Media Release

OP-ED: 'It's game on for a bunch of really good sports'

10 December 2020, The Examiner

Most of us know someone who plays football, soccer, netball, basketball, maybe tennis or hockey. But how many people do you know who play softball?  Softball is much like the American sport of baseball, played with a larger diamond-shaped field with two teams of nine players and one run is scored for each home base reached during a one-and-a-half-hour game. It’s a great sport.

The Northern Tasmania Softball Organisation provides opportunities for players to participate in fastpitch softball from the age of 5 upwards and caters to everyone, regardless of their sporting abilities. It’s all about loving the game and having a good time.

Fastpitch softball is played mostly on Saturdays at Churchill Park, Invermay, with the season going right through the summer months.  At present, there are two teams governed by the NTSA: the Eagles and the Saints, both of whom field teams in each division.

I have recently become a patron of the NTSA, so I’ve delved a bit into the origins of softball in northern Tasmania.  Softball has been played in an organized fashion in Tasmania, with team competitions being played since at least the nineteen-seventies, but it wasn’t until the Northern Tasmania Softball Association was founded that the myriad of teams were able to organize into a more formal competition.

For a number of years, softball was played at erstwhile Ogilvie Park, which we now know as the site for Bunnings north Launceston. For a time, school teams were involved on Saturday mornings, but that petered out with the increasing school-mandated sports programs that developed over the years.

Softball was contested at four Olympics from 1996 to 2008 with the International Olympic Committee then removing it from the Olympic program.  The Australian women’s national softball team, known as Aussie Spirit won a medal at all four Olympics and it is good to see that softball has made a comeback, being included as a medal sport at the upcoming Olympics in Tokyo in 2021.

Thanks to the NTSA getting their message out through advertising on radio and social media, and working on growth and retention for the association not just for the new players, but the older players too, they have expanded their member base with 13 new players in the 2019-20 year.  What keeps people coming back is the fact that the NTSA is not just a sporting club, but a tightknit group of mates that does not just play the game, but contributes to the community as well.  Having been to watch games, it is like a group of friends having a good time.  A great atmosphere.

Many people who play the sport, and join the club, stay for the long term. Sheryl Burnie, whose commitment to the sport spans some 38 years, was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in 2019 for service to the sport and to the club – an extremely worthy recipient. With her prior softball experience and expertise, Sheryl joined the Saints Softball Club in 1992 as a player, going on to become A-Grade and junior coach as well as filling the positions of President and Secretary, also coaching school teams.

Ann Gardner, a player for the Eagles, has also had an extended career in softball, recently retiring after 50 years, and still a strong supporter. Her experience and knowledge of the sport and its history in Tasmania is an invaluable resource which she has passed on to her daughter Eliesha who is a strong advocate of the game.

I recently had the honour of awarding Life Membership to Kaylene Woodcock-Kemp, who has given the NTSA much of her time, and shared her softball knowledge and skills with many junior players, some of whom have gone on to play in the senior competition.

NTSA President Brenda Hanlon says that, whilst they are a small organisation, they combine that with lots of passion for the sport and take great pride in recognizing the exceptional work of many of their volunteers. I couldn’t agree more.

Earlier this year, the Northern Tasmania Softball Association was recognised by Softball Australia with the award of Homeplate status which is awarded to clubs and associations who demonstrate peak performance not just in the game itself, but in their ability to manage itself and its players, grow its members and retain and skill up their longer-term members. It’s a truly incredible achievement and so very well-deserved.

If you are interested in softball, I encourage you to head online to the NTSA website, where you can find a wealth of information about how to get involved, or you can drop down to Churchill Park on a Saturday for a look, with men playing at 9 am, younger teams at 11 am and women at 1 pm.  It’s a fantastic and fun game, with a group of wonderful and welcoming people.

Independent Launceston Legislative Councillor

Rosemary Armitage MLC

OP-ED: 'Playgroups making life bear-able for littlies'

26 November 2020, The Examiner

This has been a huge year for everyone, but for many of our children, the tumult and troubles have hit harder. It’s difficult at the best of times to adapt to change, but for young people, it’s even more difficult, given their outlook of the world is still forming. More than ever, out children and young families need positivity and even a bit of fun, so they remember, that in the end, everything will be ok.

 

October 24 to November 1 was National Children’s Week – an annual week celebrated by the attention of the wider community focused on children, their rights and achievements. Children’s Week is all about celebrating the right of children to enjoy childhood. This year’s theme was ‘Children have the right to choose their own friends and safely connect with others’.

 

Nationally, Children’s Week is organized by the Children’s Week Council of Australia, but in Tasmania, the backbone organisation that takes ownership and responsibility of the themes and activities is Playgroup Tasmania, which does extraordinary work in the community with our families.

 

This year it was very difficult to organize activities due to COVD-19 and social distancing requirements, but Playgroup Tasmania, Housing Choices Tasmania and all their partner organisations pulled together some very special events, both in person, across the entire state, and online. Usually National Children’s week is marked by the annual Teddy Bear’s Picnic, held in City Park, where you can pack a picnic blanket, favourite teddy bear and enjoy the fun and free activities. These picnics are always so much fun, enjoyed by children from babies to pre-school, parents, carers and often grandparents alike.

