Media Release

Rosemary has a fortnightly op-ed in the Examiner. Check out the Examiner every second Thursday or catch-up on her musings below...

OP-ED: 'Split decision on the right container scheme'

29 April 2021, The Examiner

In early 2018 China imposed a ban on raw recycled materials. It no longer wanted to be the dumping ground for the worlds recycled waste of most plastics and other materials. This was done in an effort to halt a deluge of soiled and contaminated materials overwhelming Chinese processing facilities and adding to their countries environmental problems.

This left Australia with a dilemma of what were they to do with their 1.3 million tonnes of stockpile waste. This question necessitated the government and the recycling industry to reconsider approaches to how recyclable waste was to be managed.

In a nutshell, the Container Refund Scheme – CRS - is a government program that encourages consumers to return their used packaging in exchange for a small amount of money.

It is most commonly a scheme which collects aluminium cans, plastic drink bottles or glass bottles - materials which are easily and more commonly recycled and repurposed. In Tasmania these types of drink containers make up 45% of all Tasmanian litter and are among the most common forms of litter found in our beaches, parks and public places.

With a CRS people are more likely to hold onto to these empty containers, return them and earn some money for their efforts. Further if you collect and return these products it becomes a simple and effective way of fundraising for charities and not for profit organisations.

In 2018 alone in South Australia charities raised 60 million dollars through the return of containers and clean-up projects. In that same year South Australia, which has had a CRS in place for over 40 years, had an 80% return rate for recyclables, impressive indeed.

Tasmania also has one of the lowest recycling rates in the country, emphasising the need for a CRS. The Government has been aware of a need for such a scheme for some time and in 2019 commissioned an expert reference group to advise them on the scheme best suited to our State.

In February of this year the Minister for Environment and Parks announced that the CRS as promised for Tasmania would operate under a split responsibility model and would be operational by the end of 2022.

The split-responsibility model is one where there is a scheme coordinator overseeing the schemes finances and administration, while an independent network operator establishes and runs the network of consumer refund points.

The Government selected this model believing that it would bring together the beverage industry and the waste and recycling sectors, and best deliver sustainable recovery rates, recycling, jobs and charity income.

This model has the support of Plastic Free Launceston founder Trish Hauesler who stated she would prefer to see the scheme run by waste management experts rather than industry. It has also been suggested that industry would not be inclined to optimise the scheme as it could well cost them money, and that’s where the debate begins in relation to which model should Tasmania choose.

There is no argument that there is a need for Tasmania to embrace a CRS however some organisations strongly believe that a split responsibility model is not the best model for our State.

Ben Kearney, the man who pioneered the campaign to make Coles Bay a plastic bag free town recently wrote an opinion piece noting that he had joined TASRecycle, a not for profit organisation jointly formed by Lion and Coca-Cola Amatil seeking to maximise the environmental, community, and economic benefits of CRS in Tasmania.

He identified that Coca-Cola Amatil have been involved in the operation and administration of container deposit or refund schemes for over 40 years and implementing 4 schemes in Australia in the past 6 years. Queensland was one of those schemes, and in the first 18 months of that scheme the container recycling, redemption rate was 14% higher than in the NSW scheme and the rate of containers collected was 37 % higher per capita.

We are also told that in Queensland the community and sporting organisations received approximately 6.5 cents per container processed as opposed to NSW where by having a network operator ‘middle man’, the return was approximately half that.

Under the split responsibility model proposed by the government, not for profit community and sporting organisations could lose up to $5 million each year in funding. Ben Kearney concludes by saying, “Through a few minor changes to the Scheme design, in particular by allowing multiple network operators and for the community and sporting groups to contact directly with them, without going through a middle man we believe that we can get a win - win outcome for everyone.”

That means a better outcome for Tasmania’s community and sporting groups, and of course a better outcome for a cleaner Tasmanian environment.

I therefore ask the question, should the government have a rethink on which scheme we should be adopting?

Independent Launceston Legislative Councillor

Rosemary Armitage MLC

OP-ED: 'St. Giles' innovative, inclusive vision for state'

16 April 2021, The Examiner

The amazing work that St Giles does with people living with a disability and their families and carers shows Tasmania’s potential as a caring community where all are embraced, and everybody has a place.

 

St Giles works with a broad range of allied health professionals and disability support workers in Launceston, Hobart and Burnie. It provides supported independent living statewide and offers a statewide range of autism services for adults and children living with the condition.

 

St Giles has 400 staff statewide and provides services to more than 4,000 Tasmanians each year. Their multidisciplinary allied health teams work towards the best outcomes for participants in the areas of psychotherapy, speech pathology, occupational therapy and exercise physiology.

