Time to deal!

The Hobart City Deal is essentially a 10-year infrastructure development program, jointly funded by the Commonwealth, State and Federal Governments, with each having responsibility for certain elements of the program.

In all, the program was originally estimated to cost around $1.4 billion, with the federal government to meet the bulk of that over $1 billion. With the roadmap to recovery to be implemented, now must be the time to move on with the deal.

Three major projects are destined to absorb the lion’s share of the funds, being the Bridgewater Bridge, Antarctic infrastructure, and the removal of the sewage treatment plant at Macquarie Point.

However, contained within the broader program are a number of smaller but no less important initiatives, which once completed, will make Hobart a far more interesting place to live and to invest in.

In all, the program has been divided into 7 separate elements, and the first Annual Report, covering the period up to February this year, details the progress that has been made on each of these 7 elements.

The report is a little out of date now, but the details contained therein are instructive, and are worthy of some further consideration and comment.

The elements are:

The development of an international gateway at Hobart airport

Comment: The development will enable the commencement of international flights, and to do that will require an upgrade to the terminal and the presence of Federal police. Unrelated to the deal itself has been the need to resolve the traffic buildup at the roundabout which accesses the airport (see below).

Actions so far: All the appropriate approvals are now in place, and work has commenced on the roundabout, although recent third party nearby owner objections may slow the progress.

Establishing an Antarctic and Science precinct at Macquarie Point

Comment: The establishment of the precinct is subject to the development of the Macquarie Point site and the completion of a business plan

Actions so far: The Macquarie Point precinct has been a slow-moving feast, but relevant approvals are now in place, access issues have been resolved, and elements of the business plan for the Antarctic and Science project have been initiated. However, much work still needs to be done before final agreement is reached.

Implementing a Greater Hobart Transport Vision

Comment: This Vision involves a number of different elements, involving the Bridgewater Bridge, the airport roundabout, trialling a new ferry service across the Derwent, a fifth lane on the Southern Outlet, and improvements in traffic management.

Actions so far: In the main, work is still underway in terms of the detailed design elements, and that is it, which is disappointing

Driving urban renewal and delivering affordable housing

Comment: The drive for this initiative is to bring affordable housing into the city precincts, which in many cases involves making precinct planning decisions.

Actions so far: After a slow start, the government has become more focused on the need to provide affordable housing and a range of partnerships have been established. However, outer suburban development is still progressing apace, and this will exacerbate existing traffic and transport problems.

Activating the Northern Suburbs Transit Corridor

Comment: This initiative is designed to create a public transport corridor along the old railway track between Hobart and Glenorchy.

Actions so far: Another project that has been beset with political involvement, the project still is in the planning stage and it appears it will remain there for some time yet. The planned redevelopment of the DEC precinct in association with Tasmania’s entry to the National Basketball League may bring this objective back to front of mind.

Being a smart, liveable and investment-ready city

Comment: Much of this initiative has been centred around the desire of the University to move into the City Centre. However, other elements do involve sporting infrastructure and upgrades to many retail precincts.

Actions so far: This program has witnessed a number of positive achievements. However, the University has suffered a slow-down and the idea of an innovation program needs more work.

Establishing and implementing a Greater Hobart Act

Comment: The purpose of this program is to  encourage continuing collaboration between the three layers of government

Actions so far: The passage of the Greater Hobart Act has been achieved.

We recognize the Hobart City Deal to be a 10 year program, and at times the wheels seem to turn exceeding slow. As well, the onset of the pandemic and the concentration of effort on the public health aspects has meant that attention has been diverted from programs such as this.

However, the premier has announced his intention to inspire and support an infrastructure-led recovery, and we hope that his attention will once again focus on the projects contained within this broader program.

The construction industry in particular needs this program of activity in order to survive, and the general public will also benefit from the maintenance of economic activity.

We believe the “deal” will have positive benefits for the city, the region and the state overall, and we need the deal to get moving.