Tasmania can ride the boom

06/12/19

Australian money, currency or cash

The TCCI Tasmania Report is a real eye opener with terrific opportunities for the future and the need to boost our workforce, which is fine in Hobart but basically negative in the remainder of the state.

The economy is strong, the fastest economic growth in the nation over the past year and streets ahead of per capita basis. All industry grew for the first time ever.

Tasmania now has what the world wants including in tourism, agriculture, aquaculture and international education. Business confidence is strong, the population is growing and there is a big infrastructure pipeline.

National economist and Deloitte partner, Chris Richardson said in his presentation the first phase of Asian economic development might have been seen that continent hungry for coal and iron ore from West Australia, “But coming decades will see Asia hungry for Tasmania’s seafood, meat and dairy as well as fruit and vegetables,” Mr Richardson said. “These are areas where we have strengths; our agriculture output per person is well ahead of the rest of the country.

“Tasmanian tourism offers unique and value experiences to the world’s globetrotters. International tourism will continue to grow strongly in the next two decades and provided infrastructure such as airline capacity, accommodation and facilities at destination can keep up, Tasmania is well placed to continue to ride this boom.”

Job creation needs the support of Government, the business community and education. All organisations are wanting jobs growth but there seems to be a gap between the trio which can be overcome but working together.

In education and training, it will be critical to continue to lift the Year 12 completion rate, ensure the vocational training system is well funded and that training is directed to jobs that Tasmania needs.

“Not every Tasmanian needs to go to university, but there are skills and knowledge critical for future employment that just aren’t learnt by year 10,” Mr Richardson said.

“Extension of high schools to cover Year 12 will help but the results need to be monitored and they don’t show the improvement needed, new strategies will need to be considered.”

The full report is online: click here


Answer to the failure of education

The national failure of education which could lead to math dropping from fifth in the international tests in 2020 to fifth last in 2030 with similar results in reading and science.

Everybody is now blaming everyone else from teachers, political parties and anyone who puts their head out at the moment.

But a classic letter to the editor in the Mercury yesterday may have answered the questions of the failure.

The Headline was “Tested wrong subjects.”

“I don’t understand what the big deal is with Australian schools.  The areas we were evaluated on (reading, math and science) have nothing to do with our priority classes.

If we had been tested on inclusion, sexual diversity, anti-bullying, mountain biking, social media, or organised protests we would have done great.”

Thank you Miles C.Pitman of Dover.  Definitely the letter of the year.


Two $50 million projects in Launceston hit the wall

Last week we mentioned the booming economy in Tasmania but the pressure was on the state’s planning system to ensure projects are not delayed by red tape or overly bureaucratic.

Well believe it or not, Launceston has just lost two $50 million projects in the rubbish tin. Well not quite dead yet but a massive knock by Local Government planners and state bureaucratic resource and management planning, RMPAT has created holds ups of one, two, three years at best.

The Launceston City Council approved the $50million Gorge Hotel but last month RMPAT didn’t like the idea leaving the project on the river. A month later, $50 million Kings Wharf Towers are close to death with an unrealistic approach by Launceston Council planners.

The Kings Wharf Towers would create two 13-storey luxury apartment blocks costing $1.3m plus. The developer, Errol Stewart, great supporter and developer for Tasmania but particularly his hometown of Launceston heard negative discussion from the July start of the project.

Its been revealed the King Wharf Towers team had been told several times that the planners at Launceston City Council had already made the decision the development was not going to get up.

So 400 plus jobs are now on hold in a city which desperately needs top accommodation and a new approach for housing in a state desperately needing housing.

Surely this shows the need for regulatory reform so that States have a planning scheme to assist developers and councils to have a clear understanding.

It shouldn’t be a fight which happens so often, but a mature approach from Local Government and developers working together for the best outcomes for our state.

As the author of this week’s TCCI Tasmanian Report, 2019, national economist, Chris Richardson,  said in his terrif report: “By any measure Tasmania has too many councils. Simple as that. Greater co-operation across councils is nice but ultimately not as effective as larger, stronger entities than can have broader regional focus.”


Bushfire season arrives early, local council GM remuneration highlights need for amalgamation.

29/11/19

Australian Bush Fires - Loan Firefighter Observes Damage

We don’t have to tell Australians that fire season has started around the country and summer doesn’t start until next week.

But do we understand there are between 52,000 and 54,000 bushfires in Australia every year.

Probably not and in fact, the co-director of Australian’s National Centre for Research in Bushfire, Dr Paul Read, puts the figure higher at 62,000 and increasing.

Dr Read, a senior lecturer in Monash, said half of Australia’s bushfires were lit by humans. His figures show that 13 per cent of fires are started deliberately and 37 per cent were suspicious.

“This means 31,000 Australian bushfires are either arson, or suspected arson every year,” Dr Read said.

“The figure does not include recklessness or accidents. So a bushfire caused by a barbecue or a spark from a chainsaw, would be classed as “accidental.”

“In short, up to 85 bushfires begin every day because someone leaves their house and decides to start a fire.”

The nine major categories of bushfire ignition are: ARSON, as mentioned; RAILWAY by trains throwing out a wall of sparks; SMOKING when cigarettes are flicked to spark a fire; BURNING off becomes out of control, embers from campfires etc; EQUIPMENT use, such as chainsaw grinders and sparks from lawn mowers; CHILDERN playing with matches and lighters mostly by curiosity than malice; LIGHTNING and MISCELLANEOUS  such as power lines, firearms, blasting, glass refraction and electric fences.

The author of the nine categories, an adjunct lecturer in wildfire investigations at Charles Sturt University, Richard Woods, said the motivations for why people commit arson were varied and complex. While figures varied, he agrees that half of all bushfires in Australia are either known to be deliberately, or considered suspicious according to the Australian Institute of Criminology.

While hot, dry and windy weather increases the risk of fire starting, the experts believes the nine categories are the major ignition of fires in Australia.


Love him or not, Jeff Kennett, saved a near bankrupted Victoria through a series of tough decisions but including the amalgamation of Local Government, a big winner for the Premier and the community.

He dissolved 210 councils and sacked 1600 elected councilors and halved the Melbourne municipalities to 26.

He then created 78 new councils through amalgamation of Regional councils.

The lift of development and confidence in many of the regional cities such as Ballarat, Geelong, Bendigo and many others were an example of Kennett’s success even though he did get badly beaten in the1999 election, but it wasn’t because of the local government re-build.

The Mercury newspaper has again raised the reasons why so many in Tasmania are calling for reducing Tasmania’s ridiculous 20 councils in a state of 550,000 people.

While the Mercury story doesn’t talk amalgamation, it reveals the annual reports of Tasmanian council General Managers salary packages. The packages can include salary, superannuation, motor vehicle and other allowances and benefits.

So prepare yourself for the result – the GM’s of Tasmania’s councils were paid $6,497,183, which is close enough to $6.5 million per year.

The GM of Hobart, Nick Heath, won the gold medal by earning between $360,000 to $379,999.  Premier, Will Hodgman’s base is $301,397.

The GM of Launceston, Michael Stretton, earns $260,001 to $280,000 managing the biggest council in the state with 66,000 ratepayers. Interesting result for Devonport’s GM who has less than half the ratepayers and is paid $296,183.

Many of the GM’s are dedicated to their profession and work day and night to bring together the best decisions for their ratepayers and councilors. Don’t forget the councilors, some who work very hard and almost drown in meetings and papers to read and understand. However, the payments to councilors are costing the state about $3.9 million and probably more which is questionable.

Business, supported by the TCCI, are delayed by red tape, or overly bureaucratic processes. Some of the problems are councils and some are State and Federal Governments.

The State needs a new approach and starting with Kennett’s approach is ideal.


Government sets sights on Westbury for new prison location, safe injecting room at Lennox St not enough to reduce public drug use, and a new innovative digital health record is made available for Tasmanian’s.

15/11/19

Westbury-Prison

Image source: Tasmanian Government.

A bright light has emerged this week in the mist of the political and ridiculous approach of union doctors and nurses with a Tasmanian digital record to control your health.

Snug, Australia’s most innovative and easy digital health record, which will make life much easier for GP’s and all levels of health in hospitals, particularly Emergency Departments.

No, Snug is not connected to the small coastal town in the Huon Highway, 30 minutes out of Hobart but a name agreed on by Healthcare Software and St LukesHealth. Snug is a joint venture between the two businesses which has worked for about three years to finalise the project.

Snug aims to improve health outcomes for all Australians through providing easy access to an innovative digital health record, bringing together all your medical history, fitness, data and health information in one secure location.

By consolidating medical history, prescriptions, allergies and medications together with My Health Record data and personal information, Snug provides an understanding that will assist the user in making more informed choices about treatments and health behaviours.

With 90 per cent of Australians owning a smartphone and many having wearable health and fitness devises, this affordable and easy app is developed with the goal of placing users in the driver’s seat for their health care management.

Snug is an essential tool which can be used to manage medications, keep track of blood glucose and blood pressure while allowing carers and loved ones to remotely view this up-to-date medical information online.

As the Snug CEO, Michael Bennett said, the ability to also share your health with GP’s, hospitals and other professionals in real time will ultimately generate better outcomes.

“This is particularly important in Tasmania, where we record the highest rates to chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and lung disease,” Mr Bennett said.

Snug has several other opportunities for users particularly for parents looking to develop a life-long health record for their children from birth and to keep track of immunisations, medications, development milestones, doctors notes and personal health information.

The information collated by Snug is protected by Microsoft Azure, one of the only five providers in Australia certified by the Defence Department. The high level security means all information is guaranteed to be held in Australia and not overseas.

StLukesHealth members will provide the apps and information for free. Non-members will pay a modest price and for more information about Snug contact –

www.snughealth.com.au, or Snug on Facebook @SnugHealth.


Risdon Prison hits its 60th birthday next year, not that it means a birthday cake and presents but it does mean it’s time for a second prison appropriate for the North.

Government has decided the prison should be built near Westbury, an acceptable geographic position.

Maybe the Government’s decision of deciding the site before telling the community is questionable but the Meander Council was aware of the decision and accepted the opportunity to bring hundreds of jobs and income in the region.

If you had asked the Westbury community did they support a new prison in the Northern region of the state the answer would be yes. However, if you asked should it be in Westbury, many would say not in our back yard.

Risdon Prison replaced the convict built Campbell St, which basically was a block from the Hobart CBD. Male prisoners moved to Risdon Prison in November, 1960 and the women inmates remained at Campbell St before moving to Risdon in 1963.

Authorities then considered Risdon Prison as one of the world’s best because it had a number of innovations, including flushing toilets, the only ones in Australia. How things have changed.

I was in boarding at St Virgil’s College, Hobart at the time and while there were stories about the new prison, I can’t recall people marching in the streets or people from the Eastern Shore attacking politicians.

I was inside the Risdon Prison in 1964 and it was the first and last attendance. The Prison Chaplain found himself without altar-boys for the weekend Mass at Risdon Prison so an offer of a roast luncheon was too attractive for myself and a good friend so off to Risdon we went.

The chapel was packed, while no eye contact was suggested, I did notice a Devonport fellow who we thought had moved to interstate to live, wrong! The prisoner who read the sermon was a double murderer and spoke extremely well which I found difficult to understand, a definite oxymoron.

The luncheon was terrific but we made it clear to our friendly Priest to look elsewhere next time.

Today Risdon is basically full up and logic says we need a Northern prison. Now community is calling for the prison and if it’s Westbury then so be it.


While Westbury might think it’s tough, have a trip to Lennox St, Richmond, the Melbourne Richmond.

The Victorian Government has supported a two-year trial of a safe injecting facility based in Lennox St. A medically supervised injecting room is a hygienic injecting room where people can inject drugs in a supervised health setting and if someone overdoses in the room, staff can respond immediately.

However, since the trial has started earlier this year, a massive number of drug users in the area are shunning the centre to shoot up in public.

As journalist Carolyn Cage said in April: “Every time I catch the tram near the corner of Lennox and Victoria Streets, I know what I will encounter. I will walk down a street lined with syringes and come across either a drug exchange, a person injecting themselves or find someone laying barely conscious on the footpath. I work at the local pub around the corner from my house and on a weekly basis we have someone come in attempting to shoot up. The regular punters know to put their foot against the door when someone suspicious walks past to stop them from entering. The previous week, I left the park as two people came to shoot up beside me.”

But there is worst as my wife and I discovered walking past Lennox St heading to a favourite Vietnamese restaurant in Victoria St.

Adjacent to the injecting room is Richmond West State School with hundreds of young students playing also sorts of sports, but very big on basketball last week. Looking through the fence are men and women yelling and screaming and high on their drugs as they walk past the kids playing sport.

The school has to be cleaned each morning by picking up syringes and other nasties before the children arrive.

No doubt the safe injecting facility is helping some people, but unfortunately it hasn’t reduced the incidence of public drug use and certainly is not helping the hundreds of school kids that are exposed to this behaviour.

The Westbury Prison sounds far better than Lennox St.


 


Australians are drowning in red tape, while Launceston faces another knock back for development opportunities.

08/11/19

TBR_Launceston Gorge

Image Source: CBG Architects

No wonder business and the community are frustrated by the red tape which has increased by 9 per cent to 350,000 of legislation and regulation despite a 2013 major red tape attack.

Former Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, pledged to slash constraints on the economy and it worked. Not only did he attack Federal agencies but he also worked with state governments to pull back the ridiculous amount of legislation and regulation. The level of regulation dropped more than 3 per cent in 2014 as a result of the PM’s campaign which not only made life a little easier for everyone but also saved the economy $6 billion.

Constraints from regulations made by federal agencies have surged by almost 200 per cent since that year, with more than 350,000 constraints in federal legislation and regulations combined. Queensland has 118,786 restrictions, the biggest number in the country followed closely by Victoria with 113,737.

Research by the Institute of Public Affairs also showed Tasmania had the lowest number with 39,514, the least in aggregate however with 74 per 1000 people it makes for a higher rate than the other states.

Experts on the matter suggest that Tasmanians are now drowning in red tape. Remember that while Federal regulations attract the most attention, state government impose a substantial regulation impost.

An example of how substantial the red tape problem is, is that the 20.5 million words of NSW legislation and regulation would take an average person 28 weeks to read. Tasmania needs to continue removing red tape as well as the Federal Government to boost investment which will increase capital and lift profits and wages.

It’s a win, win for all and a no brainer for Tasmania.


Co-incidence perhaps that last night was Tony Abbott’s farewell by the Liberal party in Sydney with a tribute dinner for his service as the Federal member of Warringah for 25 years. The former PM attracted more than 1000 people including PM, Scott Morrison, former PM John Howard along with former colleagues such as Josh Frydenberg, Peter Dutton and Tasmanian Senator, Eric Abetz.

As the media said, it was supposed to be a somber farewell but instead felt more like a victory party. The political spectrum joined together to commemorate a career never dull and dramatic.

His leadership of breaking red tape worked for the first time and his former colleagues now have the opportunity to cut back instead of increasing legislation and regulation which costs billions and holds back development much needed throughout the country.


While the Resource Management Planning Appeals Tribunal believes there are reasons why the $50 million Gorge Hotel shouldn’t be built, it’s yet another knock back for the development of Launceston.

An appeal against the hotel near the Launceston Gorge was upheld yesterday but with little information as to why has understandably frustrated the JAC Group which has developed so many opportunities for Launceston and the State.

The hotel’s construction would create up to 200 direct and indirect jobs with 145 top quality rooms and a 500 people conference stadium.

All but one of the Launceston City Councillors approved the project in June. City of Launceston Mayor, Albert van Zetten, said the council was disappointed by the ruling.

“From the City of Launceston’s perspective, the process had the support of the council and we believe it was consistent with the planning scheme,” the Mayor said.

“As for the future, council is certainly open to meeting with the proponent to understand their future plans for the development.”

Let’s hope JAC Group has the patience to continue.


Australian media faces off against State and Federal government in the ‘Your Right To Know’ Campaign, and the North versus South rivalry lives on in the fight for a Tasmanian AFL team.

25/10/19

TBR_Stadium

Image courtesy of TasPark

The ‘Your Right To Know’ campaign of capital and regional newspapers around Australia is certainly making it clear that they are serious, hammering Federal and State Government for blocking out information to the community and holding back “secrets” which should be shared, according to media.

Basically media wants to share all the information which will sell papers, attract online paper viewers, TV watchers, radio listeners and all aspects of social media and attract TV and radio. Media is also a great supporter of whistleblowers even if the information is questionable, but occasionally a genuine story embarrasses governments for their stupidity in not releasing information to the community that they themselves should be sharing.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Government would always believe in the freedom of the press. “It’s an important part of our freedom as a Liberal democracy” the PM said.

“I also believe in the rule of law and that no-one is above it, including me or anyone else, any journalist.”

A very supportive approach but also a message to the media, don’t think you are above the law. The national interest often demands that some government business is not revealed but how this is managed and balanced can be awkward.

An example of pushing the campaign a little too far is highlighted in the Mercury today according to tourism Industry Council Tasmania CEO, Luke Martin.

Mr Martin’s comments came after Environment and Parks Minister, Peter Gutwein, said proposals for developments in national parks were being pursued through the Government’s expression of interest and that the process would only be public once they were approved to proceed to lease and licence negotiations.

Mr Gutwein said the proposals being considered would deliver an investment of $100 million and 250 jobs in national parks, reserves and clown land.

“The proposals being considered in round two of the process would not be realised until they are approved to protect the intellectual property of the proponents.”

Mr Martin supports the Government’s approach and suggested the Mercury had a broader agenda about transparency in government. He said the process gave government the ability to give developments the “green light” but it was not the final approval. It also gave proponents a commitment ensuring that their intellectual property will be protected and their proposal would be assessed within a reasonable time frame.

Now that is smart business and not a debate on ‘Your Right To Know’.


Common sense wins the game with the North and South now agreeing that the $1.2 billion or architect Don Gallagher’s $550 million football stadium at Macquarie shouldn’t come to fruition.

But nor will the fight end between two cities, Launceston and Hobart, lobbying for the AFL Tasmanian team to be based in their city. The Examiner newspaper supporting Launceston says the base should be in Launceston due to central location, particularly the 100,000 mad footballers in the North West, remember Darrel Baldock, Matthew Richardson and tens of others.

The paper suggests that the ability to expand and access University of Tasmania Stadium in Launceston would provide a greater homegrown advantage to the team. The Hobart Mercury asks the question of why not build it (the stadium) in Launceston?

Well, the editorial said here’s an uncomfortable truth: “There is no way a future AFL team could ever be based in the northern city that is home to about 100,000 people. It’s just not big enough.”

“Even Hobart with an approximate 230,000 residents is considered right on the edge of being too small. But as for its home base, nobody is seriously talking about Launceston.”

Incorrect. Apart from the North and North West with populations of around 213,000, former AFL players, business leaders and the community are already calling for the AFL base to be in Launceston.

The CEO of the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Michael Bailey has a very different approach than that of The Mercury and their Hobart readers.

Not only does Mr Bailey question having games played in Launceston and Hobart but believes there’s a need to be a focus on a single location in Tasmania.

“When a team has one home base that they know intimately, it becomes a ‘house of pain’ for visiting teams. Look at Geelong and the terrific win rate of Hawthorn playing at the Launceston UTAS Stadium. The 21,000 needs to be increased which could be an opportunity for UTAS to have a sports science partnership with the new UTAS Campus adjacent to the stadium.”

The Mercury reveals a bombshell that the AFL has privately made it known that the promise of a 25,000-seat, or so, stadium would hugely help in building Tasmania’s case for its home team in the big league.

“Hobart based Premier, Will Hodgman is therefore an advocate behind the scenes to build the 25,000 stadium at Macquarie Point, on the edges of the wharf area on the Derwent River.”

Don’t forget that the nine Ministers, including the Premier, and five ministers in Cabinet including the Treasurer, Peter Gutwein, live in the North. The deputy Premier, Jeremy Rockliff and Roger Jaensch live in the North West electorate of Braddon.

What a game this is going to be.


Survey highlights the highs and lows in the life of Tasmanian children, Tourism Tasmania reports a loss in growth statewide while the big four face off against the Government with new rate cuts.

18/10/19

Image

Good to see Tasmanian children happy in life with fewer than expected being subjected to bullying in the classroom and playgrounds.

The 28,000 Tassie kids survey revealed that 80 per cent are optimistic and 82 per cent are part of a group of friends.

The results of state schools released this week, revealed 95 per cent of students had a good relationship and support from their teachers and 89 per cent expressed confidence in their learning abilities. Other positive results included 87 per cent of students saying that they felt safe at school.

The information collected is anonymous which means the students can be totally honest with neither their teachers or classmates having any idea of who responded to the survey.

The major negative was 40 percent of senior school students “don’t feel good” about the way they look, marking a prevalent confidence issue for boys and girls growing up in today’s times.

A surprise result was 8 per cent saying they experienced frequent bullying, which was quite lower than accepted.

The Minister for Education, Jeremy Rockliff said while the number was low, it was still 8 per cent too much.

“Our objective is to have a bully-free state,” Mr Rockliff said.

Hear, hear.


A horrible example of school bullying in Melbourne will now be heading to the Supreme Court with a student allegedly being traumatised after five years of consistent bullying.

The unnamed former Camberwell Girls’ Grammar student claims she was harassed, ridiculed and severely traumatised by a clique of girls for five years.

The Herald Sun story said the teenager’s pleas for help from the school fell on deaf ears, despite more than a dozen official complaints by her and her parents, according to court documents.

The now 19-year-old said the bullying was so severe her academic future and job prospects had been damaged as a result.

In a damning statement of claim, the former student said she was teased, called a grizzly bear because of body hair; called ugly and had her birthday party boycotted; subjected to rumours she was a lesbian and suffered from anorexia; mocked for sitting alone at lunch after being ostracised by classmates and threatened on social media that if she didn’t vote for one of the bullies for Student Council she would “get it.”

No wonder Mr Rockliff is fighting for a “bully-free state.”


As tourism leader, Lake Martin, said when summarising the negative Tasmanian tourism figures for the past 12 months, “it’s a wake-up call.”

With a 1.6 percent drop in visitors to the state and a disappointing 14 per cent drop with overnight stays the alarm bell is ringing.

Tasmania was the only state or territory to have a negative drop in numbers across the total visitors recorded but the results from night stays had similar negative figures from South Australia -9.5; WA, -10.9 and Northern Territory -11.0.

While the Tasmanian figures are negative according to the Tourism Research Australia, remember that Tasmania had an amazing increase in recent years visitors arriving from around the world. Tourism in Tasmania directly and indirectly contributes $3.2 billion or 10.3 per cent to Gross State Product.

Tourism directly and indirectly supports 428,000 jobs in Tasmania, about 17.3 per cent of total Tasmanian employment. According to Tourism Tasmania, the state average is the highest in the country.

Last year we had some problems including fires in our wilderness areas reducing the normally attracted areas for our tourists, as well as some tight economies in Australia and the rest of the world.

However and despite new hotels in Hobart and Launceston we are still lacking hundreds of top accommodation options in our busy times.

Unfortunately several hotel DA’s have been knocked back by local councils for ridiculous reasons, particularly in Hobart and the hold-up of the $45 million Gorge Hotel in Launceston.

Tasmania has created some amazing new attractions including MONA, wilderness walks, Pennicott Wilderness Journeys and exciting restaurants delivering our beautiful Tasmanian produce and seafood.

But a friend staying over this week from Melbourne and a former Tasmanian, cannot believe the Mt Wellington Cable Car project is still butchered by the South Hobart retired Public Service activists. Having regular overseas trips, he has used cable cars in many countries, including Queenstown, NZ.

“People come from around the world to jump on the Queenstown cable car which has boosted tourism like nothing else. However, the Mt Wellington Cable Car would be an outstanding ride looking over unique Tasmanian sights and probably the best in the world.

“It’s not just for Hobart, it would be a Tasmanian icon and it would attract at least 10 per cent more tourists and will cut back emissions from thousands of cars and buses running up and down the mountain.”

As Luke said: “It’s a wake-up call.”


The big four banks now have support from smaller banks, including the MyState Bank in Hobart, in attacking the Federal Government’s criticism of banks for failing to pass on the full rates of which are now the lowest in history.

Commonwealth Bank chief executive Matt Comyn, said the low interest rates were hurting banks and depositors. He highlighted that the banks’s deposit customer numbers outweighed residential borrower numbers, with the bank having about 1.6 million borrowers and six million depositors.

Mr Comyn said 60 per cent of CBA’s funding came from deposits, up 60 per cent from a decade ago while the remainder was sourced from wholesale markets. That meant changes to deposit rates had the largest impact on CBA and its customers with $160 billion in deposits it cannot reduce, given rates for savers were already at historic lows.

My State chairman, Miles Hampton, said the Federal Government’s criticism failed to recognise banks needed to balance competing interest.

“Borrowers want the lowest possible interest rates on loans, depositors want the highest interest rate on their deposits and shareholders have a right to expect a reasonable return for their capital that facilitates the whole banking process,” Mr Hampton said.

“At the end of the day, our borrowers, depositors and shareholders decide if we have got it right. If our deposit rates are not competitive borrowers will go elsewhere but we continue to to see strong growth in our loan book.”

“If our deposit rates are uncompetitive there will be an outflow of our most important source of funding.”

MyState Bank is finding that consumers are paying down debt on mortgages instead of spending on goods and services which the Government was expecting.

So it appears that the losers are the Banks, Government, and the depositors who are now living on very small rates, goods and services and missing out on the spend. Mortgages are the winners despite a lesser figure than the Government wanted.


Research calls for Launceston CBD to respond and adapt under a rapidly changing retail economy, while standing desks could be the answer to creating healthier workplaces.

04/10/19

Launceston CBD

Image courtesy of The Examiner

A study to examine factors that encourage people to shop, or factors that may discourage shopping in Launceston’s CBD is a wake up call for many retailers and others who have seen the light are trading quite well.

Engaged by the City of Launceston, Dr Louise Grimmer a retailer researcher at UTAS, made it very clear that retailers must be agile in responding to a changing industry and consumer landscape.

“To put it bluntly, retailers who are non-responsive will simply be left behind.” Dr Grimmer said in her research.

“Small and independent retailers throughout Australia are having to respond and adapt to the disruption presented by online shopping, competition from national chains and the entry of international stores. The retail sector is facing unprecedented technological change and the digital economy is rapidly transforming traditional modes of shopping.”

Dr Grimmer said that a third of Launceston retailers have yet to re-act to the technological changes. People are still wanting to shop in their CBD’s but they are also looking for an experience in Launceston. “Customer service is an experience and many shops in Launceston provide a 10 out 10 service, as they do in other parts of the state. Unfortunately there are still some disappointing outcomes. Retailers can’t risk this anymore.”

Apart from customer service, food and coffee options are also significant positives while the negatives are parking, anti-social behaviour and vacant shops such as Birchalls. Rumours suggest the Birchalls site would have a new, unexpected life which will attract numbers.The online shopping growth in 2018, is a challenge for Launceston’s retail sector however data shows retail vacancies are at lower levels than previously, that new businesses continue to open and there many retailers trading strongly.

There’s no doubt Launceston was flattened by the loss of Gunns in 2012, a $1billion company and the biggest in Tasmania at the time. Not only were 1200 direct jobs lost, hundreds more jobs were lost around the state and a massive loss of the forestry industry. Many of those wages were spent in Launceston’s CBD and only now are the dollars coming back.

As Dr Grimmer said there are many retailers trading strongly. It’s now up to the others to respond to the opportunity created by technical and online opportunity.


Do you use a standing desk at work? Or are you a chronic sitter and stuck in a routine which is now described as “sittingitis.”

Statistics now show that the “sitting disease” problem creates physical and mental consequences that impact us through being sedentary.

In fact the research shows that by using the standing desk you can burn calories in comparison to running 18 plus marathons, cycling 700km or swimming 170km.

The physical and mental consequences impacted by sedentary includes;

Chronic Disease: People who sit a lot tend to die earlier.

Obesity and Weight Gain: Calorie burning and fat metabolism shuts down when you sit for too long.

Back Pain: Excessive sitting can lead to, or exacerbate chronic back and neck pain.

Depression: Too little physical activity not only leads to current depressive symptoms but also increases the likelihood of future symptoms.

Some simple and effective changes is all that’s needed to reverse the negative effect. Researchers from Victoria University and the University of Queensland analysed a survey of responses from 8950 women looking for associations among all these areas. They found that those who sat more than seven hours a day had a 47 per cent risk for current depressive symptoms than those who sat less than four hours per day.

Women who did no physical activity had a 99 per cent higher risk for developing depressive symptoms than those who met modest exercise guides.

Those who sat for several multiple hours and undertook no exercise were three times more likely to have depressive symptoms than women who sat less and exercised more.

This information was collated by the way of e-mail from marc.baker@mediapruk.com who is selling standup desks for $550.

Interesting reading but I’m comfortable sitting down in my office and doing my hour a day walk.


Potential payrise for politicians causes a stir, Tasmania in headlines for shifting citizenship ceremony dates

20/09/19

Parliament House

Sometimes a significant pay increase can be a problem. A good example is Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews who has a $46,522 salary increase, or a 11 per cent increase. If he accepts the annual increase he’s going to have a hell of a fight telling public service union that the cap is 2 per cent is for all workers expect politicians.

Victorian Independent Remuneration Tribunal’s first review of state parliamentarians’ pay handed out all members at least a 3.5 per cent increase from September 16. And surprise, surprise this is the second pay rise for Victorian pollies in the last three months.

As The Australian said: “The 3.5 per cent and 2.92 per cent increase alone mean Victorian politicians will have received increases of 6.42 per cent since June when the annual national wage price index is 2.3 per cent and CPI to June, 1.6 per cent.”

Mr Andrews $441,439 makes him the highest paid Premier and the second highest paid politician behind the PM, Scott Morrison $549,250. The second highest Premier, NSW’s Glady’s Berejiklian and the lowest in Tasmania at $318,219 for Will Hodgman.

The Victorian Opposition Leader takes home $352,057; Minister’s $309,621 and backbenchers $211,250 again the highest paid in states and Territories. Tasmania is again the lowest in the nation with Opposition leader, Rebecca White, returning $238,314; Ministers $238,314 and MP Backbenchers $140,185.

Speakers were not mentioned in the figures but we certainly heard from Tasmania’s House of Assembly Speaker, Sue Hickey, that her payment of $190,000 is the lowest in the nation.

Mr Andrews and his team is now facing negotiations with public sector unions including the tram and bus union, the ambulance union and police and firefighters unions in the coming months.

A ‘Weigh In’ story earlier this year highlighted the approach of Victorian Treasurer, Tim Pallas, to cap increases by 2 per cent because of billions lost through stamp duties with a nasty decrease of real estate sales.

Unions have demands for pay increases of 4 to 6 percent per year by the unions and rejecting the 2 per cent. Already there has been plenty of union activity but nothing to compare the explosions which will start soon if Mr Andrews excepts the 11 per cent increase.

The Tasmanian Government has experienced a difficult time with its cap of 2 per cent for Public Servants increases but they have a strong base to argue seeing they cut back their increases from the Tasmanian Independent Commission to 2.5 per cent.

Don’t expect a 11 percent for the Premier anytime soon.


Not often does Launceston hit Page 1 and P3 on The Australian but it happened today.

It wasn’t about trees, or fish farming or pulp mills but Launceston City Council decision to shift citizenship ceremonies from Australia Day January 26 to January 25.

The Launceston Mayor, Albert Van Zetten said the decision was aimed at being more inclusive of Aboriginal people, many of whom view January 26 as “Invasion Day” rather than a national celebration.

“As a council we’re agreed it was a day in history that was very sad and disappointing in terms of what happened to the Aboriginal people,” Mayor van Zetten said.

The decision mean’s the city’s citizenship ceremony and former Australian Day Awards would be held January 25 and the awards renamed as “community recognition awards”.

The Mayor also said the at policy would be remain until or unless the Morrison government carried out its threats to change the Citizenship Ceremonies Code to mandate the conduct of citizenship ceremonies on January 26.

Tasmanian Liberal Senator, Eric Abetz, has hammered the Launceston Council asking: “Why on earth do you pick the 25th of January? What’s the tradition? What’s the historical reason or it?” Senator Abetz said.

This morning the Mayor told ABC that he would be forced back to January 26 for the Citizenship Ceremonies if mandated by the Federal Government.

Interesting to see where this will land but no doubt the millions dollars passed onto Local Government may help councillors’ change their mind.


ASADA testing puts West Coast Eagles star on the side lines, forecasting for protests a numbers game and Launceston Chamber of Commerce backs infrastructure development statewide.

13/09/19

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Photo: AFL Player Willie Rioli, courtesy of the Nine Network.

It’s frustrating to see a very good AFL footballer tampering with a urine sample with an anti-doping test which could sideline him for four years.

West Coast Eagles star, Willie Rioli, was informed by the AFL of the suspension shortly after landing into Melbourne on Wednesday night and according to Eagles management, he was shattered by the news. Rioli is now suspended from football for at least this season and pulled out of tonight’s semi-final against Geelong at the MCG.

Rioli had been caught pouring an energy drink into the urine taken by two Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority officers overseeing a drug test in Perth last month. How and why he tried to dupe the system is not only stupid but obviously the urine test would be positive.

The testing process requires the player to provide 90ml of urine which is immediately poured into A and B sample bottles. Under ASADA’s strict testing code, the sample bottles are securely shut and can only be reopened by a special lab machine. ASADA’S process for men and women is very crude. Clothes are shed to ankles and above breasts and the anti-doping officers watch the urine coming from the body into a receptacle.

Interviews recently from footballer Jordan Lewis and  Champion netballer, Sherelle McMahon said they understand the need for the tests but they agree the process is very confronting.

How Rioli found the opportunity to tamper with the test is unknown but obviously ASADA will provide more detail when the results of the second test are available soon. Then again, drug testing around the world can be a challenge.

Last month American basketball player, DJ. Coopers, moved to Europe plying his trade. Looking to join the Bosnian national team, cooper needed to take a drug test as part of the formalities.

Officials found that the sample he provided contained some unusual results. He was pregnant! Well not really but according to the tests he was, so obviously he had sent a female urine and not his own. The urine actually belonged to his girlfriend who was also shocked that she was pregnant. No basketball for a couple of years but looking forward to their baby.


It’s so easy for the media to fall into the trap of reporting numbers expected at protests and equally as dangerous reporting the actual numbers who turned up.

As Andrew Bolt said in the Herald Sun this week a classic stuff up thanks to the Extinction Rebellion “pests.”

“You’ve just helped journalists and business leaders to wise up to social media frauds,” Bolt said.

On Friday, Melbourne’s Age blared: “Up to 10,000 protesters to ‘swarms’ CBD ahead of blockbuster MCG Final.” But only the Age had to admit: only about 300 demonstrators gathered at the State Library. In fact, the Herald Sun counted closer to 100, one hundredth of what the Age had tipped.

Evidently the police were expecting up to 10,000 protesters however, that doesn’t mean 10,000 will turn up as the Age now understands. Finding the numbers during and after the protest, is not one of the strengths of journalists but there are some basics to overcome the embarrassment.

The first rule is don’t ask the Green movement about their protest numbers as they will at least double the real number. It’s the old example of counting legs, not heads. Police are usually much closer but sometimes go up and down depending on who is marching.

An old approach is to be there and start counting. If it’s a street march you can find a an average of the number in the rows maybe five or six, then count the  rows as they go past and you will have good start numbers. Then you can share your figures with the police and the organisation managing the protest and your numbers will be very close and acceptable.

Of course this means you have to be there to work your numbers and get it right if you’re allowed out of your office!


Launceston, a private enterprise city, has the greatest opportunity for decades to take a big step forward by accepting new infrastructure on merit and not sticking to unrealistic Local Government regulation.

Like many regional cities around Australia, Launceston and the North cannot attract the small to medium sized business conferences because the region doesn’t have sufficient numbers of four to five-star rooms in current hotels.

Numbers are creeping up with the Silos Hotel being established and with the building of the Verge Hotel in Launceston CBD, but with the 400 shortage expected over the next couple of years, being able to satisfy demand depends on the approval of the massive international Fragrance hotel ownership that has lodged a DA to the Launceston Council, and the $40 million Gorge Hotel fighting the last part of an appeal.

Hobart is also in desperate need of top accommodation and while some DA’s have been accepted plenty of knock backs have been evident due to height, size and vision. Launceston has to be sensible and flexible to grow the city and have the support of its ratepayers.

An opinion piece in The Examiner this week from the executive officer of Launceston Chamber of Commerce, Neil Grose, hit the target and has been supported by business organisations and ratepayers.

Mr Grose said that ongoing growth in Launceston would depend greatly on the city being open for business and willing to meet and beat the competition.

“Embracing new developments on their merits instead of pre-conceived bias will lead to a more  prosperous and competitive city, one in which we can build a solid future for more generations to come,” Mr Grose said.

“Launceston cannot afford to stand still in an era of increasingly competitive regionals cities, technology-driven commerce and countless other options for investors’ capital.”

The Launceston Chamber of Commerce understands that the Fragrance proposal has been worked through the Launceston City Council over a long period in contrast to Hobart City pushing back clients for political decisions.

The Chamber is 100 per cent correct. The city’s future should be based on merit and if it is higher than agreed regulations, so be it.


Tasmania holds strongest economic growth in the nation, Julian De Stroop sheds light on outlandish AFL trade week stories, while TCCI CEO Michael Bailey gives an update on the energy sector.

Businessman plan growth and increase of positive indicators

06/09/19

Tasmania should be cheering for the state’s economic growth, which is now the strongest growth in the nation.

This week’s figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show the state’s economy growing by 0.6 per cent in June and by 3.4 per cent for the financial year. No wonder Treasurer, Peter Gutwein, was delighted.

“Yesterday’s result marks the first time in 15 years that Tasmania’s economic growth rate outstripped that of all other state and territories on a financial year basis,” Mr Gutwein said in the parliament yesterday. “This result is also the first time in more than a quarter of a century that Tasmania’s growth has more than tripled that of the nation’s power house economy, New South Wales, on a financial year basis.

“We have worked very hard in terms of our long-term plan.”

Politics are politics, but it was disappointing that members on the other side looked very sour and couldn’t find a positive word. This should be a bipartisanship approach with the community gaining the beneficiaries including a confidence boost throughout the state. Despite media crisis and emergency stories over the positive stories, infrastructure is booming around the state with a mixture of Government and private enterprise projects.

And the opportunities are continuing to increase from construction, IT, agriculture and fishing with opportunities covering both big and small businesses. A great example is a Beardwood Residential and Commercial Building Service in Devonport. Starting three years ago with a turnover of about $66,000 in 2018-19, now employs 22 workers with turnover of more than $6 million.

Yes, you can make it in Tasmania!


An interview with FoxSports journalist Julian De Stroop, this week explained some of the outlandish stories leading up to the AFL players trade week shortly after the Grand final.

The AFL trade week is a shamble with 30 to 40 players hoping to catch a couple of years in another team or, being poached by the big money teams. While the finals are dominating the Melbourne media and a fair crack from Tasmania media as well, the stories of transfers with massive contracts— $800,000 plus—just waiting to happen in trade week.

Tim Kelly, one of Geelong’s stars and someone who is a critical player for the finals which started last night, was definitely heading back to WA, then the next day he was definitely staying with Geelong for a $800,000 contract. GWS star Stephen Coniglio was definitely ready to sign up with Carlton, Hawthorn or St Kilda until two weeks ago when he signed a seven year contract to stay with his beloved Giants.

But, daily there’s players hitting the back page heading for another team. Well the fact is becoming a bit of a problem about the facts.

Julian De Stoop said that footy fans were desperate to hear the latest stories of player transfers. Mr De Stroop said that journos were also looking for something different. Some of the writers were told by senior club members, or players looking to increase their contract by saying that they were moving to another club. Some journos didn’t believe the information but they wrote the stories anyway. “Many stories prove to be wrong, sometimes people change their mind, but it’s not the end of the world and it doesn’t really matter,” Mr De Sloop said.

Well, now it certainly helps to understand while the story doesn’t click. It was wrong.


With the continued outage of the Bass Pipeline sending energy to Victoria and other states, the need for a second inter-connector is now a a necessity to ensure the second link can carry even more of Tasmanian Hydro Electricity and ensure there is no break down under Bass Strait.

For more of the story by TCCI CEO, Michael Bailey see below.
https://mailchi.mp/tcci/ceoupdate060919


Statewide editors unite in push for Tasmanian only football teams while poppy farmers cop the blame for US opioid crisis.

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Image courtesy of AFL Tasmania

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Launceston CBD

30/08/19

Not often do the three Tasmanian daily newspapers, The Examiner, The Advocate and the Mercury, stand as one to support a Tasmanian project.

The merging of the papers and columns from the editors are calling on the state to support a Tasmanian football team to be licensed into the iconic Australian Football League. While the AFL calls it the biggest sports organisation in Australia, Tasmania is the only state without a team.

So today the editors of the Hobart, Launceston and North West newspapers have joined forces to use their front pages to showcase what unites the state is greater than what divides them, and that they all share the same dreams of a Tasmanian team in the AFL and Australian Women’s team.

The negative for Australia’s House in Melbourne is the state’s parochialism. Last year AFL CEO, Gillon McLachlan insisted that the pathway towards a team relied on representative football in Tasmania having one brand and hopefully getting unity. The editors agreed the call for a team on the same day shows what is more important, as opposed to the endless speculation about where a team might be based in Tasmania and where home games might be played i.e Launceston or Hobart.

The editor of The Examiner, Courtney Greisbach, supports the busting of the myths that have denied Tasmania a team in the past and the time is now.

“As the proud voice of Northern Tasmania, we will scrutinise all business plans from the Tasmanian Task-force’s recommendations later this year.”

Ms Greisbach also made it clear that given crowd support for Hawthorn, access for the North West and the improved infrastructure of the Midland Highway “our case strengthens.”

Mercury editor Chris Jones, powerfully calls for Tasmania to stand as one to send a clear message to the mainland.

Probably bad timing, but the Mercury’s editorial was based on the resignation of the boss of Tasmanian cricket, Nick Cummins, who is moving back to Victoria.