 

St Giles has a dynamic, research-led nursing and clinical care team and disability support workers in outreach and urban Tasmania. It also provides assistive technology and mobility solutions for adults and children.

 

They are innovators. In late 2020, St Giles and illuminate Education successfully received funding from the Tasmanian Community Fund to deliver a massive new project: the Tasmanian Disability Innovator Hub. This hub is believed to be the first of its kind in this part of the world and is an extremely positive development for Northern Tasmania.

 

Partnering with a number of other fantastic organisations in the community, the hub will include programs that support a Meal Worm Farm, in partnership with Self Help Workplace, a Sourdough Startup in collaboration with FermenTas and will build on the Studio Space Inclusive Arts Initiative.

 

These are incredibly exciting times for St Giles and I can’t wait to see what brilliant ideas and projects come out of these partnerships. As Chief Executive Andrew Billing says, these programs will “enable the children, families and people living with a disability to thrive”.

 

The amount of support that St Giles receives from the community also shows just how much people support their work. In February of this year, the Launceston Horticultural Society’s Cactus and Succulent Group donated $3,000 for St Giles’ outdoor therapy area, known as Wildspace. This was above the $1,000 original anticipated in what can only be described as an amazing outcome for both St Giles and the Cactus and Succulent Group.

 

Each year, St Giles runs its ‘Kids Can’t Wait!’ appeal, and 2021 is no different. Like being asked “are we there yet” on a long car trip, kids simply can’t wait and – especially when it comes to them and their families receiving disability-related support – shouldn’t have to wait.

 

A number of effective programs, including some early intervention measures, won’t fit into the NDIS. Not fitting into the NDIS makes no child or St Giles service less relevant or valuable, but it does place an enormous financial pressure on St Giles to continue to deliver the services that so many children and their families rely on.

 

If you can, head along to the St Giles website to find out how you can make either a one-off or recurring (tax-deductible) gift to this extremely worthy cause.

 

If trivia is your thing, the ‘I-Know Trivia’ night will be coming back on June 26 at the Tailrace Centre, with a table of 10 only $300. Including supper, this is guaranteed to be an outstanding evening, with plenty of prizes on offer from the Tree of Glee.

 

Volunteers are a much-valued part of St Giles. If you can’t donate financially, perhaps you would be a great fit for volunteering with St Giles? You might gain new skills, make new friends and have fun while enjoying the sense of reward that comes from making a difference working in their toy library or events like Niche Market or the Balfour Burn.

 

Fundraising, helping with day-to-day activities like the Toy Library or helping to organize an event are just some of the ways that individuals or businesses can get involved and you can always get in touch with them for more information.

 

St Giles remains a humble and extraordinarily relevant Tasmanian institution and I am so proud to live and work in the community that supports this organisation, and the others like it, who make such a massive difference n the lives of people living with a disability.


Their extraordinary range of preventative and early intervention programs and support services make St Giles a valuable contributor to a Tasmania where inclusivity is valued and nurtured.

 

I hope I’ve helped you see Tasmania through the eyes of St Giles. With you understanding and help, St Giles will continue to make inclusion happen. Let’s hope that this fantastic organisation continues for another 84 years.

 

St Giles’ values, its board and its dedicated workforce are integral to Tasmania as an island of inclusion, where potential isn’t limited by ability and where all are valued for their contribution.

 

Head to www.stgiles.org.au for more information.

Independent Launceston Legislative Councillor

Rosemary Armitage MLC

OP-ED: 'Brewery still a beauty bottler of an industry'

1 April 2021, The Examiner

An undeniably iconic Launceston site is that of the James Boag's Brewery.

Synonymous with quality, every Tasmanian knows what you're talking about when you ask for a Boag's.

A far cry (in both quality and taste) from the VB or Carlton lager that seems to be promoted as a distinctly Australian beer in movies and overseas, nothing hits the spot like Boag's Premium on a hot day.

But what does Boag's mean for Launceston?A lot, if history is anything to judge by.

The brewery was established in 1881, and J Boag & Son was established as a concern in 1883.

"Who is James Boag?" we were asked, in an iconic marketing campaign some 16 years ago.

James Boag himself, moved halfway around the world from Scotland to Tasmania with his wife Janet in 1853. James I and his son James II (hence the name J Boag & Son) went into partnership with John Glenwright at the Cataract Brewery in 1878 and James I became the licensee of the All Year Round Hotel.

