PM signs on for Hobart deal
The Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, and the Premier, Will Hodgman, signed an agreement to progress the deal at a media event on Hobart's waterfront.
The deal was the fourth signed under Canberra's Smart Cities Plan, following agreements on development funding for western Sydney, Townsville and Launceston.
Geelong was added to the list a few days later.
Tasmania remains the only State to secure two city deals.
The Lord Mayor of Hobart, Sue Hickey, wrote in The Mercury that the deal was "an amazing coup".
"It is not only amazing for the significant benefits that will flow to the cities of Greater Hobart and the southern region, it will also mean all levels of government working together to rejuvenate and produce momentous results for a whole region," she wrote.
A key project for consideration by the participants is the $400 million relocation of UTAS's Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) centre to Hobart's CBD.
The City Plan's architects will also look at the Antarctic precinct and a public transport strategy, probably including light rail from the city to Bridgewater, along with ways to support affordable housing.
Mr Turnbull said: "There is no doubt that Hobart is undergoing significant growth and development and a City Deal will help guide and sustain that development well into the future and ensure that Hobart's liveability is not compromised.
“The City Deal will provide the focus needed to ensure that the Commonwealth, State and local governments are all working together to ensure the Greater Hobart area benefits from the city’s transition.
“There is a unique opportunity around the future of Macquarie Point, especially in relation to tourism and development as an Antarctic Precinct and this agreement will explore the best way to deliver that.”
The final deal is likely to include funds towards the planned $2 billion redevelopment of Macquarie Point, as well as transport options.
The Federal Minister for Cities, Paul Fletcher, said the deal would entail a Greater Hobart Transport Vision which could encompass transport solutions for the city, including a light-rail network, busways and cross-Derwent ferries.
Negotiations on developing the STEM centre would be modelled on the successful approach of the three levels of government, UTAS and the private sector to the $400 million relocation of the university's Launceston campus to that city's CBD.
The STEM centre was accepted last year as a project of priority by Infrastructure Australia.
Mr Turnbull said: “Hobart is one of Australia’s premiere science cities, with among the highest rates of scientists per capita in the country.
“Advanced manufacturing and engineering is one of Tasmania’s competitive advantages, with the State at the cutting edge in a number of niche areas, from Defence industry manufacturing to the development of pioneering boat building.”
Mr Hodgman said improving research and education were vital in building Tasmania’s future.
UTAS's Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Mike Calford, said: “The University of Tasmania, in partnership with government, has invested about $300 million in Hobart in the past decade, including the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Science and the Medical Science Precinct.
“This has attracted an additional 2,000 domestic and international students, new research funding of $20 million each year and generated a total 540 new university and indirect jobs.
“Similarly, the new STEM precinct will deliver profound economic and research impact for Tasmania and, perhaps more importantly, it will be the anchor for a statewide innovation network which will deliver jobs and new industries in the decades ahead.
“The evidence of economic renewal which comes with increasing university teaching, research and accommodation is apparent already in Burnie, Launceston and Hobart.
The Mercury’s Tasmania 2022 campaign in January drew 34.97 per cent of respondents to propose light rail as a “very important” option, with even stronger support for a River Derwent ferry network (36.73 per cent).
Tasmania's Minister for Infrastructure, Rene Hidding, said people in Hobart's northern suburbs were ready for light rail.
“That’s not to say that the entire business case is ready yet, but with the signing of the City Deal we clearly have the acceptance of the Prime Minister of Australia and the Government of Australia for the appropriate development of the line,” he said.
“As a government we will pull out all the stops.”
Image courtesy of UTAS
8 February 2018, Edition 191