After a successful three years in Hobart Mr Cummins was quoted in the editorial that he supports the building of a roofed 25,000-seat multi-purpose stadium at Macquarie Point a few blocks from the Hobart CBD as a home for both cricket and football. He said a high-performance venue that could be shared between elite sports and a nationally recognised base for the future that future Tasmanian AFL team.

A good move by the three papers, but you can certainly hear the war drums in the back ground support their regions as they should.


One of the most shared project’s by media in Tasmania was the patriotic ‘You Can Make It In Tasmania’ campaign which was initiated to lift the hearts and souls of Tasmanian’s during a very tight economic time in 1983 with many people leaving the state.

The TV, radio and print came to together to give the import message that you can become a very successful person in Tasmania and showed the faces and their stories of people becoming stars around the world who had started their careers in Tasmania.

It gave people hope and lifted the confidence level of people statewide as the stories and TV ads became the driver of bringing life back to Tasmania.

The creator of the project was the Managing Director of media company ENT, the late Edmund Rouse.


If you planning a holiday or business meeting in Oklahoma I’d suggest you try and get a refund for your plane ticket very quickly.

According to the US solicitor in the Oklahoma District Court, Tasmanian poppy growers have caused the deaths of 2100 people in Oklahoma between 2011 and 2015. The people died of unintentional prescription opioid overdose.

The Judge said Johnson & Johnson played a clear role in the opioid crisis and ordered and to pay $847 million to the state of Oklahoma for its part of fueling an opioid epidemic  by  deceptively marketing addictive painkiller.

Oklahoma state solicitor, Brad Beckworth said the “crisis began in Tasmania and New Jersey with Johnson & Johnson”. Television interviews made it quite clear that the state’s poppy farmers were to blame. Fortunately a highly respected Sassafras poppy farmer, Rick Rockliff, reminded Tasmanian’s that he and his fellow producers, along with Tasmanian Alkaloids, have always operated completely within the law.

Mr Rockliff told media that any suggestion that local farmers could be partly to blame for the opiod addiction crisis in the US was “absolutely ridiculous.”

“We provide legal pain control for many people around the world that needed it,” Mr Rockliff said.

“Some people abused it and I can’t see how they can possibly hold anyone in Tasmania responsible for that. Common sense will prevail and the case won’t have a negative impact on the state’s industry.”

Yes, when it hits the fan it’s always somebody else’s fault so please don’t blame our Tasmanian poppy farmers.


Weekly weigh-in: More AFL coaches get the boot, Scott Bacon’s resignation adds pressure to the opposition, and TCCI CEO provides an update on Workplace Health and Safety legislation.

23/08/2019

Four AFL coaches sacked this season and possibly more to come.

Getting the boot is tough even in Australian football which has still retains its beautiful moments, such as Hawthorn’s Jarryd Roughead last Sunday in a billion dollar industry.

The coaches media vary from shock, tears and the feeling of  “where did I go wrong?” particularly with North Melbourne’s, Brad Scott; Carlton’s Brendan Bolton and St Kilda’s Alan Richardson. Amazingly the three acting coaches have boosted the teams dramatically and two of the acting coaches now locked in as senior coaches for the next couple of years.

Fremantle’s Ross Lyon handled his farewell in a 10 out of 10 media result in a couple of hours after his sacking on Tuesday morning along with the docker’s CEO Steve Rosich.

Lyon, a former St Kilda coach, took Freo to the 2013 Grand Final but lost to Hawthorn by 15 points after a run of terrible missed goals.

A pragmatic approach to dumb media questions were very funny although not appreciated by the wounded journos.

He walked up in his usual unique walking stile to the media with a dozen cameras and radio microphones wearing his Fremantle T- shirt but with no notes and no manager. While he had predicted his demise last year, he didn’t expect to be sacked on the week of the last game for the year and had expected his contract to continue until the end of 2020.

He revealed the early morning call to catch up with Docker’s president, Dale Alcock who didn’t mince his words and nor did Lyon, who left the building in less than half an hour and spent time with his family before the media call.

“They’ve made some big decisions that I don’t agree with, but I certainly respect it,” Lyon said.

“As Leigh Matthews says, don’t complain and don’t explain.”

He repeated the “certainly respect it” several times with not a touch of anger, or a smart comment to his former boss. A classic example of how to not burn your bridges and move on with respect.

The payment of his $850,000 contract is probably in his bank by now and life goes on in for both parties.

It’s a good example of how you manage the departure whether it be sport, business, politics, whatever.

Don’t burn your bridges.


Talking about burning bridges, the Labor Opposition in the House of Assembly is now in a pickle following the resignation of Shadow Treasurer, Scott Bacon.

Mr Bacon, the son of long term Premier, Jim Bacon, met with the Governor yesterday to tend his resignation from the Parliament – he was first elected in 2010. The resignation has created an unexpected headache for Opposition leader, Rebecca White and her team because it’s most likely former Labor MP, Madeline Ogilvie, will throw her hat in the ring and win the countback.

The problem for the Opposition, is that Ms Ogilvie and Labor now don’t speak. At a recent Legislative Council election, Ms Ogilvie unsuccessfully stood as an Independent. As the Mercury editorial said yesterday ‘bacon resignation says Labor’s black sheep (turned independent) Madeleine Ogilvie returns to the parliament on a countback.’

Yep, the woman the Labor Party brutally and unashamedly froze out in recent years and at the last election itself, could well be soon taking a seat off them. What do they say about hell having no such fury?

A terrific piece from Brad Stansfield, former COS for Premier Will Hodgman, said the same people who sought to politically destroy Ms Ogilvie  will have to grovel to her that they would like her back ”please” and “all is forgotten.”

Mr Stanfield explained one of the most important rules of policies, adapted from Niccolo Machiavelli.

“When you pick a fight in politics you had best destroy your enemy, not merely wound them as such that they might come back and retaliate.” Mr Stansfield said.

How true.


TCCI Update

I am not convinced… https://mailchi.mp/tcci/ceoupdate230819


Weekly weigh-in: Push to create a Tasmanian only AFL team, and why drivers believe they can break the road rules.

 

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Image courtesy of ABC News

19/08/2019

Overall the hard working team to create a Tasmanian football team in the AFL has been very positive and gaining support in Tasmania and the AFL bunker in Melbourne.

Not only is Tasmanian Treasurer, Peter Gutwein and Premier, Will Hodgman, working close with the AFL CEO, they also have the support of the Premier, Opposition Leader, Rebecca White and the Greens Cassy O’Connor.

At the weekend, we read about a Tasmanian “super stadium” capable of wowing the AFL by the State’s AFL Taskforce, chairman Brett Godfrey the former CEO of Virgin now living in the North.

The story in the Mercury said the stadium could be the home to Tasmanian AFL, NBL (basketball) and A-League (soccer) teams and include a high performance centre for all three sports.

“Being able to share administrative resources would help the budget case but the idea of a mega centre could be a deciding factor in Tasmania and AFL Licence,” Mr Godfrey said.

He believes such a centre would not only create an undeniable push, but also a state-of-the-art stadium and high performance facility could help dispel any arguments over player retention. Mr Godfrey would not be drawn at this stage as to a recommended location but according to the Hobart journalist, it would be based somewhere like Macquarie Point.

Fortunately Mr Godfrey is a very successful businessman and has developed some excellent projects in the North of the state.

While Hobart believes it’s already a winner to have the Tasmanian team playing and training in Hobart, I wonder if the six Ministers living in Launceston and the NW, including the deputy Premier, Jeremy Rockliff or a total of eight members of the 13 member Government agree to the Hobart development.


Why do drivers believe they can break the road rules?

Some are stupid and should not be on the road while others are good drivers however they are make their own rules which they believe is safe.

Well, just take notice of Garry Bailey, the chair of Tasmania’s Road Safety Advisory council and a genuine person trying to save lives on our roads.

His Op Ed piece in the Mercury this morning highlights the problems of our drivers following the latest survey of driver attitudes who thought it was OK to speed in some situations including 5 to 10km/h over the limit is generally acceptable.

Examples include 59 per cent thought it was OK to overtake a slow driver; 52 per cent thought it was OK to keep up with the general flow or traffic and also thought it was OK to speed if they were running late; 50 per cent thought it was OK if the risk of crashing was low.

Believe it or not, 48 percent thought it was OK if the risk of getting caught by police was low.

And the geniuses— 33 per cent of drivers, said they were likely to, or fairly likely to, consider travelling up to 10km/h over the speed limit when they feel the speed limit is inappropriate. Mr Bailey said too many Tasmanian’s were putting saving time ahead of saving lives.

“There are hundreds of Tasmanian’s who work  every day to make make our roads safe,” Mr Bailey said.

“It’s every driver’s responsibility to ensure that those workers are safe while doing so – as anyone would expect in their workplace.”

While the Tasmanian road toll has fallen since 1970 when more than 100 people died on roads. The worrying trend  now is flat-lining with last year’s road deaths at 33 and already 22 in Tasmania this year.


The Victorian Police pushbike patrol are now nabbing drivers using mobile phones.

Last year 30,110 fines were issued in Victoria  for illegal mobile phone us, up from 28,852 a year earlier.

Last week the  police bike patrol detected 18 drivers in just 90 minutes in Richmond including a Collingwood footballer. All the drivers were fined $496 and given four demerit points. Victoria Police launched the four member bike patrol in Richmond to counter the rampant use of mobile phoned by drivers and  within two weeks issued more than 200 infringement notices including 128 fines for illegal mobile phone use.

Thousands of drivers are now also being nabbed by video cameras that not only pick out mobile phone calls but texting, apps and games. Apart from phones there have been a massive increase of watching movies, cereals, eating food, brushing their hair and the big one, doing their makeup.

And yes, other things are happening but not for this story!


Weekly weigh-in: St Lukes Health dental agenda, the push against another public holiday, and councils on the fight for your attention.

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Image courtesy of Bundoora Family Dental Clinic

09/08/2019

We shouldn’t have to create ‘Dental Health Week’ but when research shows that half of all young Tasmanian’s only brush their teeth once a day or less, you understand why so many people are supporting the DH Week.

Dental Health Weeks aims to raise awareness and educate Australians about the importance of maintaining good oral health throughout their lives.

St Lukes Health CEO, Paul Lupo said that “poor dental health was the most common reason for preventable hospitalisations in Tasmania” and studies show a direct correlation between oral health and avoidable illness.

St Lukes Health recent research into the health behaviours of Tasmanian’s aged between 25 and 34 also shows just over half (52.6 per cent) had not visited a dentist in the past year, Mr Lupo said.

“National statistics reveal 65 per cent of Australians haven’t seen a dentist in two years, 50 per cent of Australians brush their teeth only once a day, nearly 40 per cent never floss or clean between their teeth and 73 per cent of young people between 14-18 years are consuming too much sugar.

To assist in creating this change and increasing participation rates in preventative oral health, in 2013, St Lukes Health introduced a gap free preventative dental program which sees the rebate we pay for preventative dental services covering the full cost of services in most instances.

“We also support and advocate for programmes such as the Royal Flying Doctor service mobile outreach oral health initiatives which aims to improve the health outcomes of people living in rural and remote Tasmania who are disproportionately affected by problems associated with poor oral health.”

With RFDS patients needing an average of 11 treatments on their teeth you can understand how fortunate the State is to have the support of St Lukes Health and the Royal Flying Doctor service.


Creating a holiday in Victoria on the Friday before the AFL Grand Final I thought was the height of stupidity.

Today we hear Queensland Government will introduce a part public holiday from 6pm on Christmas Eve.

Why? According to the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Queensland Government believes it enables workers to get more time off or get paid fairly on what is one of the most important nights of the festive season.

Yes, Christmas Eve is a special night but it is also the last chance for many workers to grab their last presents, pick up booked food and drinks and help build a profit for the business sector.

Now the hours after 6pm will add 225 percent to 250 per cent increase costs for the retailers and taking  the cream off the cake for those hours.

The Grand final Friday holiday, introduced by the Andrews Labor Government, was supposedly introduced on the basis of a chance to spend more time with family and friends. A massive spending day with thousands of interstate and overseas visitors with pockets full of dollars to spend in the CBD is not what it used to be with the additional costs estimated at $850 million.

The TCCI will urge great caution in Tasmania to adopting the  “me too” approach. While Tasmanian already has too many with, nine state-wide public holidays a business would be fighting against the 10th.

As the TCCI said: “Small business retailers are already struggling at present and a new public holidays will see their wage bill explode further during a time of year that already contains numerous public holiday.”

Hear, hear.


While it’s an interstate story it certainly resonates with Councils and local media in the fight for your attention.

Stuart Howie, executive director of Flame Tree Media, editor of regional papers and a colleague of mine has highlighted the common complaint from council communicators that they can’t get their messages out in the local media.

And local media, where it still exists, bemoans that what they receive from local councils is not newsworthy, or just pure spin.

“There’s plenty of other areas that can spur acrimony between the two parties,” Mr Howie said in his newsletter.

“When there’s a hot story, not all council officers are prepared to front the issue.

Most councils comm’s teams can provide examples of where journos have got the facts horribly wrong, or come to press conferences, or events woefully unprepared.

Some reporters don’t act in a way that reflects well on themselves, who they represent, or the craft of journalism. Some reporters make it their mission to make life unbearable for those on the front line of council communicators, which I have some sympathy with not the least because I used to do that myself.

It is the role, after all, of local journalists to keep local authorities accountable.

“Now a new battle ground has emerged and it’s one that involves us and whether we in the media, the communications game or as the good burghers of municipality. ”

The result is that councils are now increasingly running their own media which is creating a Council communication versus journalism. Today councils have the nous to do it themselves particularly when you consider how media has fragmented and caused huge pain and strain on traditional media so councils around Australia are now controlling their own channels because it’s more effective.

But as Mr Howie said, what councils produce is not the independent and fearlesss journalism that is the remit and duty of local media.

Time will tell.


Weekly weigh-in: Sue Hickey steps up in the House of Assembly, while Minister Rockliff’s drive to make Tasmania a state of kindness falls on deaf ears.

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Photo: Sue Hickey in the House of Assembly, courtesy of the Examiner.

02/08/2019

Last week we shared a pleasant surprise from Mental Health Minister, Jeremy Rockliff, who is leading and taking responsibility of making Tasmania a bully-free state.

Minister Rockliff said he wanted Tasmania to become a “state of kindness.” It was born from the Government’s first Stop and Prevent Bullying Meeting.

Along with community leaders, Minister Rockliff, called on his parliamentary  colleagues to start setting the example after he had been informed by the community leaders that politicians should set a better example.

“There’s always a need to be very passionate in arguing your case……. but there are ways we can go about that and achieve the same outcome without some of the vitriol,” Minister Rockliff said.

“It was respectfully noted that leaders within our community, members of parliament for example, can lead by example in terms of how we treat each other and what people see in those snippets of Question Time on their televisions at night doesn’t always reflect a state of kindness.”

Yes, 100 percent correct and certainly mentioned last year in Weigh In when a young family member told me about her school visit to the House of Assembly question time and was horrified by the aggressive approach and the yelling from the Opposition females.

So, the message was crystal clear last week that when House of Assembly returned on Tuesday this week some kindness would shine through the house.


Tuesday arrived at 10am for Question Time and nothing had changed. The Opposition ask the questions and the Premier and Ministers attempt to answer their questions but are taken over by the yelling from the other side.

On and on goes for the hour, and Wednesday started the same.

Then, in the middle of a yelling attack by the Opposition interrupting responses from the Premier, Will Hodgman, the Speaker, Sue Hickey, turns into Wonder Woman and pinned the loudest and unstoppable, deputy Leader of the Opposition, Michelle O’Byrne.

“Ms O’Byrne, it is very unladylike to be yelling in the Parliament,” Ms Hickey said. After a further exchange, Ms O’Byrne called a point of order shooting back to the Speaker and said: “I draw your attention to the inappropriateness of the member mentioning some one’s gender in any kind of warning in parliament.”

This created a response from Ms Hickey who said: “For goodness sake, this is political correctness taken to the nth degree and your behaviour was inappropriate whether it was ladylike or otherwise. I will not be spoken to like that again, Ms O’Byrne.”


Thursday, day three, the Speaker makes it very clear that unruly behaviour such as yelling, calling people a liar, and aggressive behaviour was un-parliamentary and would not be tolerated in any workplace.

“I have news for your, it won’t be tolerated in here either. I consider it a form of bullying,” The Speaker said.

And the first person kicked out for an hour was the leader of the Opposition, Rebecca  White who suspended for an hour at the end of Question Time for being “completely unruly.”

The Speaker is using the stick to create kindness  be she certainly has the support of the community and business who have been calling for an end of the childish approach.

Sorry, I almost overlooked a significant piece of information from Ms Hickey. “Female MP’s were the worst offenders in breaching standards,” Ms Hickey said.

Which means the female MP’s are the loudest yellers, accuse members of doing something and as Ms Hickey said, “the other rubbish that goes on.”

About time, and well done Ms Hickey.


Weekly weigh-in: Crisis strikes again for Victorian Health Services and Tasmania’s Titmus takes gold.

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Photo: Ariarne Titmus – Courtesy of the Courier Mail

26/07/2019

ABOUT 18 months ago, the Victorian Government awarded public hospital doctors pay rises of up to 19 per cent for 2018-22 following a two-year freeze.

In February, the government introduced laws preserving minimum nurse-patient ratios that required public hospitals to employ an extra 600 nurses and midwives across the state.

This week it’s been revealed that Victoria’s public hospitals may be forced to reduce the number of patients they treat and increase waiting lists. No surprise that the Herald Sun claims a health “funding crisis” in the Andrew Government.

Surprise, surprise the “crisis” follows the big pay rises to the doctors and the increasement of the number of nurse’s hospitals must employ. Now the health services face being unable to pay the growing wage bills.

Now the AMA (Australian Medical Association) has added its approach to the problem by preparing to take Victoria’s public health services to the Fair Work Commission, claiming doctors are not being paid overtime, or entitlements because of a lack of funding.

While the major hospitals are suggesting shortfalls of $20 million and $35 million the funding is locked for the year and that’s it. A bit like businesses who must work within their budget with no leeway.

Yep, keep bumping up those wages and the patients will disappear..

Which means we are heading back to that wonderful episode of ‘Yes Minister’, a brilliant BBC show back in the 80’s. The star of the show, Jim Hacker, who was the UK Health Minister discovered his department had opened a new hospital with 500 administrators and no patients.

While the new hospital had been completed and filled with administrators and ancillary workers there was no money for actual medical services hence no patients. Yet the 500 administrators were busy and really didn’t have time for patients anyway.

Evidently a true story which really makes you wonder where the health service scape is going here in Australia.


TWO Gold, a silver from three events and a world record time is pretty good for an Australian swimmer or any athlete but it’s a heck of lot better when it’s a Tasmanian.

Tassie’s world champion swimmer, Ariarne Titmus, not only cleaned up former US world champion, Katie Ledecky, in the 400 freestyle but was also an integral part of the women’s 4×100 relay beating the US in world record time.

An extraordinary rise to fame for Ariarne who was born in Launceston and started her swimming career in suburban swimming pools in Launceston.

As her father Steve, a former journo at The Examiner and then a very effective TV news reader in Launceston told the Mercury: “To now think that your daughter is a world champion is really something that is quite extraordinary. The biggest thing for us as a family, I think, is how far this journey has come.”

The support of her parents, Steve and Robyn, like many other families found themselves driving Ariarne to 5am training pools before heading to school at St Patrick’s College, Launceston.

The big decision for the family was in 2015 after 14-year-old Ariarne had won the 200, 400 and 800 freestyle titles all in Tasmanian open records, decided to back up and move to Brisbane to train with specialist coach, Peter Gartrell.

Four years later Ariarne is a world champion.

And a great reason explained by Steve when they moved to Queensland: “The regrets in life are not what you did but what you  didn’t do and we want to give, not just Ariarne but also her sister, Mia, the best opportunity in life, not just in sport but for their future education and working careers,” Steve told The Examiner.

Well done Titmus family.


Weekly weigh-in: Wind farm debate lives on in light of Bob Brown’s aggressive opposition.

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Picture: Chris Kidd

19/07/19

Bob Brown has spent his life attacking political parties and communities who don’t agree with his Green approach but now the environmental crusader has turned the Greens Party into an embarrassment.

The problem created by Dr Brown was in his aggressive opposition against the $1.6 billion Robbins Island wind farm project, which will be one of the world’s biggest renewable energy developments.

Electricity generated from the project will be exported to the NW via a new undersea cable to help create a “battery for the nation” through Tasmania.

Bob is fuming over the 200 towers measuring 270m which is a step too far and will be seen from 50km out to sea and  the dangers to raptors, migratory with eagles and white bellied sea eagles nesting on the island. Bob is also supporting the Nietta Action Group who are fighting plans against the transmission line over the Leven Canyon.

Emissions reduction Minister, Angus Taylor said it was a classic case of Green’s hypocrisy.

“The Greens love nothing more than to lecture Australians about their preferred source of energy generation but when it’s in Bob Brown’s backyard, wind farms are suddenly a bad idea.” Minister Taylor said to the Australian newspaper.

Tasmanian Liberal Senator, Eric Abetz, not surprisingly ridiculed Dr Brown’s protest  “Consistency, integrity and facts are the three ingredients regularly miss from Bob Brown’s advocacy,” Senator Abetz said.

So far there have been no comments from the leaders of the Greens surrounding their Environmental movement which you would understand when the decision is either to disagree with Dr Brown and agree with renewable power or vice versa.

Now that’s a genuine conundrum.


It’s not a kick Bob Brown day but it certainly brings back memories and I’m sure we’ve all wished we had shut up at times.

In 1981 during the massive protests against the State Government decision to dam the Gordon below Franklin rivers to boost hydro-electricity generation for Tasmania and looked on as the cleanest and most effective renewable energy in the nation.

Bob certainly led the national protest on the waters and in the bush to save the rivers regardless of the need for additional hydro power. He was there to fight, and fight he did successfully.

He was so intense on saving the rivers that he told a Mercury journalist that instead of increased hydro, the state would be better off with a new coal fire power station fuelled by the abundance of Tasmanian coal.

Yes, Bob said coal fire power was the best alternative and Mercury’s headline of ‘Coal Fire Power Best Alternative’ lives on.

How things change.


Fascinating and perhaps co-incidental was the piece from Herald business writer, Terry McCrann this week and his thoughts about the complete and utter uselessness of wind turbines to provide electricity has been on full display in Britain this week.

The turbines are just about everywhere in the UK including out at sea and more than twice as many scattered across Australia. When the wind was blowing two weeks ago, the British wind turbines were generating over 9000MW of power which provided 41 per cent of all Britain’s electricity.

“Wow! Wonderful! And all carbon-free.”

“Earlier this week when the wind wasn’t? Not-so wow, not so wonderful, not so carbon free,” McCrann said.

“At one point, just 439MW meeting barely 1 per cent of electricity demand.”

“Just to emphasise that: from 41 per cent to a little over 1 per cent.”
“Would any sane business person be prepared to operate their factory or office on that basis?”

The biomass back up power station shipped in from the US that burns wood chips as a means to make up for the lack of wind generated power was originally a coal fired station.

“”This power station now actually pumps more CO2 than it did when it was burning wicked coal.”

I think we know where Terry stands.


Weekly weigh-in: Moon landing, TCCI back majority government and spiralling insurance costs plague building growth statewide.

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Source – EPA

12/07/19

As a Baby Boomer, there were times you really believed there was a man on the moon.

People see a face on the full moon and others a profile on the crescent moon.

Many European countries believed stories about people being banished to the moon, similar stories from middle ages and the Alaskans believed that the man on the moon was the keeper of the souls of man and animals.

Regardless, we did see a man on the moon in July 21, 1969, almost 50 years ago. Astronaut Neil Armstrong was the first man to step on the rocky surface at 12.56 PM Eastern Standard Time Australia with Edwin Aldrin a few steps later.

I had a 2pm to 10pm shift at The Examiner in Hobart during this time and thought it would be a memorable part of history; so I grabbed some former schoolmates and their wives to watch the amazing happening on our black and white TV in our rental house in New Town. I was fortunate, maybe spoiled by parents, to be the only one owning a TV at the time.

Watching command ship Columbia landing on the moon and then Armstrong touching the moon’s surface was surreal. It was captured as all of us were screaming, laughing and crying.

As Armstrong said “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”


Good to see a positive approach from the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry backing its stand that majority Government is critical to the overall health of the State and Tasmanian business.

TCCI CEO, Michael Bailey said this morning that the Chamber believes majority government gives confidence to business, which employs the majority of Tasmanians and therefore would continue   to invest in their businesses and employ people.

“It was excellent to see the Premier, Will Hodgman and the Speaker of the House pf Assembly, Sue Hickey maintain that situation of majority Government,” Mr Baily said.

“The TCCI backs Ms Hickey to play an important role in the areas and issues which concern Tasmania. She has stated and already proved her leadership with issues like homelessness, health and social disadvantage As Speaker, Ms Hickey has a unique role where she can be a voice for Tasmania,” Mr Bailey said.

Hear, Hear.


Sometimes you wish the story was a beat up in the old day or now fake news.

However, today’s P1 story which lead with; Spiralling insurance costs threaten to bring the state’s building industry into a “screaming halt” is real and a real worry.

Building surveyors have been hit by increases of 300 per cent in personal indemnity costs. Tasmanian  firms have reported premiums rising from $25,000 to $80,000 with excesses sky rocketing from $5000 to $50,000.

The issue was raised at a function in Launceston last Friday. The positive discussion was aimed at the future buildings of hotels and units in the city when someone mentioned the price increases. A few minutes later after figures from a builder, a surveyor and an engineer were highlighted, we realised the massive concern for the industry.

Certainly a hangover from the wake of cladding hazards on buildings interstate as well as the high rise unit buildings in Sydney.

Building and Construction Minister Elise Archer told the Mercury she would push for a national solution to the issue when she meets for the mainland ministers forum next week.

Quicker the better for this one.


Weekly weigh-in: Senator Lambie’s big push for Tassie homeless, lunch with Richo, and Victorian Local Council prioritises boozy lunch over picking up the trash.

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Source – Getty Images

05/07/19

Whether you are a supporter or not, you have to admire Senator Jacquie Lambie’s surprise decision to support the Government’s tax cut plan which passed the Senate last night.

Many Australians who have or will be lodging tax returns for 2018-19 will get a cheque from the ATO for $1000 or more pretty soon. It’s hoped the first stage of the cuts, for low and middle-income earners, will help cover their increased costs and also boost retail spending nation-wide.

Green Senators missed the point when they said: “Jacqui thinks she’s a hero but she’s a bloody sell out.” Senator Lambie backed the full package on the basis the Federal Government would provide millions of dollars for Tasmania’s homeless crisis.

Tasmania is paying a minimum of $15 million a year off a $157 million public housing Federal debt which is some decades old. The State Government has been working hard with the Federal Government to wipe off the $157 million so the $15 million payment flows into building the new houses to shelter hundreds of Tasmanians who can’t afford to buy a house, or to help cover rents which have increased exponentially.

There may not be signed agreements but there’s no doubt Senator Lambie has ensured a sack of money for Tasmania.

“I need those kids and their families off the streets in warm houses.” the Senator said last night.

“I’m not sitting around on this for another four or five weeks while we play argy-bargy.”

A very smart move and another example of working with the Government of the day.


Terrific luncheon this week with Matthew Richardson, a very funny man who was drafted from Devonport in 1992 to Richmond and became one of the great Australian footy players. He was inducted into the Australian Football and Tasmanian Hall of Fame, was three times an All Australian team member and played 282 games and 800 goals.

Matthew and his St Brendan-Shaw mate, Ben Harrison were drafted together at 17 with Ben playing 161 games with Carlton, Richmond and Western Bulldogs.

Today he is flat-strap with TV commentary, similar with radio, a series of podcasts and still on the Richmond staff payroll with a variety of roles.

Apart from some very interesting stories which won’t pass our legal adviser he now believes that within about five or six years, a Tasmanian team will be accepted in the Australian Football League.

Like many people in Tasmania and interstate, Matty really didn’t believe it would ever happen. Not that he didn’t want a Tasmanian team, but the odds were too big against it happening, particularly with the approach of the AFL board.

Now the tide has turned. He’s confident that the AFL is genuine in working with Tasmania to make it happen.

“I don’t care where the team is based but with 10 home games a year, Launceston should have seven games and Hobart three,” Matthew said. “York Park, or now UTAS stadium is a great ground and only two hours from Hobart and the far North West.”

These days it’s a minority of teams training and playing on their home grown.

A very positive approach from a great Tasmanian.


Figures from Victoria Local Councils have certainly decided that no longer are roads and rubbish a high-level priority while rates continue to grow.

In fact, just $15 out of every $100 are used to fix up local roads and collect rubbish. Metropolitan councils are spending $247 per resident in governance compared to $185 on their core business of road and rubbish. The City of Melbourne spends 47.5 per cent of its budget on business and economic services such as planning tourism but just 2.3 per cent on waste management.

Apart from sending money to overseas countries, councils are throwing big money into large capital works for ambitious projects that deliver peanuts to the majority of ratepayers. The investigation by the Auditor-General also found that ratepayers in four areas were footing the bill of boozy lunches, parking fines, shots of alcohol and trips to wineries and beauty spas by councilors and staff.

The Local Government Minister, Adem Somyurek has now been called on to set guidelines to dictate how much money councils needed to spend on roads, rubbish and other key services while requiring all major projects to be backed up with business cases.

And no surprise to hear that Boroondara council could only manage 59.7per cent of planning applications on time.

I’d like to see the Tasmanian figures.


Weekly weigh-in: Journalist raids, consistent leadership and lower GDP growth

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07/06/19

Many journalists have believed for decades they were above the law, but times, they are a changin’.

The house raid of Annika Smethurst, a News Corp journalist and raids on ABC’s Sydney headquarters this week are a wakeup call for the media.

Today the Australian Federal Police Chief Neil Gaughan warned journalists and MPs they are not immune from criminal prosecutions, leaving open the possibility of jail terms for those found to have broken the law.

Mr Gaughan told the Australian: “Our investigations are an objective search for the truth. It involves the discovery and presentation of evidence in an exhaustive, comprehensive and organised manner.”

“No sector of the community should be immune to this type of activity of evidence collection more broadly. This includes law enforcement, the media or indeed even politicians. There are criminal allegations being investigated and we cannot ignore them.”

The call for stronger protection of journalists and their sources is understandable if the information they are dealing with should be shared with the community.

Unfortunately not all media outlets, including newspapers, TV and radio, understand their responsibilities in regard to the reputations of citizens and the leaking of sensitive information which alerts terrorists, crooks and countries with questionable reputations.

The Australian’s editorial says: “It’s up to the legislators and courts to decide the balance between protecting sensitive information on one hand and freedom of press protection for those making disclosures in the public interest on the other.”

Having spent a lifetime in media, the argument of protection of journalists and their sources is understandable. However protection doesn’t mean a journalist has the right break to the law which seems to be a problem for some.


I caught up with a former colleague the other day for the first time in 30 years and learnt a really interesting story of her 10 plus years in a public service position in the Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services.

She described her time working with children in danger and their parents. It was a tough gig but also very rewarding to create a supportive and loved life for some, but not all.

Yes, there were good and bad decisions and yes, her colleagues varied in abilities, but they worked hard.

But the biggest problem for the staff was the continual changes of Governments, Ministers and senior bureaucrats. It became a stop start process which confused the employees.

In the meantime, some of the endangered children became victims.

She supports Government looking forward to the future with 15 and 30-year infrastructure plans and believes that in such sensitive areas dealing with children, consistency of approach is paramount.

Food for thought.


In this week’s TCCI CEO’s Update, Michael Bailey expresses the TCCI’s concerns about the latest National Accounts figures showing lower annualised GDP growth.

Michael calls on the major levels of Government to work with the Tasmanian business community to identify how best to reinforce resilience in our economy in the face of global and domestic economic uncertainties.

You can read Michael’s full update here.


Weekly weigh-in: Launceston travelling nicely

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31/5/19

A year to the day after opening the Silo Hotel, Errol Stewart has launched his new $50m project just 80 metres away from the very popular hotel on the bank of the Tamar River in Launceston.

Mr Stewart is now looking for community support, and of course Launceston City Council agreement, to build two 12 level, top-end apartment towers in the growing area of Invermay.

The prices of apartments will start at $1 million plus, with three bedrooms and three bathrooms in each one. There are also four penthouses (on floors 11 and 12) which will no doubt fetch even more.

Launching the project this morning, Mr Stewart said he is looking for community support and answered multiple questions, some more challenging than others from the state’s media.

If there’s no support the project won’t happen. He’s hoping the community will the see the benefits which include the creation of at least 100 construction jobs over the two years of development and thousands of dollars each year forever in rates to the Launceston City Council.

The area, which is owned by Mr Stewart, will also include swimming pools, a gymnasium and other facilities for the new owners as well as a high-quality grocer and an interstate business along the lines of Harvey Norman which of course will both be open to the public.

Development of the site will also see more people walking into the CBD, nearby quality restaurants, the UTAS football ground and the soon to be started UTAS campus at Inveresk.

Treasurer Peter Gutwein called it a “fantastic development” for Launceston.

Mr Stewart and his friendly opponent Josef Chromy are continuing to spend tens of millions of dollars to grow projects in Launceston.

Errol, as he likes to be called, has now hit more than $100 million in spending through the Silo Hotel, C.H Smith building and now this new project. This spending has seen millions passed through to construction workers, contractors and local business providing Tasmanian furniture and fittings.

No wonder the sun was shining in Launceston this morning.


The good week for Launceston continued with the Government providing a preferred site for the new co-located Calvary Private Hospital with the project expected to cost about $100 million.

The co-located hospital will replace two Calvary hospitals, St Vincent’s and St Luke’s, which would both need major upgrades to continue in service, costing close to the price of a new hospital.

It’s expected the two sites will be snapped up and turned into a variety of positive projects for the city.

The new site in Frankland Street is adjacent to the Launceston General Hospital and certainly close enough for a bridge across the street to connect both hospitals.

As Health Minister Michael Ferguson said this week, the co-location private hospital includes the ability to collaborate in the provision of services to the community and provide assistance to the LGH during periods of demand.

Equally important is Calvary’s approach, which is set to include a range of services which may not be available at the LGH, including palliative care – a service so import for the north.


While there may not be any public announcement for a week or so, in another boost for Launceston UTAS is close to delivering its Development Application for the new university campus at Inveresk.

The $300 million project started slowly despite the money in the pocket from State and Federal Governments, but the project is now back on track and close to the station.

Fingers crossed, but I’m much more confident than I was six or seven months ago.


The Fair Work Commission has announced this week the minimum wage in Australia will be increased by three per cent.

In his latest TCCI CEO Update, Michael Bailey, while welcoming the decision, also raises the TCCI’s concerns about the ramifications of the increase for regional businesses.

“We would point out though that the experience of running a business in central Sydney or Melbourne is very different to regional Australia, particularly Tasmania,” Mr Bailey said.

“This decision will have ramifications in regional businesses who can only react by shedding jobs to manage wage increases in stagnant markets.”

You can read Michael’s full TCCI CEO’s update here.


Weekly weigh-in: Gutwein’s gutsy Budget

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24/05/19

The summary of this week’s State Budget was portrayed perfectly by the Mercury’s front page: “NOW THAT TAKES GUTS.”

Treasurer Peter Gutwein took a bold decision to put the state into a debt of up to $1.1 billion over the new four years to create the record infrastructure project in Tasmania.

Theming the infrastructure project as “Maintaining the momentum, investing for growth,” Mr Gutwein said it was a decision between remaining where we are, or taking the opportunity to achieve future growth.

“It is a budget that we will deliver not just for today, but for future generations of Tasmania as well,” Mr Gutwein said.

“This Budget unashamedly invests record amounts into infrastructure to drive our economy, to enable us to deliver record investments into health, education and looking after the more vulnerable.”

Keeping the economy moving and growing is just what the state needs for the future instead of a conservative approach which will take Tasmania nowhere.

With the impact of some revenue losses, the Treasurer has made it quite clear that Government needs to ensure the public sector is efficient and effective but that this will not impact on the provision of frontline services.

To keep their businesses running, private enterprise is always looking for effective and efficient performance. Why shouldn’t Government be looking for the same results?

A very good Budget for the state and as The Mercury’s front page said, a budget which took guts to deliver.


For those of you who haven’t had the chance to fully digest yesterday’s budget, Becher Townshend’s following summary for Font PR certainly paints an accurate picture of what was brought down:

Steady as she goes for the Tasmanian State Budget

If the Tasmanian community thought they were getting mixed signals from the State Government on the issue of Tasmania’s finances, that is because they are.

The 2019/20 Budget shows the contradiction that we currently have – on one hand the economy continues to boom with some of the best economic numbers we’ve seen in the history of the state, but on the other hand revenue is falling.

This is because the state is becoming a victim of its own success. Combined, both GST revenue and Stamp Duty are predicted to fall half a billion dollars over the next four years.

GST is going down, because Tasmania is performing better relative to the rest of the nation, while Stamp Duty is also coming down, not because of a fall in property prices, but the fact that houses in the south aren’t changing hands because they’re so expensive and the boom in the north and north west is not enough to cover the difference.

As a result, Treasurer Peter Gutwein has been forced to make some difficult decisions.

First up, there will be the introduction of two new taxes – foreign investor land tax to catch overseas money, but more importantly for Tasmanians, a 15 per cent point of consumption tax on gambling – capturing gambling online and bringing Tasmania in line with the rest of the nation.

In addition, there will be a $50 million special dividend taken from the MAIB, while the Tasmanian Public Finance Corporation will hand over $39.5 million.

Government departments will also be required to provide a .75 per cent special dividend and the so-called hard-line two per cent wages target continues.  However given the teachers’ wages decision, it remains to be seen if this can be achieved.

The moves to increase taxes and take further special dividends are designed to cover the loss of revenue and thus allow the Government to continue on its fiscal path.

This sees yet another record year of infrastructure spending at some $3.6 billion and while some question the ability of the Government to actually spend this amount, a drive down the Midland Highway and through the Hobart CBD certainly proves something is happening.

Elsewhere health continues to receive record funding at $8.1 billion – which is now about 32 per cent of the total budget, while education is not far behind at $7.1 billion.

In terms of numbers – there are some remarkable figures for those who study the long-term economic growth of Tasmania – that being a gross state product figure of 2.75 per cent – this has been revised up by half a per cent since last year and is three quarters of a per cent better than the long-term average.

Then there is population growth which is running at double the long-term average, continued strength in Tourism numbers and a respectable 6.5 per cent unemployment rate.

Meanwhile this year we’ll see a budget surplus of $41 million, next year it will see a $57 million surplus, which interestingly won’t get us out of net debt until 2021 but given the circumstances a steady as she goes budget from Peter Gutwein is not such a bad thing.

2019-20 State Budget – at a glance

  • Tasmanian economy grew 3.3 per cent
  • Exports at a new record of $3.76 billion, up 6.6 per cent
  • Growth expected to continue at above trend, 2.75 per cent
  • $500 million write down in revenue from GST and stamp duty
  • New foreign investor land tax and a new point of sale gambling tax
  • Energy rebate for mid-sized business to continue
  • Tas Corp and MAIB to pay $89.5 million in special dividends
  • Public sector efficiency dividend at .75 per cent
  • Unemployment projected to remain at around 6.5 per cent
  • Health spending now at 32 per cent of budget, or $8.1 billion over the next four years
  • Education spending at $7.1 billion over the next four years
  • 2019 surplus a modest $41 million, with $57 million for 2020
  • State won’t move out of net debt until 2021.

Weekly weigh-in: Coordinator-General’s diary, Leg. Co. President and RIP Bob Hawke

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17/05/19

There’s a very good reason why the Coordinator-General’s diary is not released under Right to Information.

The Coordinator-General John Perry meets with investors from around the world wanting to develop projects in Tasmania. In doing so, the Government says: “Under the Act there are potential considerations around not only third party consultation with meeting participants in regard to personal information, but also commercial in confidence matters that would warrant assessment.”

It’s not a matter of failing to “reveal to taxpayers how he spends his days” as reported in media stories, it’s a professional understanding of doing business.

A $10 billion takeover of Crown Resorts is a classic example of why information can’t be open to all. Last month American casino giant Wynn Resorts abruptly abandoned its short lived $10 billion takeover bid for James Packer’s Crown after details of the deal were leaked.

Mr Perry, a very professional operator with massive international connections, has been under fire from Labor and the Greens for a supposed lack of outcomes which really means they don’t agree with many of his projects and would like to have the information before the projects become reality. Imagine the leaks!

Sharing a beverage with a businessman yesterday I received some information that took the story to another level – apparently he’s under fire because he’s based in Launceston and not surrounded by his opponents in Hobart.


While tomorrow’s election stops the nation, there is also a significant “election” in Tasmania’s Legislative Council next Tuesday.

The 15 members of the Upper House will vote in a new President of the council. Four to five members are expected to put their hand up for the very important political position in the state.

The process starts at 11am on Tuesday, 21 May. Based on Hare Clark voting, the President position could be decided quickly on the first vote, but a result will more likely be reached in a second or third round.

Likely candidates are Kerry Finch, who was expected for many months to have the numbers but now has opposition from Michael Gaffney, Tania Rattray and Labor member, Craig Farrell.

It’s significant that for the first time in recent years, there is no legal member in the house. Three of the last four Presidents had a legal background.

Recent Presidents with legal background have been the late Ray Bailey (1997-2002) Don Wing (2002-2008), and Jim Wilkinson (2013-2019).  Sue Smith (2008-2013) had an extraordinary understanding of management and legal matters as well as having Jim Wilkinson in the House.

Maybe we will have a Labor President and not an independent President for the first time in more than a century.

Very interesting indeed.


The late Bob Hawke will be missed by people of all political parties and everyday Australians. An effective PM, a union organiser who also understood business, a Rhodes Scholar, a great debater and a very thirsty man who loved a big beer.

After losing his PM position to Paul Keating in 1991 he left Parliament in February 1992. Despite the disappointment of being rolled by Keating and leaving Parliament, he wasted no time bouncing into property in Melbourne with his racing friend who turned dollars into millions. They took gambles and won, even to the extent of Bob selling his Sydney North Shore property for $14.5 million, having paid only $1.34 million originally.