In 1883, James I and his son took over the Esk Brewery, which had been established by Charles Stammers Button in 1881. This remains the site of the Boag's Brewery today, on the banks of the North Esk - with the site being significantly larger than it was then.

 

James Boag I died in 1890, but by the time of his death, the brewery was producing more than 500 hogsheads a week and employed more than 30 staff. According to the Boag's website: "James Boag and his brewers combined the purest Tasmanian water and natural ingredients with their fierce pride and passion, to forge a reputation for making extraordinary beers, that could only be made in Tasmania."

Today, the brewery still insists on using the softest Tasmanian water, and only the finest hops and barley to produce their range of exceptional beers.

But "who is James Boag?" asks us about much more than the man himself. Implicit in the "who" is a "what" - what the Boag's name means and represents for Launceston.

Today, the brewery employs scores of brewers; specialists in their fields, which is evident in the quality of the beer produced.

It services licensed venues across the city, state and country and has strong international export numbers as an exotic, superior Australian beer.

I know many Tasmanians living abroad, who seek out pubs in places like London or New York which stock Boag's, just so they can get a taste of home.

The company remained in the Boag family throughout the twentieth century, until 1976 when George Boag, the second son of James Boag III retired from the board.

The company was acquired by San Miguel Corporation in 2000 for $92 million, with the existing Tasmanian management structure to remain in place.

San Miguel sold J Boag & Son to Lion Nathan Limited in 2007 for $325 million. A very neat profit to generate in a matter of seven years, which emphasises the hard work of the talented local cadre of employees who make the company tick.

Lion, a Trans-Tasman subsidiary company of Kirin Beer currently retains ownership of Boag's and, while head office is based in Sydney, it manages over 150 employees who produce award-winning and internationally-acclaimed beers, and oversees an output of 76 million litres of ales, lagers and pilsners a year.

Boag's will over the next few months commence production of Kirin's Flagship Premium Beer - Kirin Ichiban, for supply all over Australia. In addition to this they have also secured a contract to locally produce a 100 per cent export product for a customer in Japan - supporting the growth of international trade from Tasmania.

J Boag & Son comprises a vital part of Tasmania's economy, not just through its exports, but through the myriad of jobs it provides to our local brewers, drivers, stockists and sales team.

The brewery has a long-standing affiliation as a Gold Member of the Launceston Chamber of Commerce and supplies many of our local events venues with their brands. It is an integral part of our commercial sector from the beginning of the brewing process to the time it touches our lips. Over 140 years after its establishment, the edifices of the brewery's original buildings are still visible.

The merging of its rich history with the ongoing quality of the beer produced is evident when you walk or drive past the site. It is a part of Launceston's beating heart. Quite simply, Boag's beer can only be produced in Launceston, and Launceston could only produce beer with the quality we have come to associate with the Boag's brand.

If you have not recently taken a tour of the brewery, I would strongly encourage you to do so, so that you can - along with the beer samples - imbibe some of our local history.

Independent Launceston Legislative Councill

Rosemary Armitage MLC

OP-ED: 'State footy debate not just a numbers game'

18 March 2021, The Examiner

The question of whether Tasmania can afford its own football team, or continue contracts with Hawthorn and/or North Melbourne is a vexed one.

 

There are valid questions raised by people on all sides of the argument.  Do we spend too much on football?  Should this money be spent in our hospitals and schools? 

 

Good questions, but it is irrelevant whether we spend money on our own AFL team or retain Hawthorn/North Melbourne, as this money comes from a different bucket to health and/or education and would not be redirected.

 

The recent Select Inquiry into AFL in Tasmania estimated the economic benefit of a Tasmanian team would be approximately $110m per annum and create more than 300 jobs.  This team would cost approximately $45m to establish and require annual support of approximately $15-17m from the AFL and $7-8m from the Tasmanian Government. 

 

Hawthorn’s current five-year deal in Tasmania, earns them around $3.8m a season from the State to play 4 matches at UTAS Stadium.   Independent research conducted by Price Waterhouse Coopers estimated that in 2017 (the year of the last major research piece) the direct economic return to Tasmania from Hawthorn’s Launceston games was $28.5 million.  The amount North Melbourne gets paid per game at Hobart’s Blundstone Arena from TT Line is unknown, due to apparently “commercial in confidence”, but it’s understood the contract is slightly less than Hawthorn’s deal. 

 

Partnerships with the Department of Health, the University of Tasmania, collaboration with the Department of Education, creation of a curriculum-aligned health, nutrition and wellbeing online schools program, the staging of state-wide high schools sports competitions for boys and girls, delivery of education content to TasTafe and UTAS students and a valuable partnership with the Premier’s Reading Challenge are some of the community programs being run or supported by Hawthorn in Tasmania.  

