Hobart identified as location for a future City Deal
As seen in The Mercury, 26 June, 2017
HOBART has been identified as one of the next locations for a City Deal from the Federal Government, following in the footsteps of Launceston and Townsville, according to the Regional Australia Institute.
But it must be innovative and transformational to get the deal and then make it work, says the independent think tank focused exclusively on regional issues.
In a comprehensive report released today looking at the contribution of regional cities to the national economy and how this can be increased through the use of City Deals, Hobart is slated as a likely future option by the RAI.
However, the RAI’s Great Small Cities Program leader Leonie Pearson has warned, unless local, state and federal governments are all on the same page and ready for the opportunity and challenges a Hobart City Deal would bring, then it would ultimately fail.
“City leaders need to be bold, innovative, co-ordinated and clear on the return on investment both for their cities and for national government,” she said. “All players in a City Deal need to be clear on rules of engagement for a collaborative City Deal.”
A City Deal is a long-term investment plan of up to 20 years, involving federal, state and local government, that can provide a functioning and funded structure for a city’s priorities and projects.
Last week the independent federal MP for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, again raised the issue of a Hobart City Deal with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who said the Federal Government needed “enthusiasm and commitment and engagement from the State Government and the city government” for negotiations to proceed further.
In November, Mr Turnbull announced that he would consider a City Deal for the capital, but earlier this month Hobart Lord Mayor Sue Hickey said “not a lot” had happened since then.
Mr Wilkie said the new RAI report showed that Hobart was perfectly suited for a City Deal and he called on the State Government to do more to reignite the process.
“Such a deal would help fund the essential projects that are needed to unleash Hobart’s potential, for example the UTAS STEM facility, restoration of passenger rail and a new Bridgewater Bridge,” he said.
“The only thing standing in the way is the State Government’s lack of enthusiasm.”
Premier Will Hodgman said Hobart was still very much in the mix to receive a City Deal and he would work with the Federal Government to achieve it.
“I look forward working with our federal counterparts to secure more good outcomes for Tasmania and in particularly in relation to our capital city,” he said.
The report from the RAI places Hobart among its “expanding cities” that would be in the mix to receive a City Deal.
It said there were nine lessons cities such as Hobart can take from City Deals in Great Britain, where they have been in place since 2010.
The lessons include:
BEING clear about local goals and economic prioritises,
LEADING with private sector involvement.
ESTABLISHING a new, innovative and transformational plan.
Property Council of Australia’s Tasmanian executive director Brian Wightman said projects such as the University of Tasmania’s expansion into the city centre, water and sewerage reform, public transport infrastructure and the highly anticipated Macquarie Point development must be the key cornerstones of a Hobart City Deal.
“There is a lot happening in Hobart, but we must be planning for the long-term rather than simply expecting that this current growth will continue forever,” he said.
“A City Deal will only work if it’s focused on the long term and is based on a broad bipartisan consensus about the future of Hobart.”