As his friend said to me last night: “It’s a bit tough to come to grips with really.”

Thousands of Australians feel the same.

RIP Bob Hawke.


Weekly weigh-in: Real estate, stamp duty, supercars, Footy Show and Mother’s Day

10/05/19

The impact of the drop in real estate prices and volumes since the 2017 boom is exemplified by 15,000 real estate agents across the nation leaving the industry since the market peaked.

Over the year to the end of February 2019, 8100 jobs, or five per cent of the real estate workforce has been lost.  The Australian Bureau of Statistics figure show the disappearing jobs are the sharpest losses in the industry since the 2008 Global Financial Crisis.

Economists are suggesting the real estate industry is likely to face an “unprecedented” shake-up in employment.

President of the Real Estate Institute of Australia Adrian Kelly expects the market to follow the GFC where 33,000 real estate agency jobs were lost between August 2008 and February 2010 but said the job losses would not be as severe as the subsequent house downturn.

One of the founders of View Real Estate in Hobart, Mr Kelly said there had been a slight drop of volume in Tasmania but was confident real estate would keep bubbling in the state.

“Plenty of families want to sell but they can’t find the step up house they are looking for and if the house hits the market, it’s grabbed so quickly by investors,” Mr Kelly said yesterday.

“Really, we are now the shining light of real estate in the nation and I can’t recall the state being in a better position overall.”

I certainly agree.


Low real estate sales volumes also mean state governments are being hit by the resulting drop in stamp duty, particularly Victoria’s coffers.

Last year the Victorian Government was upbeat in its revenue, predicting $7 billion, yes $7 billion in stamp duty. In April the Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas said the state was facing a $2.4 billion write-down in stamp duty, or a 35 per cent downturn in the number of house and unit sales between December 2017 and 2018.

As a result of the $2.4 billion write-down, Mr Pallas has put an initial offer of two per cent on the table for public sector wage increases and made it clear the Government would be “less generous” in wage increases than in previous years.

While the Tasmanian real estate industry has avoided the job losses, we haven’t been so lucky with the stamp duty issue. Tasmanian Treasurer Peter Gutwein has alerted the state that he will also write down stamp duty by $280 million over the estimates. As Mr Kelly said above, there has only been a slight drop in volume state-wide, but prices paid in the north are much lower than Hobart sales which means less stamp duty.

Fortunately, state incomes are very positive and exports are returning record figures.


It was certainly a sensible decision yesterday by the Tasmanian Government to sign a $56 million deal to keep the V8 Supercars Championship at Symmons Plains Raceway until 2023.

At a minimum the Symmons Plains event attracts 55,000 over the three days, bringing together people from around the state and at least 9,000 interstate and overseas visitors who are very happy to spend a motza in Launceston and surrounds. Restaurants, accommodation, car rentals, fuel and stores look forward to the Symmons week, not just the weekend.

Premier Will Hodgman said the Government would also spend an additional $1.75 million upgrading infrastructure at the raceway.

Motorsports Tasmania chair Peter Killick told The Mercury the infrastructure upgrades would benefit more than just the V8 Supercars.

“Both our tracks at Symmons Plains and Baskerville are used predominately two or three times a week, not just for motorsport, for driver trainings and for pushbike races, running races, you name it,” Mr Killick said.

He said the plans for the money at the moment were for public areas including more toilets and minor safety upgrades.

A very good business agreement to spend $1.4 million a year to attract an event which drops between $8-10 million into the state.


Goodbye and farewell to the AFL Footy Show which was closed last night after 26 years and 729 episodes.

In the halcyon days of Eddie McGuire and Sam Newman the trailblazing show attracted up to 480,000 weekly football supporters with people across Australia looking forward to the Thursday night show featuring stories and actions which certainly wouldn’t be expected today. It was fun and it was also the only TV show which released the AFL team’s ins and outs, which are so critical to understand how your team was likely to perform at the weekend.

Last week, the show recorded a dismal 53,000 viewers up against the growing AFL show, The Front Bar which had 278,000 watching and enjoying a genuine footy show.

It’s sad but it’s like a movie – if the actors don’t perform, the film is a dud.


Happy Mother’s Day for Sunday but don’t forget Mother’s Day isn’t just once a year. Let’s try for every day instead.

But not all kids are going to enjoy Mother’s Day following a change in approach from Brunswick East Primary School in Victoria.

As The Herald Sun said yesterday, mum’s not the word at the Brunswick primary school which has dropped the words “Mother’s Day” from their traditional May stall.

Instead, Brunswick East Primary will hold an “appreciation” stall, where children can pick up gifts for mothers, parents and carers.

Principal Janet Di Pilla even apologised for using the traditional Mother’s Day name previously.

“I’m sorry that in the past we have offended some members of our community and I hope that this acknowledgement goes some way to address any hurt from the past,” Ms Pilla said.

“I sincerely hope that this change in name will show that we as a community recognise that our families are not made up of any particular combination of people and that we no longer subscribe to a binary world.”

As many responses to the article said: ”Mums are very, very special people.”


Weekly weigh-in: Sue Hickey, Fairfax takeover and the World Game

parliament house

3/5/19

As today’s Mercury editorial read, Speaker of the House Sue Hickey has apparently decided she knows better than the voters of Tasmania.

This is one of the results of Ms Hickey’s decision to cross the floor and defeat the Government’s bill to introduce mandatory sentencing for serious sex offenders.

The Government has made it quite clear in the past two elections they were looking for the support of voters and they gained the support they were after.

“Wednesday’s night’s vote means Ms Hickey has now used her casting vote to both REJECT a policy that was clearly taken to the people and – in the case of the gender reform debate – to SUPPORT a policy that clearly was not,” the editorial read.

“Both those actions, no matter how well intended, are not in the spirit of our great representative democracy.”

Despite Ms Hickey’s process of gaining detailed information regarding a bill, she has made it clear that she would use her own personal judgment when using her casting vote.

While it’s a Government bill, it would also be managed by the Attorney-General Elise Archer.  Ms Archer has been an active member of Government and gained respect for her legal position.

But it is also well known that Ms Archer and Ms Hickey certainly don’t share a glass of red together and have a chat.

In December 2009 at the very public Taste of Tasmania, backbiting between Ms Archer, a prominent candidate for the upcoming state election, and an ex-candidate Ms Hickey became so heated Ms Hickey lodged a police statement which was removed when Ms Archer apologised for “inappropriate” behaviour.

Ten years later and it seems nothing has changed except for their position in Government.


Sometimes a takeover is a good decision and an example of this is the new owners of The Examiner in Launceston and The Advocate in Burnie.

The two Tasmanian newspapers are part of a $115 million sale of 175 regional mastheads and agricultural titles.

The big papers are The Canberra Times, The Newcastle Herald and The Examiner in an amazing deal regardless of the changing profits and sales of newspapers in the last few years.

When Rural Press bought The Canberra Times from Kerry Stokes in 1999, the deal was around $160 million and other big regionals were worth $30 to $40 million each.

As new owner with his billion-dollar partner Alex Waislitz, executive chairman of the group Antony Catalano said this week: “I’m not one to ignore a good deal.”

His media experience is outstanding, having worked as a journalist, publisher, sales executive, media owner as well as building up Domain, a multi-million-dollar real estate publication for newspapers around Australia.

An interview with Mr Catalano in the Financial Review on Wednesday added loads of confidence for the future.

“The immediate opportunity is how do you invest in the business? These are papers that talk to a lot of people,” Mr Catalano said.

“In private hands, we’ll go after the best editorial and sales people we can get. I don’t think you have any relevance if you are not producing local content locally, it loses cash value if it’s not bona fide.”

So true. The quality of many regional newspapers has dropped badly because of a Sydney office’s lack of support or understanding of the diverse communities around the nation.

Mr Catalano understands newspapers and their clients. A publisher who listens, well done!


It was fascinating to read official statistics which show that between 2016-18, the World Game (or soccer), attracted nearly 35,000 Tasmanian participants, while across the same period AFL attracted 25,000 players.

It’s certainly not a surprise if you’ve been around the Domain’s soccer grounds in Hobart on Saturday mornings and grounds throughout the north and north-west.

The stats show the World Game attracted 19,237 adult (15+) and 15,334 child (under 15) participants, compared to AFL’s 15,191 adult players and 9084 children.

Football Tasmania CEO Matt Bulkeley said that while the AusPlay statistics were not a surprise, it was encouraging to receive independent verification that soccer, sorry football, was Tasmania’s most popular sport.

A flourishing sport, attracting juniors and seniors in both male and female leagues, Mr Bulkeley is expecting a further boost on the back of the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup in June.

The anomaly is that while other sports are struggling to find players to put on the park, football’s biggest challenge is finding enough parks for the growing number of players.

But success creates challenges. So quickly as the numbers increase, the World Game finds itself in a dilemma with providing enough suitable change rooms, which is creating a privacy issue.

When male and female players are playing consecutive matches at the same ground, teams are forced to share changerooms which is not acceptable.

In the meantime, governments and councils are spending thousands of dollars building female changerooms for AFL female players and so they should.

But where’s the money to help the females who now represent 26 per cent of registered soccer players in Tasmania, the highest proportion of any state or territory in Australia.

Maybe they should approach Opposition leader Bill Shorten, who has promised $25 million toward the plan for a Tasmanian team in the AFL. Just make sure the money is shared evenly between sports statewide!


Weekly weigh-in: ANZAC Day footy, electric cars and playing the issue

Anzac_Day_Match_2010,_Collingwood-Essendon

26/4/19

The now traditional ANZAC Day AFL match between Essendon and Collingwood attracted 92,241 supporters packed into one of the world’s great sports arenas, the Melbourne Cricket Ground, or MCG as it’s better known.

A close finish had the supporters’ hearts beating until the end when we heard the loudest booing at the MCG for decades.

Umpires can never win but when their performance is three or four out of 10, booing is the only opportunity crowds have for relief from the frustration. Throwing eggs, ice cream or plastic beer glasses are mortal sins which will end your right to attend AFL games for 10 years, or life in some cases.

The post-game booing was so loud it overpowered the Collingwood theme song after the final siren.

The biggest boo was saved for the ANZAC Medallist, Collingwood Captain Scott Pendlebury. The booing from the Essendon crowd drowned out Pendlebury’s acceptance speech. An angry Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley grabbed the microphone and said: “Shame on anyone that booed a champion.”

It wasn’t nice, but unfortunately Pendlebury received a very questionable free kick in the last minutes of the game which multiplied the umpiring frustrations of the Essendon supporters. There was no argument about Pendlebury being best on ground but unfortunately he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and whoever had won the medal from Collingwood would have attracted the same reception.

Combined with the recent booing of Geelong star Gary Ablett Jr., the AFL will no doubt have a response.

As much as I don’t agree with some of the booing, banning would be equally as ridiculous and would only encourage even more booing.

Just imagine banning 20,000 or 30,000 supporters through the game.


Electric cars are certainly on the up, as are electric “bowsers” popping up across the state.

I drive a hybrid car which powers the engine through petrol and battery. The battery is automatically charged through the system and takes over when petrol is not needed.  And that’s why so many taxis are now hybrids, using less petrol and supporting the environment.

But the elephant in the room is: where do we find the volume of electricity to drive the new cars?

A group supporting hydrogen fuel to take over from petrol said recently the electric concept seemed too good to be true and it appears they are correct.

They say it’s an impossibility and most certainly will send Australia to the wall.

The monthly average domestic household energy need is 880 kilowatts or 10,560 kilowatts a year.

There are over 18 million vehicles registered in New South Wales of which 12,000,000 are cars.

Let’s say that the lowest minimum horse power for cars is 100 – most are between 150 to 350.  One hundred horse power (100 hp) equals 73.7 kilowatts.

73.7 kilowatts multiplied by 12 million is 884,400,000 kilowatts, and that will be every day

That’s 322 billion kilowatts a year.  So where will all the power come from just to charge these vehicles?  And this is only in NSW.

Imagine the queues.

And a message to all the grey nomads, sell your caravans now because an electric powered car that can tow a van hasn’t been invented yet and if one could, the cost to run it would be prohibitive – not to mention the risk of a flat battery between Mt Isa and Katherine.

I’m sure someone has an explanation to explain how things won’t be that difficult.


In this week’s TCCI CEO’s Update, Michael Bailey outlines the TCCI’s commitment to playing the issue and not the person.

Michael then uses this principle to take a look at the current Federal election race and where negative advertising is starting to emerge – perhaps at a detriment to the greater debate at hand.

You can read Michael’s full TCCI CEO’s update here.


Weekly weigh-in: Legislative Council – the house of review

parliament house

18/04/19

Not so long ago, the now retired President of the Legislative Council Jim Wilkinson released a message to the Parliament including the unique parliamentary institution of the Upper House.

Established in 1825 as the original legislative body in Tasmania (then Van Diemen’s Land), the state’s Upper House is the only house of parliament in the Commonwealth and possibly the world that has never been controlled by any government or political party.

“It has always had a majority of independent members making it a truly genuine house of review,” Mr Wilkinson said.

“The Legislative Council has extensive constitutional powers but Members are conscious of their powers and responsibilities and make their decisions accordingly.

“Members of the Legislative Council examine the detail and merit of legislation from many points of view and provide checks and balances to the Government of the day to ensure accountability.”

The Tasmanian Government Members’ handbook the Legislative Council’s role quite clear:

“The Legislative Council’s role is to scrutinise Government action so as to also ensure governments accountability. As Governments are not formed in the Legislative Council, it operates primarily as a House of Review.”

How times have changed.

The 15-member council including the President, now has four Labor members and four independent members who seem to vote with Labor in the majority of contentious bills.

A recent example was the debate of the Gender Bill in the Upper House which already had the Labor vote with the help of Sue Hickey crossing the floor in the Lower House. The group of four independents followed Labor and the Greens which turned the process of review into a party decision.

No wonder voters are wondering what happened to the house of review.


With International Workers Memorial Day just around the corner, TCCI CEO Michael Bailey highlights the important role businesses play in ensuring all Tasmanians return home safely from work in his update to members this week.

International Workers Memorial Day events to remember and honour victims of work-related deaths will be held in Hobart on Parliament Lawns on Saturday, 27 April, 11-11:30am and in Launceston at Workers Memorial Park, Elizabeth Street Gardens on Sunday, 28 April, 10-11am.

You can read Michael’s full TCCI CEO’s Update here.


Weekly weigh-in: PM pub test, no ‘I’ in team and vale John Gay

beer

12/04/19

Whether Prime Minister Scott Morrison wins or loses the May election, he certainly won the pub test during his visit to the north-west and north this week.

The pub test, a theoretical test that seeks to evaluate the thoughts and opinions of ordinary Australians, is now accepted by journalists and politicians who share their results of the test.

On Tuesday the Sporties Hotel bar was pretty busy with regulars who were rather shocked to see the PM and his entourage walk through the bar door, followed by national TV journos and a dozen of his minders easily identifiable by the plugs in their ears.

The PM was welcomed by Sporties publican and Launceston City Councillor Nick Daking, with a cool glass of Boags beer – as you would expect to receive in the north of the state.

From there the PM shook the hands of and chatted with more than 100 individual clientele including tradies, nurses, business owners and GMs.

Then there was a pool table challenge with Johnsy, a regular but no one seems to know his surname. It was an interesting two games, and while the PM was playing OK, it became obvious Johnsy doesn’t lose very often.

While he had a table of about 14 in the bar for dinner, the PM continued to chat with the locals for a couple of hours.

So what was the result?

The decision was left to publican Nick who has history with the pub test.

“Well, this is the third PM to have visited Sporties over the past decade,” Nick said.

“I won’t use names, although one was Labor and the other Coalition, but the first PM was awkward and the second dry and uncomfortable with the clients.

“Scott Morrison was relaxed, friendly, genuine and mixed with the crowd. They loved him regardless of their political stance.

“He passed the pub test with a distinction.”


Apart from the PM’s visit and his positive approach towards Tasmania and particularly Launceston, I was also fortunate to hear a speech this week from a former VFL player which was unexpected but resonated throughout the room.

The speaker was Mark Maclure, a former Carlton champion player between 1974 and 1986 who won three VFL grand finals. Today he has a significant business position and is an ABC commentator and weekly guest on Fox Sport’s AFL 360.

He shared many of the football stories which were hilarious but unfortunately wouldn’t survive in today’s Weigh-in.

The strategy of Carlton’s plan to be the best team and club in Australia was basic, yet one which sets a strong example for business and politics.

“There were no ‘I’ discussions, it was ‘we’ or ‘us’,” Maclure said.

“We didn’t have any Brownlow medalists and no leading goal kickers. We were a team who looked after one another on and off the field.

“We all joined in the supporter’s function at the club after the game and then we would all have dinner together with family.

“We played for one another, not ‘me’ and now ‘I’.”

A powerful but successful approach which is so lacking today in all spheres of life. It’s not us, it’s me, me, me!


There was a sad loss for Tasmania yesterday with the death of John Gay, who took a small forestry business Gunns Ltd and turned it into the state’s biggest business, valued at more than $1 billion and listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.

He led the campaign to build the $2.3 billion pulp mill on the Eastern side of the Tamar River in the nearby industrial area. He selected the Tamar River site to boost the northern Tasmanian economy and create more than 1000 direct and indirect jobs.

He retired before the project was scuttled by the Greens and environmental groups who demonised Mr Gay and his family.

Former Labor Premier Paul Lennon, who’s government supported the project, said he was the pioneer of the timber industry who wanted to serve his state.

Former Liberal Premier Robin Gray said that of all the northern Tasmanians in recent years Mr Gay probably made the greatest contribution.

The former Premier’s comments are so true and many of us remember John as a great supporter of Tasmania and an even greater supporter of Launceston and the north.

In business, his number one priority was to create jobs and to boost the northern and state economy.

He was a very generous man. He looked after his hundreds of employees and contractors and assisted so many families during difficult times and none, or very few outside people were aware of the support.

Family took precedence during both good and tough times and John was an extremely loyal friend. He’s been battling cancer for the past 12 years and fought right to the end.

I spoke to him last Thursday and we had planned to catch up at his home for a coffee next week.

I asked how the battle was and he responded: “Walking is a bit wobbly so I’ll be inside for a while but my brain is working well and I might get another 12 months.”

Thanks for the friendship, I’ve swapped the coffee for one of your favourite Pinot Noirs from the West Tamar.

Cheers John.


Weekly weigh-in: UTAS Inveresk campus, gender laws and Clive Palmer

UTAS logo

5/04/19

It is encouraging to see UTAS appoint a new team to drive the delivery of the proposed campus at Inveresk and nearby areas of Launceston, or should I say the Northern Transformation Project as it is now called.

The team will be headed by UTAS’ new Launceston Pro Vice-Chancellor Proffesor Dom Geraghty, a long time Launceston resident, and sees the new position of Executive Director Northern Campus Transformation given to Phil Leersen. Phil was the former GM of The Examiner and Advocate newspapers before his appointment as CEO of the Australian Maritime College in 2014.

The $270 million project funded by the Federal and State Governments, Launceston City Council and UTAS, disappeared into a sound of silence for 12 months before the State Government pulled the trigger and the former Pro Vice-Chancellor Prof David Adams broke the silence (despite internal pressure), sharing the new direction of the project.

Recently, Prof Adams met with a handful of Launceston health leaders and explained some of the internal and external hurdles the project faced, as well as the opportunities to work with business groups and the $100 million co-located private hospital development on the table.

Prof Adams remains in a senior position working on strategies for UTAS and Tasmania and will no doubt share his understanding of the Northern Transformation Project.

It’s also significant that UTAS has recognised the size and complexity of the campus transformation and the importance of local commerce and engaging with decision makers. This stakeholder engagement will be headed by Mr Leersen, who has both the skills and connection with local business and leaders.

With Prof Geraghty and his passion for growing UTAS and increasing educational access, assisted by Vice-Chancellor Prof Rufus Black and Provost Prof Jane Long, the train is now back on the track and led by a team which understands the need for quick but correct decisions.


The ‘Gender Bill’, which started as the ‘Marriage Bill’, but has now turned into something very different after being shaped by the Opposition, Greens and Speaker Sue Hickey, has now passed the second reading in the Legislative Council, it’s interesting to hear the thoughts from the rest of Australia.

Some have suggested that Tasmanians do really have a problem with heads.

Journalist for the Australian Janet Albrechtsen said: “and now social engineers in Tasmania want to erase the gender altogether from certificates, no choice, no freedom to differ, just one-size-fits-all genderless babies,” she said.

Ms Albrechtsen added that if the bill passes, we should watch out for blowback from voters, a typical symptom of politicians overstepping the mark.

“And people in mainland states have the luxury of watching the social experiment unfold and the chance to harness sensible arguments so they do not follow Tasmania’s folly,” Ms Albrechtsen said.

The third reading of the bill next week is a formality, which means the bill will then be returned to the Lower House, which will then be passed despite the Government’s opposition and the major concerns of the Solicitor General – concerns which were ignored by the majority of the Legislative Council and the supporters in the Lower House.

The response of voters will be very interesting when they realise the impact of the bill


Sometimes a story isn’t really necessary, because everyone in the nation already knows what isn’t going to happen.

There was a classic example of this in a page five story from the Australian this week, with the headline: “Palmer fails to deliver donation.”

I don’t know why I needed to read any further, but sometimes these things happen.

The story unsurprisingly revealed that billionaire Clive Palmer had failed to donate $100 million of his wealth to Aboriginal communities. When he made the pledge to do so in 2008 it was hailed as the greatest act of philanthropy in Australian history.

The story said that Mr Palmer reaffirmed the $100 million commitment in 2013, claiming payments would begin as soon as the Sino Iron project in the Pilbara began exporting iron ore to China. Export started later that year. Mr Palmer’s private company began receiving hundreds of millions of dollars last year after a protracted legal battle with Chinese operators.

And in the meantime, Mr Palmer started an advertising blitz ahead of the Federal Government election, the date of which we will know in the next few days.

While people have been driven mad by his ads for the last four months or so, Palmer’s advertising gurus have come to the conclusion that the total cost of the campaign will be at least $50 million.

It’s hard to see the advertising attracting aboriginal groups and he certainly won’t get a tick from hundreds of former Queensland Nickel employees who were not only sacked by Mr Palmer but refused their entitlements.

To make it worse for those gutted by Mr Palmer’s failure to pay, he spent another few thousand on print advertisements, with two pages carrying 184 faces of candidates including just 25 women.


In today’s TCCI CEO’s Update, Michael Bailey welcomed the Federal Budget announcement by Treasurer Josh Frydenburg, particularly with regard to the increased focus on vocational education and training.

Read Michael’s full column here.


Weekly weigh-in: Tasmanian AFL team, teachers on strike and the Greens election policy

aurora stadium

29/03/19

Wow, the push for a Tasmanian football team in the AFL is now moving at the speed of young Tasmanian sprinter Jack Hale.

Not only have the right and smart leaders been appointed to senior positions, including the retiring President of the Legislative Council Jim Wilkinson and MLC Ivan Dean who has also put together a team which includes legend Graeme Wilkinson and former player and club chairman Rod Patterson.

There is also strong support from former Tasmanian AFL players including three time grand finalist Alastair Lynch, Hawthorn star and highly regarded coach Rodney Eade, current Brisbane coach Chris Fagan and former St Kilda captain Nick Riewoldt.

Football expert and respected writer Caroline Wilson, has shared comments from Tasmanian Treasurer Peter Gutwein in her column in The Age read by leaders and supporters in Melbourne,  the centre of Australian football.

The column says the Tasmanian Government is rallying a powerful group of corporate and sporting heavyweights charged to transition Hawthorn and North Melbourne out of the state and establish its own AFL club by 2026.

AFL is privately endorsing the project which is being driven by Tasmanian Treasurer Peter Gutwein, who was interviewed by Caroline last weekend.

“The time is right.  It’s no longer a matter of if, but when. In my view this should occur in the next five to seven years,” said the Treasurer.

Caroline wrote: “League chief Gillon McLachlan has emerged as a cautious advocate for a historic Tasmanian licence, unofficially advising Premier Will Hodgman as his Government puts together the charter for the project group with a view to gaining entry into the national competition by 2026.

“The AFL’s advice is that the state would require at least 50,000 members and an initial commitment of $40 million to enter the league. Tasmania boasts 91,000 members across the 18 AFL Clubs and contributed an estimated combined $10 million to the Hawks and the Kangaroos,” she went on to write.

The framework to establish an AFL team in Tasmania is also said to include a unified Tasmanian football community (maybe a challenge), AFL standard venues (we already have two pretty good venues) and designing a “respectful” exit strategy for Hawthorn and North Melbourne.

It’s a terrific idea to respect the present AFL teams playing in Tasmania, particularly Hawthorn who grabbed the opportunity, not just for money, but to emerge as a full-blown AFL leader to open up opportunities for national level football (and a host of other sports including netball) for young Tasmanians.

Caroline also pointed to interesting figures which show just over 40,000 Australian rules players are currently registered in Tasmania, with soccer numbers now at 20,000 and growing as that code in Tasmania lobbies for a club in the A-League.

Mr Gutwein reminded Australia that Tasmania is a part of federation.

“The opportunities for Tasmanian kids and for all of Tasmania should be exactly the same opportunities enjoyed by Victorians and West Australians and Queenslanders. As I’ve said it’s a matter now of when. Not if.”

Well done Treasurer and Caroline, “No longer if but when.”


During a discussion about public service strikes in Tasmania and other states, which seem to coincide with a Federal election, the question was asked: “With teachers striking, how can they stop students from striking?”

In fact, the recent student strike over climate change around the nation was massive and I’m sure the Hobart students, in their thousands, made the teachers strike look rather small.

Someone said in response to the question that the principals run the show, not the teachers, however that didn’t work recently and many principals endorsed the rally.

Anyway, the teacher strikes next week will be decided today when Government meets the unions.

Quite a breakthrough this morning with the unions suggesting that if the Government’s counter offer is what they have been asking, then they might call off the strikes. A very strategic approach.

I suggest parents prepare for strikes across the state next week.


While the Federal election is yet to be called, today saw the launch of the Greens Party’s policy “on peace and demilitarisation“.

The policy will see reduction of military spending to bolster the foreign aid budget, fight climate change and promote gender equity.

The policy also endorses tax increases including $20 billion super profits tax on oil, gas and mining giants and the introduction of a $14 billion economy-wide carbon price.

The Greens manifesto is to:

  • Decriminalise drug use
  • Reach 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030
  • Cut military spending
  • End offshore processing
  • Ban thermal coal
  • Scrap the US Alliance
  • Raise minimum the wage, and
  • Launch a universal basic income scheme.

The Australian’s editorial headline read: “The Greens are mad, bad and dangerous to know.” The sub headline read: “Erratic and extreme party inflicts real damage on the nation.”

Obviously The Australian isn’t impressed.


Is it time for Hobart (Salamanca) and Launceston hotels and bars to implement lockout laws to stop the excess of alcohol abuse, vicious beatings and a recent death?

Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as it first sounds.

Read Michael Bailey’s TCCI CEO’s update on the issue here.


Weekly weigh-in: The cost of dying and skipping school

2013-10-01 - 12.55.58 (Public)

22/03/19

A regular elderly client at the newsagents was really on his soap box this morning as he whacked his daily newspaper on the counter and told us all that it’s now getting too expensive to die.

His anger was brought about by the page nine story in The Examiner with the headline “Cost of burials to rise again”.

The story revealed that burial fees in Launceston have more than doubled in six years and in July the cost to be buried at Launceston’s Carr Villa would increase by another 15 per cent.

The fee for a burial has risen from $1415 to $2850 since 2012. From July 1, the Launceston Council will increase the burial price to $3280.

Not only was the old codger exploding, but so is TM Foley funeral director Nicholas Lee. Mr Lee said he was concerned about burial costs five years ago and they are now at “abysmal levels”, describing any further increase as “appalling”.

Councillor Rob Soward said it was necessary to raise revenue.

“We have a lot of people who talk about things they want in the community and things they want the city to look like, that’s how we pay for these things,” Councillor Soward said.

The codger’s final spray: ”So now I have to die to pay for these people who want things, whatever the things may be. Don’t you worry, I’ll be sending back some messages to the whingers from up there.”


Figures can certainly play games with outcomes and the Tasmanian high school attendance numbers are a wonderful example.

The report was released yesterday by the Auditor-General Rod Whitehead and there is no suggestion the figures are anything but accurate.

It’s the process which raises the question.

The figures show that in high schools, Year 7 to Year 10, attendance was 88 per cent – two percent below the national average. However there is a major movement between year groups, with Year 7 students having a 91 per cent attendance but year 10 students dropping back to 85 per cent, with a seven per cent drop from term one to term four. Why?

Then we have the attendance level which measures how many students are attending at least 90 per cent of a school day. The staggering figures show attendance level dropped from 65 percent to 63 per cent.

Reasons for no shows are: 42 per cent for explained sickness; 27 per cent for unexplained absence by a parent or carer; 23 per cent for explained reasons; four per cent for suspension; and, one per cent for truancy. The second highest reason, 27 per cent, for unexplained absence means more than a quarter of students are somewhere else on school days.

Mr Whitehead has nailed a couple of the recommendations which I’m sure the community would be pleased to see. The recommendations include improving the quality of student attendance data which would help understand the 27 per cent no shows, as well as the establishment and ongoing monitoring of performance targets for acceptable attendance and engagement.

With changing working hours and poor transport some of the potential reasons students are missing out on education, schools in NSW and Victoria are offering students flexible hours to start and finish their daily classes to work with family and parent working hours.

Time will tell, but Mr Whitehead has certainly opened up a weakness in the system.


In today’s TCCI CEO’s Update, Michael Bailey takes a look at the role social media played in the horrific massacres in New Zealand.

“Social media can be a force for good or a force for evil, in how it can generate fate and fear,” Michael opened.

To read Michael’s update, click here.


Weekly weigh-in: Iconic Tasmanian business closes its doors, suspensions for students and council rate rises

Brisbane St

15/3/19

And another historic Tasmanian business bites the dust.

Coogans, a furniture and electrical retailer will close the doors of its Moonah store in June. The announcement comes after the business closed its second last store in Hobart late last year.

While the business is still profitable, the shareholders have decided enough is enough and have chosen to take the money now, in a market which is only increasing in competitiveness.

The business was established by William Coogan in Launceston in 1876 and its closure will no doubt feel like a family death for former employees, the Coogan family itself and of course their loyal clients of 143 years. Mr Coogan arrived in Launceston from Melbourne and opened his business as an upholsterer working in a rented room.

Coogans’ first furniture factory was opened in Brisbane Street in Launceston 10 years later with the business also opening a nearby furniture showroom.

In 1902 the manufacturing operation was moved to Kings Wharf and the first consignment of furniture was shipped interstate. So successful was the furniture business, it moved to Invermay and became the largest furniture manufacturer in Australia.

A similar furniture factory was opened on the corner of Elizabeth and Warwick Streets in Hobart, with a showroom established in Collins Street. Unfortunately, the Brisbane Street store in Launceston was closed in 1978 and now history will show that Coogans closed its doors completely on June 30, 2019.


The Coogans closure sadly adds to the list of no-longer-operating different and attractive retailers who were family owned businesses and a part of the business life in Tasmania, particularly in the CBDs of Launceston and Hobart.

They weren’t just business stores, they were icons in a different world who made things happen while others were standing still, such as the Coogans national upholstery factories.

The list of closed iconic Tasmanian retail operations includes:

Birchalls, which provided books, newspapers, toys and education supplies. It opened in Launceston in 1844 and closed the Hobart store and Brisbane Street HQ in 2017. In the early 1900s, J.A. Birchall invented the notepad which became a worldwide stationery staple. The closure had children, their parents and great grandparents in tears, with Facebook flooded with lovely but sad farewells.

FitzGerald’s Department Stores was founded in March 1886, when George Parker FitzGerald established a wholesale business at 79 Collins Street in Hobart. Ironically, the same site was later occupied by Coogans. FitzGeralds became the largest Tasmanian department store retailer with a substantial flagship store in Hobart with frontages to Collins, Murray and Elizabeth Streets, as well as large stores in Launceston (Brisbane Street), Burnie and Hobart’s suburbs. FitzGerald’s was acquired by Charles Davis Ltd in 1981 and in 1995 merged with Charles Davis’ Harris Scarfe store chain after trading losses of more than $2 million.

Some of the stores are still operating as Harris Scarfe and are now owned by a South African company, however the New Norfolk, Eastlands and Burnie stores have closed and there has been a major reduction in the size of the Launceston and Hobart stores.

McKinlay’s department store was another of the Brisbane Street arrivals in 1886 and a year later George Tennent McKinlay joined the firm of McKay, Samspon and Martin. So successful was the business, branches were later established in Devonport, Queenstown, Gormanston and Mathinna and McKinlay’s even had an agent in London! Gilbert McKinlay joined the business in 1928 and was managing director when the Devonport store was closed in 1983 and the Launceston HQ in Brisbane Street shut its doors in 1984.

The void left by Tasmanian family business closures has been filled by interstate companies in most places, which are generally very professional and employ Tasmanian staff. However, the profits don’t stay in Tasmania.

Hobart CBD has certainly attracted some excellent retailers and the re-build of Myer is a great focal point for the CBD.

Launceston is looking for answers and ideas to bring the CBD back to life.

Oh for the return of the Brisbane Street barons who may have pushed the barrows for their needs, but certainly created the aura that the CBD was alive and kicking.


There has certainly been some confusion today regarding a southern Tasmanian high school suspending students for a day if they are five minutes late to classes, as well as hundreds of students walking out of class, some say striking, to tell the Federal Government to act on climate change.

Obviously Sorell High School is having some problems with student’s activities and have decided to hit the punch on the nose button. Fail any of these rules and whack!

Late to class by up to five minutes: they will make up the time with the teacher at the next break. Late to class by five minutes or more: suspension for a day. Out of class without a pass: also done for the day IMMEDIATELY. Failure to follow a reasonable request instruction after one reminder: again, suspended from school for the day.

I’m not sure what would happen if they joined up with today’s climate change strike, but you would think a red card might be shown, with a couple of weeks suspension which would be appreciated by some.

Now our young Tasmanians are becoming activists, it would be appreciated if they could get the State  Government to move on the Mt Wellington cable car project, a Tasmanian team in the AFL for men and women, and while they are at it, add another power station to Tasmania’s hydro grid – particularly when our hydro is the most environmental energy in the world.


In his latest TCCI CEO’s update, Michael Bailey has written that the Local Government Association of Tasmania’s Council Cost Index recommendation of an across the board rates increase of 3.3 per cent has him flummoxed.

Michael recognises that costs for councils are increasing, as they are with all businesses, however rightly points out that there hasn’t been any discussion about cost savings, shared services between adjoining councils, or amalgamations to develop more affordable models.

To read Michael’s full column, click here.


Weekly weigh-in: UTAS Inveresk Campus and the Hobart plastic ban

4-food-packaging-620x330

8/3/19

Finally, UTAS has communicated to the community and explained a positive but new approach for the development of the $270+ million Inveresk Campus in Launceston.

The frustration surrounding UTAS’s inability to make decisions has been wiped away by a gutsy approach from Pro-Vice Chancellor, David Adams. He has bitten the bullet and explained the campus development will be built in a staged process while also explaining why.

As the Weigh-in suggested some months ago, the UTAS development had been battling for attention with several existing infrastructure projects in the pipeline for Tasmania. Government figures for infrastructure over the next six years estimate a spend of at least $2.6 billion statewide, with Launceston receiving significant private investment for three major hotels, including the Chromy Hotel at a minimum of $40 million, $100 million for the co-location private hospital and up to $300 million for TasWater projects on the Tamar Estuary.

Professor Adams explained that one of the major promises was to maximise the economic benefits from the project for Tasmanian businesses, but if UTAS stayed within the existing deadlines to complete the entire campus, there would not be enough construction and sub-contractors to fulfil the commitment.

In order to make this year’s deadline to start the entire project it would need to call on interstate labor and therefore fail to support Tasmanian businesses.

“We committed to begin construction later this year and we will meet that commitment,” Professor Adams said.

The project will now be divided into seven zones and developed in these sections, with a DA ready in June.

Not only has Prof Adams shared the details of the new staged development, he is now meeting with business and community groups explaining the process and gaining support for the project.

Now the countdown begins, with a huge thank you to Professor Adams for starting the race.


The Hobart City Council is again under fire, following its decision to ban plastic takeaway items without discussion with business, the community and without legal advice.

Hobart will be the first Australian council to ban single use plastics under a new by-law. The council will submit the proposed by-law and regulatory impact statement to the director of local government for consideration. If approved, the council will start a minimum 21day formal process of public consultation.

Having voted 8-4 in favour of the legislative change and rejecting a committee recommendation to defer the move for a year, it’s a certainty that ratepayers opinions won’t change the council’s decision.

Councillor Bill Harvey said the by-law would add to the way people perceived Hobart across the world.  I certainly agree, but maybe not in the manner he expects.

And if you still want your food in plastic containers and probably a cheaper price, try Glenorchy or over the river because nothing has changed there.

Many sections of business and community certainly haven’t supported Environment Tasmania director and former Hobart alderman, Phillip Cocker who said: “This is a priceless piece of branding for Hobart, at negligible cost, that demonstrated a caring for the environment.”

Tasmanian small Business Council, CEO, Robert Mallett said for his members: “This smacks of selfishness by those who promoted the idea in the council. It’s grandstanding to make themselves look good.”

And Alderman Marti Zucco said: “What’s the point of going down this process if legal advice tells us we can’t do it.  No advice of this kind was sought before the vote.”

Maybe it will also open an opportunity to bring back popular newspaper wrappers for fish and chips sales.

No doubt, today’s new newspaper inks are much healthier than they were 50 years before the newspaper wrappers were banned. The taste of fresh fish and chips from local potatoes was a treat for a shilling and you could read the wrapper while you hogged into the fish and chips.

I can’t recall anyone carking it, but it certainly increased newspaper reading.


While the Tasmanian fires are still causing grief, the Government has released Concessional Business Recovery Loans up to $100,000 and Business Recovery Grants up to $25,000.

These loans will provide much needed assistance to the 500 or so local businesses which have been directly or indirectly affected by the fires and will help local communities recover.

For more information about the Concessional Business Recovery Loans and Business Recovery Grants, please read Michael Bailey’s TCCI CEO Update here.


Weekly weigh-in: Attention at the wheel, Launceston Cup crowd and innovative education

transportation concept - man using phone while driving the car

1/3/19

I was pleased to hear high definition cameras, which detect people using their phones while driving, are likely to be tested on Tasmanian roads soon.

Tasmanian Police are already doing a great job testing for over-the-alcohol-limit and drug affected drivers, with the number of drug detections now often exceeding the drink-driving numbers.

Speed and dangerous driving remain daily challenges for police, but fortunately they still manage to save many lives.

However, there’s no doubt the use of mobile phones and texting are in the top five causes of road deaths and I’d hate to see the figures of those seriously injured by drivers with their phone to their ear or taking their eyes off the road while texting.

So often in the morning you can count multiple numbers of distracted drivers using phones on their way to work or taking the kids to school and as the Tasmanian Road Safety Advisory Council (RSAC) has found, even some drivers using their laptops!

One of the trials of the high definition cameras in Melbourne found that over a five-hour period the camera was catching illegal driving every 30 seconds.

Not only did the cameras capture people talking with their hand phone (as opposed to hands-free) or texting, they even snapped a shocking picture of a driver using both hands on his phone while his passenger steered the car travelling at 80 km/h.

When travelling to the airport on a Skybus to Tullamarine airport recently, I was staggered that as you look down at the cars in the adjacent lane, every second or third driver was distracted by talking or texting, writing notes or looking and talking to passengers for 20-to-30 seconds while not looking at the road.

And I have to plead guilty that I also saw other activities in cars which were certainly not expected.

I thought I had seen the lot while driving in Devonport a couple of decades ago and realising that the lady coming down the cross road was definitely not going to stop. It wasn’t so much the fact she was doing about 75 km/h through a stop sign, but more so that she was brushing her hair looking in the rear mirror as she thundered down the street with no idea there was a car coming towards her from another direction.

So well done RSAC chairman Garry Bailey who will be revealing some new and desperately needed approaches to save lives and crack down on ignorant drivers who think they own the road.


It was encouraging to hear that of the 1600 random tests after Wednesday’s Launceston Cup, no drink drivers were detected. Two drivers failed a drug test, three were driving unregistered cars and two were driving without a licence.

Police praised the Launceston Cup crowd of about 12,000 for their excellent behavior, with no arrests or anti-social issues. Post Cup events attracted big numbers but again the behavior was exemplary.

The tide has turned and let’s hope all of the state’s great events understand the responsibility of drivers of all ages.


It’s terrific to see new partnerships between business and educational organisations to help grow Tasmania’s workforce.

Today TasTAFE and St.LukesHealth announced they will provide Tasmanians with the opportunity to gain an educational qualification for a career in the health insurance sector. The qualification established by the innovative partnership is the first of its kind in Australia.

Developed by St.LukesHealth, a progressive not-for-profit Tasmanian private health insurer, the Certificate IV in General Insurance will assist those wanting to upskill or seeking a career in health insurance.

The qualification will be delivered in-house using St LukesHealth trained staff and validated through TasTAFE and is expected to be rolled out nationwide.

St.LukesHealth People and Culture GM, Barbra Brown, said there have been no educational resources tailored to the health insurance sector, with most pathways through a Certificate III in Business.

“It’s important to develop our workforce capabilities, that is with the right skills, knowledge and culture, to support our staff to ensure they deliver the organisation’s goals well into the future,” Mrs Brown said.

It’s no wonder St.LukesHealth last week won the national Roy Morgan Private Health Insurer of the Year for Customer Satisfaction award. By the way, St.LukesHealth has now won this award three years in a row!

It was also encouraging to see the support from Deputy Premier and Minister for Education and Training Jeremy Rockliff at today’s announcement.


Weekly weigh-in: Ex-Fairfax papers for sale and Labor’s portfolio reshuffle

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22/02/19

The former Fairfax regional and community newspapers, including our very own Examiner and Advocate newspapers, will be sold by mid-year, according to Nine chief executive, Hugh Marks.

Nine inherited the community newspapers following the takeover of Fairfax in November last year and it was well known prior to the takeover that regional newspapers didn’t dance to the same tune as Nine.