 

Hawthorn also support the three Junior Football Associations statewide, Prospect Hawks Football Club, Northern Hawks Netball Club and AFL Tasmania in support of their grass roots programs such as Auskick, school clinics and coaching programs.

 

There is no denying Hawthorn has built a solid brand in Tasmania, particularly the north and north west and if they leave there will be a sizeable void to fill.

 

The focus on money however, is only part of the story as the social contract between clubs and their communities is integral.

 

At the National Press Club on 19th August 2015 Gillon McLachlan stated, “Tasmania deserves its own team, it just does. Their participation rates, their ratings, their attendance, they are as passionate as any State. Their numbers stack up with Victoria in my view, they deserve their own team.

 

The brutal reality right now, the economy and scale of growth mean they financially can’t support their own team playing 11 games, you need $45 million.” 

 

The AFL project team headed by Brett Godfrey, who was co founder and Chief Executive of Virgin Blue Airlines and Chief Financial Officer of Virgin Express, focused on affordability and sustainability amongst other things in their report and conclusively found that Tasmania can afford and sustain its own team.  Admittedly there will be a need to source other sponsors, but sponsors don’t have to have their head office in Tasmania.

 

When Emirates Airlines renewed its 20 year sponsorship with Collingwood in 2019 the Divisional Vice President, Australasia referred to our nations passionate sporting culture noting “Sport is an incredibly powerful connector of people, bringing them together for moments of success and triumph“.  The Chairman and Chief Executive of the Emirates Airline Group doesn’t hail from downtown Collingwood, his residence and business head office is in Dubai.

 

When Mars Snackfood threw its weight and flagship chocolate bar behind Tassies bid for an AFL team in 2004 their sponsorship was to have been $4 million. Their general manager in announcing the sponsorship said “this is a great opportunity to support the underdog, it really is the people’s bid, this will be a people’s team.“ 

 

On top of such sponsorships Tasmania would have the luxury of spending the money it now gives to Hawthorn and North Melbourne on its own State team.

 

Interestingly though the biggest sponsor of all AFL teams is the AFL itself. In 2019 the AFL doled out $27,796,000 to cash strapped Gold Coast. GWS was next in line pocketing $25,544,000. Even Melbourne which was seventh on the list of AFL funding recipients, received $18,092,000.

 

To my mind, the question remains: how do we best serve Tasmania’s interests?  For people who have no interest in football there has to be a defined benefit to our state and community for the money spent – something which is fed back to the community. Whether this comes from our own AFL team or a relocated AFL team will be one of the key questions, so I await with interest the results of the independent consultant appointed by the AFL.

Independent Launceston Legislative Councillor

Rosemary Armitage MLC

OP-ED: 'Celebrating our Female Political Trailblazers'

4 March 2021, The Examiner

In my last opinion editorial I spoke about some of the big firsts that Launceston has achieved and how the echoes of these milestones have reverberated through time. Perhaps more significantly, and with International Women’s Day fast approaching it is worth noting the number of firsts in Tasmania that laid the foundations for expansion of the voting franchise as well as paved the way for women, like myself, to have the courage to succeed in political life.

 

Many readers, I’m sure, are aware of the achievements of Dame Enid Lyons not only as a politician, but as a mother, wife and a stalwart of the community. A mother of 12, Dame Enid, who trained as a schoolteacher, was an unending source of support for her children, as well as her husband, who was to become the first and to date, only, Prime Minister from Tasmania.

 

According to the Australian Dictionary of Biography, ‘upon his becoming Prime Minister in January 1932, [Joseph Lyons’] first act was to write to [Enid] because whatever honours or distinctions come are ours, not mine’.

 

Upon Joseph Lyons’ death on April 7 1939, a grief-stricken Enid was convinced by one of their daughters to stand for the Federal House of Representatives, having stood for the Tasmanian seat of Denison in 1925 and missing out by only 60 votes.

 

In October 1920, women who had served as nurses in WWI became eligible to vote in Legislative Council elections and in 1921, women were granted the right to stand for election – subject to a number of restrictions and requirements however.

 

In the 1922 Tasmanian election, two women, Alicia O’Shea-Petersen and Edith Waterworth, stood for the seat of Denison, and Annette Youl stood for the seat of Wilmot, now known as Lyons. Although neither Alecia, Edith nor Annette won any seat they stood for, this remains an important milestone for women in politics, and its significance for the women who followed them in standing in subsequent elections cannot be overstated.

