Tasmania’s capital Hobart will become the fifth Australian city to sign up to the Federal Government’s City Deal program, well after cross-island rival Launceston.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman have announced they will “help make a City Deal for Hobart a reality” – consistent with the Federal Government’s strategy of announcing that a City Deal will happen, well before the actual announcement of any funding.
The announcement comes before the state election, due by 19 May. It is long on promises but short on detail.
“There is no doubt that Hobart is undergoing significant growth and development and a City Deal will help guide and sustain that development well into the future and ensure that Hobart’s liveability is not compromised,” said the joint announcement.
“The City Deal will provide the focus needed to ensure that the Commonwealth, State and local governments are all working together to ensure the Greater Hobart area benefits from the city’s transition.”
The announcement said the City Deal will:
Examine options to facilitate an Antarctic Precinct at Macquarie Point to harness the unique opportunities presented by the site.
Create a Greater Hobart Transport Vision to guide a coordinated approach to transport planning including assessing the feasibility of future public transport options such as busways, light rail or ferries. This will also include considering ways to support the future use of the northern suburbs rail corridor through improved amenity and greater residential options.”
Establish a Greater Hobart Act, to provide a strategic framework for local councils in the region and the State Government to work together to implement the objectives of the Hobart City Deal and complementary strategic land use planning outcomes.
Examine options to facilitate the development of the University of Tasmania’s STEM presence in the city, to support both regional and international education, and innovation growth.
Explore options to support affordable housing in the Greater Hobart region.
Options. Visions. Frameworks. What is missing is any funding, or any real action.
The three cities that have actually signed up for City Deals are Townsville and Western Sydney (through a number of local councils). Darwin made a similar announcement to Hobart’s in May 2017, with a final announcement still to come, so any funding for Hobart’s City Deal could still be a year or more away.
The agreement to work towards and agreement was announced at Hobart’s Searoads Shed, a former warehouse that is now a waterfront exhibition and events centre. City Deals, modelled on a UK initiative, “bring together the three levels of government, the community and private enterprise to create place-based partnerships.”
The centrepiece of tan eventual Hobart City Deal is likely to be funding by the State and Federal Governments for a $400 million project for the University of Tasmania (UTAS) to create a new its science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) faculties to downtown Hobart, on Argyle and Melville Streets. It will provide teaching and research facilities for 700 staff and 3000 undergraduate and postgraduate students.
Whether the development of a ‘transport vision’ will include any funding for the the Riverline light rail system to the northern suburbs, first proposed more than a decade ago, remains to be seen.
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