The sale includes the two Tasmanian former Fairfax papers, The Examiner and Advocate, along with The Canberra Times, Illawarra Mercury and The Land – a very successful rural publication which like many of the regional papers came through Rural Press, owned by John B Fairfax, which merged with Fairfax and has now been taken over by Nine who quickly buried the Fairfax name.

The regional papers, branded as Australian Community Media (ACM), didn’t fit with Nine but the organisation came under enormous pressure last year with drought affecting agricultural markets and the majority of the 170 publications.

The ACM posted a 37 per cent drop in Earnings Before Interest Tax, Depreciation and Amortization to $37.8 million, which translates to a very ordinary profit for the last six months.

Other financial areas of Nine outside of the ACM group suggest a profit in this financial year of $44 million, with expectations of profits of $56 million, $55 million and $45 million for the next three fiscal years.

Nine has tapped investment bank Macquarie to handle the sale process and are adamant they can sell the entire business rather than individual sales which has surprised buyers in Canberra and Tasmania keen to make an offer for the papers.

While interested parties are running the numbers over the ACM publications in Sydney, the formula to work out an indication of what a newspaper might sell for has changed dramatically in the last 10 or 12 years. Previously, some media organisations used the formula of seven times profit.

With the current profit figures, this would mean a valuation of $308 million for the papers, or $392 million if the figure is based on the expected $56 million profit next year.

Despite Nine’s confidence of selling the entire business, the opportunity to return the two Tasmanian papers to local owners is still not lost.


Losing the footy grand final is a shocking feeling for players and supporters and if you’re looking for an example, simply have chat with a devastated Collingwood follower who will probably take 10 years to get over last year’s AFL Grand Final.

But one thing supporters won’t accept is for the team to play the same losing game plan as last year. Coaches and their assistants must find different strategies to improve and win the next year.

State Labor supporters should be cheering their members and supporters for showing some courage and reviewing all its policies three years from their next grand final, sorry State Election. The game plan in 2018 didn’t work despite picking up three new members and missing Government by one candidate, drawing more parallels with Collingwood’s 2018 AFL failure.

Despite many in the Labor movement warning the leaders that closing down pokies in clubs and pubs was a very dangerous strategy, the party went ahead with the policy. History now shows the poker machine reform, which would have resulted in massive jobs losses and closed down clubs and hotels, was foolish and voters didn’t want to see hundreds of unemployed young and older hospitality workers.

Opposition leader Bec White’s portfolio reshuffle gives Labor an opportunity to reassess their direction and remove the issue which became the Opposition’s wart that overtook all other policies at the last election, no matter how hard they tried.

One relieved politician is Federal Opposition leader Bill Shorten, who saw the power of the Australian Hospitality Association (AHA) and clubs supporting their members in Tasmania and Adelaide and winning. The last thing Mr Shorten would need is a national campaign from clubs and the AHA fighting for their members, their jobs and associated business.


The TCCI has called on the Senate to support small business and not cause grave uncertainty for Australians who work casually and the small businesses that employ them.

This is in response to Labor appearing to want to overturn a recent regulation which was made by Government late last year to protect small business from massive back pay claims.

Read Michael Bailey’s latest TCCI CEO Update here.


Weekly weigh-in: Tasmanian AFL team, Muhammad Ali and house prices

aurora stadium

15/02/19

While the Legislative Council will lose a terrific President, the supporters of a Tasmanian AFL team have won TattsLotto.

As Jim Wilkinson prepares to retire from the Legislative Council and his current position as President, he’s already blown the whistle and started work in his new position as executive chairperson of the Tasmanian Football Board, announced by the State Government this week.

A former VFL player with South Melbourne (a club which later became the Sydney Swans) and Sandy Bay in the very strong southern Tasmanian competition, his first six months will deliver a three-person project committee to build a comprehensive plan for a Tasmanian AFL team and an AFLW team.

Fortunately, there is a team of top former players and coaches prepared to assist the development of a Tasmanian team. Names such as Chris Fagan – coach of Brisbane, Nick Riewoldt – former captain of St. Kilda, Mathew Richardson – Richmond star and now commentator and many more in the media including Tim Lane.

But what has been missing is a respected leader who understands the game and the business. Mr Wilkinson’s legal background is also a handy addition, as is his inspiring profile and his ability to manage people.

Typical of Mr Wilkinsons’s positive approach when talking with media this week, when asked about the reality of Tasmania having a team in the AFL he said: “From what I understand, it’s not a matter of if, it’s matter of when.”

“I’d like to see us have one in the next three to five years but that’s my personal view. That might change when further information is obtained.”

He will work with the new people and the new positions and they will be people who know what’s involved in football, know what it takes to be successful in a football club and know how to help his board formulate a team which will compete successfully.

It’s certainly a big step forward for Tasmania.


The chair of the separate Legislative Council committee inquiring into the viability of a Tasmanian AFL team, Ivan Dean, is hoping the board and the inquiry will complement one another.

Mr Dean made it clear the parliamentary inquiry was looking at more issues than whether the Government can stand behind a Tasmanian AFL team.

“Our inquiry will consider where games would be played and where the team would be domiciled,” Mr Dean said.

Mr Dean’s committee will hold its first meeting in March.

It is critical to have communities understand where and why the Tasmanian team is, or is not, playing matches. Obviously there needs to be an equal sharing of matches between Hobart and Launceston which have two very good grounds and facilities and have both been approved by the AFL.

Unfortunately the north west has dropped backwards in terms of footy grounds and teams after Devonport and Burnie withdrew their senior teams from the Tasmanian Football League. Their facilities are OK for the north west league but are about $20 to $30 million dollars behind acceptable AFL standards.

And where will Tasmania’s AFL team be based?

Well, the only Premier to put their head on the line regarding this issue was David Bartlett (Premier from 2008-11), who said Launceston would be the base.

If a Tasmanian AFL team becomes a reality this decision will certainly be fun and games, or perhaps more appropriately, a ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ – which was of course the heavy weight boxing title between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman – arguably the greatest sporting event of the 20th century.

Bring it on!


Cassius Clay who later changed his name to Muhammad Ali, wasn’t just a great boxer and athlete.

He was also one of the great showmen, particularly with his extraordinary quotes which irritated his opponents to insanity including:

“I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was.”

“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”

“I’m young, I’m handsome, I’m fast, and can’t possibly be beat.”

“If you even dream of beating me you’d better wake up and apologise.”

“I’m so mean, it makes medicine sick.”

“If you can make penicillin out of mouldy bread, they can sure make something out of you.“

“I’m not the greatest, I’m the double greatest.”

And the so true: “Live everyday as if it were your last because someday you’re going to be right.”


While Tasmanian real estate sales continue to hit record figures, the housing downturn interstate is hitting suburbs, with 100 suburbs dropping out of the so-called “million dollar club”.

The majority of these suburbs are in NSW and Victoria, which both boomed to ridiculous highs, and have unfortunately left so many buyers with mortgages of hundreds of thousands more than the value of their property.

At the top of the list reported in today’s Australian was Box Hill, about 40kms out of the Sydney CBD, which had a median house value of $1,526,677 in January 2018, compared to $895,952 in January this year – a drop of 41.3 per cent.

The next suburb was Agnes Banks (NSW) with the median price falling 39.4 per cent from $1,478.953 to $896,118 over the same 12-month period, and the third drop was in Red Hill (VIC), where the median fell 32.5 per cent from $1,359,963 to $917,516. Fourth on the list was Barragup (WA), which also recorded a frightening 31.1 per cent plunge from $1,057,421.

Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania are bucking the trend, with Battery Point becoming Tasmania’s first entry to the million-dollar suburb club with a median value of $1.067 million.

But don’t forget Tasmanians, the worm will turn, but the million dollar question is: when?


Weekly weigh-in: No silver bullets, political retirement fund and MP requests

silver bullets

08/02/19

Hopefully decision makers accept the latest advice from Brad Stansfield, the former Chief of Staff to Premier Will Hodgman for years before moving into private enterprise late last year.

In his monthly column for The Mercury last weekend, Brad alerted the community that in six weeks’ time, the Premier would deliver in the first day of Parliament for 2019 his annual State of the State address laying out the Government’s plans for the year.

He also shared a golden rule of politics – that there are no silver bullets, despite a host of business and community organisations calling for the Government to be bold and undertake serious economic or social reform.

Brad said not only would the called for reform be unlikely to happen, none of the ideas such as merging councils, increasing the size of government, selling assets or increasing taxes, are likely to make a tangible positive difference to Tasmanians.

There’s no doubt about the strength of the Government’s ability to stick to its plans and despite pressures from public servants and unions, Premier Hodgman is overseeing the fastest growing economy in the country.

So, on March 12 my three well-meaning projects to be included in the 2019 State of the State are:

  • Slip on the boxing gloves and get UTAS moving on the $260 million development of the new Inveresk Campus. This project has been stagnating since 2017 despite $150 million from the Federal Government and $50 million from the State Government as well as support from the City of Launceston. UTAS has been very quick to make decisions in Hobart, including buying hotels for student accommodation and even coming up with the brain fade idea of putting overseas students on a huge boat docked on the Derwent River.  Why can’t UTAS make decisions for a funded campus in Launceston?
  • Fix Hobart’s traffic jam which is getting worse despite the Government taking over Macquarie and Davey Streets. Yes, there has to be a major plan, but as a former Hawthorn coach said: “Don’t think about it, do something.”
  • Bring together a small group of Tasmanian fire experts to search the world for new ideas, including aircraft to be armed from day one, to save Tasmania’s fragile heritage areas which burn like sage, as well as our towns and regions which have been heavily damaged this year. Fortunately, fuel reduction burns have saved some areas. It’s important not to listen to the minority who rejected the burns and look after the majority who will benefit from them.

Back to the Stansfield column, which included a bomb-shell superannuation figure for retired public servants and politicians who were employed under the Defined Benefit Scheme which closed to new entrants in 1999.

The scheme was introduced before superannuation and provided a life time payment based on 75 per cent (there were variations) of the employee’s earnings in their last couple of years of work.

As Brad said: “Most people don’t know it, but each year around $300 million is spent out of the budget paying superannuation to retied public servants – for context, that’s enough for 3000 more nurses.”

It’s expected to peak in 2030 and there are suggestions from financial organisations the cost will then be around $500 million per annum which will have to be funded by Tasmanian taxes and other incomes.

A fund was started by Premier Tony Rundle to grow and cover future payments for the scheme which in theory, would now be in a position to pay for the scheme without touching the budget.

However, Premier David Bartlett, followed by Lara Giddings, were hit hard by the 2008 financial crisis and by the time the Hodgman Government was elected in 2014, the $1.5 billion Rundle fund was drained to zero which is why we now pay $300 million each year.


Constituents around the countryside have great expectations their members of parliament can do anything.

Saying no to a constituent is deemed as just not acceptable and the member is expected to work 24 hours, seven days a week.

A former state member recently said the stories and demands from the community were amazing to a degree that he started to wonder whether he was losing it, or his constituents were.

One example was a call from a lady whose fridge had given-up and wanted the member to buy her a new one, “because you can afford it and I voted for you”.

Another was a call on behalf of a neighbor who had mice in his house and who wanted his member to come to his house and remove them.

Wow, would you really want to be a politician?


Weekly weigh-in: Rude shock for racing, emergency department overload and tough times for traders

horse-racing-358907_960_720

01/02/19

It’s amazing how sporting organisations manage to botch the process of handling serious problems, whether it be football of all spheres or Olympic swimmers back to the days of Dawn Fraser. Now Victorian racing has created another disaster.

On Wednesday, Victoria Police’s Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit, with the support of Racing Victoria and Ballarat Police, raided the stables of Darren Weir, Australia’s most successful trainer with 263.5 winners this season and prizemoney earnings of $18,889,634.

Items seized from the stables in Ballarat and Warrnambool training bases included taser type electronic devices knows as “jiggers,” or batteries in the older days. Jiggers are used to zap the horse around the neck, then on race day the jockeys would touch the area with the strap and the horse, in theory, would run faster in anticipation of the shock.

The story from interstate is that a disgruntled employee provided information and video footage allegedly showing some Weir horses being tased while wearing blinkers in training.

The electric shot was only used when the horse was wearing blinkers so on race day, if blinkers were added, the horse was more likely to go faster thinking he’s about to get tased.

With all the information from Racing Victoria and the police – by the way every media outlet arrived at Ballarat even through nobody knew it was happening – it was no surprise that Weir and a couple of his senior staff, were arrested and taken into custody in Melbourne.

One of the three was released very quickly but Weir was questioned by police for more than four hours, which led most to believe charges were going to be laid.

But no, he was released with no charges and is now back in his stable training horses, although that may change later today.

Why raid the stables and arrest people without having the information to charge them for anything criminal or breaches of the rules of racing?

Now it has allowed the issue to attract extraordinary stories, including suggestions that 2015 Melbourne Cup winner Prince of Penzance, who started the race at 100/1, was zapped.

Nobody likes cheats or animal cruelty so why can’t Racing Victoria and the Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit get it right from day one to stop this wrong-doing in its tracks.


Emergency departments in Tasmanian hospitals are averaging about 445 patients per day, representing the highest increase per capita in Australia.

Nationally, in 2017-18 more than eight million patients arrived at ED, which averages out to be about 22,000 patients per day. The annual increase of patients increased by 3.4 per cent, the biggest increase in recent years.

Last year’s arrival numbers at the four Tasmanian emergency departments were 162,441, with the highest number of presentations by age being from the 15-24 range (10,907), 25-34 (9700) and 55-64 (9068). About 25 per cent of patients arrived by ambulance or air ambulance, with 74 per cent either walking in or arriving by private transport and public services. Waiting times increased, but overall WA, ACT and NT were worse than Tasmania.

However, the really frightening figure from the 2017-18 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report on emergency department care shows the increase of “presentations per 1000 population”, in which Tasmania was the highest by far for all states and territories.

The rebuild of the Royal Hobart Hospital will be a boost, with basically a new hospital opening this year.

Unfortunately, the statistics suggest the continued increase in arrivals at the ED will continue to grow faster than departments can expand or rebuild. The data shows that GPs are now sending 25 per cent of patients to ED, which nationally means more than two million each year for a variety of reasons and these numbers are unlikely to decrease.

Launceston presents a clear example of the dilemma, where 56.5 per cent of ED patients are non-urgent.

The push for more understanding and education of preventative health needs to happen today, not tomorrow.


Tasmanian traders are feeling some pain, with significant diminished capacity over Bass Strait during January.

There will also be hits to the industry in terms of cost and process this year.

Why? Read Brett Charlton’s Thought Leadership column from page five of the February Tasmanian Business Reporter here.


Weekly weigh-in: Record Tasmanian house sales, the world’s best racehorse and the Australian Open

sold sign

25/01/18

It was a surprise for many in the state to find out the latest Real Estate Institute of Tasmania figures show 80 per cent of houses sold in Tasmania during 2018 were bought by locals.

An even bigger surprise is the number of Tasmanians buying properties worth more than $1 million. Of the 181 sales above this mark, only 33 buyers were from interstate or overseas which means 148 Tasmanians opened the safe.

The value of all transactions, domestic and commercial, was $4.068 billion, $188 million higher than the previous record set in 2017.

The 2216 house sales in greater Hobart returned $1.226 billion to owners; Launcestonians moved 1272 homes worth $460.13 million and the north west recorded 761 sales, catching $223.369 million.

It’s certainly no surprise the Government is one of the big winners, collecting significant dollars through stamp duty, which was previously a river of gold for NSW and Victoria before the 10 to 20 per cent drop in house prices.

The State Government increased its budget by $50 million to allow for the extra stamp duty revenue, however the true amount received will likely crash through this figure. This is despite the Government providing a 50 per cent concession on stamp duty for first home buyers not exceeding costs of $400,000 and a similar concession for eligible pensioners to sell their existing home and downsize to a new home or unit at a lesser price than their home sale.

The budget also reminded us of the Government’s commitment to introduce a Foreign Investor Duty Surcharge of an additional three per cent of the dutiable value of all residential property purchased by foreign investors.

Despite the increased concessions I’d still like 10 per cent of the excess budget dollars.


While Australian men’s cricket, rugby union and league teams are battling to win a game, women’s results in cricket, netball, swimming (particularly Tasmanian world champion Ariarne Titmus) and tennis (Ashleigh Barty was the first Australian female tennis player to reach the fourth round in three decades) are leading the way.

And overnight, Australia’s super-mare Winx was named the best racehorse in the world.

No disrespect to our female athletes by naming them alongside a horse, but I’m sure they would admire the amazing athlete who has won 29 consecutive races and the first horse to win four Cox Plates, one of the world’s greatest 2000m races.

Winx shared the accolade with British stallion, Cracksman and retained her crown as the best mare in the world, a title she has held since 2016. The now seven-year-old Winx has won 33 of her 39 starts with an extraordinary 29 consecutive wins. Not only is she adored by followers around Australia, she has also delivered $22.9 million in prize money for her owners and trainer Chris Waller.

Many thought they had seen the best ever when Makybe Diva won three consecutive Melbourne Cups in the early 2000s, then Black Caviar hit the track in 2009 and was unbeaten in her 25 races, including the Jubilee Stakes at Ascot, UK.  Then came Winx.

Well done girls.


The Australian Open continues to attract record numbers of fans and strong TV audiences. It’s no wonder when you see brilliant game after game from the male and female stars.

Australian players pushed through to the second, third and fourth rounds, adding confidence to the future of Australian tennis.

The post-match interviews after the losses of Ashleigh Barty and teenage Alex de Minaur showed great maturity, honesty and sportsmanship which the crowds recognised. Australian tennis fans will now follow their careers with the hope they find further success.

On the opposite side, Bernard Tomic used his post-match interview after his first-round failure to defame Davis Cup manager Lleyton Hewitt and attempt to split male tennis in Australia. Why does he bother?

However, the best of the worst performances by a mile were from Alexander Zverev and Pablo Carreno Busta, who both obviously lost.

Zverev destroyed his racquet after losing and certainly raised the attention of fans around the world. Undoubtedly the most spectacular racquet smash seen in Melbourne and probably close to an international Hall of (Dummy Spit) Fame award.

Close by was Carreno Busta, who had a meltdown and threw his bag away onto the court while screaming at the umpire after a critical line call. His efforts earned a big boo from the crowd as he was walking off the court but the tantrum didn’t stop there.

After gathering his bag, Busta turned around and gave the chair umpire another blast, screaming at the top of his lungs. I have no doubt the umpire’s ears are still ringing.

Busta was still screaming through the tunnel and heaven knows what might have happened in the changeroom.


Weekly weigh-in: Pesky parking meters and Powerball puzzle

resized

18/01/19

When a council has to run lunchtime seminars for ratepayers in order to explain how to use new parking meters introduced firstly in Salamanca and later across Hobart, the bells should be ringing and questions should be asked.

Tasmanians aren’t in the top 10 when it comes to supporting change but that aside, there are processes which must first take place before any change to explain why it is needed and “how will it affect our clients”.

Understanding and working with your clients will help soothe the change and avoid an irritation virus which will inevitably hang around for a long time.

One of the questions for the council is: “Did alderman understand how to use the new meters and if so, did they consider that many of their ratepayers would find the new meters felt like something dropped from Mars, to say the least.”

Of course, younger people worked it out reasonably well, although they certainly weren’t smiling and some crude language could still be heard if you were in the queue behind them.

But don’t forget Tasmania has the oldest and most rapidly ageing population of any Australian state or territory which doesn’t mean you can’t make changes, but decision makers should be cognisance of their needs to ensure change runs as smoothly as possible.

No doubt the IT department loved the new toy, complete with lots of wiggly diggly bits in comparison to the old system of slipping in the coins and dropping the ticket onto your dashboard.

The new process is a very different approach, as explained in the ‘New Parking Meters’ page on the Hobart City Council website:

  1. Note your bay number on the ground;
  2. Press (←) button to activate the screen
  3. Enter your bay number;
  4. Press (✓) button, then chose payment method;
  5. To pay with coins insert coins and press (✓) button to finalise payment.

To pay with credit or debit card, select time using ( –) (+) (MAX) buttons and press (✓) button then tap or insert card.

Despite the confusion and attack from ratepayers, the council’s message is that the new system provides more payment options, listed above.

Unfortunately it’s another example of adding red tape and complicating things, with a five point process replacing the two in the past.


As well as announcing the ‘how to use the marking meters’ seminars, the council has also promised to upgrade the screens on meters and is now under pressure from a Federal MP and a Hobart alderman to reconsider the $3 minimum charge of paying by credit card. Alderman Simon Behrakis has received overwhelmingly negative feedback about the $3 minimum and independent MP Andrew Wilkie has lodged a complaint with the ACCC.

Obviously so much of the rage should have been avoided by introducing the seminars prior to the introduction of the new meters, not months afterwards.


Unfortunately we didn’t win last night’s $107.57 million Powerball draw and sadly we have no family connection to the lucky NSW winner.

I can’t understand why it’s so difficult to pick out seven numbers, but there is some comfort in the fact another eight million Australians also failed to collect.

Now what about the second prize? Surely second division is worth a motza too.

Well the second division prize was $1.89 million – you beauty.

However you will have to share it with 20 other winners, reducing your win to $94,792.

Certainly better than an ice stick, but the $105.68 million difference from first to second is out of sync – just ask the 20 second division winners who will enjoy the $94,792 but will challenge the maths for eternity.


Weekly weigh-in: UTAS campuses, food vans and beach closures

beach closed

11/01/19

A UTAS report suggesting the Launceston and Burnie campuses could have been closed if it wasn’t for a $225 million Federal and State Government agreement to re-build the campuses is certainly no shock in the north.

Even with UTAS kicking in $75 million to increase the pot to $300 million, it may not be sufficient to complete the original campus development at Inveresk, but it’s a great start.

While the $50 million development for the new Burnie campus is now underway and safe, the Inveresk plan and DA is still yet to be finalised.

The Government and UTAS Vice-Chancellor Rufus Black were meeting weekly and sometimes more in November and December last year and there’s no doubt the pressure continues to rise on UTAS management.

The clock is ticking on the future of the current Newnham Campus which will need a campus revamp to meet new regulations, with costs expected to be more than the $300 million Inveresk project.

In the meantime, Tasmanian students are jumping ship and heading to the mainland with the report also showing one in five move interstate for their studies.

While more than 50 per cent of students are from outside Tasmania, the university receives a strong revenue flow from interstate and overseas students, some of whom stay and are employed in the state.

There were some questions in the report about the viability of the existing Launceston campus before the Government and UTAS agreed to create the new Inveresk campus, which doesn’t replicate the Newnham campus but instead is designed as a new approach to provide relevant and exciting courses to attract Tasmanian and overseas students.

It’s a departure from the “hub and spoke” model to a more regionally diverse higher education institution for all of Tasmania.

Suggestions of removing some of the nursing degree courses from Launceston are about as silly as swimming in the Tamar River.

I understand the nursing courses are the only profitable courses in Launceston which reflects the need to increase their presence while at the same time looking for new opportunities that are not available in Tasmania, or interstate.

An interesting paragraph from the report said: “Unless the Northern Transformation project is a success, the question [of viability] will arise again, so it is critical we get this right.”

The Inveresk campus has certainly attracted the support of Federal Government, State Government, Launceston, Launceston City Council and Vice-Chancellor, Rufus Black.

One would hope that same support and enthusiasm flows from the University Council.


While the Launceston UTAS developments may take a little longer to complete than first expected, cost increases will continue to rise for all building projects as developers and the housing community are already well aware.

With builders tied up with contracts for major projects across the state, costs have increased by up to 20 per cent and with many infrastructure projects yet to start, the prices could rise even higher and remain high for some years ahead.

An example in Launceston is the start of a new hotel, with a second starting very soon and a third $40 million hotel in the pipeline after already delivering a DA to the council.

Add in to the mix the UTAS project which has to start sooner than later and it’s not hard to see that this year builders will be in short supply.


Back in the 90s I met an entrepreneur in Ballarat who lived for the challenge and was constantly on the lookout for new opportunities. He was in food, fascinating bars and clubs and signed up men and women’s sports clubs and even a couple of hundred Ballarat University students.

He was into marketing and loved a food van – a little different from today’s vans but a big winner in the 90s.

On the menu was saveloys, snags and occasionally chips with fresh bread, tomato with the option of two or three mustards which would shatter tongues, noses, eyes and other areas. The council approved and a wink from the constabulary allowed the van to operate from 11pm to very late in the morning depending on hotel and club closure.

He wasn’t shy of hard work, employed family and friends, paid them well and made a good profit. There were no cafes, restaurants or shops nearby and most were closed anyway at that hour so he wasn’t upsetting other businesses.

Jump to 2019 and this week we read that the Launceston City Council is planning a one-month trial of two food vans in the revamped Brisbane Street Mall. The council is calling for interested food van operators to submit their proposals by next week.

The trial will see two vans operating in the mall between 11am to 7pm Monday to Thursday and 11am to 4pm on Sunday.

Launceston eateries are frustrated and shocked. Understandably they are asking for an explanation on a decision which will result in direct competition with quality restaurants, cafes and coffee shops littered around the area. The existing businesses pay high rents and council rates, are restricted by regulations and red tape, provide toilets and pay an additional rate to support CityProm which supports the CBD ratepayers.

Some believe the council has agreed to the trial in order to attract more people into the multi-million revamp of the mall. In other words, the revamp isn’t working but the vans will help it, but at the cost of CBD eateries.

By the way, the unhappy eateries also suggest that the trial idea wasn’t on the agenda at the last December council meeting which means the councillors have had no say in the decision.

It’s certainly a great opportunity for CityProm to support their clients, the CBD ratepayers.


With record tourist numbers coming into the state and particularly Hobart, it’s embarrassing to say the least that nearby beaches may be closed in the next couple of days after failing water quality tests.

Blackmans Bay beach is already closed following tests showing faecal contamination at levels unseen before which will be a rude shock to swimmers who have spent hours in the water recently.

A further seven beaches could be closed in the next couple of days depending on the re-test results which were frightening in the first place.

We are now in 2019 but some things have never changed.


Weekly weigh-in: Bullying and building heights

Labor Day safety

13/12/18

It’s sad we are down to this level, but I give my total support for Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff driving a line to halt schoolyard bullying in all forms and calling on Tasmanians to tell him what should be done.

The bullying of today is light years away from a few decades ago. Punches aren’t new but knifes are and so are the gutless heroes who kick and stomp people on the ground, which unfortunately is not restricted just to the boys.

The mental damage delivered through social media bullying, basically Facebook, is beyond understanding, but so cruel as parents and grandparents try to help and explain to a distraught child. Mr Rockliff said he was constantly shocked at the extent and severity of stories of bullying and violence in schools right across the state.

He makes it clear that bullying is a crime, confirmed by the Government releasing draft legislation that will see bullies who cause serious mental and physical harm to victims possibly sent to jail.

For the younger students, the buddy support systems are a successful way of limiting bullying, with senior students assigned to look after a primary school student, or a Grade 10 looking after a Grade 7. The support is confidence boosting to the youngsters and can help avoid bullying from gutless groups.

This system also creates an understanding that if someone is in trouble you should help your mates. Today we see many kids and adults watching fights/bullying but doing nothing to stop it, even though there seems to be plenty of time to take photos and videos.

It takes the support of all levels at schools to create a culture of working together at all ages to emphasise that bullying is not smart, not funny and not accepted at our school.

The need of adult support was highlighted by a William Golding book, Lord of the Flies, which became one of the hundred best English language stories. The book is based on group of English school boys stranded on an island after a plane crash which killed all adults on board.

While the book is fiction, today it’s an amazing example of fact and just how immaturity can make anything fall apart. Alone on the island during the second World War, the group’s attempt to govern themselves was a disaster with factions, bullying and eventually an out of control murder.

They survived by catching fish and pigs on the island, burnt firewood and sought water which was admirable, but while some thought they were leaders they lacked the maturity and support to govern, which is why the Minister’s approach is so sound.


Business also has a history of being on the edge of bullying and one incident has always stuck in my mind.

A couple of decades ago, two people were in the race for the appointment of the CEO position at a Sydney based media company. The grapevine suggested it was a pretty even race and eventually the board made its decision.

With such a close call, why did the board appoint one above the other?

Well the reason from the decision makers, of which they were very proud, was the winner “had a good streak of mongrel and that’s what we want these days.”

So, mongrel beat the good guy.

He reared up at times, which to me was like water off a duck’s back having survived seven years in boarding school, but others suffered.

He also had a strong understanding of the business and certainly looked to the future. However, yesterday’s mongrel is today’s bully and I’d hate to see a board appoint a mongrel bully today.


I was having a coffee with a couple of Hobart mates who are jumping up and down about the Hobart City Council rushing to set height limits in Hobart, which will then be locked into the Council’s vault for decades.

Really, things are changing as we read today, so how can the Lord Mayor and Alderman know that the 45m proposed limit will be the best outcome for Hobart, the capital of the state.

At least one Alderman, the recently elected Simon Behrakis, is horrified that any decision maker would make a call without properly informing themselves.

In an opinion piece in The Mercury, Alderman Behrakis said the people who live and work in the city, now and in the future, are entitled to know the Council did it properly.

Limiting building heights is like shutting the door on developers who need height to increase the number of rooms, units and apartments in order to bring more people into the city.

Hobart needs more dwellings to accommodate the extra 100,000 people predicted to call the city home in 20 years’ time.

The other option is to build homes and units further and further away from the city, which creates a nightmare with roads costing state and council millions, not to mention costs to TasWater, Hydro, NBN, Telstra and of course the additional thousands of cars joining the already clogged major roads.

One of the reasons given as to why the height limit has to be so low is that higher buildings would block out Mt Wellington. I’m sure if you were to walk around the next corner you would see the mountain – that is of course if there were no clouds or rainstorms which kunanyi regularly attracts.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have more activity in the city centre instead of having everything stop by 6pm, except for Salamanca and North Hobart.

Or Hobart could do what Launceston City Council did, deciding last week to seek more detail and support from the community before it debates height limits later next year.

Watch out Hobart City Council, make the wrong decision on height and developers will pull out of Hobart and take their projects to a welcoming Launceston.

Weekly weigh-in: Demise of Fairfax, unhealthy habits and the Tasmania Report

merger-c4u1560sax66g757oq2_ct677x380

7/12/18

There may be a few tears for the demise of Fairfax, but I worry more about the future, particularly for the regional papers who can’t take another beating like they have in recent years.

This week’s activity included Nine chief executive Hugh Marks stamping the $4 billion merger with Fairfax and on the same day axing 92 staff while asking his consultants to examine closer editorial working arrangements between television and newspaper reporters.

The 92 people axed were part of 144 positions made redundant, including 52 positions which were duplicate roles or not filled at the time the call was made.

The process of bringing together television with metropolitan newspapers in Sydney and Melbourne is a massive challenge, so do Nine really need to also transition 175 daily, weekly and monthly regional papers as well as a host of historic agriculture papers?

The enlarged group will be organised into four operating businesses: Australian Community Media, Printing and Stuff, Publishing, Stan and Television.

Publishing is the former Australian Metro Publishing, which manages the Sydney Morning Herald, Australia’s oldest newspaper, The Age and The Australian Financial Review.

It’s interesting that the Canberra Times has been flicked back to the Australian Community Media, Printing and Stuff group, along with the 175 regional papers and agricultural publications.

Mr Marks has already let the cat out of the bag by questioning the duties of newspaper and television journos, shining the light on an obvious opportunity to share roles and cut numbers.

Moving the Canberra Times to the regionals is again another message – we don’t need you anymore.

Sad but true and the ‘for sale’ sign is probably in a truck coming down the Barton Highway to Canberra at this moment.

Having managed the Times in the early 2000s, it’s an ideal business to be run by a successful person, or a group of Canberra business people who could turn it back into a quality paper paying its way.

Which comes back to Tasmania with The Examiner, which of 176 years is the third oldest newspaper in Australia and could find itself in the same position as the Canberra Times, which I see as a positive, not a negative.

The Fairfax approach on regional papers was to have a design to be used for all papers which suited some of the smaller players that often didn’t look too smart but destroyed the look and feel of so many very good papers, with The Examiner one of the big losers.

Try picking the difference now between The Examiner and The Advocate.

It was also at this time that Fairfax had decided senior people at newspapers had no say and if you didn’t agree you would find yourself on the footpath very quickly.

But the biggest damage inflicted by Fairfax has been their dictatorial approach, with no understanding of the needs and wants of communities around the nation. Just because something works in Port Macquarie doesn’t mean it will work in Launceston.

Sales have not been on the agenda because Fairfax was hamstrung during the merge process with Nine and couldn’t engage with other people to seek business and assets at that stage. But we should expect interesting times in 2019.

A Tasmanian owner of the The Examiner would be applauded by the community and the same rings true for The Advocate.

Yes, times have changed and we live in a big, new IT world. But there is still a time and a place for quality journalism and strong leadership.


Undoubtedly the bomb shell to come out of the TCCI’s Tasmania Report Roadshow this week was the terrible health status of Tasmania’s 25 to 34-year-olds. The report from St.LukesHealth was kind when saying “the results aren’t good”.

Data presented, from the basic to the necessity, are way below the national standards and an example of why preventive health is 100 per cent supported by the TCCI and St.LukesHealth.

One third of Tasmanian 25 to 34 year olds have sought professional help for their mental health which suggests the need to spend much more on mental health services into future.

Nearly a third of the cohort have higher rates of asthma than the national average, yet 30 per cent diagnosed with asthma don’t have a plan to manage their disease.

More than half (52.4 per cent) are overweight or obese, a key factor known to cause chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and musculoskeletal conditions. It’s certainly no surprise the respondents failed to meet the guidelines for sufficient fruit and vegetables.

Apart from this age group being pretty slack on brushing their teeth and naturally having poor dental health, Tasmanian females in the cohort are smoking and drinking at higher rates during pregnancy than the rest of Australia.

St.Lukes Health CEO, Paul Lupo, said one of the five recommendations from the survey was to provide urgent and adequate funding to support young Tasmanians to create healthy habits and decrease risky behaviours to futureproof the state.

“Despite this age group being aware that being overweight, smoking or not brushing their teeth is bad for their health, simply knowing it doesn’t make them change their behaviours,” Mr Lupo said.

“If we keep expecting Tasmanians to look after their own health without support, the health of our state won’t improve. We need to stop trying to use a band-aid to heal an open-heart wound.”

Apart from heading towards a very difficult and painful life,  there simply won’t be sufficient funds, hospitals, doctors and nurses  to cover the tsunami of patients that would not be in that terrible position if they had taken the preventative health approach.


The main element of the Tasmania Report Roadshow, Saul Eslake’s assessment of Tasmania’s economy, showed business confidence and investment levels were in a much healthier position than the state’s 25 to 34 year olds, according to TCCI CEO Michael Bailey.

“The good news is that Tasmania is now recording faster growth than the national average, or indeed the fastest of any state or territory. This improved economic performance is now being reflected in higher levels of migration to Tasmania from both overseas and interstate, which is in turn providing a boost to economic growth,” Mr Bailey said.

“The Tasmanian Government is also entitled to a good share of the credit. The Government’s management of Tasmania’s public sector finances, its infrastructure investment program, and other policy settings have helped to maintain a consistently high level of business confidence, which has been in turn reflected in sustained higher levels of business investment.

“However, it is crucial that this initial progress be sustained. Doing so will require an ongoing focus on the principal economic drivers of material living standards – in particular, participation in employment, and productivity – and to the various ways in which the benefits of improved economic performance are shared throughout the Tasmanian community.”

To view Michael’s full recap of the 2018 Tasmania Report click here.


Weekly weigh-in: The contrasting states of men’s and women’s cricket and an inspired world champion

cricket image

30/11/18

You know men’s cricket is under pressure when the headline on the back page of the Australian yells: “Cricket a dysfunctional family” and the headline below says: “Angry Clarke hits back at a “headline chasing coward.”

Fair dinkum, it’s about time our senior cricketers and management take a couple of years suspension and grow up.

The Australian coach Justin Langer, looked on as a good bloke by insiders, was very forthright with his belief that cricket is a dysfunctional family and that the relationship between former captain Steve Smith and his offsider David Warner needs healing, as do so many more in the game.

The coach met with the suspended pair separately in Sydney this week, watching both bat on different days at the SCG. As rumour has it, there is still great tension between the two players after the ball tampering issue in South Africa which fractured their seemingly strong relationship.

The other blow-up was between former captain Michael Clarke, who is defending Warner, his former teammate, and radio broadcaster Gerard Whateley, who has bounced Clarke for his absurdity.

Clarke said the Australian team should stop worrying about being respected and being the most liked team in the world because they won’t win a game with this attitude.

“In cricketing terms, Michael Clarke is proving himself the last of the great climate deniers,” Whatley responded.

“Clarke’s interpretation of the predicament the Australian men’s Test team finds itself in is breathtaking.

“When the cultural review identified the phenomenon of the gilded bubble where elite cricketers existed in a parallel universe blessed with wealth and privilege oblivious to outside perception and influence, it should’ve posted a photo of the former captain.

“Australia didn’t know what or where the line was – that’s how it ended up with sandpaper on the field.”


We’ve seen the bad, now let’s look at the good – the women’s Australian cricket team, which this week won the final of the T20 World Cup in a superb game against India.

It’s not just the victory that was impressive, but the 18 months of preparation to bond together a group of cricketers who were focused and trained and played together as a team.

Listening to an interview with star allrounder Ellyse Perry on Melbourne radio early this morning, you could feel the relief, happiness and confidence of a professional team player.

While the interview was with Ellyse, the story was the team and the dedication shown to work together and take on the world.

When questioned about appearing to be having a great time in the final, with no stress, she responded: “Easy to have fun when you’re a winning.”

Ellyse then explained how the team was committed to building their skills over the 18 months prior to the tournament.

“I enjoyed working together and everyone was clear on their role. It was exciting to have the young players coming through and performing the way they are.

“We came up with some clear plans and it was so rewarding, especially in our bowling.

“It was a tough time and very competitive but we all came together. Really cool.”

What an example for the men’s game, on and off the field.


And here’s a positive role model example of a young child watching her heroine win an Olympic Games gold medal.

The second interview I have honed in on this week, while trying to avoid a repeat of political rubbish stories, featured Steph Gilmore, who last weekend won her seventh World Surfing Championship in Hawaii.

It was a fascinating interview of a very humble champion inspired by Cathy Freeman, Olympic gold medallist in the 400m at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.

“I was inspired to be in athletics by watching Cathy Freeman winning the gold medal at the Sydney Olympic Games,” Steph said.

“She performed under the most intense pressure and held it together. It was super human to me.”

The then 12-year-old competed in athletics before turning to her love of surfing, winning her first World Championship in 2007 as a 19-year-old before going on to dominate the tour with four consecutive titles.

Surfing is her job and she reckons it’s the best job in the world, saying “It’s no wonder I’m always smiling.

“The beauty of the Hawaii course is lining up out on the water and seeing the beauty of the rainbows coming and going, turtles in the line-up and dolphins swimming around you.

“I got all the girls together on the night after the final.

“We all have a great time, the competitive approach stays in the water and we come together to have a great time.”

Like all champions, it doesn’t happen without blood sweat and tears.

“If you really want something to happen and you really have that desire and passion for it, you will work hard and find a way to win,” Steph said.

“Each year when I start training, I make a promise to myself that I will do everything I can to make it happen.”

A great lesson for all sporties and a great example of the impact our leaders have on younger Australians.


Weekly weigh-in: Sewage attacks, birth certificates and right-wing Christians

Storm_Drain_Dryden

23/11/18

The old saying of letting sleeping dogs lie rings so true when it comes to corrections in newspapers, as we have witnessed over the past two days.

Yesterday, The Examiner covered the story of a very popular Trevallyn café which was flooded overnight. A TasWater spokesperson said a sewer blockage occurred in the vicinity of Café Culture, resulting in sewage backing up and overflowing into the property through internal plumbing.

TasWater said a significant build-up of fat in the sewer line was expected to be the cause.

A flood is bad enough, but a sewage flood in a restaurant is a shocker at best.

However if you missed the story yesterday, it was back again today, with TasWater saying the sewerage blockage had been cleared.

“A blockage occurred just downstream from a manhole near Café Culture, resulting in sewage backing up and overflowing into the property through internal plumping,” said TasWater.

“CCTV investigation showed a build-up of silt, rocks and other debris was the cause.”

No doubt the café owner was livid about the suggestion the horrible sewage attack was the result of a build-up of fat in the sewer line from his kitchen.

The mental picture of what occurred in his restaurant was bad enough in the first place, without a second round of sewage overflow reporting to worry about, let alone the fat in the sewer argument.

By the way, there was no smelly approach by the newspaper as it was just doing what a local paper should do.


The re-shaped Marriage Act Bill, which now includes the removal of gender on birth certificates, had the House of Assembly jumping on Tuesday. They will now pass the headache on to the Legislative Council.

We know how the four Labor members will vote but what about the four independents who have a history of blocking contentious Government bills. This time they face a bill supported by Labor and the Greens with the assistance of floor-crosser Liberal Speaker, Sue Hickey.

Attorney-General Elise Archer has publicly shared her concerns about the bill, which no longer resembles the bill introduced by Government. Her main concern is the nine amendments are legally untested and as such have unknown consequences.

Mr Archer said an example of this was the use of the terms “apparent sex” and “gender expression”, terms which do not have any legislative precedent. The terms, along with several other broad definitions “beg the question, what do they mean?” Ms Archer said.

Another amendment of concern will allow a 16-year-old to change their name without parental consent, a practice which does not align with the national identity standards adhered to by the Registrar of Birth, Deaths and Marriages.

Community and social media have certainly arced up about the proposed changes in the north and north-west, with a recent research poll asking should we, or should we not, remove gender from birth certificates. Radio host Brian Carlton yesterday revealed the Facebook poll results, which showed 95 per cent of people said NO and 5 per cent said YES, from 10,600 responses.

History shows that for the majority of its 193 years, the Legislative Council has been looked on as the House of Review. It picks up legal errors, unintended consequences and then sends the bill back to the Government with the changes.

In theory, it’s not a matter of voting against the bill because you don’t like the subject of it, but because it is a flawed bill.