 

Dame Enid certainly must have benefitted from this, and after making the decision to run for the Federal seat of Darwin (now known as Braddon) in 1943 Federal election, won, becoming the first female member of the House of Representatives.

 

Closer to home, in 1948 Margaret McIntyre was voted in as the first woman in the Tasmanian Parliament as a member of the Legislative Council – winning the seat of Cornwall (now Rosevears). Among many of her community achievements, Margaret served on the Board of the Queen Victoria Hospital and was involved in the establishment of the Brooks Community School in Launceston.

 

Tragically, only a few months after her election, Margaret travelled to Queensland to attend the National Council of Women of Australia Conference and was killed in a plane crash on her return home. Today, the Legislative Council seat of McIntyre, held by Tania Rattray MLC is named after her. It is fitting to reflect on Margaret’s influence and achievements.

 

Political life is not for the faint of heart and blazing a trail, such as Margaret did, would have been all the harder. I, and my fellow female colleagues in the Legislative Council today – Leonie Hiscutt, Tania Rattray, Jo Siejka, Jo Palmer, Meg Webb, Ruth Forrest, Sarah Lovell and Jane Howlett – owe a debt of gratitude and take a great deal of inspiration from the women who came before us.

 

Upon the election of Jo Palmer for Rosevears in 2020, the Legislative Council is now comprised of nine women out of 15 members (60 per cent), the most ever for Tasmania’s upper house. In the Legislative Council’s whole history, only 22 women, including the nine of us, have been elected.

 

Of course, these achievements also reflect changing attitudes in our communities. None of use, men or women, have been handed our electoral wins. We have all worked hard for the best interests of our communities and in many cases, fought very taxing election campaigns.

 

The House of Assembly or Lower House has also had its fair share of female Members, with 14 of its 25 members (56 per cent) being female. This is what celebrating the achievements and successes of our political ancestors is all about. Acknowledging the significant contributions that women before us have made to their families, their spouses and to their Tasmanian communities, knowing the for the likes of Dame Enid and Margaret McIntyre, they had to work all the harder to prove and establish themselves as representatives for their constituents and our state.

 

It has given me much to be thankful for, and we should be very proud we have such significant political firsts in Tasmania.

Independent Launceston Legislative Councillor

Rosemary Armitage MLC

OP-ED: 'Rediscovering Launceston's hidden gems'

18 February 2021, The Examiner

Living in the best city in Australia, as well as one of Australia’s oldest cities, we often overlook what is on our own doorstep with some of the best-preserved heritage and architecture, gardens and parks. Did you know for example, our City Park has been rated the 9th best park in Australia? Let’s take a little trip down memory lane and discover a few more gems about Launceston.

 

Again, the research of local historian Julian Burgess has been invaluable and a great place to start. For instance, did you know that in 1899, the Launceston Golf Club was founded? Being based in Kings Meadows, the LGC is Tasmania’s oldest 18-hole golf course and was the only one in the state until 1921?

 

The course at Launceston is regarded as the toughest championship layout in Northern Tasmania, caved out of natural bushland and provides something of interest for all levels of golfer: beginners to seasoned players.

 

Sporting firsts have been significant in Launceston and, as a mother of four boys, I can understand how important the availability and accessibility of sports clubs, teams and facilities are. In 1875, the Launceston Football Club – the first football club in Tasmania – was founded. Initially the sport was only played on a social basis and it wasn’t until 1882 when the Northern Football Association was established, that organised football really kicked off.

 

According to the club’s website, Launceston provided a number of players for each of Tasmania’s teams at the three pre-World War One Australian Football Carnivals and, being relatively successful during this period, contested eight grand finals between 1900 and 1914, taking three flags.

 

Referring strictly to AFL, I can’t mention football without reference to the mighty South Launceston Football Club – the red, white and blue Bulldogs, which is a combination of two former clubs in City South and East Launceston that resides in the heart of my electorate of Launceston.

 

Of course, we are also not philistines, because in 1891 the Launceston Art Society was established and became the first art society in Australia. It held its first exhibition on November 19, 1891 in the offices of Ritch and Parkes’ in St John Street and played an important role in broadening the range of art available to the community.

 

In 1927, Dame Nellie Melba visited Launceston to give a concert and to open a loan exhibition of early Tasmanian art organised by the LAS. Through the years, many members of the Launceston Art Society have won prizes at the Tasmanian Art Awards at Eskleigh, the Royal Launceston Show, Max Fry Rotary Exhibition, the Trust Bank, Wrest Point, Burnie and many other awards.

