REASONS FOR CONFIDENCE

Premier Will Hodgman and TCCI CEO Michael Bailey

Premier Will Hodgman and TCCI CEO Michael Bailey at the TCCI/CPA State Government’s First 100 Days function on 19 June 2014

Don’t expect any silver bullets or miracles from the 100-day Liberal State Government but don’t fall into the trap of underestimating what has already been achieved and what is churning away behind the scenes.
As of tomorrow, the government will have met all of its list of items to be met in its first 100 days of government. As the 120 guests at the TCCI event heard the Premier Will Hodgman’s summary in Hobart yesterday and the 70 plus in Launceston today, there is a steely resolve to keep up the momentum to change Tasmania for the better.
The key promises for the first 100 days, big and small, are significant for business and the broader community. While the list has been published in the media, the major items relevant to business include an edict that government departments pay bills under $50,000 within 30 days (the majority of Tasmanian suppliers); appointment of a regulation reduction coordinator to identify and instigate removal of red and green tape; facilitate the return of an international shipping service to Tasmania; start the digital ready for retail programme to help retailers aggressively target business on line and appoint the planning reform taskforce to establish one state-wide planning scheme; small business jobs incentive to create new jobs and the expansion of years 11 and 12 to schools outside the State’s regional areas.
Tomorrow the government will call for expressions of interests in visionary and sensitive developments in the State’s National Parks. The advertisements will be nation-wide and also aimed at overseas investors.
But it was the unscripted part of the Premier’s delivery that really hit the target as evident from discussions after the function. Preparing for questions from the floor and TCCI member questions after his formal address, the Premier revealed that he was looking forward to answering questions because the last eight years as Opposition Leader was spent asking questions.
And the questions were answered decisively, with a touch of humour where appropriate and sans weasel words.  Some were suggesting that having a Premier who looked forward to answering questions with substance was close to a minor miracle, despite the promise of no miracles.
We also had an insight into the Premier’s modus operandi. Despite a testing time ahead with the Federal Government Budget repercussions, don’t expect to see any carping, or rock throwing, or banging fists on the table. Behind the scenes he and his Cabinet will be working sensibly, constructively and resolutely to achieve the best outcomes for Tasmania. Interpret that as meaning any punch-ups will remain behind closed doors.
He repeated his message to the business community that the best thing government could do for the industry was to keep out of the way. Having said that, he left business in no doubt that government would intervene where necessary, to assist and grab opportunities.
Examples were the negotiations and funding of an international shipping service and the Economic Development loan to a Hobart developer to start the construction of the new Myer building to get rid of the big, black hole in Liverpool St and create hundreds of jobs. No doubt, the Launceston City Council will be frantically working to see how they can fit the C.H. Smith bomb crater site into this category.
Equally encouraging was the Premier’s planning and plotting to retain the jobs of 250 Qantas call centre staff in Hobart and outbid Victoria and Queensland governments for an additional 250 relocated positions. The additional positions will become Tasmanian appointments if the interstate workers decide not to re-locate.
The plan succeeded because cards were kept close the chest, as they say, despite negative campaigns by unions, opposition and opposition Senators.
After Qantas made its decision to transfer the entire call centre to Hobart, a shocked Victorian Government Minister said: “Tasmania won because they wanted it more.”
What a powerful message that sends to the rest of Australia and to our local business community.

Michael Bailey
Chief Executive Officer, Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce

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