The tricky part happens if the Legislative Council sends the bill back to Government with amendments. At this stage, Government won’t support the amendments, so how will the Opposition, Greens and Sue Hickey react to any Upper House changes?

Time will tell.


It was interesting to hear that Speaker Sue Hickey, following her crossing of the floor to support Labor and the Greens, is now the political counterweight to the “right-wing Christian element” of the Liberal Party.

“People have to realise the Liberal Party has a very strong right-wing Christian element,” Ms Hickey said.

“I would hope that I can give hope to other people who are interested in liberal values that you can be a Liberal without necessarily being extreme right.”

The surprise of a couple of Hobart friends is not Ms Hickey’s comments, but how her Chief of Staff, Mervin Reed, could support the comments having been further right than Genghis Khan.


Weekly weigh-in: Parliamentary numbers, local council rumblings, Legislative Council change and election advertising

Tasmanian_House_of_Assembly

16/11/18

One of the Government members who supported cutting the numbers in the Tasmanian House of Assembly from 35 to 25 in 1998, publicly said in recent years that it was the wrong decision and he wished for an opportunity to reverse the change.

Some stories from the past suggest the move was to kerb the power of the Greens. In fact, it was the reason for cutting the numbers.

Tony Rundle, the Liberal Premier at the time, said after a very messy debate that “while this new model isn’t perfect, at least a party with 10 per cent of the vote will no longer control the state.”

Wrong. Just three elections later, Labor and Liberal picked up 10 members and the Greens five. Liberals refused to work with the Greens after the 1998 debacle, so David Bartlett and Labor retained government through an agreement with the Greens.

Next week, Greens Leader Cassy O’Connor will introduce a bill hoping for support from either the Government or the Labor Party to increase the House of Assembly from 25 to 35.

Premier Will Hodgman is opposed, saying the size of Parliament is not a priority for the Liberals.

Surprisingly the Opposition won’t support increasing the numbers until all parties agree, as they did in 2014 until the Liberal Party withdrew before the election. Speaker Sue Hickey supports the increase and if it was 2014, her vote would have passed the bill.

There is certainly an argument about the costs of adding 10 members to Parliament, with some using the 2014 research which said the new members would replace up to 20 or 30 staffers who would be replaced by the backbenchers etc.

The Government member who publicly regretted the decision was the late Tony Benneworth, the member for Bass from 2002 to 2008, who wished for an opportunity to reverse the decision.


The political and personnel changes at some local councils following the recent local government elections have certainly created some potential problems and maybe even a ticking bomb.

No-one is suggesting we will have another Glenorchy City Council style train-wreck, but two of the biggest councils in the state – Hobart and Launceston, may find some challenges.

Already rumbles are bouncing about since the new Hobart Lord Mayor Anna Reynolds revealed her agenda to the community. The Lord Mayor stood as an Independent after many years as member of the Greens.

Former Labor Minister and now political consultant, Julian Amos, said this week that six aldermen (or councillors) have now written letters to The Mercury advising their concern that the Lord Mayor is following her own agenda without reference or support from council.

“And particularly so when her views would suggest an agenda that – to say the least – is not supportive of business and investment,” Mr Amos said.

Launceston has a very solid Mayor, Albert Van Zetten, who retained his position in a very close election from former Mayor, Janie Dickenson (2002-2005). Albert has now led the Launceston council since 2007 and is looked on as a consistent Mayor who understands the needs of continuing to grow the city with the support of ratepayers.

However, the election has shifted the balance within the council, which will attract some very interesting debates – particularly with a series of developments in need of support, including two major hotels.

As a friend said yesterday, let’s hope we don’t go back to the days when Tasmania was the only state where Green meant stop.


Talking of changes, it appears the President of the Legislative Council, Jim Wilkinson, won’t stand in next year’s May election for Nelson.

This will be a sad loss of a very effective Legislative Council member since 1995, and President since 2013 when Sue Smith retired.

As rumour has it, a Northern member already has the numbers required to become President and a North West member is set for the deputy position.

Wow, seven months away and the deal is done.


When staying with friends in Melbourne last week, they shared their frustration about the barrage of TV ads leading up to the Victorian election next Saturday.

A quick look and you know the answer. The content was the same as seen in Tasmania through the State Election and Braddon by-election, with the only change being the names and photos.

With a Federal election not that far away, let’s hope Get Up at least introduce some factual information and stop beating the stuffing out of good people.


Weekly weigh-in: System failures, craft beer and the silly season

broken-computer

9/11/19

When will we ever learn?

That is the key question for big business and IT in order to improve their reliability for frustrated and angry clients.

Every time there’s a major event, the systems crash and people spend hours or days waiting for the IT systems to re-open. Examples are plenty, including tickets to the AFL finals in Melbourne, bank failures in South Australia, Telstra e-mails for the past three months across four states including Tasmania (yes, I’m one of the people affected), the 2016 Census debacle, the ATO, Centrelink and the Federal Government.

In fact, a Senate committee claimed Government has not demonstrated it has the political will to drive digital transformation and that there were serious deficiencies in the way Government departments communicate digitally with the private sector.

Just this week thousands of punters flooded social media with complaints about two of Australia’s major corporate bookmakers, Sportsbet and Ladbrokes, crashing before Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup – the biggest betting day of the year.  Sportsbet came back online just before the cup but it was too late for many of their clients.

Ironically, Sportsbet, when interviewed a couple of days before the cup said that the company exceeded 26,000 bets per minute and peaked at 850 bets per second last year and were expecting bigger numbers for this year’s race.

Aside from blasting Sportsbet and Ladbrokes, many of the punters shelved their loyalty and opened accounts with rival bookies.

Matt Tripp, the chief executive of BetEasy, a recent merger of Crownbet and William Hill and majority owned by Canada’s The Stars group, was one of the beneficiaries, signing up 500 new customers every minute.

Tabcorp, overcoming its unfortunate past, has worked hard for the last three months with constant load tests to ensure a seamless week. Through this busy racing week, Tabcorp and its new partners Ubet, will process more than 4300 bets per second through online accounts, phones, electronic betting machines and manual betting.

Staggering figures, but certainly they prepared for the tsunami – perhaps others should take note.


The growth of the Australian craft beer industry has no limits. If one brewery door closes, another opens and so it happens around the nation.

Figures vary, but there is something like 550 craft beer breweries in Australia while the US industry sits at 6000 plus. The growth in the US is still strong but has just started to level out, with only a five per cent increase last year compared to the 16 per cent increase in 2016.

Research shows 94 per cent of craft beer drinkers believe the quality of craft beer in Australia is improving and 85 per cent are buying more Australian craft and less international craft.

A fascinating businesses in Bridge Road, Richmond supports this research and is amazed at just how many clients have moved to the craft beer.

The business, Purvis Beers, has 1300 different craft beers on the shelves with the majority from around Australia with a handful of the popular UK, Danish and Belgium winners.

Dragged into the Purvis Beers store by a mate earlier this week, I found the sheer variety of brews on offer an eye opener and a lesson in what is now available from places I didn’t even know existed. A couple of Huon ciders and beers lined the shelves, but according to the owners the competition is very tough, with a minimum of 30 new brewers a week wanting to have their new beers on display.

The times they are a changin’…


While Christmas and the resulting holiday period is generally a merry time, it can be a real headache for employers in areas such as closing the business, negotiating staff parties and managing employee leave.

In this month’s Tasmanian Business Reporter, TCCI Workplace Relations Consultant Abbey George provides some very salient advice on how to prevent these issues from spoiling what should be a wonderful time of year.

To read Abbey’s column, click here.


Weekly weigh-in: A breath of fresh air, journalistic ‘facts’ and Ministerial relationships

parliament house

2/11/18

Last weekend’s summaries of Tasmania’s Government, Opposition and Greens by Brad Stansfield, former Chief of Staff for Premier Will Hodgman, was a breath of fresh air. It was also a very smart move by The Mercury and Sunday Tasmanian to run the stories.

Brad, now a Partner at Font Public Relations following eight years and two successful elections for the Liberal Party, didn’t hold back his thoughts – but at no stage did he touch on confidential areas or share secrets of his inside knowledge of Government, as you would expect.

He challenged Government for going soft and breaking election promises; questioned the drive of an impotent Labor Opposition and the potential of a David O’Byrne attack if leader Bec White failed to deliver and also pointed out that the Greens are at a defining time of their existence, or ‘Greens in wilderness’ as the headline screamed.

Of course, there were many more issues and details in the well written stories by a writer with a great knowledge of politics and business.

Many of the issues raised have been discussed in the office, at the pub and around the dinner table.

However, we don’t see these stories often enough from our political writers in our newspapers and other media outlets, apart from a few exceptions such as Managing Editor of The Examiner, Mark Baker.

The majority of political stories are written by the left, from Labor to Green, by writers who often don’t understand how to write a balanced story. It’s kicking the government and filling up with questionable stories from opposition parties with no questions asked.


And that leads to the Andrew Bolt story in yesterday’s Herald Sun. Bolt, who now dominates politics on Sky News during weeknights, can be a pain in the neck, but he has certainly taken on politicians from all parties and has no time for idiots.

But he really hit the bullseye on Thursday when he attacked the Canberra media pack and the National Press Club luncheon. The speaker was Australian Conservation Foundation boss Kelly O’Shanassy,

According to Bolt, Ms O’Shanassy made a preposterous claim. “If we continue to burn coal and gas for decades to come, we will kill the 1.5-degree target, we will not have a habitable planet and hundreds of millions of people will die,” O’Shanassy said.

“Pardon?” Mr Bolt wrote in his article.

“Hundreds of millions of people will die? We will not have a habitable planet?

“But get this: not a single journalist in the room said: Are you nuts? Not one asked: What’s your evidence?

“To me, it’s mad, bad and dangerous that a room of journalists can hear a shiny-eyed speaker proclaim the end of the world — at least for humans — yet react without the slightest scepticism.

“Have they no eyes to see or brains to think?

“They accept wild doom-preaching because for some strange reason they really, really want this junk to be true.”

And there was more, but his final paragraph is a wake-up call for all media outlets: “Facts and reason no longer count in journalism. If you don’t think that’s scary, you deserve all the pain that’s coming.”

Unfortunately there is fact in his story.


Life moves on for Sarah Courtney and her new Ministry portfolio of Resources, Building and Construction after a return to her position in State Cabinet.

Ms Courtney stood aside from her former Ministry role following the development of her relationship with the secretary of her department, John Whittington, which led to investigations into decisions made by the pair and Ms Courtney’s potential breach of the ministerial code of conduct.

The investigation revealed there was a minor breach of the code of conduct for waiting a month before alerting the relationship to Premier Will Hodgman. The Premier confirmed the independent report and said Ms Courtney’s action in not disclosing the relationship sooner was minor.

“I have had a lengthy discussion with Sarah and she accepted she made an error of judgement,” the Premier said.

Ms Courtney said she understands the public interest in the story. “But my relationship is a private and personal matter and I hope that privacy is respected,” she said.

Former legal eagle, Damian Bugg, who investigated the code of conduct issue, confirmed in his summary that the relationship started on 13 September, a month before Ms Courtney told the Premier.

Thank goodness the date was made public, finally quietening the fixated journos and leaders of the Opposition and the Greens. Did we really need to know the date of the first coffee, glass of champagne, the first kiss or more? Of course not.

Back off and let a very successful Minister continue her new roles for the betterment of the state.


Weekly weigh-in: Local government elections, parliamentary lingering and Question Time

Tasmanian_House_of_Assembly

26/10/18

I understand the annoyance of media organisations and day-to-day parliamentary journos following the release of the new rules for media in parliament. “No lingering” in selected corridors reminds me of my boarding school days.

The new regulations were released by the House of Assembly Speaker, Sue Hickey, although there is still some confusion over the introduction of the heavy-handed media rules.

Opposition parties are far from impressed with rumbles coming from some in the Legislative Council. Their concern is the potential obstruction of the media’s access to politicians for stories and photographs.

The rules state that journalists “may not linger” in selected corridors and may not seek to engage members in conversation. Instead, media should make an appointment by telephone if they wish to speak to a politician.

Photos of “unparliamentary behaviour” by parliamentarians are banned and images cannot be digitally enhanced, touched up or altered in any form.” Best of luck on that one.

My time in covering parliament was certainly in the dark days where there were no photos in the House unless it was an approved function, no Hansard, strict rules of access in the House and of course the famous Members and Strangers Bars which are no longer.

The Strangers Bar, as it sounds, was for journalists, visitors and others, while the Members Bar, as it sounds, was strictly for members. However, members were allowed into the Strangers Bar and surprise, surprise, many spent their time with the journos sharing great stories, sucking information about future stories and leaking some very good stories.

Rules were rules and bars were opened until one hour after the House of Assembly adjourned, even between 4am-5am after a filibuster. Access could be difficult at times whether it be because of an individual or a party under pressure, so really nothing has changed.

As for sneaking around corridors and having an ear to the door, the spies were not the necessarily the journalists and the sneaking continued for many decades.

Times changed, TV crews and photographers were welcomed into the House, including access to Question Time and live streaming of the entire parliamentary sessions of Commonwealth and State parliaments through internet and TV stations, a great example of a democratic nation.


However, Question Time in the Tasmanian Parliament has been poisoned since access was granted to television.

The smart Oppositions, whether they be Liberal, Labor or Greens, woke up to the fact that if you yelled, screamed and told government they were liars you were guaranteed of hitting the 10 minute TV section of Question Time, which really was/is fight time.

And nothing has changed, as you will find if you attend or watch via the current webcast. The personal attacks can be pretty horrible which would never be accepted in today’s workplaces, schools or other environments.

A 12-year-old relation recently spent several hours in Parliament as part of her school curriculum and soaked up so much in the sessions from Speaker, Sue Hickey and others who opened up a new world for the class.

The blot was Question Time. The ringing of the bells was more like the start of a boxing round.

Weeks after the visit, the student was still shaking her head. Having been looking forward to Question Time, she couldn’t understand why the two female leaders were so angry, so nasty and didn’t stop interrupting. My explanation of Question Time strategy failed and two politicians are now off her leaders list.

It’s certainly not a good example.


I foolishly asked a cynical friend in Hobart recently what he thought of the candidates for local government.

He responded, “the good, the bad and the evil”.

I changed the subject.

But it would be very interesting to understand why 481 Tasmanians are fighting for a seat in local government with a strong attraction to wanting to be Mayor (102 candidates) and a whopping 135 fighting for the Deputy Mayor positions.

If I had asked Mr Cynical, no doubt he would have replied “all for the money”.

The Local Government Association of Tasmania has provided a valid explanation reminding the community that the Government introduced new legislation to overcome costly two-year elections so local government elections would be held in four year terms with an all-in, all out approach.

The result is that all Alderman and Mayors would have a four-year term when previously elections were held every two years, with 50 per cent of the Aldermen having to be re-elected to retain their seat.

However, it doesn’t explain why the big players such as Launceston and Hobart, have more than 20 candidates fighting for mayoral positions and another 135 throughout the state wanting the deputy mayoral seats.

Hobart has 36 candidates, with 11 candidates for Lord Mayor and Deputy Mayor. Launceston attracted 32 candidates with eight seeking the Mayor’s position and eight also for Deputy Mayor.

West Tamar, with only nine councillors has 22 candidates and four for Mayor and five for Deputy Mayor. Clarence, with 12 aldermen has 25 candidates with six for Mayor and 11 for Deputy Mayor.

Burnie with nine aldermen has 18 candidates, five for Mayor and seven for Deputy Mayor, while Devonport also with nine aldermen has 20 candidates, three for Mayor and five for Deputy Mayor.

The bigger problem has been heard and read by ratepayers who have been shocked by the numbers of candidates and thought “who the heck are they?” Which creates the next question, can you name the current 12, nine or seven aldermen or councillors in your electorate?

With lists up to 36 candidates, there’s no doubt many ballot papers are ending up in the rubbish bin.


Weekly weigh-in: Conflicts of interest and compulsory voting

Lascar_Parliament_House_(Hobart)_(4551936219)

19/10/18

The affair of a State Minister and her relationship with the secretary of her main portfolio created vastly different approaches around the state.

Opposition party leaders have been frothing at the mouth to find out more detail from Premier Will Hodgman, who set up the inquiries on Monday and won’t provide information until the inquiries are finalised.

Minister Sarah Courtney has stepped down while conflict of interest areas are raised by her personal relationships with Department of Primary Industries,  Parks, Water and  Environment Secretary, John Whittington, who is now on leave.

Pressing the Premier in question time this week, the Opposition parties were desperate to know if Mr Whittington had apparently requested to work two days a week in Launceston where Ms Courtney lives.

The Premier would not confirm the request but said a move would be consistent with Government policy to decentralise staff from DPIPWE.

I have it on good word that yesterday’s weekly coffee meeting discussion between a group of Launceston ladies was dominated by the political affair and accepted the need to clear potential conflict of interest breaches.

However, they won’t accept it is illegal for adults to fall in love regardless of whether they are politicians or public servants.

In fact, they agreed there should be more affairs if it meant more Public Servants working in Launceston.

As for The Mercury’s front page on Wednesday, ‘NORTHERN EXPOSURE’, the response was bring it on, because they really don’t see it as something secret, embarrassing or damaging.


While there is a lighter approach by many, the conflict of interest process is essential.

The Premier was advised by Ms Courtney and Mr Whittington of their relationship on Sunday.

Mr Hodgman has requested the Head of the State Service, Ms Jenny Gale, to review all relevant decisions made by Ms Courtney and to consider whether State Service Code of Conduct is required in relation to Dr Whittington.

The Premier has also sought independent advice from former Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions to see if there is any breach of the Ministerial Code of Conduct.

The Tasmanian Code of Conduct, a modest seven pages, was introduced by the Premier shortly after the Hodgman Government was voted in for a second term in March.  The Code of Conduct for Ministers covers such areas as conflicts of interest, declaration and divestment of personal interests, gifts and benefits, improper advantage, improper use of public resources, misleading statements, fairness of decision making, respect for persons and breaches of the code of Public Officials.

The conflict of interest codes says: “Any material conflict between a Member’s private interest and his or her official duties which arises must be resolved promptly in favour of the public interest. Ministers must take reasonable steps to avoid, resolve or disclose any material conflict of interest, financial or non-financial, that rises or is likely to arise between their personal interests and their official duties.”

The investigations are expected to be completed sooner than later.

Despite Opposition attacks, neither the Premier, or Ms Courtney, will make any further comments until after the investigation which is a totally accepted approach.

It is also a very different approach of 10 years ago when a Labor Party Minister was sacked after she confirmed to a Mercury journalist that she had an affair with a ministerial driver.

She was removed by her Premier, the driver was paid $55,000 because the fallout of the tryst left him depressed.


With record numbers of candidates seeking positions in Local Government ratepayers have a terrific opportunity to select the candidates who will look to the future and work for their ratepayers.

The TCCI is calling for compulsory voting which is now a necessity to ensure councils are not overtaken by parties who can support decisions which are so far away from the needs of ratepayers with so many Melbourne councils now overrun by parties.

Read TCCI CEO Michael Bailey’s report for more detail.


Weekly weigh-in: Long term policies, health problems and sporting decorum

12/10/18

Liberal MP and Speaker of the House of Assembly Sue Hickey has called for a halt to political argument on the state’s health and a start to a new paradigm where we put people first and politics second.

Ms Hickey has also told media the Government needs to accept input from other parties in State Parliament and work on projects over 10, 20 and 50 years instead of just a four-year term.

It’s interesting that Ms Hickey is supporting the need for long term policies as mentioned in last week’s Weigh-in. The support for long term policies was revealed at the Business Leaders Summit in Canberra organised by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI).

The speaker’s long term policies would be welcomed by business and the community. Her call to “stop blaming previous governments for generally following the same well-trodden path” has merit, however the inability of the previous government to start the redevelopment of the Royal Hobart Hospital is the main reason for the shortage of emergency beds.

It takes at least four years to build or re-build a hospital and the current Government is now in its final eight to 10 months of the project for increased beds and enhanced surgical and emergency departments.

The daily media attacks by the opposition parties and unions are damaging the confidence of the community, although the great majority I have met who have spent time in state EDs or the wards are thankful and supportive of their experience.


The Speaker has also called for a radical rethink of the state’s health, child protection and housing problems, saying the culture of waste and blame needs to end.

The responsibility for blame sits with all in politics and they certainly can do better. The same applies to the union movement and the media.

An example of blame culture was The Examiner’s front page headline on Thursday which read ‘DEATH BED’.

The headline was created from an inaccurate story which said more than 80 Tasmanians a year die prematurely because of bed block, with the LGH having the worst bed block in Australia.

The information came from Martin Goddard, whose report was based on official data and statistics. His report found the LGH had the worse bed block of 287 Australian public hospitals with emergency departments.

Mr Goddard said research showed a person’s chances of dying if they were affected by bed block increased by a third.

“It is likely that there are in excess of 80 premature deaths a year in Tasmanian hospitals because of bed block,” he said.

Hang on, the intro said “more than 80 Tasmanians a year died because of bed block” while Mr Goddard said “It is likely there are in excess of 80 premature deaths” which is very different to saying that it happened.

Today, on page 13 of The Examiner, the Premier rejected suggestions Tasmania’s hospitals are unsafe and Health Department Secretary Michael Pervan questioned the 80 deaths through bed block in hospital EDs.

“Mr Goddard is not reporting actual mortality statistics, but is instead making inferences based on estimates taken from studies undertaken elsewhere, including as far back as 2003,” Mr Pervan said.

“Importantly, the Australian Council of Healthcare Standards has also recently re-accredited both the LGH and RHH with outstanding feedback.”

Health leaders, including in private health, are amazed that the media never asks the obvious questions of Mr Goddard but instead suck up his un-questioned information for page one and lead stories on radio and television.

Remember research shows that 56.5 per cent of ED patients are non-urgent and the non-urgent patients are increasing, with the Tasmanian figures now the second highest in Australia.


Now AFL has left the stage, we start looking to our spring and summer games such as cricket, both male and the much more impressive female team, basketball, The Melbourne Cup and the lead ups, golf and of course tennis with the Australian Open in January.

The growth of Australian tennis, both the men’s and women’s games, is very exciting and no doubt will attract massive numbers to the Australian Open in January, the first grand slam for 2019.

Then there’s the elephant on the court. Yes, Nick Kyrgios, the world’s 38th ranked player, loved and despised by tennis fans world-wide, including in his home country, Australia.

So grating is Nick, that The Australian’s sports editor Wally Mason ran a column this week refusing to name the brattish Aussie tennis player who had thrown his toys in the sandpit after the umpire said something that offended him.

Instead, Mason concentrated on Aussie player Matthew Ebden, a journeyman who always gives his best and played a terrific game at the Shanghai Masters to beat US star, Frances Tiafoe, ranked 40 in the world.

He fought hard after losing his first set 3-6, but won the next two 6-4, 6-3. He didn’t spit the dummy after the first set, nor did he threaten the umpire who may have looked at him which is enough to send off Kyrgios.

Mason was stunned by the failure of the battalions of tennis journalists covering the Shanghai Masters when not one thought it worthy to write about Ebden’s win.

“Instead they were at an adjacent court writing about a sneering smart alec with a towering sense of his own importance who had yet another on-court tantrum,” Mason said.

“Such stories about this particular clown are a dime a dozen – he does it every second time he picks up a tennis racquet.

“Ebden didn’t amble through a lacklustre loss to an American qualifier, Bradley Klahn. He didn’t make a series of petulant remarks to the umpire and rant and rave at his box, apparently because things weren’t going his way.”

“And he didn’t slump off the court after his defeat with his towel in his mouth and his face buried on his phone.”

A great column by Mason in the Australian and a gutsy call to refuse using Kyrgios’s name.

Frustrating behaviour from such a talented sportsman who forgets to install his brain when he takes to the court.


The results of the TCCI’s Survey of Business Expectations for Quarter 3, 2018 are in, showing that overall, confidence remains steady, but recent events politically and economically have had an impact on Chamber members.

In general terms the expectation for the Australian economy is neutral, but with some positivity and for the Tasmanian economy is strongly positive.

To view the results of the survey, click here.


Weekly weigh-in: Federal Government failings

Parliament_House_Canberra_(281004929)

5/10/18

One of the big frustrations for so many people in Australia has been the inability of governments, particularly Federal, to develop long term policies and strategies and stick to their decisions.

It’s difficult for a couple of reasons, particularly when the Federal House of Assembly has only a three-year life before an election, while it’s a four-year term for most states.

But even in these three years we are now bombarded with wasteful behaviour by politicians who dismiss their electorates and make their own odd decisions.

The obvious example is the political assassination of Prime Ministers between 2007 and 2018 including Rudd, Gillard, Rudd, Abbott and Turnbull – five PMs in 11 years. Previous to the internal slashing of PMs sat John Howard from 1996 to 2007, or 11 stable years at the wheel compared to the mess of the last 11 years.

Certainly not enough were worrying about long term policies while plotting knockouts and seeing how they could get a seat in Cabinet.

Ancient history has us believing for centuries that the 44BC assassination of Julius Caesar was horrible when he was knifed to death by a group of rebellious Roman Senators. Well the Australian Senate is now considered a shamble, with a mixture of big and small parties and independents. While they aren’t assassinating House of Reps members they do love killing Government legislation.


The need for long term policies became the most supported of major discussions at a Business Leaders’ Summit in Canberra last week.

The Summit, organised by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), attracted record numbers of political and business leaders, policy makers, regulators and influencers to discuss and address the key challenges facing Australia’s business community.

It was also made crystal clear that political leaders need to understand the risk to confidence in the nation when politicking is put ahead of policy making and certainty.

ACCI’s Duncan Bremner said there was an overwhelming desire for sound long term policies that would help business deliver the jobs, living standards and opportunities to which Australians aspire.

“In recent years we have fallen out of the top 10 of the world’s most competitive economies and now we perch just inside the top 20 as globalisation has dramatically altered the way we all do business,” Mr Bremner said.

“To make Australia the best place in the world to do business, Australia’s businesses need policy certainty, to give them the confidence to take risks, to invest, to grow, to create more jobs and to better compete in the global market.

“With an election due within the year, the Australian Chamber wants to see the Government led by Prime Minister Morrison recognise, with the Opposition led by Mr Shorten, that national leadership is a long distance race, not a sprint.”

Again, the result is in the hands of the Parliament which has the responsibility to look after Australia and its people and plan for the future, not today or tomorrow.

The development of Tasmania’s hydro power system, the best in the world according to many, was encouraged by bipartisanship on key issues in the Tasmanian Parliament. This was one hiccup in the 80s, but overall hydro was enriched by government and opposition.


Weekly weigh-in: The ABC

ABC logo

28/09/18

The sacking of ABC Managing Director, Michelle Guthrie and the resignation of ABC Chairman, Justin Milne four days later, creates an unexpected opportunity to re-build a once respected and loved media organisation.

There’s no need for an inquiry about Aunty’s headache of this week because the answer is already sitting in the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act 1983.

But first let’s understand what happened, starting from Monday morning this week and how flip flop of ABC staff the process was.

On Monday, Chairman Milne announced the sacking of Managing Director, Ms Guthrie, saying little about the departure except that the board felt her leadership style was not what the ABC needed.

The next day media reported that ABC staff had gloated over Guthrie’s departure saying “she was never their champion.”

A day later, ABC Chairman Justin Milne was under the pump when secret e-mails became very public about Mr Milne telling his MD to “get rid of” economics correspondent Emma Alberici and to take    action against political reporter Andrew Probyn and Melbourne broadcaster Jon Faine.

While the reasons for this action varied, including Alberici publishing an error riddled analysis of proposed company tax, revelations now suggest Mr Milne had made it clear that the government didn’t like the three journos.

By Wednesday, the ABC team was feeling so sorry for Ms Guthrie and horrified by the political interference, that 350 staff called for Milne’s sacking, holding placards reading: ‘NO POLITICAL INTERFERENCE’ and ‘HANDS OFF ABC’.

Yes, we make errors, hate Liberal Governments Federal and State, can’t spell the balance or business, but just leave us alone to do what we want to, not what the majority of Australians want.


So now let’s read section 8 of the ABC Act ‘Duties of the Board’, which is very clear in the first three points:

  1. a) to ensure the functions of the Corporation are performedefficiently andwith the maximum benefit to the people of Australia;
  2. b) to maintain the independence of the Corporation;
  3. c) to ensure that the gathering and presentation by the Corporation of news and information is accurate andimpartial accordingto the recognised standards of objective journalism.

No doubt, the golden section for the ABC staff is the independence of the corporation for obvious reasons when you read section c.

If news and information was accurate, impartial and recognised the standards of objective journalism, section b would be irrelevant.

No need for inquires, just employ a media background person who hasn’t worked at the ABC or Fairfax for the last 20 years and a chairman who works with his managing director to introduce and change their culture through section b of the board’s duty.

If the culture change doesn’t happen with this new team, it won’t happen for a generation.


Weekly weigh-in: Non-urgent hospital patients

lgh

21/09/18

While the media and unions continue to attack the so-called overflowing emergency departments in Hobart and Launceston, a major part of the problem is being overlooked.

And by the way, research reveals that crowding in emergency departments (EDs) has become an international dilemma. The problems vary nation-to-nation, but there are several contributing factors such as ageing populations, increased rates of chronic disease, sporting accidents and the newbies – drug overdoses and alcohol.

But the real problem is the growing number of non-urgent patients attending the ED. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Wellbeing, numbers are increasing annually.

It’s no surprise that non-urgent patients being dropped into ED is the second highest number in Australia with the Launceston General Hospital (LGH) ED handling 56.5 per cent of non-urgent patients.

There are a number of reasons why non-urgent patients attend the ED, including (in order of percentage) convenience (42.3 per cent); the perceived need; GP not available; told by GP or nurse to head to ED; and, the ED is more available than the GP.

In Australia, the triage system is used to assess how serious the condition of the client is and the system is used to guide hospital staff to prioritise ED patients according to how sick they are.

The five-level triage system runs from Life Threatening at Level 1, through to Non-Urgent at Level 5, where a patient “needs treatment when time permits”. The major health issue for non-urgent patients is musculoskeletal, such as pain or injury to limbs, joints and back (31 per cent) and the second largest cohort were those with non-specific complaints such as fever, headache, non-specified pain and chest pain (14 per cent).

The research shows that at the LGH, an average of 71 non-urgent patients per day are processed through the triage system. And if the system isn’t followed, no matter how minor the non-urgent patient’s problem may be, the hospital will certainly end up in the local media.

Doubling or tripling the size of the emergency department isn’t the answer because of the continued increase of non-urgent patients. With convenience the most common reason for non-urgent patients turning up at ED and the majority being under 25 years of age, maybe it’s more of an educational issue than a health problem.


A reliable health consultant believes there is now a new patient group a long way down the triage list from the non-urgent. I can’t share the name of the level but it’s not a great surprise.

In the middle of life and death, nurses are now spending time with young patients selling their illness story and demanding a bed instantly, which occasionally can happen but certainly not ahead of levels one and two.

By morning, the young patient has miraculously recovered and enjoyed the bed for the night.


The most frustrating issue for the Health Department back in 2011 or 2012 was the George Town ambulance taxi.

Actually, the ambulance wasn’t based in George Town, but the “patient” pick-ups were from George Town.

As it went, an urgent call came from a dying patient insisting on the need for an ambulance to the ED at the LGH. The round trip is about 100km, taking at least 90 minutes.

The ambo’s back door opened and the dying patient bolted down Charles Street, never to be seen again. Some of his mates were also successfully chauffeured for a night out in Launceston, much to the frustration of all in health.

At least, according to a government health adviser at that time, one of them acted like a gentleman and thanked the ambo staff as he walked away.


Weekly weigh-in: Spiked strawberries and cartoon outragestrawberries01-md.jpg

14/09/18

Beware of the strawberry.

When the front page of The Herald Sun, the country’s biggest selling newspaper, says ‘SPIKED BERRIES ATTACK’ you know the nation’s going down the drain.

Police are now urging buyers to throw out strawberries bought from Woolworths after shoppers in Queensland and Victoria found sewing needles in the fruit. Police suspect the ground-down needles were planted in the punnets by someone intending to cause “grievous bodily harm or other objectives”.

Whether it’s a payback from a disgruntled ex-employee, or some other idiot hearing messages from above, it highlights how vulnerable we are to neurotic behaviour.


And what about the US approach to Melbourne cartoonist, Mark Knight, for his superb portrayal of tennis star, Serena Williams throwing a tantrum.

The global Twitter tsunami from the US claimed it was racist, with millions venting their outrage online.

Knight’s take on Williams’ brain fade showed the 23-time Grand Slam winner finger-pointing and threatening a much smaller male umpire before destroying her tennis racquet.

Her performance was a shocker and made John McEnroe’s outbursts look soft.

A genius cartoonist, Knight has a host of Melbourne friends and colleagues who are happy to put their hands up to support a terrific bloke.

He drew the cartoon on Sunday night after seeing the US Open final and the world’s best tennis player have a tantrum.

“The cartoon about Serena is about her poor behaviour on the day, not about race. The world has just gone crazy,” Knight said this week.

Another explanation suggested the tidal wave of international condemnation was sparked by Americans wilfully interpreting it as an example of historical persecution of black sports champions.

The cartoon was labelled “vile imagery”, an outrageous racist caricature, staggeringly unflattering and “a racist cartoon (that) portrayed one of the world’s best-conditioned athletes as a fat mammy character”.

As another cartoonist said while supporting Knight: “It’s getting harder to be a cartoonist in this crazy anxious world – in this fragile, angry, humourless environment where leniency and understanding are in dangerous decline and where psychic infections spread chaotically on social media with terrible consequences.”

I’ve worked with and known some of the outstanding cartoonists around the nation and while I didn’t always agree with their approach, they were inspiring professionals who so often grabbed an angle in the story which was overlooked by journalists and photographers.

Cartoonists are a different breed, but then again so is the newsroom and the photographer’s dark room of the past. I’m happy to offer 100 per cent support for Knight and his classic cartoon.


While ‘superbrat’ McEnroe entertained and horrified tennis fans for more than a decade, he also used his outrageous umpire attacks to put his opponents off their game and it worked.

He won seven Grand Slams (Serena has 23 Grand Slams) and continues his love of the game as an excellent commentator.

Serena’s attack of the umpire was a bullying approach, calling umpire Carlos Romas a thief and accusing him of sexism by saying male players would be let off which is nonsense. She was furious that the umpire had insinuated she was cheating, despite her coach admitting coaching from the stands which is a mortal sin in tennis.

Here’s a few of McEnroe’s classics from a staggering career which was punctuated by suspensions and disqualifications:

“What other problems do you have besides being unemployed, a moron and a dork?”

“You are a disgrace to mankind.”

“You can’t be serious, that ball was on the line. Grow some hair.”

“You are the absolute pits of the world.”

“Do you still have problems with your wife?”

“Answer my question, the question, jerk.”

Disgraceful but I can’t stop smiling!


Weekly weigh-in: Political bullying

Parliament_House_Canberra_Dusk_Panorama

7/09/18

Wow, the week of alleged political bullying continues, including the Federal Government, the Victorian Government and the Victorian Greens, yes, the Greens.

The allegations started around the happenings which led to the removal of former PM, Malcom Turnbull, two weeks ago with former Treasurer and our new PM, Scott Morrison cutting Peter Dutton who had instigated the spill.

Federal Liberal MP, Julia Banks, openly said she would quit parliament following the ousting of Turnbull because of the bullying within the party and from the Labor Opposition.

Turnbull also claimed Liberal MPs were bullied by the Dutton team to sign support for Dutton in order to get the numbers for the spill. Overnight media stories claimed Dutton bullied individuals to the degree of busting into their offices and not leaving until they had signed their support.


However, what’s happened federally looks like primary school activity when you look at this week’s headlines, including the Victorian Greens being overridden by bullying and an abusive internal culture.

The story in the Sydney Morning Herald from Lynette Keleher, an active Green for a number of years in a range of roles, warned candidates looking to the Greens as their hope for Australian politics to “stay away, far away.”

Keleher’s concerns followed her witnessing the take-down of Alex Bhathal, who failed to win the Victorian seat of Batman in March, having been dogged by internal leaks and complaints against her.

“Bhathal, a powerful woman and Greens figure who inspires many, is the public evidence of what many passionate and committed Greens members already know, that our party is overridden by an abusive and bullying internal organisational culture,” Keleher said.

“Racism is rampant in the party and embedded in its processes and structures. Bhathal stood up for me when I was bullied and she spoke out in my defence and raised her concerns with party leaders about the way I was treated.

“Stay away from politics, it’s a dangerous career choice that will lead to ruin and failure as the Greens Party is not doing politics any differently.”


And then there’s the former Victorian Greens Party leader, Greg Barber, who is now facing more claims of sexism following a settlement last year with a former parliamentary adviser who has now broken her silence, although there are still legal areas which she can’t discuss.

However, her husband can, and he’s revealing all, including Mr Barber’s alleged “men’s room” in his office which was a no go for women. He also revealed Barber did not talk to her for 12 months because she challenged him and that she was also told she couldn’t leave the office at lunch time and had to eat lunch at her desk.

Mr Barber is also alleged in the new claims of sexism to have referred to women in the workplace as “fat, hairy lesbians”, “power pussies” and “hairy-legged feminists”.

No comment.


Then there’s Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, who is desperately fighting to retain his government in a November election and who unloaded 80,000 pages of documents online in a bid to damage Opposition Leader, Mathew Guy over a botched planning decision.

The bungled move to embarrass Guy has created the biggest back-fire in decades. Included in the pages and posted on Parliament’s website were the medical history and financial details of a lawyer and the health background of an academic.

The barrister, whose young daughter’s details were also posted online for more than two days, is now considering legal action against the state.

But it gets worse. Leonie Hemsworth’s personal details have also been publicly released which has now brought Hollywood into the game.

Hollywood superstars, Chris and Liam Hemsworth just happen to be the sons of the now stressed mother Leonie.

In his role as Thor, Chris is looked on as one of the biggest movie stars in Hollywood at the moment.

Watch out Andrew, Thor’s on the way.


Weekly weigh-in: Bad news blues, Fair Work Commission and a Federal Small Business Ministercereal with milk.jpg31/08/2018

Should I stop having breakfast, I always eat a healthy one of course, or should I stop reading newspapers and listening to the ABC?

Something is causing me severe indigestion and I don’t think it’s the cereal with Tasmanian milk.

So, let’s have a look at this morning’s stories.

The Australian, a broadsheet with up to six front page stories had the following main four: ‘Investment slump to stymie recovery’; ‘Murray-Darling is “leaking billions”’; ‘Turnbull ally wants plan for bullying’ (in the Liberal Party) and ‘Cricket Chiefs in bitter feud’ (Cricket Australia board blow-up).

The Sun went with: ‘Dutton intervened for AFL chief, emails reveal’. Evidently, AFL boss, Gillon McLachlan lobbied Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton to grant a visa to a French national to work with Gillon’s cousin in South Australia. With no AFL games this week, obviously the Sun was desperate to keep footy on page one.

The Mercury chose: “I did not tell a lie”, with a large pic of Premier Will Hodgman. The Premier has denied misleading State Parliament over his role in the sacking of former Cricket Tasmania staff member, Angela Williamson. Ms Williamson claims the Premier was “lying” while the Premier says these are baseless allegations.

The Examiner decided to run: ‘BREAKDOWN’, a story about a baby on child protection alert born in the Launceston General Hospital suffering drug withdrawal who was permitted to leave with his mother. The baby spent 28 days in hospital and remained with the mother for 14 days before the Child Safety Service intervened.

A worrying story, but one that turned into a political fight with the Opposition launching an attack against the Government in a she-said, he-said battle. But there was no mention of an update on the health of mother and baby.

The result? We don’t have a single positive story on the front page of my four morning papers.

Add to this the ABC news from 6am to 7am which contained around 90 per cent negative stories aimed at national and state governments. The one positive story was about preparations for 10,000 to 15,000 people heading to St Helens for Triple J’s One Night Stand tomorrow night.

Should the stories be run? Absolutely.

Should they be page one? Questionable.

At least The Examiner had a terrific photo on the front page, of a Launceston brewer holding a stubby of the new James Boag light lager, Wild Rivers. An appropriate name and the first time in a decade Boag has released a new brew which will be rolled out nationwide.


It was interesting to see the Fair Work Commission (FWC) support an out of hours conduct matter which resulted in the dismissal of an employee.

The FWC decision has been highlighted by the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (TCCI) Workplace Relations manager, Abbey George in her column for the September edition of the Tasmanian Business Reporter.

The out of hours conduct was found to be a valid reason for dismissal in the case of Oliver Bridgewater v Healthscope Operations Pty Ltd T/A Prince of Wales Hospital.

The applicant was dismissed for serious misconduct after being found to have breached the employer’s sexual harassment policy by sending a highly offensive and unwelcome message of a sexual nature to a colleague.

This was despite the message being sent out of work hours and not on work property.

A wake-up call for many.

Abbey also advises that employees covered by Modern Awards will have access to five days unpaid family and domestic violence leave where an employee is:

  • experiencing domestic violence; and
  • needs to do something to deal with the impact of domestic violence; and
  • it is impractical for the employee to undertake that outside their ordinary hours of work.

For further details, click here to read the September edition of the TBR – you will find Abbey’s column on page five.


In an update to members today, TCCI CEO Michael Bailey said the chamber is “rightly feeling extremely chuffed with the return of a Small Business Minister into Federal Cabinet”, also pointing out that it is “a real win for the Tasmanian chamber movement”.

Click here to read Michael’s full update.


Weekly weigh-in: Tasmania, Australia, the world gone mad

Organ_Pipes_Mount_Wellington.jpg

24/08/2018

This week started off with an extremely good discussion about Tasmania going mad and by Wednesday Australia had gone mad. The rest of the world has already gone mad so no shock there.

But let’s start with Tasmania.

Why do great ideas get kicked in the backside before a common-sense discussion can take place?

Some major projects under attack are the Mount Wellington cable car project, the east coast Cambria Green development, along with hotel and conference projects in both Hobart and Launceston.

The hotel haters’ issues vary from height, size, design, colour or simply not wanting them for no sensible reason.