 

Impressively, the society maintains a good balance between amateur and professional members and aspiring young artists, keeping the love and appreciation of art alive and well.

 

Incidentally, in 1961, the first use of CCTV security in an Australian gallery- the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery – was implemented. Unfortunately, this does not seem to have helped in the case of the missing Brett Whiteley art work, which most likely has been miscatalogued as a result of an error several decades ago.

 

Also committed to scholarship and intellectual pursuits, Launceston can boast being where the ‘Silver City Writing Tablet’ – now known as the writing pad – was invented. In 1902, JA Birchall (of the erstwhile Birchalls book and stationery supply shop) had the simple, yet ingenious idea to bind together loose pieces of paper and sell them as the first notepad.

 

According to inventions-handbook.com, Birchall had difficulty getting his invention accepted at first, with his British supplier being reluctant to provide a product with the description of a notepad. Of course, history is written by the victors, and in this case, Birchall’s invention won out and is now found in homes, offices, handbags and gloveboxes everywhere. Isn’t it strange to contemplate a world which predated something as simple and common as the notepad?

 

Although we are an island state, our connection with the rest of Australia by air was first solidified in 1919, when Lieutenant Arthur Long completed the first crossing of Bass Strait – from Launceston to Melbourne – in a Boulton Paul single engine biplane.

 

Not content with that piece of aviation history, the Miss Flinders Monoplane has found its home here in Launceston, currently off-display at QVMAG while it searches for a new home. The Miss Flinders, amongst many historical firsts, lays claim to what was probably the first aero medical evacuation from King Island to Western Junction – which today is the home of the Royal Flying Doctor Service in Tasmania.

 

Launceston is an absolute treasure trove of discovery, whether a resident or tourist, and I will see what more of interest I can discover for my opinion editorial next week.

Independent Launceston Legislative Councillor

Rosemary Armitage MLC

OP-ED: 'Launceston really is the mouse that roared'

4 February 2021, The Examiner

You are holding in your hands, or perhaps reading on a screen, Launceston’s Examiner newspaper. This publication, which was founded on March 12, 1842, has told the stories of countless people in our community, from their triumphs to their tragedies, and everything in between.

 

It is both a mirror in which we see a reflection of our community and as ingrained in the fabric of our city as the town clock or the iconic City Park gates. This got me thinking: in its 179-year-history, what kind of stories about Launceston would The Examiner have told? What about our city can we learn by looking back and remembering some of our greatest achievements?

 

I decided to do a bit of research into some of the fantastic ‘firsts’ that have happened right here, on our doorstep. Julian Burgess, local historian, has complied an excellent list, Launceston, a city of firsts, that is very illuminating on the subject and worth delving into. According to Julian, Launceston Municipal Council can claim two important firsts.

 

Our underground sewers date from 1860, the oldest in Australia and the third-oldest in the world. This is a testament to the quality of the work done in early sewage construction in and around Launceston, but also emphasises a need to re-examine the quality of this infrastructure and its suitability for purpose today, as I am not sure much has changed in recent times.

 

Of course, the health of the Kanamaluka Tamar estuary remains a key issue for the management of our city and this particular first for Launceston has echoed long throughout time. The other major first for Launceston Municipal Council was the construction of the Duck Reach Power Station, which was commissioned on December 11, 1895, making Launceston the first Australian city lit by a publicly-owned hydroelectricity supply.

 

The Duck Reach Power Station closed in 1955, following the construction of the Trevallyn Dam, but its historical significance cannot be understated. According to the Duck Reach website: ‘In the Duck Reach Power Station, with the combination of its historical significance, natural setting and scientific and educational value, the city has taken the great opportunity to preserve the remaining, fading evidence of a dying age and reflect on the way people lived, worked and thought in the past and to conserve this important fragment of Australian heritage.’ Very true indeed.

 

Some are perhaps more aware of some of the medical firsts made in Launceston. Dr William Pugh, in June 1847, at his private hospital in Charles Street, in an Australian first, successfully performed surgical operations with the use of anaesthesia. According to the Australian Dictionary of biography, Dr Pugh’s pride in his experimental practices ‘provoked hostility amongst Launceston’s doctors, with whom he was reluctant to act in consultation’. Whether this was due to an established attitude of caution or professional jealousy among Launceston’s medical fraternity, we can never know.

 

What we do know however, is that Dr Pugh successfully performed surgery to remove a tumor from a girl’s lower jaw and removed the cataracts from a man’s eyes. Given what seems to us now, some of the especially barbaric medical practices of the past decades and centuries, we cannot deny that successfully performing operations with anaesthesia was of great benefit to the medical community and most importantly, their patients.

