

We're seeing strong jobs growth across the country. What we want to see now is stronger growth in wages.

We're doing everything we can to reduce the pressure from rising energy costs. I spoke a moment ago about some of our initiatives in Tasmania. We're doing things in the here and now with retailers. We're doing things in the short-term with gas prices in particular and of course, in the medium and longer-term.

So we're focused on that. We're seeing that strong consumer confidence which is vitally important for investment. Business confidence is at a high too, that’s what is going to drive higher incomes.

In terms of the issue about staff salaries, there are a number of people who have come from senior positions in the public service, in to effect being seconded into political offices as advisers. That’s a long-standing practice and precedent and I think it is a very good thing to do and when they come across, they come across naturally, at their public service salary. So that’s a couple of individuals mentioned in the story and that is the explanation for them.

Okay, thank you all very much.

[ENDS]