Many of the opponents are also screaming that there should be more homes for the homeless because rentals have been turned into Airbnb. Much of the growth of Airbnb accommodation is because of the shortage of hotel accommodation from the massive increase of tourism in Hobart and Launceston.

It doesn’t make sense.

The East Coast Alliance, along with several other community groups, packed the Hobart Town Hall on Wednesday to voice their concerns for the Dolphin Sands proposal.

Government Senator, Jonathan Duniam, called the community alliance the “anti -everything group”.

Former Tasmanian journalist, Martin Flanagan said the Chinese development would be the biggest change to the landscape since colonisation. In a Mercury story the next day he said the Chinese would be building a town in the middle of Tasmania. He acknowledged the pressing need for job creation on the east coast but said this project was the wrong way to go.

Mr Flanagan has lived in Melbourne for several decades and is an east coast shack owner near the proposed development.

It’s interesting that younger brother Richard, along with Bob Brown and other acolytes, are also leading the campaign against the Mt Wellington cable car project.

Most of the arguments have been heard over the years against a variety of proposed developments including; disruption of flora and fauna, destroying the appearance of the mountain, too many people on the mountain, the list goes on.

Many of the South Hobart activists aren’t sure why but they just don’t want it.

Change, such a small word, yet to make change or become different seems impossible for so many people.


The other crazy Tasmanian decision this week was the failure of Tasman Council to merge with Sorell Council.

The amalgamation process had been working well, with Sorell agreeing unanimously, but to the horror of the Tasman Mayor, the Tasman Council’s vote was a negative 4-3. Together they had a financial future but the consultants believe Tasman is now the walking dead and a difficult future for Sorell is also predicted.

It was a similar outcome for the northern councils, West Tamar and George Town. The process was strong, highlighted by West Tamar’s unanimous vote, only to be stabbed by George Town with their Mayor the only supporter of merging.

The beneficiaries of amalgamation are the ratepayers through more and better services as well as gaining some muscle to fight for development in their region.

So why would the aldermen vote against the merger? Surely it wouldn’t be self-interest such as an effort to avoid dropping $20,000 or $30,000 for their redundant roles.


I’ll finish with Australia going mad.

The suicidal attack on former PM Malcom Turnbull raises more questions than answers and it puts massive pressure on the former Treasurer, Scott Morrison.

Runner up Dutton is now history, which will enrage his leaders in Tony Abbott and Tasmania’s Eric Abetz.

The activity leading up to the Dutton challenge started back in July. Now the stories are doing the rounds. I certainly won’t be repeating the rumours, which unfortunately look like two and two make four.

Only recently we heard how the Richmond Football Club now has 100,000 members, a record. On the negative side we are seeing interest decline in areas such as politics, churches, community clubs, unions and other organisations.

The punters don’t mind a tough but fair game of football but they won’t accept the assertive approach of politicians yelling at one another and playing the man.

The instability of the last 10 years through PMs of Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull probably won’t be looked on as a period of visionary leadership for a different and better Australia.

But then again who is running the PM these days?


Weekly weigh-in: News ratings, north-west jobs and healthcare crisistv remote.jpgA co-incidence in timing, but the latest Tasmanian TV survey helps to understand the slashing of WIN’s news department.

The survey shows the massive viewing of Southern Cross news compared to the ABC Tasmania and WIN bulletins.

Southern Cross TV’s Sunday news attracts 87,918 viewers, weekdays 74,500 and on Saturday 66,271. They are also the top three programmes viewed on free to air stations in Tasmania.

The ABC news slots in at number 23 on the list of most watched programs, with their Saturday news attracting 33,985 viewers, Sunday news 32,600 (28th on list) and evening week day news 31,823 (31st on list).

WIN news rating starts down the list at spot 101, with WIN news weekdays capturing 14,476 viewers, and WIN’s Saturday and Sunday bulletins, which will no longer be produced, appear further down at 114 (12,367 viewers) and 131 (11,978 viewers) respectively.

The dominance of Southern Cross news is evident, with viewership figures almost triple that of ABC TV news and almost five times stronger than WIN, which is also doubled by ABC. While the ABC touts that it is the news hub in Tasmania, the figures certainly don’t support that argument.

Sadly, eight or nine reporters, presenters and camera positions at WIN are now redundant. The Tasmanian news service will be presented from Wollongong after the last Tasmanian broadcast tonight, with stories and video coming from two reporters and cameramen in the south and north.

The Australian Communication and Media Authority are very strict on local content obligations. Obviously, WIN’s new setup will see them working within the rules and meeting local content needs which means the battle is already lost.

With survey figures such as this, it’s hard not to think about what’s next.


This week’s development approval from the Latrobe Council now means full steam ahead for the development of BioMar’s $56 million aqua feed mill, or some may say a fish food mill, at Wesley Vale in the state’s north-west.

All environmental regulations have been ticked off, with warehouses on site refurbished and asbestos removed safely.

BioMar, an international company owned by Schouw and Co based in Denmark and with centres in the UK and now Tasmania, will announce the civil works contract to an Australian company in the next couple of weeks.

The 14-month development of the feed mill will employ 250 people during construction of the factory which will increase the permanent staff to 55. The majority of construction and factory roles will be Tasmanian employees, with expectations of majority northern staff.

The Environment Protection Authority has approved production of up to 110,000 tonne of feed a year. Imposed conditions to reduce odour and noise have not only been acted on by the company, but have been exceeded in search of stronger environmental conditions.

Apart from local clients who are now importing BioMar feed from Scotland, the Wesley Vale factory will also supply the aquaculture industry through Australia and New Zealand. Tasmanian agriculture is another winner from the project with an already appointed raw material purchase manager meeting local grain and legume growers around the state to source high quality ingredients.

Another win for Tasmania.


While some in the state seem determined to create crisis in in our healthcare and hospital system, just take a step backwards and hear what a crisis is actually – I’m referring to the $2.4 billion Royal Adelaide Hospital which was only opened in September last year.

The new Liberal administration, which formed government from Labor in March, has already engaged private advisory firm Korda-Mentha to analyse the books.

Evidently, there’s a problem with the books in the form of a potential $250 million budget blowout on the hospital’s operating costs. Yes, a $250 million blowout.

Now try and analyse South Australia’s Treasurer Rob Lucas’s comments in the Australian: “I’m exploring the feasibility of a revamped operating model for the hospital because of its well-known challenges, on the facility’s constraints and the incompetence and mismanagement of contracts by the former Labor Government. We are intent in trying to avoid costly litigation but there is a relatively caustic process going on in a mediation-style process at the moment.”

And while the Treasurer is trying to find the answer to the $250 million blowout, a contractor responsible for managing and delivering services including catering, cleaning and maintenance is facing losses of $94 million in the next five years. The company, Spotless, claims it has been losing up to $6 million a month on its facility management services since the September opening.

If that’s not enough, the third little problem announced yesterday by the State Government and Adelaide City Council revealed the hospital would be subject to an updated fire engineering assessment because of its aluminium composite cladding.

Yes Minister couldn’t create this one. Which reminds me, I wonder how the patients are handling the problems, or maybe there are no patients.


Weekly weigh-in: WIN in Wollongong, Jarrod Lyle and John Lloydwin news

10/8/18

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the Fairfax takeover by Nine and how the Tasmanian Fairfax papers, The Examiner and The Advocate, had been gutted by the publishing company in recent years.

Now the pressure is on television in Tasmania. It seems the watering down of Tasmanian news production is set to continue, after WIN announced it will present the Tasmanian weeknight bulletins from the state’s newest city, Wollongong.

Thankfully, the weeknight content will still be produced in Tasmania and WIN News Tasmania management have told the media that no journalists or camera crew staff will lose their jobs. Hopefully that will be the case but unfortunately history says jobs will go.

Similar approaches have been introduced through regional stations in Victoria, the ACT and NSW over the last 18 to 20 years. However, the volume of stories tends to decrease over time.

The closure of WIN’s weekend coverage on the mainland signaled the start of a very wishy-washy approach to news coverage, as the resulting drop off in viewers shows. It’s a bit like dropping a couple of editions of a seven-day paper which inevitably becomes a disaster.

Good media companies spend a fortune on encouraging people to read or view their product daily, not just a couple of days a week. The idea is to create a habit and keep your clients happy daily.

On the lighter side, I’m looking forward to the varying pronunciations of Tasmanian place names and regions such as Breadalbane, Grassy, Ouse, Beulah, Fingal, Sorell and good old Launceston.


You can’t help but admire the decision of Australian golfer Jarrod Lyle to not fight a third attack of cancer. Having gone through two horrendous battles with the disease, he announced last week that he would cease the debilitating treatment to spend time with his wife and children.

The 36-year-old died in Melbourne on Wednesday surrounded by his wife, Briony and two daughters, Lusi, six and Jemma, two.

Looked upon as one of the good guys on the national golf circuit, Lyle was loved by all, whether on the US PGA Tour or at local club events. He fought and won his first battle with leukaemia as a teenager and won the hearts of players and spectators by fighting back to play in the US PGA Tour, the world’s most prestigious golf tour.

The second leukaemia attack was tougher, but again he fought and won. He kept playing and refused to become a cancer victim.

He asked his wife, Briony to provide a simple message on his departure: “Thanks for your support, it meant the world. My time was short, but if I’ve helped people think and act on behalf of those families who suffer through cancer, hopefully it wasn’t wasted.”

Lyle was an extraordinary young man who fought and won, but in the end took an equally brave decision to end the treatment and share his last days with his family.


Three cheers for John Lloyd, former Australian Public Service Commissioner, who has been flicked out of the public service following complaints of his dealings with the Institute of Public Affairs.

The cheers aren’t for his removal but his defiant valedictory speech, particularly a few paragraphs from The Australian.

“We are deluged at every turn by do-gooders telling us what we should eat and drink, how we should exercise, how we should think and how we should spend our money, what type of dwelling we should live in,” Mr Lloyd said.

“It seems every day is a world day for either genuine or mindless causes for good. Virtue signalling is rampant in some quarters.

“This concerns me. I think there is danger in the diversity of views and opinions that go to good policy advice could be stifled by pervasive groupthink, dictated by what is politically correct.”

Mr Lloyd’s comments suggest Australia is being taken over by do-gooders, particularly retired public servants who have a generous life pension and have very little else to do but moan and block developments which will create good jobs and incomes for generations.

A couple of examples of this include:

  • Tasmania’s lock down of forestry to the degree that timber companies are importing American Oak because there is no access to Tasmanian Oak.
  • Governments under pressure from environmental activists who have blocked dam building, meaning Australia has done nothing to drought-proof farmers throughout the nation and are now on the edge of failure after seven years of drought in NSW and Queensland. There are plenty of rain areas in these states, but without dams, the water runs out into the sea and so there is no backup to fight drought.

What’s happened to common sense?


Weekly weigh-in: Don’t poke the bear, tax cuts, and call for less councils

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3/8/18

Don’t poke sticks at the animals is one of those sayings which if followed, can save unnecessary wars with family friends, community, or whatever.

It could be seen as a modern version of ‘don’t poke the bear’, because if you do, you’re in for a horrible beating – one which could also be avoided.

The Braddon by-election was a classic example of why you shouldn’t poke sticks. Fisherman Craig Garland was hoping to increase his vote from about 2000 in the State Election, a number which already surprised many, particularly the Shooters and Fishers party who attracted only 1611 votes, and the Greens who received only a couple of hundred more votes than Garland.

With the help of a $2000 loan from a friend, Garland went ahead with a very modest marketing programme consisting of some flyers and letters.

Suddenly he found himself on the front page of many papers, including The Australian, as well as appearing on ABC radio and national TV.

Why? Because somebody, or some people, poked sticks at Garland’s history of a questionable assault case 20 years ago and that really riled the fisherman who fought back with a very interesting story.

The uncertain voters said no, that’s not fair. The media continued with stories of the fight between Garland and the Liberal Party, which led to Garland making it very clear to the world that he would be pushing his preferences to Labor.

The result was 8000 primary votes which was treble the number from the State Election. This tally signaled the end for Liberal candidate Brett Whitely, who attracted 1000 more primaries than Labor’s Justine Keay, but the game was over with Garland’s preferences skyrocketing Keay to victory.

Yes, think before you poke sticks.


You can understand why the punters are grumbling about the Federal Government’s policy to introduce tax cuts for big business and banks.

It’s particularly upsetting for by-election voters in Braddon, where the Opposition claimed that the PM Malcom Turnbull and candidate, Brett Whitley were giving the banks $17 billion through the tax cuts, while cutting funding in health and education.

The statement was disingenuous but unavoidable as the advertisement jumped out of the screen every day from morning to night through the six week campaign without a counter attack.

Now the PM is considering changes to the tax cuts which is worrying major business groups who are now warning the government against the creation of a two-tiered tax system. The danger, according to business, is that a two-tiered system would put the nation’s largest companies at a competitive disadvantage while discouraging investment and job creation.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) is quite rightly calling for he PM to hold the line because of the need to “understand what was at play in these by-elections”, pointing out that a lot of them were fought on local issues.

The problem for Government is its inability to deliver the tax cut message to the broader community. There’s no simple message to the community explaining how tax cuts will help their daily life and that of their employer.

While business organisations are lobbying government, maybe they should also be sharing the opportunities for their business, the nation and their employees as a result of tax cuts.

Yes, we know we’re on the verge of being uncompetitive in the international market with the average tax rate in Asia and the US at 21 per cent, while the UK is moving to 17 per cent and France to 25 per cent. Australia’s corporate rate is now 30 per cent and the plan is reduce to 25 per cent.

Maybe it’s time business organisations and individual companies share the positive effect of tax cuts for their business and the country.

Maybe the boss will say that a five per cent tax cut means a company will be able to cut production costs to be more competitive against imports, resulting in increased volumes and the capacity to employ more staff including local university graduates and apprentices.

Maybe it’s time to make it clear how your workforce, the largest voting group in the nation, will also be winners from the corporate tax cuts.


Yesterday’s stunning story on the TCCI calling for three councils to replace today’s 29 councils in the August edition of the Tasmanian Business Reporter has created a massive response from the community.

To date, the business community, which is the client readership of the TBR, are very supportive of the change.

Read all about it here.


Weekly weigh-in: Fairfax takeover

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The Fairfax publishing name may have died yesterday but much of the business will remain intact and hundreds of jobs have been saved.

In the end, the only option for Fairfax was to sell, which failed last year, or be taken over, which fortunately Nine did yesterday and saved the day.

Mind you, Channel Nine as we have known it as for so long, has been on the nose for the past few years. The $2.1 billion cash and stock takeover to create a $4.2 billion television and newspaper company must turn profits pretty quickly to ensure success or it faces a nasty future.

The opportunity is unlimited as long as television and print understand they are there to support one another and share the advertising revenues which will either make or break the organisation.

Imagine the strength of news via the metro teams of The Age, Sydney Morning Herald, Australian Financial Review and Canberra Times collaborating with Nine in Sydney and Melbourne.

I’m not sure of Nine’s political approach today, but they are probably a little to the right, while Fairfax journos sit very much to the left, which will make it interesting to see how this is handled by the new company.

The so-called Charter of Editorial Independence with Fairfax has been a failure when you consider their unbalanced approach.


However, our Tasmanian papers The Examiner and The Advocate, have been gutted by Fairfax in recent years.

Editorial numbers at The Examiner are back to about the starting numbers in 1842 and it’s a similar story with the Advocate which now has many new staff and only a handful of experienced journos in the newsroom. Sub-editing is now controlled through other states.

The two senior advertising managers at The Examiner were moved on two weeks ago, along with many other experienced sales people which was an interesting move when you realise that 75 to 80 per cent of newspaper income is created by advertising.

The loss of outside clients in Fairfax’s Launceston print centre has contributed to the printing of The Advocate and The Examiner becoming uneconomical.

Fairfax chief executive Greg Hywood said twice yesterday that the company’s Australian Community Media portfolio, or regional newspapers, was part of the takeover but it’s hard to imagine that the Nine board and management really want 170 regional community papers in their plan.

Decisions change after a takeover when the new owner has to pay the bills and take the responsibility for making a profit.

There are concerns about The Examiner’s future, with community leaders realising the loss of its daily paper leaves a big black hole for local stories and the voice of the community.

Already there is a dialogue with Fairfax for a potential offer for The Examiner by Tasmanian interests.

I’m unaware of any approach for the Advocate at this stage but its hard copy and on-line information certainly attracts strong support from the north west community.


A little history in the takeover around two papers, The Examiner and the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH).

The SMH is the oldest continual newspaper in the nation, with its first edition in 1831. The third oldest paper is The Examiner which started in March 12, 1842 and is now 176 years old.

These are two creative papers who have won the PANPA newspaper of the year award in their section and produced quality editors and journos.

The second oldest newspaper still running is the Geelong Advertiser, which started in November 1840 and unashamedly is the greatest supporter of the Geelong Football Club in the country – and that includes Tasmanian Premier, Will Hodgman!


Weekly weigh-in: BBQ ban, tourism boom and our growing population

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A friend emailed me yesterday to say he was applying for a new job – a “barbeque shutter-downer”.

A what? Well, he explained that under the new Environment Protection Authority (EPA) draft regulations, Tasmanians cooking a few snags could be fined about $1600 if their barbecue emits smoke for more than 10 minutes and the smoke is visible from 10 metres away for 30 seconds or more.

He said it was backed up in yesterday’s Mercury and attacked by a variety of people including Braddon by-election candidate Brett Whitely, who called it “un-Australian” and Tasmanian Small Business Council CEO Robert Mallett, who described it as “laughable”.

Evidently, the EPA have said the regulations are to replace the expiring Environmental Management and Pollution Control Regulations, with an objective of limiting the emissions of smoke by heaters, outdoor cooking appliances and backyard burning-off in and around urban areas.

While my mate isn’t too worried about heaters and garden burn-offs, he reckons he can make an absolute prick of himself by closing down kids’ home birthday barbeques, school and church functions and he will even see if he can have a crack at the Bunnings snag barbecue because smoke is smoke whether it is created by gas or wood.

But he said his highlight would be closing down barbeques on Christmas Day and he would be happy to work 24 hours on December 25 if necessary, with no penalty rates. His other delights would be Australia Day (bad luck about the lamb chops) and of course the AFL Grand Final Day which attracts barbeques galore.

Despite hoping to recreate himself as a new-age Grinch, he’s happy to take a few bribes of quality steak cuts such as Cape Grim and the occasional snag when hungry. He was also boasting that he is a certainty to get the job because who else would take on the barbeque bully role – certainly not the EPA and definitely not Tasmania Police.

Let’s hope Minister Archer waters down the draft regulations, even though it may be the end of my mate’s new career!


It was fascinating to hear that Tasmania had the strongest international tourism growth in the nation over the year, with more than 300,000 tourists flocking to our unique island state.

In the 12 months to March, Tasmania entertained a 20 per cent increase from visitors around the world. Their $559 million, or more than half-a-billion dollar spend, also represents a record year.

The figures are a result of very strong increase in visitors from all countries including China (up 46 per cent to 46,000), the United States (up 22 per cent to 44,000), New Zealand (up 60 per cent to 23,000), Singapore (up 33 per cent to 17,000), France (up 83 per cent to 9000) and India (up 68 per cent to 9000).

The overall spend of international and domestic tourists combined contributed more than $3 billion to our economy and in 2016-17 tourism employed about 38,000 directly and indirectly.

Hobart and the south attracted the biggest numbers with 259,000 visitors spending $373 million and Launceston attracted 117,000 visitors spending $98 million.

It’s interesting when you break down the average spend per person, with Hobart and southern visitors spending $1440 while Launceston visitors spent $837. This variance in the average spend is a message for Launceston and the north to plan a strategy to entice visitors to stay longer and provide opportunities to spend more.

A great example is the Bridestowe Lavender farm which attracted 85,000 visitors in 2017-18, with about 60 per cent of these visitors of Chinese ethnicity. Big figures when you consider Launceston’s population is 66,000, although the greater Launceston/northern area is more than 106,000.


Overall, the international visitor numbers are extraordinary when you consider we attracted 149,800 in 2011, spending $254 each on average. Seven years later we are attracting double the volume and double the spend.

During the same period, Tasmania’s population has increased from 510,000 in 2011 to about 520,000 today.

Now comparing visitors to population may have naught practical connection, but wouldn’t you expect some of the 300,000 running around our state to fall in love with our idyllic island heaven?

Tasmania’s population growth is a conundrum when you consider we had 191,210 residents in 1911, 350,000 in 1961 and 510,000 in 2011. The forward estimates for population are 650,000 residents by 2050 and while this seems a big target, the maths since 1911 suggest it can happen.

Let me know the result!


Weekly weigh-in: Braddon by-election, Granville Harbour Wind Farm and Alastair Lynch

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The June 1975 Federal Bass by-election was looked upon as the most significant by-election in the state and arguably the nation.

The by-election was triggered by the resignation of former Deputy Prime Minister Lance Barnard, who held the seat for Labor from 1954.

The result was breathtaking, with first time Liberal candidate Kevin Newman winning by 9000 votes and Labor dropping more than 17 percent of the vote from the previous election.

The Bass by-election was then looked upon as the beginning for the end of the Gough Whitlam Government, which was eventually dismissed from office six months later.

Launceston was flooded with politicians including Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, Opposition Leader Malcom Fraser, ministers, shadow ministers and a massive media pack – some who even lived in Launceston throughout the campaign.

Every day was a birthday, with promises from both parties as the nation became familiar with Bass through media coverage and some amazing stories which might well have been written by Hans Christian Andersen.

Now move onto Braddon, July 2018, with a by-election attracting national coverage and regular visits by Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull and Opposition leader Bill Shorten, who obviously has a rental in the north west somewhere judging by the amount of time he has spent on the coast.

While Braddon is sharing media coverage with five other by-elections on July 26, the cash promises are extraordinary. Good luck to Braddon and bring on the lotto-like wins which will deliver enormous economic growth for the region.

But like all money promises, in the heat of a tight battle somebody just steps too far and looks a little silly.

Yes, I’m talking about Bill Shorten’s promise of $25 million for a Tasmanian AFL club, with football commentators agreeing that if Tasmania is to have its own team we are looking at 10 to 30 years before it happens.

I love the story from a development meeting in Hobart this week with the group looking for financial support for their project. A bright spark found the answer: “Why can’t we change our name from Denison to Braddon and then we will have what we want.”


Private enterprise is also boosting the Braddon electorate, with yesterday’s announcement that the construction of the $280 million Granville Harbour Wind Farm will virtually start today following the financial sign-off by owners Palisade Partners.

Located on a 1200-hectare cattle form on the west coast, the 31-turbine wind farm will have the capacity to power more than 46,000 Tasmanian homes, equivalent to the total housing in the Braddon electorate.

The project will need at least 200 employees during the 18-month construction stage and 10 on-going jobs after construction.

The wind farm will produce 112 megawatts of power and will be injected into the Tasmanian grid through the Reece Power station which forms part of the Pieman River hydro scheme.

Palisade also owns the Tasmanian Gas Pipeline which plays a significant role in Tasmania’s energy sector by feeding gas into Tasmania’s bigger manufacturing industries and the Tamar Valley Power Station and saved the day during both the breakdown of the Bass Strait cable in 2016 and a drought seriously effecting the Hydro grid.

It’s good to have friends like Palisade supporting Tasmania.


While AFL star Alastair Lynch spent his career challenging opposition players around the nation, I now realise his biggest victory may well have been off the field.

The former Tasmanian was drafted by Fitzroy in 1988 before being poached by the Brisbane Bears for a record $2.1 million deal over 10 years and ironically re-joined some of his former mates when a merger with Fitzroy and the Bears saw the clubs united as the Brisbane Lions.

The new club surprised the league be winning three consecutive grand finals in 2001, 2002 and 2003, narrowly missing the fourth after a grand final defeat the following year.

But the biggest battle he faced was in 1995 when his body shut down and he couldn’t even get out of bed as we heard at a breakfast function in Launceston this week. After months of agony with his legs burning inside, his illness was diagnosed as chronic fatigue syndrome.

He was relieved to know his problem, but shocked to be told there was no cure which he discovered through visits to over 60 doctors, specialists and some very odd people with very strange ideas. He even headed to a US specialist but with no result.

His luck changed after a catch up with an Olympic athlete who had fought and won the battle with the disease and Alastair grabbed the opportunity.

He took control of himself, including taking up a diet responsive to his body and an exercise programme to build his body but not overdo it. It was a day-by-day programme with sometimes no reaction but at least he was not going backwards.

Equally as important as managing his body was managing his mental approach to remove all negativity and refusing to accept depressive moments when things weren’t working as he wanted.

This strong mental approach lifted his confidence and slowly his body was repaired to the extent where he could return to football 18 months later, eventually even starring in the Brisbane Lions’ grand final victories.

Alastair was guest speaker at the inaugural Clifford Craig Foundation and St.LukesHealth breakfast in Launceston this week to develop untapped health projects.

Alastair is also an Ambassador of St.LukesHealth, concentrating on improving the health of workers of all ages so they can enjoy their work and their life overall.


Weekly weigh-in: Tasmanian AFL team, GST distribution, coal and advertising

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6/7/18

I’m sorry, but I can’t respond to the AFL’s plan to reignite football in Tasmania. The funding of two and sixpence, which the AFL thought was extremely generous, has not been very well received by the Tasmanian football family.

My next five paragraphs have been removed on legal advice.


While Tasmania appears to have received a good deal through the revamped GST distribution, it’s hard to accept that the change happened because of years of moaning from Western Australia.

Yes, WA’s GST share was skewed because of its mineral boom which created so much money that Government and the community didn’t know what to do with it.

The WA Government was certainly undisciplined, leaving record budget deficits and debt reaching $40 billion in the aftermath of arguably the greatest economic boom of the nation.

At least now there is more security for all governments through removing the loopholes which found WA on the bottom of the rank, receiving 34 cents for every dollar it paid in GST last financial year. WA’s return is set to rise to around 75 cents for each dollar by the middle of next decade and the days of being punished for success should now end.

If Tasmania has a boom through gas for example, the royalties will remain in the state and will not skew GST returns as has happened in the past.

Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison confirmed that he would fund a $1 billion a year top-up to the smaller states in perpetuity in order to deliver the long awaited GST reform.

This will keep the promise made by the Treasurer and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that no state would be worse off.

Time will tell, but I can’t imagine any state treasurer rejecting the change when they have an agreed GST return as they formulate their forward estimates.


Talking of mining booms, it’s surprising to hear that coal will regain its position as the nation’s biggest export earner through higher prices and surging Asian demand.

According to the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, figures show that coal exports are forecast to reach $58.1 million in 2018, overtaking iron ore (which has a forecasted $57.7 billion) for the first time in a decade.

The June 2018 Resources and Energy Quarterly shows total exports from the energy sector are on track to reach a record $226 billion in 2017-18 and will hit $238 billion in 2018-19, driven by strong demand for coal, liquefied natural gas and iron ore.

Interesting that coal is adding $58.1 billion to Australia’s export return, yet coal is now a dirty word with many, including Labor and the Greens who are pressuring the war on coal, including opposing the proposed Adani $16.5 billion Carmichael coalmine in Queensland.

It’s yet another example of the unavoidable facts surrounding energy. Supply and demand will dictate that coal will be a major part of energy mix in Asia for the foreseeable future, presenting an interesting contrast to Australia’s closing of coal power stations.


Hard copy newspapers are back in favour with Australian advertisers following a major drop of trust in social media.

The loss of trust in Facebook has been dramatic since the data privacy scandal sparked by Cambridge Analytica affected more than 87 million Facebook users worldwide who had their data sold through a third party.

The second Galaxy Research ADTRUSTS survey of 4200 Australians found that the majority trust Facebook less than they did six months ago. A whopping two thirds of Australians surveyed said they don’t trust advertising on Facebook.

The figures reinforce the finding of the first ADTRUST report which showed newspapers were the most trusted form of media with increases in radio, TV and news websites.

Now is the time for a few lessons from Ogilvy on Advertising, by the late David Ogilvy who was looked on as the Pope of modern advertising and traditional media, particularly for hard copy newspapers who now have the opportunity to get back on track.


Weekly weigh-in: Tasmanian AFL team and bank mistreatment

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29/6/18

As the Melbourne Sun said this morning, troubled football state Tasmania will almost certainly be reviving its representative team in the VFL, of course, not the AFL.

It appears the AFL has finally realised that maybe they have overlooked the “troubled football state”.

Evidently the VFL clubs have been told a Tasmanian team will be joining the competition in 2021, or 12 years after the Tassie Devils wound up the original Tasmanian VFL club to concentrate on a state league.

The development comes as momentum grows to persuade the AFL family to give Tasmania its own AFL team and scrap the fly-in, fly-out model of Hawthorn and North Melbourne.

While there has been a vault of stories calling for an AFL team, a newsletter from former Government Minister Julian Amos who was also a board member of the Glenorchy Football Club really hit the bullseye.

Congratulating The Mercury newspaper for its campaign to have Tasmania recognised in the national football sphere, Julian added:

“The very fact that it needs to do so speaks volumes for the failure of the AFL’s approach to Tasmania over the last few years,” Julian said.

“It has been one of ignore and neglect and now the chickens are really coming home to roost.

“The approach by the AFL to football in Tasmania has been nothing short of bizarre. It has combined its desire of seeking talent through a very narrows lens with extraordinary choice of Chief Executives over the past few years.

“It starves the TSL clubs of funds and threatens their survival if does not meet criteria. It has been the case for many years now that the AFL Executive sits in judgement of the TSL clubs, full of criticism and low on encouragement, inducement and support.

“The present round of farcical behaviour concerns the former head of AFL Tasmania (Robert Auld) who is now back in Victoria. His failure was his lack of capacity or desire to sit with and meet the TSL clubs one on one and talk through the through the issue of concern to both parties.

“His attitude bordered on belligerence, fuelled by arrogance and that attitude has followed through this present day. He was unable to achieve a result with the TSL when he was AFL Tas CEO and so now, basically steering the board of inquiry into the future of footy in Tasmania he has taken the view the TSL is a lost cause.”

You certainly get a straightforward approach from Julian.


The story of Tasmanian farmers Dimity and Michael Hirst being “belted to bits” by the ANZ bank is horrible, but perhaps indicative of the treatment of hundreds, maybe thousands of farmers around the nation.

The Hirst family revealed the raw facts behind ANZ freezing their accounts and selling their business and all properties, at the banking Royal Commission’s hearing in Brisbane this week.

A successful beef, sheep and tree farmer, Mr Hirst began investing in the Tasmanian Forestry industry in 2006. In early 2011, an ANZ staffer took Mr Hirst to a decent restaurant, told him he had a very good business and said, “We want to see more of you and basically pumped us up,” according to Mr Hirst.

Later that year he was offered increased loans, but by the end of the year he was told to put the cheque book away because forestry company Gunns was in trouble and the forestry industry had collapsed.

The ANZ admitted its conduct between 2011 and 2013 fell below community standards and expectations.

The conduct included confirming the Hirst’s assets were $7.5 million and their loans were $4.86 million, although 12 days later a manager from ANZ said the asset value was now $4.76 million.

While this week the ANZ was prompted into an apology, Mr Hirst said the ANZ had never showed empathy or compassion in dealings with his family.

The irony of the Hirst’s treatment by ANZ was the connection between ANZ and Gunns, which was worth $1 billion in 2008.

However, the ANZ unexpectedly withdrew funds to support Gunn’s Tamar Valley pulp mill, following pressure from the Greens and opponents such as Jeffrey Cousins.

Without ANZ funds, it was the start of the end for the pulp mill, Gunns and the forestry industry.

Only now is Launceston and the north east overcoming the job losses and the same inhumanity suffered by the Hirst’s and so many other unfortunate farmers and forestry businesses.


Weekly weigh-in: Australian Senate and Ben Hills

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22/6/18

The historic tax reform legislation has finally passed through the Senate thanks to the support of independent senators after Labor and the Greens opposed the Bill.

The $144 billion in personal income tax cuts for Australia’s workforce is looked on as the most significant tax reform since the GST started operation in July 2000.

While the future of the legislation is still questionable, with Labor saying it will trash the legislation if it takes government in the next election, Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull will now lead the Coalition to the July 28 by-election with a significant win on his belt.

It’s a big story, but so is the performance and future of the Senate through the eyes and ears of respected Paul Kelly, Editor At Large of The Australian.

Kelly believes the Senate needs to be reformed and questions why the public should be saddled with today’s imbroglio.

He has a series of concerns, but a significant point is that during the taxation debate the responsibility for such momentous decisions fell to “a bizarre collection of cross-benchers and party-crossing desperates, some diligent, others consumed by a panicked quest for survival.”

He made the point that since Federation in 1901, there hadn’t been a Senate that had witnessed such individual ineptitude, so many breaches of section 44 (citizenship) and such a huge turnover.

Since the 2016 double-dissolution, 16 of the 76 senators elected have departed, such chronic changes and swapping of party allegiances and such sustained contempt for the original expressions of voters.

“Our democracy has become a sham. The entire crossbench should have obligations to the nation – but it is doubtful if this cross bench can rise above its squalid dysfunction,” Kelly said.

“Of the 20 crossbenchers elected in 2016 election, only 11 are left – that’s a dropout rate of 45 per cent in two years.

“There have been seven changes of party or allegiance in this Senate. These senators change their parties like they change their underpants. Loyalty, fidelity – forget it.”

Wow, definitely food for thought.


It was sad to see the passing of possibly Australia’s best investigative reporter, Ben Hills.

Interstate media connected him with 60 Minutes and Fairfax papers The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.

He won Australia’s iconic media gold medal, the Walkley Award, for exposing a $70 million sting on the Swiss Banking corporation in an investigation that spanned three continents, probed Victoria’s Tricontinental Bank, leading to its collapse, and broke a series of other quality investigative stories.

What hasn’t been mentioned is that Ben cut his journalistic teeth at The Mercury in Macquarie Street, Hobart in the late 1960s, the same time I joined The Examiner in the Hobart office around the corner in Collins Street.

A great description of Ben was the obituary in the Sydney Morning Herald last Friday from a friend Ian Verrender.

“Hills was a contradiction; a complex dilemma of a human being, oscillating between irascible, opinionated and cantankerous to erudite, funny, warm and occasionally incredibly generous,” Mr Verrender wrote.

Well he certainly got that right. You were never quite sure whether Ben was going to attack you or buy you a beer.

He didn’t run with the pack, he fought and challenged the pack.

He created and wrote stories that others didn’t, wouldn’t, or failed to see through the other layers present.

The subject didn’t matter – time after time he would dig out a brilliant angle which no one, including the police, politicians, business had discovered, much to their annoyance.

As a young journo, if you didn’t learn something from Ben, you didn’t understand journalism.

A tough editor from The Age, in its heyday, told a friend in Melbourne that Ben Hills was the best journo in Australia. I certainly won’t argue.


We did have quite a social life in those days with the compulsory Thursday night poker game starting after the House of Assembly rose at 6pm and stories were completed a couple of hours later.

Ben’s performance as usual was unpredictable, except for his ability to bluff and then laugh as he took your money.

But the most social night we had was an unplanned gathering after a heavy week in parliament when the acting Speaker invited us into the Speaker’s room for a sip, or two.

The acting Speaker left reasonably early and generously handed the keys to the Legislative Council member of Huon Michael Hodgman, who after two years in the Parliament had pretty well taken over the place as only Michael could do.

The other three were Ben Hills, Peter Simunovich, a Mercury sports writer who went on to the VFL senior football writer for the Melbourne Sun before heading to New York where he still lives, and yours truly.

The gathering passed midnight thanks to generosity of the Speaker’s alcohol cabinet.

That morning the ABC ran a story about an unusual happening in the Parliament House gardens overnight.

Evidently, a mask was placed over the face of the statue of Albert Ogilvie and when removed, the material turned out to be a Parliament House serviette.

A police patrol call had seen four people in the area but who were well dressed and didn’t appear to be breaking the law.

So whodunnit? With only two remaining who plead not guilty, the masker may never be named.

Weekly weigh-in: Tasmanian State Budget

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15/6/18

It was nice to hear Treasurer Peter Gutwein correcting the employment growth figure in Tasmania since the Liberal Party took government in 2014.

At this morning’s TCCI Budget breakfast the Treasurer explained that even up to a week ago he had proudly been telling the community that the job increase figure was 11,000.

However, a couple of days ago the ABS confirmed the numbers were incorrect and job growth actually numbered 13,400!

The Treasurer used the figures to encourage businesses, particularly small businesses, to have the courage to invest, borrow funds and take risks to grow their business and create jobs.

Talking about numbers, table 27 was missing four people. Looking at the table allocations the four missing were all Labor members, including Opposition Leader Bec White and Shadow Treasurer Scott Bacon.

TCCI CEO Michael Bailey explained he had been advised last night that the Labor members may not be appearing today because they would not walk over a potential union picket line.

At this stage no-one who entered the building saw, or were confronted by, a protest or picket line but that’s not necessarily to say such activity didn’t happen.

Some say Ms White was ropeable that the Federal Group fought so strongly against her pokie policy and evidently she is still angry. Time will tell.


The 2018-19 Budget has attracted a positive reaction from most media outlets. Becher Townshend’s following summary for Font PR certainly paints an accurate picture of what was brought down.

If the Tasmanian community voted for four more years of stable government and strong economic growth, they’re certainly well on the way to this with the 2018/19 State Budget.

Treasurer Peter Gutwein has delivered his part, with a beautiful set of numbers that at first glance appear to be too good to be true, but further scrutiny shows they are the real deal.

Economic growth is running at 3.25 per cent for the current financial year and predicted to level to 2.25 to 2 per cent over the Forward Estimates, while unemployment is predicted to remain stable at 6 per cent.

However, the real story of the success of the economy is a 35 per cent increase in exports, while tourism sees an annual local spend of $2.33 billion, which is up 8 per cent on last year.  On top of this, households are spending more and we have record business investment.

This strength of the economy, along with Peter Gutwein’s simple economic maxim of spending less than you earn, has resulted in a Net Operating Surplus of $75.3 million for this financial year, rising to $161.9 million for the Budget year and then well over $100 million over the three remaining years of the Forward Estimates.

There aren’t many who can be disappointed with these numbers and it has allowed the Government to deliver on their election promises and even look further to the future.

Headlining the Budget are some ambitious goals, such as an undertaking to have the lowest unemployment rate in the nation by the time of the next election, plus a 10-year infrastructure plan and a 30-year infrastructure vision.

These are lofty aims and come with $2.6 billion of spending on infrastructure, including $1.1 billion on roads and bridges and $475 million on improving hospital and health infrastructure such as the Mersey, the Royal Hobart and the Launceston General.

Education doesn’t miss out, with $200 million worth of upgrades and funding for two new schools, while the commitment to affordable housing has been funded with $100 million, as well as further funds for the third tranche of the irrigation scheme.

On top of this is $70 million for a southern remand centre and seed funding for a northern prison as well as $7.3 million for the Ashley Youth Detention Centre.

But there is more, small to medium business will get further relief with cuts to payroll tax on wages bills up to $4 million each year.

Elsewhere funding of recurrent services continues with record levels of cash for health and education as well as pledges to support a new private hospital co-located at the Launceston General.

Interestingly a foreign investor duty will be introduced, while further land tax incentives will be provided for those putting their properties on the long-term housing market.

For the booming tourism sector, there will be $72 million for Cradle Mountain, $16 million for regional tourism and a further $12 million to market our state, while the plush Treasury offices in the heart of Hobart will be open to expressions of interest.

Peter Gutwein says ‘we are entering a golden age of investment in this state and the Government will ensure that we firmly grasp and deliver on the opportunity for future generations’.

On reading the Treasurer’s 2018/19 Budget documents, that golden time may well have already arrived – how long it lasts, only time will tell, but long may it stay.


Weekly weigh-in: State Budget, Tasmania’s exports and the MCG

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4/6/18

Without sharing the nitty gritty of next week’s State Budget, Treasurer Peter Gutwein is confident this will be the best budget he has delivered.

All components of the budget are in place, with expenditure for health, education and infrastructure hitting new record levels but still falling within the revenue stream which enables a surplus – the trump card for the Treasurer’s fiscal success.

Speaking to a business breakfast in Launceston yesterday, the Treasurer was confident his fifth budget will continue economic growth and job creation throughout the state.

His delivery to more than 60 people from all sides of politics was informative, entertaining and with conviction – certainly showing he is not nervous about this budget as the Opposition claimed this morning.

How has this government worked its way out of a recession left to them in 2014?

The Treasurer has no doubt why, explaining, “Confidence is the key.”

How true. Try building a state economy, a business, a footy team or taking on a new job without confidence, you are likely to fail.

As Virgil the BC poet said, “They can because they think they can.”

Welsh poet George Herbert said in the 17th Century, “Skill and confidence are an unconquered army.”

Tasmanian small business confidence levels went from last to first in 2016 according to the NAB quarterly research which shows Tasmania is continuing its king of the castle role.


While explaining the economy growth in the state, the Treasurer said Tasmania was now one of the hottest places in the universe.

Apart from records in tourism and population growth, with more people migrating to Tasmania than babies born in the state which is a significant turnaround, the state’s exports also continue to reach new highs.

Exports have increased by 36 per cent in the past 12 months with a return to Tasmania of about $3.5 billion, close to $1 billion more than last year.

Non-ferrous metals are still Tasmania’s biggest export earner and account for about 45 per cent of all exports, with other strong sales present in seafood which is now worth more than double cattle and sheep, as well as fruit and vegetables.

China is clearly Tasmania’s biggest export client and is also the biggest market for tourism, investment and international students.

All of Tasmania needs to understand this growing connection with China and realise this is for the long term and not simply a passing phase.


OK, what do you think has been the highest rating TV event on a single channel this year?

If you think the Royal Wedding, Commonwealth Games opening ceremony or AFL football you’re wrong.

The highest rating TV event on a single channel was Wednesday’s first of three rugby league State of Origin clashes between NSW and Queensland.

The State of Origin’s game at the MCG attracted a peak national audience of 3.9 million viewers.

The Royal Wedding attracted about four million across Nine, Seven, ABC and SBS but the highest single channel, was Seven with two million viewers.

The Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in April reached a peak audience of 3.2 million on Seven.

While the MCG is the home of the Australian Football League and Test Cricket, of course, the crowd at the ‘G’ on Wednesday night was 87,122 – the fourth highest crowd for an Origin match, which is remarkable for a code normally played in Sydney or Brisbane.