 

Support for commerce and business has also found its home in Launceston. The Launceston Chamber of Commerce, established in 1849 is the oldest continually-operating Chamber of Commerce in Australia, its founding Presidents, H Du Croz and JW Gleadow, begat an organisation which would continually run until this very day.

 

At that time, the concerns for the Chamber were primarily vested in shipping, pastoral and mining matters, with construction coming into focus in the following decades. In 1876, on of the most well-known figures in Launceston’s commercial history, Charles Henry Smith, became the President of the Chamber to boost Launceston’s interest in, and exposure to, importation of goods for farming and general retail, such as groceries.

 

Today, the Launceston Chamber of Commerce is a boutique organisation operating across a significant portfolio of interests. Of its core operations, the Chamber regularly runs networking events for its members, to come together informally and hear about new and innovative business activities and share information and knowledge. Its influence in policy is undeniable.

 

There are so many firsts that Launceston can boast about, be it the founding of Tasmania’s first golf club in 1895 or the wonderful invention by Dr William McIntyre of Australia’s first infant respirator in 1944. You might need to check back in two weeks’ time while I put together some more insights on our community. Until then, I would encourage you to perhaps do some research of your own. You never know what you might discover.

Independent Launceston Legislative Councillor

Rosemary Armitage MLC

OP-ED: 'Opportunity knocks for Tasmanian lifestyle'

21 January 2021, The Examiner

“Home sweet home” is a song from the opera Clari, Maid of Milan, first performed in London’s Convent Garden in 1823. The last verse of the song proclaims ‘no more from the cottage again will I roam, be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home, home! Home, sweet home”.

 

Fast forward to 1985 and heavy metal Los Angeles band Motley Crue in their take of a song with the same title ended their version with “I’m on my way, Just set me free, Home sweet home”. The Motley Crue version came from their album Theatre of Pain and how appropriate is that album title considering the year we have just endured? Theatre of pain is an understatement in most parts of the world in 2020.

 

When you look back over the past 12 months the words that come to mind are pandemic, COVID, virus, unprecedented, social distancing, quarantine, shut down, border closures – words of fear and isolation.

 

Here in Tasmania, and more particularly in my home sweet home of Launceston, those words don’t seem to have the same meaning as in other parts of the globe. I can’t help but feel how lucky I am to live in Tasmania’s northern capital. You just have to turn on the news or open the newspaper to be assaulted by the carnage that COVID was and still is creating worldwide.

 

You read about China flexing its substantial muscle, or Spain not only struggling with COVID but also having to deal with the biggest snowfalls in 50 years. The UK is trying to come to terms with Brexit and a more contagious strain of COVID, and what can you say about the political turmoil in the USA.

 

Closer to home, North Queensland has been grappling with flood waters thanks to cyclones and tropical storms while parts of sourthern Queensland are still in the grip of what seems to be an everlasting drought. Drive south of the border, if it’s not closed, and you come to NSW where you will be confronted with life under COVID leading to shut downs, mask-wearing, and the like. The Sydney Cricket Test against India which normally would have spectators stretching the seams of the SCG looked more like a ‘Where’s Wally’ children’s book – find the crowd!

 

The first ever test match in Australia at the SCG between England and Australia in February 1882 was likely played before more spectators. Further south, we see Victoria falling victim to what COVID has to offer. I won’t go on, other than to say how lucky we are to live on the 26th largest island in the world, otherwise known as Tasmania.

 

Tasmania is being seen as a safe haven to work, raise a family and enjoy life without the restrictions and uncertainty of other places in Australia, let alone the world. It wasn’t long ago that many people were searching interstate for greener pastures. Not any more, as Tasmanians are staying home and not as anxious to travel interstate or overseas for work or a change of lifestyle.

 

There is also a growing interest from people interstate who are looking to migrate here to not only escape the regular COVID flare ups but also the rat race of mainland life. COVID has shown us that people can work from home and not be tied to an office desk in Melbourne, Sydney or any other capital city.

 

I witnessed this last week when speaking to an interstate acquaintance who was enjoying beach life on Tasmania’s east coast armed with an iPad. He was in the process of preparing a quote for a mainland customer. In a world of uncertainty and fear Tasmania was where he was holidaying with his family and doing business on  beach with an iPad, towel and sunscreen.

 

I know this sounds too good to be true, and cannot always be the case for working Australians, but it shows that opportunities have arisen as a result of the virus and some are exploring whether there is a better way to mix work with family and leisure. Many are seriously considering whether this can be done in Tasmania. It’s about lifestyle and life in our state takes some beating.

 

Launceston, a city with a mix of old and new, steeped in history has the iconic Cataract Gorge with its panoramic views and walking trails, the Tamar Valley with its vineyards stretching along the Tamar River, (let’s not mention the mud), and many historic landmarks within easy reach.

 

Launceston importantly has that one aspect that sets it apart from a number of other cities – it’s welcoming and friendly people. In summary, it has plenty to offer. The lyrics say it all: “home sweet home”.

Independent Launceston Legislative Councillor

Rosemary Armitage MLC

OP-ED: 'Club ready to put best paw forward in 2021'

7 January 2021, The Examiner

According to the RSPCA, there are over 29 million pets in Australia and we have one of the highest pet-ownership rates in the world. Approximately 61 per cent of households in Australia own pets, with dogs being the most common at 40 per cent. Cats are next at 27 per cent, followed by fish, birds, small mammals and then reptiles.

For the 40 per cent of homes with dogs, I wanted to acknowledge some of the hard work that's being done with our pooches and their families at the Tasmanian Dog Training Club (TDTC), an organisation of which I have been privileged to be a patron for a number of years now. The club was set up to provide puppy training and basic obedience training classes to about 3,600 dogs year year, bot new and ongoing, having been formed in 1959 and known initially as the Dog Club of Launceston. These days, they operate out of Churchill Park on Sundays.

The TDTC is a not-for-profit organisation, and runs classes consisting of puppies, tweenies, beginners, grades 1 to 3, advanced agility and Rally-O courses. Twenty-two volunteers provide in excess of 6,500 hours each year. It is clearly a well-subscribed service and families pay only a modest fee to participate in each session. For the club's volunteers, executive and participants, it is very much a labour of love, with a lot of fun thrown into the mix. 

The aim of the club is to provide good value training and advice to the public so that the dogs in our community are well-socialised and well-mannered. Evidence shows that raining provides mental stimulation and adequate exercise for dogs. It reduces barking and aggressive dog issues such as biting and chasing other dogs, animals and humans. Studies also show that training makes puppies more confident, by teaching them proper behaviour through positive reinforcement and gives them an outlet to exercise and burn off excess energy. They learn healthy habits, how not to engaging in destructive behaviours and it sets them up for a longer, healthier life, with fewer physical and cognitive issues. There is literally no downside to participating in a TDTC program.

Dog training is a two-way street - both for dogs and their owners. The TDTC provides training to a wide range of people in the community from kids to older people, able-bodied, as well as for people with a range of physical and intellectual disabilities. It is very much an inclusive space that offers, actively promotes and encourages community participation in fun physical activities. 

Training also assists people to understand the importance of correct breed selection to suit their lifestyle and location. It encourages responsible dog ownership which, in turn, makes for happier pups and families. Many people who work with their dogs to build their obedience, rally and tracking skills say that the bond and relationship with their dogs are made stronger and deeper through participating in these programs. 

The TDTC also provides information on the requirements of local councils and any possible upcoming changes to dog-related legislation. They provide advice to the public about desexing, microchipping, dietary requirements and animal husbandry and all the necessary obligations of being a responsible dog owner. 

One of the core courses available through the club is puppy socialisation; a four-week course of one-hour sessions. This is an introduction to owning a dog and teaches control and socialisation experience, instructs owners about their responsibilities to their dog and the community and offers advice on solving puppy issues such as jumping and biting. It also prepares puppies to cope with stressful experiences such as visiting the vet or groomer.

There is a beginners obedience course, which provides an introduction to owning a dog and focuses on dog training by way of teaching a range of commands useful to owning a dog. Completion of these classes progression to more advanced classes for increasing levels of obedience, which can also provide a lead-in to other activities and sports. 

 

Agility, timed obstacle courses, endurance tests, tracking, track and search and rally obedience are just some of the more advanced activities that owners and their dogs can have the opportunity to participate in. Unfortunately, many of the advanced classes were cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19, but the club is gearing up 2021 and is very keen to get back into regular business once social distancing requirements have eased. 

 

Being a very socially-conscious club, the TDTC also participates in fundraising events such as the RSPCA Million Paws Walk and makes regular donations to worthy causes. 

 

If you have a new puppy, considering getting one, or just feel your dog could do with some training, I encourage you to consider coming along for some exercise and fun at Churchill Park when classes resume in February.
 

Independent Launceston Legislative Councillor

Rosemary Armitage MLC