It was an amazing attendance in the heartland of AFL and another example of Melbourne’s ability to attract crowds at the MCG regardless of the event.

The record football crowd at the MCG is 121,696 at the 1970 VFL Grand Final, featuring Carlton v Collingwood, and just to remind the Pies fans, they were 44 points up at half time.

The 1956 Olympic Games attracted a 1,153,000 aggregate attendance over 15 days and confirmed Melbourne’s love of sport and the MCG.

The record Test match attendance was during the 1936/37 Ashes series when 350,534 supporters attended the ground over six days, with a 28 year-old batsman called Don Bradman hitting 270 runs of 375 balls helping Australia win by 365 runs.

The record attendance for one-day cricket is 93,000 at the 2015 World Cup final, and the record one-day Test attendance is 91,112 at the Ashes in 2015.

The soccer record is 99,382 when Manchester City played Real Madrid in the International Champions Cup in 2015.

But the biggest one-day crowd at the MCG is still the American evangelist crusader Billy Graham, who attracted 130,000 people in 1959.

There is still controversy over the attendance, with the traditional religions believing the numbers were exaggerated and other groups believing the crowd was closer to 144,000.

There can be no doubt the MCG is one of Australia’s icons.


Weekly weigh-in: Hobart’s new name, Silo opening and LGH survey

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4/6/18

Who could forget the DJ voice of Robin Williams’ superb wake-up call – “gooooood morning Vietnam”, from the unforgettable movie of the same name.

It is a great movie with the late Williams playing the role of an American Army DJ assigned to host radio programmes for the US Army during the Vietnam War.

Now close your eyes and listen to the new wake-up call – “goooood morning nip-ah-loo-na”, the correct pronunciation of Hobart’s indigenous name, nipaluna.

The Lord Mayor of Hobart, or maybe soon nipaluna, Ron Christie, is the ideal person to deliver the call having spent many years in his younger days behind the microphone.

The response of introducing the dual name nipaluna/Hobart has certainly not impressed some of the southern mayors, ratepayers and politicians, and even the Aboriginal community is split claiming a lack of consultation throughout the process.

It will be interesting to see how the aldermen handle the discussion tonight, particularly when there are other major issues and opportunities on the table.

Ald Christie has fired back at the unconvinced mayors saying nipaluna was a gift to Hobart and not Brighton, or Clarence.

I’m thankful for not being on the Lord Mayor’s Christmas gift list.


For 36 years I’ve been convinced that the opening of the Country Club Casino would be the most fabulous hotel opening that Launceston would ever experience.

Well Friday’s night’s opening of the Silo Hotel certainly reminded me that sometimes it’s lovely to be wrong.

More than 1000 invitees from around the nation flocked to the North Bank hotel for a grand night and to celebrate the contribution to Launceston from local developer Errol Stewart and his wife Adie.

Who else but Errol Stewart could see the opportunity of spending $30 million to turn a derelict four barrelled wheat silo into a 108-room hotel with a superb restaurant, private dining rooms, bar and café along with gyms, a spa and conference rooms.

It will be an iconic landmark for Launceston and is a perfect example of creative thinking turning something unwanted into something brilliant.

The views from all levels are a reminder that Launceston has a lot more to offer than many people realise.

Silo Hotel and the continued development of North Bank will see the area become a hot spot in Tasmania.

The opening’s guestlist covered all sectors of life including many tradies and contractors who showed their profession and determination to meet deadlines.

Errol’s recognition of the workers was obvious when he was thanking the right-hand building manager Craig Wood and was silenced for a moment while he obviously had a frog in his throat.

He also made sure former Launceston City Council GM Robert Dobrzynski, who is now living in Melbourne, was on the top of the list along with Treasurer Peter Gutwein.

It is another great example of State and Local Government working together with private enterprise.

Premier Will Hodgman was genuinely impressed with the evening, the Silo Hotel and thankful that Launceston’s economy is heading in the right direction.


The Launceston General Hospital’s accreditation survey has hit a positive result however the public results won’t be released for some months.

All public hospitals are surveyed to maintain accreditation through the Australian Health Service Safety and Quality Accreditation Scheme. The assessment ensures hospitals meet national health standards.

According to media information a survey was conducted over four days by five representatives from the Australian Council of Healthcare Standards.

Alas, don’t expect to see a positive media story – instead perhaps a story which will grab the one minor problem and not recognise the 99 outstanding areas.


Weekly weigh-in: ABC’s journalism fix

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25/5/18

Well, the ABC has certainly shown its cards in the long-running debate over the quality of today’s media through its decision to increase journalism training among its reporters.

According to The Australian, the ABC believes poor journalism is the reason for the declining viewership of its flagship 7pm news bulletin and it will now send journos to writing workshops in a bid to improve the program.

A strategy document leaked to The Australian revealed improving the storytelling on the news is the key strategic approach to re-connect with disgruntled viewers.

With more than 100,000 viewers from around the nation disappearing in the last 12 months, management came to the conclusion that a recently undertaken two-hour workshop in Sydney ran by a senior journo was the answer, with this program to now be rolled out across the nation to fix the problems.

According to some media outlets, the ABC has since come out and said the plan to increase journalistic quality was not a ‘rescue plan to lift dire ratings’ and was instead a part of normal program review processes.

Nonetheless, the ABC has realised something needs to change.

History has shown that the companies and private owners of newspapers who took the need for training seriously finished up with a continuous quality of writers and photographers in the newsroom.

The ABC is taking a very sensible approach to help writers understand what their clients are listening for and therefore retaining and increasing viewers.


However, 24 hours after the original story broke, some letters to the editor of The Australian suggested a different approach should be taken by the ABC.

Kate Foot from Sydney wrote: “The blatant lack of any attempt to report political matters with balance is there for all to see and hear on a daily basis.

“My husband and I belong to the to the main demographic of ABC TV news viewers, but we no longer watch any ABC news or current affair programmes.

“The cause of the biased reporting by ABC journalists can be found in the media courses in Australian universities; clear out those institutions of the lefties poisoning the minds of their students and there may be hope for balanced story telling at some time in the future.”

Ruth Bonetti, from The Gap, Queensland wrote: “ABC management and presenters might re-read and digest the terms of the charter that requires it to speak for a range of Australians, including those outside inner-city, green-left enclaves.

“They might direct more attention to the rural battlers who feel alienated by the lack of interest in their struggles.”

Peter D. Surkitt of Sandringham, Victoria wrote: “The ABC’s problem is not that its journos do not know how to write properly – although at times I wonder – it is their insistence on substituting opinion for factual reporting. All the writing workshops in the world will not change this mindset.

“The only way ABC journalists will increase their viewer numbers is to report the news, not present their idea of how the world should be.”

Peter Curlewis of Yass, New South Wales wrote: “Not before time, ABC management has decided to shake its evening news bulletin in the wake of failing ratings.

“In part, this is to remind reporters ‘what producers are looking for’.

“Surely listeners and viewers are more important than ABC producers, but perhaps the problem is more deep seated.

“Getting back to reporting unblemished news is surely the ABC’S remit, rather than the addition of sometimes sly commentary.

“Editorialising is for the commentary pages, not the news section.”


The ABC head of news Gaven Morris told The Australian the ABC needed a stronger brand of journalism and more impactful story telling across all platforms including the 7pm news.

His seven ways of rebooting journalism are:

1) Stories with impact;

2) Knowing the audience;

3) Exclusive stories;

4) An integrated news hour;

5) Greater variety of story selection;

6) Better storytelling;

7) Reaching the regions.

Maybe a call to the letter to the editor writers would be handy.

A well-known media consultant also suggested a call to Hans Christian Andersen might be useful too.


Weekly weigh-in: Cold Cradle and energy opportunities

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18/5/18

It’s the story behind the story of the Federal Government announcement this week to match the state’s $30 million investment for the cable-way development at Cradle Mountain.

Premier Will Hodgman promised the state’s $30 million for the project last month and Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull came to the party at a 9am press conference on Wednesday at Cradle Mountain.

Three cheers all round on what was a clear but breezy Cradle Mountain day.

However, while the smiling faces were seen in the press photos and TV shots, a couple in the group realised they had misread the chill factor and dressed inappropriately for the weather.

No one believed it was four degrees and accepted at least zero must have been a more accurate temperature.

The Premier’s shirt, tie and not so thick jumper were not handling the zero degrees temperature, especially taking into account the wind – making it closer to minus seven degrees.

He suddenly realised that his chin felt like an ice block and his mouth ceased up. He also realised he wasn’t the only icicle, when another speaker simply missed words in his speech.

When it was the Premier’s turn, he was going ok until he stopped and announced his “mouth had stopped working.”

Later that day at a Devonport Chamber of Commerce function the Prime Minister mentioned how he had previous experience with the Cradle Mountain freeze and was surprised to see the Premier in such light attire, but he knew “he’s a strong Tasmanian.”

“But I did realise he was battling, so I gave him a hug which I really wasn’t sure whether I was trying to save Will, or myself.”

Also with a cold story, was Minister for Housing and Human Services, Roger Jaensch, who stood in for the Premier at the opening of the Costa Distribution Centre at East Devonport which was held in a fridge.

And you want to be a politician…


The Prime Minister seemed very relaxed at the Devonport Chamber of Commerce full house luncheon, supporting Brett Whiteley in the Braddon by-election and reminding the community that Tasmania will not lose a cent from whatever outcome arises out of the changes to the GST formula.

He outlined the opportunities for Tasmania and the north west, which are expected to attract 60,000 additional tourists with the Cradle Mountain projects and emphasised that economic growth comes from business.

But if you are looking for passion, then look no further than the energy opportunities for Tasmania and its place within in the national energy market.

He supports the Premier’s plan to withdraw Tasmania from the national grid and therefore allow the state to make its own decisions about prices and not be regulated by the National Electricity Market.

Tasmania was already self-sufficient but still has massive opportunities in wind power and upgrading hydro.

He’s excited about the opportunities of pumped hydro in Tasmania and with the help of a second Bass Link connector, to become a major player in the national energy market.

According to the PM, all Tasmania needs is three things “courage, imagination and investment and we’ve got all three.”

It is a gigantic prospect for Tasmania and the whole suite of energy opportunities including the feasibility studies for pumped hydro projects.

The PM may be our new Electric Eric, (former Premier, Eric Reece) who increased major hydro-electric power developments which enabled Tasmania to control the most powerful hydro system in Australia and some say the world.


Weekly weigh-in: Speaker shock, Tasmanian Health Service and TasWater

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4/5/2018

The Hickey upheaval was a shock on the first day of the new Government and there will be consequences and maybe the need for a new people management approach.

But despite the shock and uncertainty of the approach taken by the new Speaker Sue Hickey, parliament continued on Wednesday with the Government passing a new health bill on Thursday.

Premier Will Hodgman and Treasurer Peter Gutwein are reminding the parliament and media that the Government still has 13 members while Labor and the Greens have a collective of 12 members between them.

This is the approach the Government has to take to ensure its policies become legislation, as expected by its majority of Tasmania’s voters in the March election.

While the Government has to continue looking forward, there certainly needs to be an internal investigation as to why a new high-profile member like Sue Hickey could be seduced to vote with Labor and Green members.

Also, how could the Hickey-Labor discussions not leak in the political sector which is renowned for leaking?

Certainly, there were some bumpy times during the election with Ms Hickey, the former Lord Mayor of Hobart, feeling a lack of respect from some in the party. Not that it was a great surprise considering the long-term disagreement with former speaker and now Attorney-General, Elise Archer.

Discussions after her successful election made it crystal clear the new Denison member was keen for a Ministry.

As expected by political analysts, this didn’t happen, but Ms Hickey gained strong support for her position as Parliamentary Secretary for Small Business – a position which had previously led to Ministries for the previous small business secretaries, Adam Brooks and Roger Jaensch.

Insiders expected Sue Hickey would follow suit and be the next Minister in two years’ time.

Whether Ms Hickey votes against the Government and her 7142 Denison voters who loyally gave her their primary vote, will only be known by the Speaker.

To avoid such a decision, the Leader of Government Business, Michael Ferguson, will no doubt be sharing and explaining legislation before it’s introduced into the House.

Certainly, the 1 May return of Parliament isn’t what the Government expected but they are quickly moving forward.


Yesterday’s legislation passed by the House of Assembly is the start of a new approach for the Tasmanian Health Service (THS) and has been supported by most in the health sector, including the Opposition.

The Tasmanian Health Service Bill will abolish the service’s governing council and the role of Chief Executive Officer David Alcorn, in his third year of a five-year contract.

The Government took the policy to the election and was quick to get the bill moving, which will smooth the management of health and includes the THS now reporting directly to the Secretary of the Department of Health.

The bill introduces a leaner executive to focus on strategic issues and state-wide service planning while making sure hospital leaders have the best possible tools to deliver front line services.

While the Opposition supported the bill, there was criticism from leader Rebecca White that the government business was debated before new members had the opportunity to make their maiden speeches which was the traditional approach.

With the Opposition spending four years creating a Government health crisis, it would have been a surprise that such a significant bill would be playing second fiddle to a maiden speech.


The Hickey Speaker shock, also took the punch out of a couple of other major stories on the first day of Parliament, particularly the new agreement with the Government and TasWater.

In a smart move, Treasurer Peter Gutwein brought the toxic takeover approach to an agreement which gives Government 10 per cent of ownership but a 50 per cent vote in decision making.

Water and sewerage prices will be capped at 3.5 per cent in June 2025 and the government will contribute $200 million over 10 years from the 2018-19 budget.

Dividends for council will remain unchanged.

The agreement will see expenditure of $1.8 billion over 10 years which is a major boost to state infrastructure.


Weekly weigh-in: Bikie laws, Bell Bay Aluminium and Motor Neurone Disease

bikies

27/4/2018

The Tasmanian Police have a very good reason for supporting and pushing for even more legislation than originally announced by the Liberals during the recent election.

The police don’t want Tasmania to be a safe haven for outlaw motorcycle gangs.

“These laws won’t affect law-abiding motorcyclists or motorcycling groups,” Assistant Commissioner Glenn Frame said at yesterday’s press conference.

“Outlaw motorcycle gangs are significant players in controlling the importation and distribution of drugs in Tasmania.

“Their business model involves serious violence and drug-trafficking and they are constantly trying to expand their numbers in Tasmania to increase their drug trafficking network.”

Assistant Commissioner Frame also indicated that outlaw motorcycle gang members were likely responsible for unsolved murders in Tasmania.

Many in the force who deal with bikie crimes and the hundreds of drug users who are now the sad clients of the bikies, believe the bikie gangs are the most dangerous criminals in the state.

They are smart, they are clever and they rule drug users lives before the users realise what is happening.

Gang members of the Bandidos, Rebels, Outlaws, Devils Henchmen and Black Uhlans have now reached about 260 state-wide and are growing.

The Australian Lawyers Alliance, Tasmanian President Fabiano Cangelosi disagrees saying proposed legislation to prohibit association between motorcycle club members is absolutely unnecessary and very, very concerning.

“That kind of thing is uncalled for, it is a fundamental violation of people’s rights and it shouldn’t be tolerated here,” Mr Cangelosi said.

“The experience of other states is that where the power is given to police, the police tend abuse that power.”

I’m not sure families living in fear and trying to manage their children’s drug problem would agree with the Lawyers Alliance.


I was fortunate to attend two significant and diverse events this week.

The first was the farewell of Ray Mostogl, the highly successful General Manager of Bell Bay Aluminium for 11 years during challenging times.

With the support of his team, the aluminium plant worked together to pull the business out of potential closure costing 500 direct jobs and hundreds of contractors which would have been a disaster for the North in particular and the state as a whole.

The restructure of the business happened in many ways but Ray’s inquisitive nature led to a major part of the restructure.

Meeting with the night production shift in the early morning, Ray realised that the car park was half empty compared to the day shift.

The night shift was producing as much aluminium as the day shift, but why were there so many more numbers on the day shift?

So, production workers aside, Ray asked what were the roles of the other staff members, and could they be more efficient, or necessary?

The result was a more efficient business, significant money savings and improved production.

And for anyone who understands Ray, it was no surprise the he put his position in the review along with all the others.

His respect was also recognised by attendees Treasurer Peter Gutwein, Minister for Agriculture Sarah Courtney, Legislative Council Member Rosemary Armitage, Opposition Leader Bec White, Deputy Opposition Leader Michelle O’Byrne and Federal Bass MHR Ross Hart.


The second function was a fund raiser for Motor Neurone Disease Tasmania, with a packed house and superb speakers including leading Australian horse trainer David Hayes and 19-year-old Georgie Baker, daughter of Catherine Baker who was diagnosed with MND.

Not only was the event a fundraiser hosted by Jackson Volkswagen, it also allowed developer Errol Stewart to introduce his new chef and team for the soon to open Grain restaurant as a major part of the Silo Hotel development.

You could hear a pin drop during Georgi’s interview and how her and her younger siblings’ lives have changed so dramatically since their mother’s diagnosis two years ago.

There were no warning signs before she was diagnosed except some weakness in her arms,” Georgi said.

“It’s my job to take care of my two younger sisters, driving them where they need to go.”

Catherine, daughter of Graham and Ann Page, is an ex-Launceston nurse, now living in Melbourne with her family.

A wonderful, friendly and generous group but a reality check for all.


Weekly weigh-in: Banks scandal, increased penalties and costly recycling

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20/4/2018

Today’s resignation, before some would say he was going to be sacked, of AMP Chief Executive Craig Meller, will probably be the first of many senior executive ‘resignations’ coming out of the top four banks and other financial organisations.

Meller’s departure follows this week’s bombshell at the financial services Royal Commission which revealed that AMP mislead the Australian Securities and Investment Commission 20 times.

It also comes off the back of a poisoned independent investigation commissioned by AMP last year on a “fee for no service” scandal which cheated tens of thousands of clients who paid fees but received nothing in return.

It was a similar story with the Commonwealth Bank, where it became obvious that clients were paying for fees but receiving nothing in return. A bank executive actually agreed that they would be a gold medallist if ASIC was handing out a medal for “fee for no service”.

The commission has also heard that the Commonwealth Bank has been charging dead clients fees for advice, with five planners admitting to knowingly charging the dead.

It’s so hard to accept that that our foundation financiers Westpac (who started in 1817 as the Bank of New South Wales), ANZ (1837), Commonwealth Bank (1912), NAB (1982, formerly National Bank, 1858 and Commercial Bank of Sydney, 1834) and AMP (formed in 1849 as the Australian Mutual Provident Society) could find themselves in such a grubby position.


It is no co-incidence that the Federal Government has imposed new and increased penalties for serious misconduct under criminal and civil law, including slamming major banks and financial services companies and individuals.

ASIC will be granted great powers to investigate and prosecute dishonest and criminal behaviour in the financial services industry. Bank executives and questionable advisers will be targeted with penal sentences.

Criminal convictions are a maximum 10 years in prison and a fine of $945,000. Corporations could be fined up to $9.45 million, or 10 percent of their turnover under the new reforms.

Maximum civil infringement penalties are a fine of $1.05m for individuals and $210m for corporations.

It’s a sad day that as a nation, we have to increase criminal penalties to keep our iconic financial corporations from systematic cheating and deception.

How have our boards and executives allowed the creation of such a toxic culture to poison the backbone of our economy?


It was no surprise, but disappointing to hear and read that ratepayers will pay the increased costs of processing recyclable waste as result of China banning Australian waste exports.

The full impact from China is still uncertain but other states have been advised of the ban which is expected to spread into Tasmania.

According to the Local Government Association of Tasmania the risk is that some Tasmanian councils would take the cheaper landfill path despite the councils being committed to recycling or sustainable waste management.

The result means that only a few councils are in a position to absorb the increase so the majority would need to increase rates or cut services which history suggests is highly unlikely.

So here we go again, the ratepayers who are already under the pump to pay their rates and charges bills will be hit again.

Government won’t be forcing amalgamations but ratepayers can’t believe that Tasmania can afford 29 councils.

A hike on garbage costs might be the straw that recycles some councils.


Weekly weigh-in: Our growing cities and understanding pressure

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13/4/2018

The last thing we need is more government federal inquiries on anything that moves, and state projects such as Tasmania Together, which spent millions with little return.

However, the House of Representative Select Committee inquiry into the Australian Government’s role in the development of cities certainly opens up opportunities for smaller cities such as ours.

The government is starting to question that if the nation’s population is doubled by 2075 then how in heaven will they manage this growth.

Yesterday’s inquiry hearing in Tasmania was seeking answers and ideas. The TCCI presentation by CEO Michael Bailey and Chair Susan Parr, concentrated on what could help Tasmania maximise the benefit of the massive population.

Two of the five points really stood out. The first was to support the movement of government workers to regions, through the relocation of government departments from cities such as Melbourne and Sydney which are already struggling with population issues. To date, forcing public servants to move from the city to the regions has failed, with the latest example in Armidale and then the several efforts to move people from Hobart to other parts of Tasmania.

The TCCI presentation to the inquiry by Michael Bailey said it could be a physical move or virtual one.

“For example, why not allow government call centre workers to work from home if they live in regional Tasmania? We have NBN connectivity and there are plenty of workers that would prefer the livability of Tasmania compared to the choking mainland inner cities,” Mr Bailey said.

The second point, which will no doubt attract the ire of local unions, is to provide different economic settings such as pay rates and penalties for regions, rather than have pay rates and penalties based on Melbourne and Sydney workers.

“How is the national wage case, based on the needs of workers in inner city Melbourne and Sydney, fair for a business in St Helens or Queenstown?  Why not return to the regional models that reflect the economic reality and supports local business?” Mr Bailey said.

“Why not trial different economic setting in Tasmania to support the movement of mainland business to our state? This could include different pay rates, penalty rates, hours of work and so on.”

Round one is not far away!


So, you think you’re under pressure because your footy team has yet to win a game or you get wet running to work this week, or even worse, you’ve broken a fingernail.  While there are genuine pressures which sadly can become very serious, many are manufactured by the individuals that we hear from daily.

But understanding real pressure was highlighted in a brilliant piece by Fairfax’s Managing Editor Mark Baker in The Examiner on Monday.

The story was based on the rebuild of culture for the Australian cricket team and Tasmania’s Tim Paine and his phoenix like resurrection as the ideal leader for the country. He also referred to the discussion about the bubble and pressure of international cricket.

As an avid soccer supporter and player, Mark commented in his article about the famous soccer quote around pressure “It is not a matter of life and death – it’s more important than that.”

His dig deep approach into the 1940’s and 1950’s discovered “the greatest captain Australian cricket never had – Keith Miller.”  Miller was an outstanding all-rounder, a star in Bradman’s great Ashes teams, a top player for St Kilda in the VFL and could have been an Olympic Games medalist if he had time.

It will come as no great surprise then that Miller earned a Distinguished Flying Cross in the Second World War as an RAF Fighter Pilot in the famous Spitfire fighter aircraft which took on the German Messerschmitt in truly life and death dog fights.  Miller had more near misses in the air than on the cricket pitch, was on the edge of dishonourable discharge for getting sloshed and unaccepted behaviour, and again in trouble when he broke away from a flying formation because he wanted to have a look over Bonn, the birthplace of Beethoven.

Which moves onto Mark Baker’s reminder of the greatest of Miller’s quotes when asked about the pressure of cricket “I’ll tell you what pressure is. Pressure is a Messerschmitt up your arse. Playing cricket is not.”

Brilliant.


Weekly weigh-in: Tasmanian AFL team, rising costs and electricity

800px-2017_AFL_Grand_Final_panorama_after_final_siren

6/4/2018

While the fight for a Tasmanian team in the AFL continues to bubble along, it’s interesting to look back at the survey conducted in 2008 by EMRS on behalf of the Tasmanian AFL bid.

The bid for a Tasmanian team to be included in the national competition was reignited by then Premier Paul Lennon after the AFL announced the league was expanding to include two more teams which were likely to be Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney.

Lennon pulled a strong team together and the bid was taken to AFL House but it became obvious that the deal had already been signed and Tasmania had no chance against Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney.

So furious were Tasmanian Senators that a Senate Inquiry was launched in 2008 but AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou and Chairman Michael Fitzpatrick declined to attend which sums up the AFL’s contempt of Tasmania.

The bid team were very impressed with the survey results but many others thought the findings were very negative, while a few found the results to be a total mystery.

The first question revealed that 48 per cent of Tasmanians supported a Tasmanian team in the AFL, while 42 per cent said no and 11 per cent were unsure.

With the noise created by supporters you would have expected 75 to 85 per cent to be in support.

The second question was a total knockout, revealing 23 per cent would consider becoming a member of the Tasmanian team while 69 per cent said they wouldn’t.

Four per cent were unsure and another four per cent answered “it depends”.

The third question revealed 23 per cent would consider signing up for membership but 69 per cent wouldn’t. Surely another knockout to the success of the bid.

Question four is a doozy, with 40 per cent suggesting they would attend games in Tasmania but 51 per cent stating they would not attend.

The fifth and final question discovered that 15 per cent would follow the team interstate and 75 per cent would not travel.

The regional breakdown of the findings unsurprisingly revealed that Hobartians gave the highest support for a Tasmanian team in the AFL (55 per cent) presumably based on the rumour that all games would be held in Hobart.

Yet a breakdown of the membership question showed that of everyone who indicated they would become a member, 25 per cent were from the north west, 24 per cent from the north and 22 per cent from the south of the state.

The home game attendance result was also spooky, with 45 per cent of north west respondents indicating they would attend Tasmanian games, yet the figure in the south was only 40 per cent and in the north only 39 per cent.

A former politician’s summary was that Hobart wanted a team but wouldn’t support it; the north wouldn’t support it unless it’s played in Launceston and the north west will support football and sport wherever it’s played.

I think it’s about time somebody opened the cheque book and engaged EMRS to ask the same questions today.


The increasing price of houses around the nation is hard to come to grips with but it’s not the only sector where $100 notes don’t go very far any more.

Petrol bowsers, supermarkets, bottle shops, tobacconists, clothing and shoe stores, the list goes on.

At least car prices have dropped dramatically as well as airline tickets on low cost flights.

But an example of how values have sky rocketed is tomorrow’s Doncaster Handicap race at Randwick which is worth $3 million.

When Tasmanian horse Piping Lane won the 1972 Melbourne Cup the race was worth $103,000.

Owner Ray Trinder of Devonport collected more than $70,000 which was life changing at that time.

Tomorrow’s $3 million is a long way behind the $6 million prizemoney offered at the Melbourne Cup and the $13 million at The Everest sprint in Sydney.

However, the reality of opulence has landed with model Jennifer Hawkins who will no doubt be wearing the most beautiful and expensive outfit and of course, the popular fascinator.

Oh, I forget to mention the fascinator looks stunning and so it should, it’s worth $3 million.


In today’s TCCI CEO Update, Michael Bailey tries to clear up a potentially confusing issue for Tasmanian businesses at the moment, electricity prices.

Mr Bailey points out that while reports about electricity seem to be all over the media, many of these stories are written by interstate journalists and reflect what’s happening on mainland Australia – not here in Tasmania.

“In the lead-up to the recent State Election, the Minister for Energy promised that by 2022 Tasmania would have the lowest regulated power prices in Australia.  The Government’s Energy Strategy also talks about restoring Tasmania’s energy advantage, and energy as a key economic driver for Tasmania,” Mr Bailey writes.

“A key part of delivering those outcomes falls to TasNetworks, the Government owned business that owns and operates the state’s electricity grid.”

TasNetworks submitted a five year plan to the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) in January 2018.

“If the AER accepts TasNetworks’ proposal, it will mean that for most business customers, network charges will return to 2009-10 levels and then increase at a rate only slightly above CPI,” Mr Bailey writes.

To read Michael Bailey’s TCCI CEO’s Update What’s really happening with electricity prices click here.


Weekly weigh-in: Legislative Council

parliament

29/3/2018

Senior Legislative Council member Ivan Dean has opened a can of worms among some of his colleagues by reminding them that they cannot see themselves as the de facto government.

He has taken issue with his colleague Ruth Forrest who sought to assert that there is no-anti Liberal, therefore no anti-government voting bloc, in Tasmania’s Upper House.

As Mr Dean said in his op-ed piece in today’s Mercury; “It is quite clear there is. In fact, the ‘Left wing’ forms a majority of eight in the 15-member chamber.”

“I don’t disagree with Ms Forrest on the historical background of the council or its function as house of review in our bicameral system,” he wrote.

“What I argue is that it is no longer a true house of review.”

As political followers will have picked up during the Liberal Party’s government since 2014, four so called independent members, including Ms Forrest as well as Mike Gaffney, Kerry Finch, and Rob Valentine have blocked anything remotely controversial.

Examples provided by Mr Dean include forestry, mandatory penalties, education age changes, anti-discrimination, water and sewerage legislation (TasWater), which were all campaigned for by the Liberal Government and all defeated.

Mr Dean went on to write; “Ms Forrest argued that there had been no social licence for some of these measures and that’s why they were thrown out. The Liberal Party enjoyed 51.2 per cent public support and Labor 27.3 percent. If you have gained the support of the majority of Tasmanians, more than 50 percent, doesn’t that equate to a social licence?”

With this month’s election showing Tasmania voted 50.26 per cent Liberal 32.63 per cent Labor, it will be interesting to see how the house of review operates in this new term of Government.


TCCI CEO Michael Bailey said it would be very disappointing if the Legislative Council blocked Government policies when the new Government clearly has a mandate for a series of economically beneficial policies, including the takeover of TasWater and retaining poker machines in pubs and clubs.

“The voters supported the Liberal Party’s policy on poker machines rather than Labor’s policy of restricting poker machines to the state’s two casinos in Hobart and Launceston,” Mr Bailey said.

“Clearly these two policies were high on the agenda and were out there for the voters to make their decision which supported the Liberal Party.

“It will be interesting to see if the Legislative Council listens to the people of Tasmania – I and thousands of Tasmanians will be very disappointed if they vote against such policies.

“I believe that a suggested Labor bloc would be against the intentions of this important house – it is a house of review, not the Senate.”

See more of this story on page one and two of this month’s Tasmanian Business Reporter or by clicking here.


Weekly weigh-in: Football, politics and health

23/3/2018

Well he came, he saw but was a long way short of conquering in the context of Wednesday’s flying visit to Hobart by CEO of the AFL, Gill McLachlan.

I have no doubt that he now understands that he faces history as being the man who overlooked the closure of football in Tasmania.

Saved it can be but crikey, the oxygen tanks are near empty.

You can’t have a Tasmanian AFL team without some Tasmanian players and that’s the 10 to 15 year problem to upgrade juniors and teenagers while trying to boost the failed State League competition. Failed in that it is running out of clubs, players and supporters.

The team to create the ideas and reignite Tasmanian football are genuinely Tasmanian supporters with three living in Melbourne and full on with with their media work, coaching The Carlton AFL club, an AFL specialist and the Tasmanian CEO is hardly the right team to understand the problems. The team needs to be in Tasmania for the long term talking with clubs, players, coaches, boards, schools both state and independent, government, councils and the broader community to dig out the problems.

It was encouraging to hear Tasmanian Senator, Steve Martin, have a massive blow at the AFL and its leader, Gil McLachlan, in his maiden speech on Wednesday night.

A very gutsy, but politically smart approach for a newcomer to take festering boil to the Nation.

Criticising McLachlan for dragging his heels for months and taking too long to help bleeding of a footy crisis can’t be argued. Nor can his comment that state football in Tasmania is a disgrace. The Senator lives in Devonport and the proud footy club had to withdraw from the league this year because of funds and playing numbers, you can understand the frustration and embarrassment that as the Mayor of the City, his club fell apart because the lack of AFL assistance.

Senator Martin also put his support to help clean up the mess: “Football played a critical role in making players more employable, socially connected and motivated to succeed. I am prepared to use all moral and political weight of my office to work on the issue. “

Well done Senator.


Fascinating to see the war of words between chiefs of staff to the Premier, Will Hodgman and Opposition leader Bec White.

The Premier’s right hand man, Brad Stansfield, threw the first hand grenade in Saturday’s Mercury, with a savage assessment of Labor’s election campaign. He highlighted the gamble of spending election money in October and November when everyone knew the election would be called for the second week in March.

He also made clear that it was Labor who made the decisions to invite the poker-machine industry into the election campaign “not us.” He added: “Labor now claims they are sticking with their pokies policy. Only a fool would say there aren’t a few hard-heads in Labor who know this policy was a giant cock-up.”

The Opposition’s minder, Michael Stedman, returned fire in yesterday’s Mercury and dug deep into his journalistic background claiming that while it is true that marketing themselves is what the Liberal’s do best ,“however, what we saw over the past four years – and what has already emerged since the March 3 (sic) victory – is what makes a good campaign does not necessarily make a good government.”

On the pokies he said there was no doubt the Liberals benefited from the millions of dollars spent by the poker machine lobby.

“That does not change the fact that the Labor’s poker machines decisions was the right one, morally and ethically.

Independent polling printed in this newspaper showed 57.1 per cent of Tasmanians support removing poker machines from pubs and clubs.”

Of course a lot more punches were thrown and landed and points won from both sides.

However, the referee in this case is the only poll than really counts – the March 3 election day. Tasmanian voters clearly decided they would give the Liberal Party another four years in Government.


Disappointing to see the Launceston General Hospital emergency medicine training hitting a hurdle but the problem can be fixed by a professional recruitment team.

What is equally disappointing is that media has decided that the training accreditation has been stripped, withdrawn, lost and suspended.

The official word from the Australian College for Emergency Medicine made it clear that the decisions was to suspend accreditation. The word suspend means temporarily prevented from continuing, not stripped, or lost, or disqualified.

Let’s hope it’s a short suspension.


Weekly weigh-in: Journalism disclosure, election coverage and sledging

papers

2/3/2018

A $15,000 payment by the Federal Government to the most senior political reporter of the Australian Financial Review has certainly opened a hot discussion questioning potential conflicts of interest.

The journalist, Laura Tingle, was paid $15,000 by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet for two days engagement at the ASEAN business summit to be held next week.

Tingle’s role is to host a Women in Business breakfast and round table discussion.

There is nothing noteworthy about the role if you’re on the speaking circuit, but a journalist being paid by a Government department will raise questions.

Added to the questioning is Tingle’s appointment to chief political correspondent at the ABC’s 7.30 which will certainly raise eye brows at the ABC.

The ABC claims to have strong editorial policies on outside work and conflicts of interest which could undermine the professional integrity and independence of the broadcaster and lead to a loss of community support.

While many would argue that the ABC’s policy is failing, all media should check their editorial policies on independence and integrity.

The fact it’s Government paying the journalist in this case isn’t the issue. A similar engagement and payment could be from big business, an organisation, or individuals and have been approved by management.

The tricky part is when a journalist later finds themselves writing a glowing story about the organisation.

Yes, it’s a genuine story but it can get smelly if the journalist doesn’t disclose the funding received from the Government or business.

Travel writers probably provide the best example of disclosure, recognising in the last paragraph of the story the airline, hotel group or tourism operator who invited the writers and covered their costs.

It can be managed but it can also get out of control.


Coincidence, but the Tingle story also opens up another independence and integrity question – the performance of the Tasmanian media during the state election.

The 2018 election was the first for many young journalists across all media, and hopefully they learned a lot over the last five weeks.

Understanding the need for balanced, unbiased stories was a challenge for some, which was obvious in negative stories, the failure to ask questions of the party in issues they supported and aggressive lines of questioning for issues they opposed.

Probably the main complaint I heard from readers and viewers was about the presence of commentary within a basic news story.

The result is a distorted story leaning to the opinion of the journalist and not the facts.

The accepted approach of news journalism is to write for your audience, your readers, but not for your personal opinions.


When the sledger is sledged and believes the sledging is over the line and he decides he has to punch the daylights out of the sledger, no wonder the cricket world is in a fight.

The heavyweight sledging championship of Australian vice- captain, David Warner vs South African wicketkeeper, Quinton de Koch, has certainly overshadowed the result of the first Test.

Yes, Australia won by the way.

Warner, a renowned sledger which is not part of his $5m earnings, spat it when a heavily sledged de Koch moved up from the four letter F word attacks to a level that Warner claimed was “vile and disgusting”.

If not for the intervention of Tasmanian, Tim Paine, the Australian wicketkeeper, Warner would have been punching de Koch which could have KO’d his cricket future.

A $13,500 match fee and three demerit points, which is one point short of suspension, was dished out to Warner.

The demerit points carry over for two years which means one more charge and he’s definitely declared out for some time. De Koch copped a $16,000 fine.

We didn’t hear the TV voice but the picture looked like one of those CCTC images outside a club, or pub and not like one of a team of world test cricketers.

So, will the International Cricket Council ban sledging which is part of the DNA of cricket, or develop a dictionary of what you can and can’t say?

Best of luck either way!


Weekly weigh-in: Betting agency bungle and Federal Government energy

Image result for online betting william hill

2/3/2018

It’s not unusual to see businesses and companies wiping millions of dollars from their books through bad management, tight financial times such as depressions and recessions, a great financial crisis or simply finding itself redundant in a changing world.

But it’s hard to recall a loss as bad as a bookmaking agency paying $700 million (some say $800 million) for three betting agencies in Australia five years ago, and today selling the business for about $250 million.

The sale comes in the middle of a major explosion of racing and sporting turnover in Australia.

So how did British betting agency, William Hill, manage to turn a $700 million business into a $250 million business?

It wasn’t through a “dirty run” where punters hammer the bookies and not all survive.

The simple answer comes from Michael Sullivan, the former owner of Sportingbet, the biggest of the three betting agencies bought by William Hill.

“In a nutshell, English arrogance,” said Mr Sullivan, who is now owner of a national corporate betting agency, BlueBet, which is licenced in NSW and also fields on the Sydney metropolitan racetracks as part of the licence.

Sportingbet management spent time in the UK negotiating the $700m takeover and sharing information on the opportunities and approaches in Australia.

The William Hill approach seemed to be along the lines of; it’s ok boys, we’ve been in this business since 1930 we know what we are doing. An interesting approach seeing as they were still writing crayon tickets for the punters back then.

The two major errors they made were dropping the well-known Sportingbet name (the other agencies were Centrebet and TomWaterhouse.com) and using their own name, William Hill.

Also, discouraging the bigger $1000 to $10,000 punters and replacing them with $100 punters infuriated hundreds of clients.

The punters were also offered different prices online, so if you were on a winning streak you were offered a shorter price than less successful bettor.

But the name and brand were the killer, and appointing Tom Waterhouse as CEO wasn’t well received.

So out of touch was the William Hill brand, that focus groups thought the William Hill name was a variety of smokes!

Let the bungle serve as a reminder for businesses about the importance of brand, which creates loyal customers and loyal employees.

So, the bookie’s loss is $450 million at least. This has to be one of the biggest losing bets in the world.


The Federal Government’s $6 billion takeover of the Snowy Hydro company suggests that Tasmania will benefit from the takeover as part of a parallel energy project, also set to be funded by the Feds.

The Government signed the deal yesterday which means the Federal Government now has 100 per cent ownership, having bought out the shares of NSW ($4.1 billion) and Victoria ($2.1 billion).

The agreement is that the funds must be spent on infrastructure projects including roads and rail.

The Federal Government now has an open door to proceed with its Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro project which is set to generate more reliable energy, cheaper electricity and 5500 infrastructure jobs in NSW and Victoria.

The Government has also confirmed that Tasmanian project to be the ‘battery of the nation’ will be developed in parallel with the Snowy Mountain Hydro scheme.

The Federal government is working closely with Hydro Tasmania on the pumped hydro project and the second interconnector across the Bass Strait from Tasmania to Victoria.

While the Snowy Scheme will assist in meeting Australia’s growing power needs, the Tasmanian power input into the national grid is paramount, particularly to shore up the Victorian and South Australian energy base problems.

The future is bright, as long as the State Government ensures that Tasmanian energy prices, both business and domestic, are the lowest in the country.

The opportunity to attract more business to Tasmania is a no brainer.


Weekly weigh-in: Launceston Cup and Chinese trademark squatters

1280px-Racing_at_Arlington_Park

23/2/2018

Spectators, participants and politicians have been left scratching their heads after Tasracing’s decision to change Wednesday’s Launceston Cup time.

The ten-race programme is now set to kick off with the first race at 1.17pm, compared to an 11.45am start last year, with Tasracing shifting the major race to 6.14pm from its former start time of 4.14pm.

The news came from The Examiner on Wednesday, explaining that Tasracing made the decision in an effort to maximise exposure on the Sky Channel Network, thereby increasing betting turnover and ensuring big dollar returns for the industry.

What could possibly go wrong?

Well for a start, the 12,000 to 14,000 people attending were stunned to read about the significant change just seven days before the race.

Others baffled by the news included Tasmanian politicians, who had planned the original race times as the last opportunity for TV election coverage before Saturday’s poll day.

It’s believed Premier Hodgman will probably not make the 6.14pm cup race now due to a commitment in Hobart, which further highlights the stupidity of not thinking the decision through.

Traditionally, the Governor of Tasmania presents the trophy to the winner of the cup at the Governor’s Luncheon, a convention that will have to go by the wayside due to a lack of forethinking.

The doyen of Tasmanian racing, The Examiner’s Greg Mansfield, posted the story on his Facebook page resulting in a social media outcry.

In fact, I believe the response was 99 per cent negative.

Like many major cups, including the Melbourne Cup, the crowds start moving after the cup for a variety of reasons including transport and family commitments after a long day.

Concerns over the late commute back to Hobart and the North West as well as excessive drinking due to the already locked in opening times of the club headlined the social media outcry.

There were also complaints surrounding the reality that many people would leave before the major race began, that the later times caused problems for families with young children, and that no coverage of the cup race could be aired on Tasmanian TV news bulletins.

Perhaps earlier notice from Tasracing would have minimised some of the disappointment.

After all, it is one of the greatest events on the social calendar in the state and not just a money grab.


An export company trying to break into China has been stung by a Chinese trademark squatter, costing the company thousands of dollars and serving as a warning to all Australian exporters.

The horrible experience resulted from a decision to exhibit at a trade Show in Hong Kong. The company manufactures a range of cosmetics using ingredients from aboriginal people in the Kimberley.

The company followed-up on the significant number of enquiries received at the trade show and then identified a suitable business they wanted to appoint as a distribution outlet for certain regions of China.

When the time came for the product registration in China, the trademark had already been registered by someone else who turned out to be trade mark squatter asking for  $25,000 to release the rights to the product in China.

There was no option but to pay.

You can read TCCI TradeStart Adviser Sally Chandler’s full story about the trademark robbery, originally published in the Tasmanian Business Reporter, here.


Weekly weigh-in: Roadblock, pokies and celibacy

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

16/2/2018

Extreme weather like we saw on Wednesday morning, burst water mains, and roadworks can certainly clog up traffic, as Hobart is experiencing at the moment.

The Mercury’s front page revealed how the RACT will call for a tripartite approach to “tackle Hobart’s traffic chaos” after motorists experienced the city’s “worst congestion in years this week”.

And of course, there’s a ‘he said, she said’ in political policies which I’m definitely not going to delve too deeply into.

Fortunately, the story did include the common-sense paragraphs from Garry Bailey, Chairman of the Road Safety Advisory Council and former Mercury Editor.

Garry said infrastructure was only part of the problem.

“These are not accidents – they are avoidable if common sense, patience and courtesy prevail,” he said.

“Drivers intent on shaving seconds off their travel time by exceeding the 50km limit, switching lanes, blocking intersections, travelling too close to the vehicle in front and in some cases running red lights, are causing delays.”

Spot on Garry Bailey. Throwing tens of millions of dollars into infrastructure will help, but it won’t change the horizon until irresponsible drivers wake up to the fact that they are the problem.


Graham Richardson, senior minister in the Hawke and Keating governments and a regular visitor to Tasmania, has put his tuppence into the Tasmanian pokies debate in today’s Australian.

He goes into detail of pokies addiction, including his father’s gambling problem, but concedes there is the need for responsibility.

“Nonetheless, despite all that I have written above, I don’t believe that Labor and White are correct on this issue, even if I fully understand where they are coming from,” Mr Richardson said.

“For me, it comes down to personal responsibility and I have considerable experience in gambling addiction.

“Many people get a lot of enjoyment out of having the occasional flutter on the pokies and that is a right that should not be taken from them because some gamblers have a problem.

“We should never welcome government intervention into how we work, rest, or play. Good intentions are one thing, the right of free will is another.”


Yes, sex sells, as newspaper and media have realised for decades, maybe even centuries.

However, it’s not much fun when our Prime Minister, Malcom Turnbull, has to tell his deputy (Barnaby Joyce) that his affair with a former staffer was appalling and a shocking error of judgment.

The result; the Prime Minister declares an immediate ban on sex between ministers and staffers.

Embarrassing that adults have to be told where they can and can’t have a sexual relationship with other adults.

As author Henri Bergson said back in the 1930’s, “Sex appeal is the keynote of our whole civilisation.”

Certainly, living in Canberra 20 years ago, it became very obvious that there were relationships at several levels of parliament, including the politicians’ fraternity.

Maybe it’s time for a far broader sex ban which covers everyone who works at Parliament House.

Yes, for all politicians, staffers and the 5000 people who work in Parliament House on sitting days.

Celibacy for all at the Nation’s Parliament House. That will fix the problem!


Weekly weigh-in: AFL’s neglect, Airbnb and exports to India

North Hobart oval

9/2/2018

I haven’t been a great supporter of the push for a Tasmanian football team in the AFL, mainly because of the massive yearly costs, but AFL management should be ashamed of its failure to support Tasmania’s state league competition.

It’s now a state league without north west teams, and a brother to the Australian Football League, which doesn’t include Tasmania.

When asked about Burnie’s exit following the departure of Devonport from the league, AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan responded that all was well in Tasmanian football, because you can always look at the issue through different lenses.

You would wonder what he had for breakfast.

Tasmanian football has gone backwards since the AFL has taken over, and that’s at all levels including independent and state schools’ rosters.

Through the AFL’s so called wise decisions, we lost North Hobart, the third longest running team in Australian history.

We have also lost the Hobart club, the Tigers, Sandy Bay (which the AFL may not have been the assassin), City South (the Launceston club, but again not the AFL’s doing) and South Launceston who were cut down by the Prospect Hawks, who themselves lasted only a couple of years.

Now, the proud Devonport and Burnie clubs have also withdrawn from this year’s state league.

Devonport ran out of funds, the $80,000 from AFL isn’t enough, and Burnie ran out of players.

How AFL Tasmania could allow this is a disgrace, unless I’m looking through different lenses than Mr McLachlan.

New AFL Tasmania Chief Executive, Trish Squires and Tasmanian State League General Manager, Carl Saunders have been left with an awful mess and with little finance to correct the ship.

AFL Tasmania runs on about $2.5 million a year, with $1 million shared between the former nine teams compared to the AFL’s 2017 funding of $45 million to the two Queensland teams plus further millions to other leagues and projects.

How can you have any confidence in the AFL and its leader, whose approach to Tasmania is one of arrogance to force Tasmania to accept North Melbourne as our future Tasmanian team.


While Airbnb hosts are counting their cash, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is doing the same as it prepares to provide a huge shock to Airbnb players.

The time bomb is the potential capital gains tax for people leasing out their houses, or part of their house such as rooms, or entire floors.

The cost explosion happens when you sell your house or apartment and the ATO slaps the capital gains tax on the portion of the house that was used for Airbnb, or leased.

One of the growing avenues for individuals, is using Airbnb to rent out their homes while they head off for holiday seasons.

Other homeowners simply lease out spare rooms.

Already Airbnb hosts have, without warning, found themselves in debt to the ATO.

For years accountants have been warning home owners who set up their home office that there is a tax deduction, but there is also an unpleasant capital gains hit when you sell your home.

Anyone playing in the Airbnb market or leasing part of a house should organise an appointment with their accountant sooner rather than later.


For exporters wanting to crack the very fragmented Indian market, I recommend reading Sally Chandler’s column in the February edition of the TBR.

Sally, the TCCI’s Trade Start Adviser, spent much of her working life in China, India and surrounds working face-to-face with potential buyers and government officials.

You can read Sally’s Page 8 column here.


Weekly weigh-in: ‘Cabinetgate’, unfair dismissal and wage increases

Hanging_files

2/2/18

I have spent a few quid with quite an extraordinary business in Canberra which sold used office furniture such as chairs, desks, filing cabinets – you name it, it was there.

While reasonably cheap, the attraction was the quality of the out-dated material from the Federal Public Service and Federal Government offices.

The best buys were the “outdated” pieces still in the original plastic coverings which had obviously been forgotten and lived untouched in storage somewhere.

But hand on the Bible, the filing cabinets were terrific but empty, so was the desk and there was nothing stuck under the chairs.

The volume was unlimited and I can just imagine the pained public servants who had to clean out hundreds of filing cabinets, desks and shelves.

However, how 10 years of Cabinet secrets were not cleaned out of the files before going to the second-hand man and eventually being obtained by the ABC is beyond belief.

If I did find a file of gold, would I have passed the information on to my Canberra Times editors, Michael Stevens and Jack Waterford?

No.

It certainly would have been a front-page story that we had found the files, but the confidential cabinet secrets contained in these files would have been passed back to the Prime Minister’s office.


I was staggered to read that in a nine-month period last year, there were 10,480 Unfair Dismissal Applications lodged with the Fair Work Commission, which averages out to be around 1,165 applications per month, or 292 per week.

Regardless of what employers think of the application, the process can be intimidating, time consuming and stressful.

Equally, the terminated employee has responsibilities to lodge the application within 21 days of dismissal, it must be covered by the national workplace relations system, and it must have completed the minimum employment period of one year for small business or six months for other businesses and must not have reached the high-income threshold of $142,000 for the 2017-18 financial year.

As TCCI Senior Workplace Relations Consultant Abbey George said, there have certainly been some valid unfair dismissal claims.

“But experience also shows that sometimes the reasons behind an employee lodging an unfair dismissal claim is not necessarily that they thought the dismissal was unfair, but that they are now without employment and have bills to pay,” Ms George said.

For further details, read Abbey George’s column on termination advice from the February edition of the Tasmanian Business Reporter here.


Tax cuts, not wage increases, are the answer to creating employment and balancing wages for low to middle wage earners.

Based on an Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) claim to the Fair Work Commission, phased-in wage increases totalling $194 a week would be required to meet a 60 per cent of median wage target for low to middle wage earners by 2020.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has estimated the substantial costs to small businesses would be billions of dollars annually, with this figure supported by workplace experts.

According to The Australian, workplace legal experts agreed that the costs of meeting the ACTU living-wage goal, which would potentially flow through to 2.3 million workers, would be in the billions of dollars.

A business leader suggested this morning that someone had pinched the economic notes of the late Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam.


Weekly weigh-in: Arsonists, Australia Day and local councils

Bush_fire_at_Captain_Creek_central_Queensland_Australia.

25/1/18

I love the summer heat but I hate the damage and potential loss of life as a result of deliberately lit fires.

Accidents do happen, and we have no control over lightning from electrical storms which can start series of fires over large areas.

But to find your house and property has been destroyed by a deliberately lit fire is heart breaking for families, who are left destitute, and in many cases, mentally scarred for life.

Equally as damaging for Tasmanian communities are the statistics which reveal that around 45 per cent of all fires in Tasmania are deliberately lit.

Yes, 45 per cent are the work of arsonists.

A big tick goes to the Tasmanian Police, who shared a press conference with the Premier, Will Hodgman earlier this month and announced they would be knocking on the door of known and suspected arsonists ahead of Tasmania’s high fire danger season.

Deputy Commissioner Glenn Frame said ”We won’t take a heavy hand but we’ll let them know we’re about and that we’re patrolling. We’re keeping a bit of an eye on them and hopefully that will deter them from getting out and about and doing the wrong thing.”

Great approach.


For those enjoying Australia Day, just a reminder that you are part of an overwhelming percentage of Australians celebrating January 26.

The independent Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) poll showed 70 per cent of Australians supported Australia Day on January 26, and only 11 per cent believe it should be moved from January 26.

Only 23 per cent of Australians thought councils should stop holding citizenship ceremonies on January 26.

When asked for their views on Australian history and national pride, 76 per cent believe Australia has a history to be proud of and 11 per cent disagreed.

According to The Australian newspaper, the IPA poll is in contrast to the left leaning Australian Institute, which found that 56 per cent of Australians “don’t really mind” when Australia Day is held.

Enjoy your barbeque.


The Victorian Coalition is taking a much more serious approach with unpatriotic councils, declaring they will be sacked for refusing to hold citizenship ceremonies and celebrate Australia Day.

State Opposition Leader, Matthew Guy, has promised if elected, he would amend the Local Government Act and force councils to celebrate the day and hold citizenship ceremonies.

The Opposition also suggested councils should focus on delivering core services – roads, rates and rubbish, and not national concerns.

If councillors want to change matters of national interest, they should resign from councils and run for Federal parliament.

No lamb chops tomorrow for some Victorian communities.


Weekly weigh-in: Australia Day, complaints about free money and home phone disconnection

Australia_Day_2014_(12153386466).jpg

19/1/18

Best of luck to any Federal Government that wants to change the date of Australia Day from January 26.

If you take Christmas Day and Good Friday out of the equation, there are 363 potential alternative dates for the day.

Normally you would think 363 options should mean there is an easy answer for a new Australia Day.

However, there are few days you wouldn’t mess with, such as the AFL Grand Final, not to mention the argument of every Saturday and Sunday during winter when the AFL and NRL take over the days and nights.

You can also forget the first Tuesday in November as an option, which is locked in by the Melbourne Cup, and probably another half a dozen major sacrosanct race days.

Then we have MOFO and major art functions around the nation which are hands off.

Of course, there are also the untouchable days of other countries and cultures, of which millions observe in our multicultural Australia.

In today’s Australian approach, somebody or group will have a bone to pick.

What we don’t want to see again is the online trolls who subjected indigenous politician, Jacinta Price, to a torrent of vile social media abuse from anti-Australian day activists over her push to keep the national day on January 26.

The Alice Springs councillor and daughter of a prominent former Northern Territory politician Bess Price, was subjected to horrific messages including wishing her a painful death and insulting her disabled nephew.


Despite the political bun fight over the failure of some Tasmanians not receiving their $125 energy bonus to assist paying Aurora bills, Westpac admitted their error in the matter and apologised for the delay.

While people were unhappy, a letter to the editor in the Mercury’s Wednesday edition provided a compelling argument.

The headline was simple, ‘Complaints about free money’.

“You know you are in the age of entitlement when people feel than can self-righteously complain about the government sending them free money a few days late.”

Evidently, Westpac was also hammered by their clients who were most unhappy that the Westpac cheques still took three working days before they were cleared in their Westpac accounts.

I’m just waiting to hear that someone’s cheque has bounced!


Just a reminder to 1194 homes and businesses in Tasmania that are about to face a “formal disconnection” of your old copper landlines, so, no phone!

Under the terms of NBN, existing phone networks are to be disconnected 18 months after the NBN is available in your area. According to the NBN, close to a million premises will be disconnected unless they sign with NBN as soon as possible.

Some Tasmanians swore they would never swap to the NBN.

One, because they didn’t want to change, and two, because the network was flawed due to its inability to operate during power outages – unless you paid for an additional costly back-up battery which still wasn’t fool proof.

We read daily of six month waiting times for connection, or weeks of people going without NBN connections for a variety of reasons. It now looks like we will have another 1194 unhappy stories in the file.


Weekly weigh-in: Petrol prices, alcohol taxes and attacks on liberty

petrol

15/12/2017

Ask any driver on the road at this time of year who the Christmas Grinch is in their life and the unanimous answer will be—— service stations, who gouge petrol and diesel prices over Christmas.

Yes, we hear it’s the fault of the cartel of exporting nations increasing prices, but a shock discussion with a service station part owner last week confirms what we had always thought.

While paying for a full tank last week, the pleasant female attendant had just finished a phone call as I mentioned the bouncing prices of petrol around the nation.

“Well, you are lucky that you are filling up today, I’ve just had a call that Shell has upped their prices by 5c and we will now be doing the same tomorrow,” she surprisingly shared.

“So is this a result of a Singapore or some other overseas increases in price?” I asked.

“All I know is Shell have just gone up and we follow tomorrow,” the service station attendant replied.

Service stations are definitely the number one Grinch.


Continuing the shock stories, is this week’s move by Federal and State Health Ministers to significantly increase prices for beer and wines under a proposal to cut Australian alcohol consumption.

It became very personal when the targeted areas are wines, which have a lower tax level, and beer with Victoria Bitter (VB) slabs as an example.

The announcement was released last month but only became public on Monday and is a draft national alcohol strategy chaired by Federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt. It also calls for tough restrictions on alcohol advertising during sports, and laws to stop bottle shops from providing two-for-one offers and bulk-buy booze discounts.

Alcohol companies will also be asked to put readable, impactful health-related warning labels on their products.  Minister Hunt chaired last month’s ministerial forum which agreed to release the draft strategy for a final round of feedback after three years of consultation, with the aim of finalising the strategy by March 2018.

However within 24-hours of the strategies release, Mr Hunt distanced himself with a spokesman telling the Herald Sun “It’s not a Commonwealth initiative, or anything we are proposing to adopt. This would be a matter for individual jurisdictions.”

Another questionable approach by a senior politician who should be looking at education, not regulation.


So with alcohol under pressure, pokies disappearing from Tasmania’s hotels and clubs, cigarettes now $10 a drawback – if Labor wins next year’s election, what else will be on the attack list?

Another shock which the old Truth newspaper would have screamed: BRAINLESS ACADEMICS CALL FOR SEX BAN IN AUSTRALIA.

And Truth’s intro would have said: “The Academics at Melbourne’s RMIT University are calling for Australian universities to institute a blanket band on sex.” Correct to a point.

However, as the ABC story correctly said: “etc. etc. …………….calling for Australian universities to institute a blanket band on sex between faculty members and students.”

Unfortunately there’s no doubt that some unbalanced politician will suddenly advocate for the Truth approach which would be the start of the end of this planet.


I wish all a happy and holy Christmas and welcome in a fascinating 2018.


Weekly weigh-in: Scale of economies, recycling aldermen and job creation

Image result for melbourne west gate tunnel

15/12/2017

The vulnerability of Tasmania’s economy was highlighted this week when it was announced the expansion of Melbourne’s West Gate Tunnel will now cost $6.7 billion, a blow out of $1.2 billion from the original budget.

This is just one of many infrastructure projects in Victoria, which has a population of 5.791 million, with 3.848 million living in Melbourne alone, a figure that is rising rapidly.

In comparison, Tasmania has a population of around 520,000 and a total annual expenditure of $5,819 million reported in the 2017-18 state budget.

The cost blow out of the tunnel is double Tasmania’s infrastructure spend this financial year, although the government did allocate $2 billion for the budget and the Forward Estimates.

Tasmania is geographically close to Victoria and we share so much of Melbourne’s facilities, such as the arts, international and Australian live shows and sport (AFL, cricket and racing). It’s a reminder of why the management of the state’s funds is paramount. By adopting the business type approach of not spending more than you can afford, Tasmania is now in its most viable economic position for years.

This approach means Tasmania doesn’t have $1.2 billion blow outs on projects. Instead, you create a spending environment which enables you to get back in the black while expenditure must hit the targets, which is now happening in schools, hospitals, health facilities, roads and rail, technology, tourism and assisting business opportunities. In addition, there are rebates for the community to assist with the cost of living including energy which is also extended to more than $120 million for business big and small.

Tasmania doesn’t have everything, but it’s pretty close, and you could argue that while we need more population, we don’t need Victoria’s 5,791 million.


The sacking of the 10 Glenorchy Aldermen had ratepayers cheering, after three years of war between many of the aldermen and some management including the General Manager, which left ratepayers to pick up the bill for more than $1.2 million worth of absurd legal challenges. One comment described the council as being beset by rivalry and spite.

The announcement of the new election, with voting taking place from December 19 to January 16, was a breath of fresh air for so many.

But the list of candidates has created disappointment from some ratepayers who now realise that many of the former aldermen are back in the hunt, despite a damning report of their behaviour which certainly wasn’t in the interests of ratepayers.

So how does a sacked council come to be potentially resurrected with possibly the same people from the previous council? Obviously, the result is in the hands of ratepayers who determine the winners and losers, but why allow sacked councillors a second chance?

Advice from local government experts revealed that changes to eligibility of candidates amongst other local government regulations were rejected by the Local Government Association of Tasmania.

The other argument is that while the Glenorchy aldermen were suspended for many months, most resigned their seat before the Minister for Local Government, Peter Gutwein, sacked the suspended councillors.

If there is to be change, it’s now on the shoulders of the Glenorchy ratepayers.


This week’s announcement of a $56 million state-of-the art fish feed innovation and production plant to be built at Wesley Vale by Danish company BioMar, is not just a boost for the North West, but also for job creation state-wide. BioMar is fully owned by Danish conglomerate, Schouw and Co, which was founded in 1878 and listed on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange with a market cap of around $3.3 billion Australian.

Once the operation is up and running in September 2019, BioMar will produce up to 110,000 tonnes of high performance fish feed for Tasmanian grown salmon, as well as fish farms in other parts of Australia and New Zealand. BioMar currently delivers about $65 million of product to Tasmania from Edinburgh which cemented the decision to set up operations in Wesley Vale.

The production will create 55 full time jobs alongside a potential 80 contract positions around the state through operational, port services and logistical jobs. Construction is expected to employ 250 contractors when work is planned to start in May next year, depending on the finalisation of the development and environmental plans.

A couple of interesting statistics were shared at Monday’s press conference with Premier, Will Hodgman, Deputy Premier, Jeremy Rockliff and BioMar’s UK Managing Director, Paddy Campbell who is based in Edinburgh.

Explaining the significance of aquaculture in Tasmania, Mr Rockliff said that export income from the broader fishing industry in Tasmania was now bigger than the combined cattle and sheep income.

The second statistic came from a Government advisor while explaining the impact in the area of the 55 manufacturing jobs. The wage base for the 55 jobs is at least double the average wage of people working in the electorate.

The site is the former Specialist Veneers factory and management which closed eight years ago.


Weekly weigh-in: Cash payments, ‘free’ marketing and political correctness

Image result for australian cash payment

8/12/2017

I’m not a dobber, but the days of paying tradespeople with cash for a significant price cut to the consumer and a tax-free transaction for the tradies, is again in the cross hairs of the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) – which is now trying to come to grips with an estimated $25 billion a year cash economy.

Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan has issued a passionate call to arms to Australians to stop paying tradespeople in cash as he confronts a host of black-economy rorts, which include the fraudulent misuse of the Bunnings ABN by service providers.

Mr Jordan said cash discounts were ripping “billions of dollars” out of the economy that should be supporting services such as schools and hospitals. In an interview with The Australian, Mr Jordan has made a direct plea to taxpayers to stop the “less for cash” mentality ingrained in the Australian psyche.

“Stop paying cash for a discount because you are effectively cheating the system or helping someone else cheat the system,” was the message from Mr Jordan.

“This is not a victimless crime. If you pay cash for a discount, in many cases you are effectively ripping off yourself as an Australian taxpayer, because this type of behaviour is what sees billions flow out of the tax system and into the cash economy.”

Hands up who hasn’t taken the cheaper approach for a house reno or landscaping job etc.? My experts assure me it’s not as relevant today as some years ago, when it was cash payment or “sorry, we can’t do the work.”

The ATO are up against a brick wall at the moment, but there are suggestions they will adopt a more aggressive stance on rorts, and will publicly name and shame offenders.


The thought process of some in this funny old world was highlighted in an e-mail yesterday titled “They walk among us.”

The story went along the lines that a guy bought a new fridge for his house. To get rid of the old fridge (still working), he put it in his front yard and hung a sign on it reading “free. You want it, you take it.”

For three days the fridge sat there without anyone looking twice. He eventually decided that people were too mistrustful of this deal so he changed the sign to read “Fridge for sale $50.”

The next day someone stole it!


Political correctness can create the most stupid decisions, but when you run through the list of definitions you can understand why.

If somebody dislikes what you have said, you’re pretty certain to get hammered.

There’s a story a day of political incorrectness upsetting communities, be it an over reaction to a comment, or a decision refusing to allow an historic and accepted event such as Christmas to be celebrated.

When Service Tas offices around the state were told yesterday to take down Christmas decorations, I hope it wasn’t because someone who doesn’t believe in Christmas was offended by the decorations.

Whatever the reason for the decision was, political correctness has been taken to edge of the cliff.

Thankfully the Department of Premier and Cabinet introduced the common-sense approach, and now the decorations are back in the offices as they should be.

Last week, Millionaire Hot Seat compere, Eddie McGuire, found himself pilloried for some light-hearted banter with a contestant on the TV show.

“So, you have a Jewish father and a Scottish mother? I reckon it would have been hard getting pocket money from them.”

I’m not great supporter of Eddie, although we did share a very funny night in a Melbourne restaurant a couple of years ago.

Maybe this is because he’s President of the Collingwood Football Club, but regardless, was his comment worthy of the resulting uproar and media tirade?

With an Irish background, I could be claiming PC outrage daily for the number of Irish joke e-mails flooding through my laptop.

While they are pretty rough sometimes, I love them, and having caught up with relations in Dublin, they are actually often true!

I think one of a host of letters to the editor this week hit the target. “Now we are so sensitive that if you look sideways at someone, or say something slightly wrong, then you could be sacked from your job or face public ridicule by minority groups. We have lost touch with our humanity and we have lost all sense of freedom of speech.”

Touché.


Weekly weigh-in: Tasmanian nepotism saga, banking Royal Commission and TV misconduct

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1/12/2017

The questions surrounding Tasmania’s nepotism sage were beautifully answered by a cartoon in Wednesday’s Mercury.

The cartoonist drew a before picture showing Tasmania attached to a strong winch based in Victoria. The after showed Tasmania connected to the rest of Australia.

The story was simple: how to solve Tasmania’s nepotism problem.

Just think how hard it is in Tasmania to employ or promote somebody you don’t know, or isn’t a close, or not so close, relation.

This is Tasmania, with a population of only 500,000 people – half of which have never been interstate, and many still waiting for their first trip to Hobart or Launceston, yet alone Devonport or Burnie.

Professional sectors such as legal, accounting, all sectors of health, and teachers are close groups. Some obviously closer than others, but they most likely know of one or the other.

Tasmanian Premier, Will Hodgman, a son and grandson of lawyers, studied his law degree through the University of Tasmania in the mid-90s and later practiced as a solicitor before an overseas stint, and eventually entering politics. There’s a fair chance he knows a few thousand people in the legal industry alone.

So, for politicians to suggest that a Supreme Court Judge was recently appointed because of his friendship with the Premier is a bit rough.

Yes, the appointee Gregory Geason, was the best man at the Hodgman wedding, as I’m sure dozens of legal friends were also part of the wedding party.

Tasmanian Bar president, Chris Gunston, was concerned by the comments of Greens Leader Cassy O’Connor, and commented that ”The most recent appointment of a judge of the Supreme Court was conducted in accordance with the Tasmanian Government’s publicly available protocol for judicial appointments.”

Mr Gunston was also scathing of Ms O’Connor for using parliamentary privilege in question time to undermine public confidence in the administration of justice and the supreme court in order to score political points.

The Premier said from the outset that he had stepped aside from the appointment interview and any process in his role as Attorney General.


Today we have a $75m Royal Commission to scrutinise the four major banks by looking at the nature and extent of misconduct, behaviour of business activity by financial services, the effectiveness of redress for consumers who suffer as the result of misconduct by an employee, and a raft of areas still to be completed for the terms of reference.

The banks have called for the Royal Commission after continued attacks on them by the Opposition and media which have been publicly hurting confidence in the financial service system. The Opposition and some National backbenchers have also called for the commission, leaving Prime Minister Turnbull with little choice but to call a commission.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions has already warned senators to be wary about the terms of reference, fearing it will become a witch hunt into industry funds and unions. This is an interesting little twist for Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, who has been demanding the commission into banks for some time.

By the way, the banking industry has warned homeowners could face higher interest rates as a result of a royal commission according to The Australian. Why? Well, the banks say share prices are resilient, but something has to give in the face of a powerful, year-long inquiry into misconduct that could cost $50 to $100 million per bank.

Please, Mr Banker, you started this process through your questionable behaviour, so don’t start kicking your clients again.


But should we stop at banks? Why not create a Royal Commission to shake the skeletons out of all the cupboards?

Obviously, we also have a problem with television stars. Daily we are hearing of alleged sexual approaches, and lewd and inappropriate language in Australia, the UK and the US. The number of Hollywood stars now named by alleged victims is staggering and is now at the stage of ‘who will it be tomorrow?’.

The terms of reference we have to include should cover questions such as why victims held back for so long; why did managers and leaders who were aware of the problems do nothing; the same for boards; and, what is being done to ensure it doesn’t happen again?

We could learn a lot from the current Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sex Abuse.


Weekly weigh-in: Flight paths, cricket and investment

24/11/2017

We want more and more flights in and out of Tasmania for interstate holidaymakers and to export fresh Tasmanian produce. Also, we want more national and overseas tourists into the state..

Obviously the planes have to land and take off which means they will need to fly over some houses in the regions or suburbs. Flight paths are created to allow the planes to land safely and not to destroy the environment of people living below the flight paths.

A decade ago, we stayed with close friends in Barnes, near Hammersmith in England for a couple of months.

At 5am the first morning I thought it was a second World War Luftwaffe airstrike but in reality they were international aircrafts preparing for landing at Heathrow Airport 20 minutes away by car.

They were so low you could see the brand of the tyres on the landing wheels (exaggeration).

Within a few days you knew the planes were still there but they didn’t wake you anymore and life was back to normal. The flight paths varied each week, sometimes no aircraft and other times limited numbers, which neighbours and friends around the area simply didn’t hear the planes.

On a much smaller scale we live under a West Tamar flight path which is probably about six minutes before landing. The Melbourne flights come directly over the house and suburbs while the Sydney and Brisbane flights come from the East and takes a tight left hand turn over our suburb.

Do you hear the planes? Not really but you are conscious of something up in the sky. Are you awoken in the night, or early morning flights? No. Even the cargo planes in the early morning are basically silent compared to the 80’s and 90’s cargo planes which previously attracted regular Letters to Editor complaining about the groaning cargos upsetting their sleep and making the dogs bark.

It’s a case of accepting change and living with the positive aspect and not the negative.


It was great to see a full house on the first day of the Ashes Test in Brisbane and even better to have a Tasmanian back in the Australian team.

While Paine is in great pain for dropping a fifty-fifty catch, the remainder of his wicket keeping was crisp and classy. We’ve been spoilt over the decades with David Boon, Ricky Pointing (captain), George Bailey, Xavier Doherty, Ben Hilfenhaus, James Faulkner, Alex Doolan and other Tasmanian players at the top end of international cricket.

I wasn’t surprised to hear that Australian vice-captain David Warner, may not play because of a pain in the neck. I thought everyone realised his problem, however it was a little embarrassing when I realised it was literally neck pain.

The ABC commentary team certainly isn’t a shadow of the past particularly with former cricketers employed on names not voices. Gerard Whatley and Jim Maxwell are certainly holding together but Tim Lane where are you?

Thank goodness for English BBC specialist, Alison Mitchell, who not only understands the game, but obviously does her homework as one of her colleagues discovered when questioning a comment. Interesting to see how the commentating team is functioning by the final Test.


Attracting interstate and overseas investors has been a high priority for governments, tourism organisations and local government for yonks. We’ve had success in recent years but support for development is a hungry giant.

One of the new investors is Singaporean billionaire, James Koh, who has opened his wallet for millions of investment into hotel developments in Hobart and Launceston.

He owns the Styles Hotel in Macquarie St, Hobart which was opened this year and waiting for further approvals, he recently bought out the development company building the Hyatt Centric Hotel, in the former Westpac building in Elizabeth St, Hobart.

The problems facing Mr Koh are the 210m and 94m hotel applications in Hobart and a sizeable hotel site on an historic block away from the CBD in Launceston is also creating grief.

Having attracted the investor, it would be foolish for both cities to kill the golden goose. The issue shouldn’t be high rise, it should be how can we work with the client who wants to spend millions of dollars?

Negotiation and creativity ideas from both parties can create brilliant results.


Weekly weigh-in: Turnbull’s slump, a premier’s wisdom and protecting the golden goose

goose

17/11/2017

No surprise to see the headline “Turnbull’s horror poll slump” in the Australian on Monday. Nor was the continued slide of the Coalition, which now trails Labor 45 to 55 per cent in two party terms, correlating to about 20 seats lost.

The Newspoll ‘better Prime Minister’ shows that Malcolm Turnbull has dropped from 41 to a new low of 36 per cent, and now only two per cent above Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten.

The PM’s support has now dropped from 48 per cent in July last year to today’s 36 per cent. Adding to the party’s anxiety is the ‘best Liberal leader’ poll which has Julie Bishop at 40 per cent, the PM on 27 and Peter Dutton at 11.

While the PM’s approval has dropped by 12 per cent you would expect his opponent, Bill Shorten, would be on the rise. Well yes, his rating has increased since July last year, but only from 31 per cent to 34 per cent.

So if Malcolm’s on the nose, Bill has a pretty nasty cold as well, and the nation is showing its frustration by supporting neither.


Sticking to the theme, Newspoll has listed the highest and lowest satisfaction ratings of PMs since its inception in 1985.

The top seven shockers are:

Paul Keating, 17 per cent, August 1993; Julia Gillard, 23 per cent, September 2011; Tony Abbott, 24 per cent, February 2015; Bob Hawke, 27 per cent, December 1989; John Howard 27 per cent December 2001; Malcolm Turnbull 28 per cent, October 2016 and February 2017; Kevin Rudd, 32 per cent September 2013.

The top seven highest ratings are:

Kevin Rudd, 71 per cent, April 2008; John Howard, 67 per cent May 1996; Bob Hawke, 62 per cent, January 1987; Malcolm Turnbull 60 per cent, November 2015; Julia Gillard, 50 per cent, February 2011; Tony Abbott, 47 per cent, October 2013 and Paul Keating, 43 per cent, April, September and November 1994.

Wow, the highs and lows of politics.


When former Tasmanian Liberal Premier, Robin Gray, starts talking about his party at both state and federal levels, you know it’s worth listening. The calls I received after his ABC interview this morning suggests I’m not the only listener.

Growler, as he is known by so many of his friends and colleagues, was Tasmanian Premier from 1982-1989 during a time of extraordinary political upheaval, including the protests of the Gordon below Franklin dam, which became an international issue and was finally stopped by the High Court of Australia. Despite this loss, Growler was elected to a second term – the first time in 58 years that a non-Labor government had won a second term.

The basis of today’s interview was the call for senior Senator Eric Abetz to retire and Tasmanian Liberal Party Director, Sam McQuestin to stand aside to renew the campaign and strategy for the 2018 state election, probably in March.

The “yes” vote of the people for same sex marriage is an embarrassment for the parliament which avoided a vote for more than five years. Coalition pollies were not listening to their constituents including Tasmania which overall voted 63.7 per cent yes.

While there’s no suggestion that Senator Abetz should be shoved because of the same sex marriage vote, a series of questionable decisions have not sat well with the former Premier. As he said of Senator Abetz: “I believe that the party (state) has been in array for 20 years under his watch.”

Mr Gray is not suggesting sacking State Director, Sam McQuestin, who has attracted criticism for his handling of the recent Pembroke Legislative Council bi-election, but he is calling for a fresh approach for the 2018 election.

Feedback from the ABC interview strongly supported Gray’s suggestions with another twist. No matter how good the director may be, or the senior advisers, nobody really understands an election campaign except a successful candidate who has door knocked and connected to the community.

The clock is ticking for the Tasmanian election.


Weekly weigh-in: Clever CommBank, media migration mitigation and tax rate troubles

cash 2

10/11/2017

While users of overseas call centres share stories of their frustrating interactions daily, the Commonwealth Bank has finally bitten the bullet.

Last weekend CommBank sent its message in a full-page advertisement through the Melbourne Sunday Herald Sun and a number of other interstate Sunday papers.

No photos, or graphics, just a poignant message of 20 words.

“Our customer call centres aren’t overseas, they’re over here, and you’ll be talking to CommBank people.

“That’s a welcome change.”

A beautifully crafted message which everyone understands without creating a potential racist argument.

The only reason Australian companies close down their local call centres is to save costs. Quality is way down on the priority list.

A very smart move by CommBank.


The move by CommBank also highlights the need for media to take a deep breath before blaming governments, both Federal and State, for not growing the workforce, or blaming businesses for moving operations offshore and cutting jobs in Australia.

While we hate to see it happen there are multiple reasons for the measure, including exorbitant payment agreements. Just look at the closing of the car manufacturing industry as a classic example.

But the Mac the Slasher approach of Australia media companies and the ABC in Tasmania has no bounds.

Fairfax has slashed employment numbers, particularly in regional areas including Launceston and Burnie.

Yes, advertising revenues have dropped dramatically, consequently reducing editorial and advertising numbers – probably two thirds less than the 225 of 15 years ago, including the advertising call centres which are now operating out of Manila.

The Mercury fought head office and submitted a business case showing it was cheaper to retain the current local employment and had the support of the Hobart community.

Within 12 months of The Examiner’s advertising call centre closure, the overseas call centre was costing significantly more than the once local and loyal team.

The Fairfax owned Ballarat Courier warned headquarters their classified clients wouldn’t accept the Manila centre. Within a few weeks of the change, the numbers of Ballarat clients using the call centre dropped from 75 per cent to 25 per cent.

Sometimes headquarters should listen.


Governments aren’t there to employ people but they can generate international investment and employment by ensuring company tax rates are competitive.

This is now going in the wrong direction with Australia heading to the highest company tax rate in the world. Australia’s company tax rate of 30 per cent has been out of touch since a decrease by the Howard government in 2000.

The average tax rate in advanced countries has fallen from 32 per cent in 2000 to 24 per cent. The US is currently 35 per cent with President Donald Trump planning reduction to 20 per cent, or realistically 25 per cent.

Australia’s problem is the Senate with Labor and the crossbenchers not accepting that the lower tax rate will loosen up business costs and create opportunities for expansion, ultimately meaning more jobs.

The Tasmanian Government’s 2017 budget tax incentive is such a paragon. The two schemes covered around 2500 payroll tax businesses and around about 32,000 small businesses below the payroll tax turnover.

The small business pilot program was capped at $2 million and provided a $4000 incentive payment to employ apprentices and trainees. When the cap of 500 jobs was reached last month, the government extended the program and added another $3 million to attract 750 jobs.

Five million for 1250 new apprentices and trainees is a great investment for the state and example of what could be created by a Federal government.


Weekly weigh-in: AFL neglect, bargain flights and a changing world

jetstar

3/11/2017

Good to see returned Hawthorn Chairman, Jeff Kennett continuing to support Tasmania, this time attacking the AFL over Hawthorn’s football fixture next year. And he’s spot on in accusing the AFL of treating the state as an “appendage to the competition”.

The reason for Jeff’s anger is that the Hawks will only play one Melbourne team in Launceston next season – a Saturday night game against St Kilda.

The overall fixture for Tasmanian games means only two Melbourne teams will make the trip, the other being Carlton vs. North Melbourne under lights in Hobart.

St Kilda aside, Hawthorn plays Port Adelaide, Gold Coast and Brisbane while North plays West Coast and GWS.

While the Brisbane game has some ginger with former Hawks star, Luke Hodge, tackling his former team, the stats show a dramatic drop in attendance since their halcyon days, and Gold Coast has always struggled to attract a crowd, which will be even tougher without star Gary Ablett.

As Jeff said:

“The AFL should be giving the community of Tasmania the opportunity of seeing a greater percentage of Melbourne-based teams. I’m reasonably happy with our total program, but I’m disappointed that the AFL continues to treat Tasmania as an appendage to the competition.”


Airfare bargain hunting Launceston flyers are now the smartest in Australia, following data from low cost carrier, Jetstar.

The data available honed in on the postcodes as the basis of the numbers of fares purchased under $100. Launceston, with 56,000 seats under $100 tipped Gold Coast with 51,000 and Cairns third with 32,000. The remaining top 10 in order was Melbourne, Werribee, Sydney, Mackay, Geelong, Ballina and Carrara.

Capital cities were the top destination for most of the bargain savvy suburbs with the exception of North Bondi residents who travel to Gold Coast.

The overall staggering information came from Jetstar Australia, CEO , Dean Salter, revealing that two thirds of all Jetstar fares were under $100.

The low-cost, domestic operator attracts its fair share of detractors slamming seat room, unhelpful staff, cancellations, and on-board costs, but the inarguable facts now show the arrival of Jetstar in 2003 was the birth of a generation of new aircraft passengers. The cost reduction was the magnet and overwhelms the failures.

Maybe a touch of exaggeration but if you flew out of Hobart or Launceston 30 years ago you would know 90 per cent, maybe more, of people on the plane. Today it’s closer to zero.


No wonder clients and the broader community battle with decisions by our four major banks.

Yesterday, the National Australia Bank released its massive $6.64 billion cash profit with some $5.3 billion in dividends delivered to shareholders. Oh, and now we’re going to get angry about costs and sack 6000 staff over three years says the NAB chief executive, Andrew Thorburn.

“What we’re doing is we’re simplifying the bank,” Mr Thorburn said.

“And as we simplify, we automate processes and things move to digital channels. We will need less people.”

While 6,000 front liners will be replaced by automation, NAB will hire 2,000 staff with different capabilities such as data scientists, robotics, automation, technology and AI. Basically, technology people.

I’m sure clients will be cheering now they have 6,000 less people they can actually talk to and another 2000 IT people who aren’t client facing.

NAB wants to become the best business bank in Australia. Very positive approach, but I hope somebody has been talking to existing and potential future clients.


Weekly weigh-in: Name changes, north west masters and conspiracies

JFK_limousine_cut_off_ver.

27/10/2017

Tasmania’s newest bank opens its doors next Wednesday, 1 November with an interesting name.

The B&E Building Society will now be known as the ‘Bank of us’ replacing the names of the Bass Building Society and Equitable Building Society, which has been operating for 160 years.

Respected CEO, Paul Ranson was certainly accurate when he said it would be a “different kind of bank.” The two key differences being customer-ownership, and the name, Bank of us. The marketing company is already back slapping as the name debate becomes the centre of discussion on traditional and social media.

I’m sure the 30,000 strong customer base will warm to the name as they realise customer service will continue at a high level and day-to-day transactions will remain unchanged.

Whether it becomes BOU, or Bou, is debatable and it certainly won’t be confused with other BOU’s around the world such as Bou, a town in France, the Bank of Uganda, Boulder Geomagnetic Observatory, British Ornithologists’ Union or the Basis of Union.

Names aside, it is a great asset for Tasmania to have a bank which returns profit to the state.


It’s hard not to admire the performance of so many competitors in the 16th Australian Master Games in the state’s north west this week as they break records, or simply do their best in a fun and healthy environment.

I’m sure there’s a terrific story behind every one of the 5000 plus competitors, but the star performer must surely be 90-year-old Heather Lees from NSW. Heather set a world record masters time of 24.56.97 minutes for the 90 plus, 3000m walk.

Her radio interviews were full of interesting information including her concerns about the warm weather and she certainly sounded like a much younger athlete.

A great example for all.


There are times when governments need to bite the bullet (no pun intended) and release information from significant issues and events such as the death of US President, John F. Kennedy. Like millions around the world, I can recall when and where I was when JFK was assassinated, or John Lennon, the car crash of Princess Diana and the tragic swimming death of Prime Minister, Harold Holt.

The official investigation says John Kennedy was assassinated by former US Marine Lee Harvey Oswald, who shot three bullets from a rifle as the President and his wife Jackie were riding in a presidential motorcade.

So unconvinced of the outcome of various inquiries, 60 per cent of Americans still believe a group of conspirators were responsible for the assassination.

The planned release of the last trove of secret files of the Kennedy’s murder was agreed 25 years ago.

Evidently there are some 2800 documents set to be released but after pressure from the FBI and CIA, President Trump has reluctantly agreed to withhold 300 documents and guess what;  who wants to worry about the 2800 when the hidden 300 hold the nitty gritty.

Welcome to another 25 years of conspiracy theories.