 

This year, due to COVID-19, the focus on was on smaller, locally-based activities, but everyone still had the chance to participate. Among many other things, an at-home scavenger hunt, art competition and teddy bear giving online were real successes. At many locations across Tasmania, movie afternoons, picnics, painting, music and yoga were all available for parents and children to participate in. It was truly a fantastic week, and Playgroup Tasmania did a marvellous job pulling together such wonderful events.

 

For the other 51 weeks of the year, Playgroup Tasmania does wonderful work at the coalface with our families and children. As a not-for-profit, state-based membership organisation, it relies very strongly on people power to provide support and resources to assist with the establishment, coordination, administration and promotion of playgroups right across Tasmania. It operates with a voluntary board of governance, and a small contingent of staff, including Chief Executive Officer Jacinda Armstrong, who manages play group development officers and administrative staff based in all regions of the state.

 

As a peak body representing over 35 volunteer-led community playgroups and 15 organisational playgroups, including Child and Family Centres and neighbourhood community houses, it will come as no surprise that each year over 500 families engage with Playgroup Tasmania, with even more attending playgroups each week.

 

These playgroups have wonderful resources for both parents and kids, such as the Hadspen Playgroup with its amazing range of toys and equipment, crafts and activities, including an on-site community nurse who is available to see walk-ins. If you have young children and haven’t been to playgroup, it is a great way to help your children develop social skills and for mums and dads to chat to other parents and sometimes share concerns.

 

Playgroup Tasmania also administers a supported playgroup program called Play Connect, providing a soft entry for families with children aged0-6 years who have needs associated with an Autism Spectrum Disorder or developmental delays in communication, behaviour or social skills. No formal diagnosis is required no a referral to attend, but the benefits it offers to parents is not to be understated.

 

During National Children’s Week, Playgroup Tasmania launched its fabulous new outdoor area at its Holbrook Street facility in Launceston. This playgroup alone services around 80 families each week, providing access to learning, productive and fun play and an opportunity for parents to connect. This facility will also significantly contribute to the wellbeing of our families and provide fantastic opportunities for children’s imagination and creativity. This very impressive redevelopment, which includes new play equipment and flooring, was made possible through a grant from the Tasmanian Community Fund, as well as through the generosity of the Rotary Club of Central Launceston and the WD Booth Trust.

 

With hard work, making positive connections and with community spirit, incredible initiatives like this can come to fruition. Playgroup Tasmania is a wonderful organisation doing important work in our communities. I encourage every family with young children to take advantage of what is on offer and head to playgroup. It is an impressive local organisation making our communities better and stronger.

Independent Launceston Legislative Councillor

Rosemary Armitage MLC

OP-ED: 'Dear Premier, here is the North's wishlist'

12 November 2020, The Examiner

For the past couple of months you may have noticed little hints of Christmas popping up. Tinsel and bauble decorations are being put up with the usual Christmas fare for sale at the shops.

 

After the doozy of a year we've had we are starting to think about what we want in the coming weeks and months and putting together a wish list for Santa.

 

This week, the State Government hands down the budget, being put off from the usual last Thursday in May.

 

A budget is the main, annual policy platform of any incumbent Government, and demonstrates how they have managed our tax dollars and shows where they have directed our precious public resources.

 

As the Member for Launceston, I thought in the spirit of Christmas, a northern wish list might help the Government understand our priorities and needs now, and in the years to come, but of course, everyone has different priorities.

 

Let's start with the Launceston General Hospital. Our hospital is at the centre of our community in the care provided, and it's important an holistic approach is taken to benefit the patients and the staff.

 

While the announced $45m funding boost for elective surgery will go some way to easing the backlog, it follows on that it is essential we have a well-resourced hospital with more beds opened and more staff employed to care for those patients.

 

Nurses should not have to continually work double shifts; we must value them and ensure they do not get burned out or feel the need to seek employment elsewhere.

 

A dedicated, stand-alone palliative care northern hospice would complement our hospital. This has been proposed since the demise of Philip Oakden House in 2007.

 

While the Calvary Melwood unit provides a good service with excellent staff, beds are limited, and everyone has the right to die in a comfortable, private setting with family, friends and even pets around them, rather than a sterile hospital environment in possibly a four-bed ward at the LGH.

 

The government's 10-year plan for Launceston's traffic including the much-needed bridge across the Tamar linking the West and East Tamar highways, alleviating many traffic issues is something that needs to come to fruition.

 

Then we have the often-discussed eastern bypass concept.

This discussion has been ongoing for decades and all we have to show for it is report after report.

 

The latest project has received $1.5 million from the Australian Federal Government to presumably reinvestigate the same material which has already been analysed.

 

It is time to actually construct something and for that to happen, the State Government and the City of Launceston need to start the process. Heavy vehicles should not go through our city centre.

The Tamar River is a priority issue and it is hoped the State Government together with TasWater can expedite the proposed works to reduce the impact of raw sewerage flowing into our river at times of heavy flood, as would be seen in a third world country.

Being safe and feeling safe is a must, and adequately resourced emergency services are essential.

 

As for our police force, while state-of-the-art equipment is necessary, so are resources to allow sufficient officers on the ground around the clock, to ensure their safety and that of our community.

 

Education is always deserving of extra funding, as nothing is more important than our children. Given the extension of schools to years 11 and 12, one Launceston college with a city and Newstead campus would be worth considering.

 

Critical to Tasmania's tourism sector, our arts, entertainment and hospitality scene in the north, has significantly suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic. It will also be key to bringing our state and economy out of the red and back to normal, especially as we open our borders and entice people to return.

 

While many events and businesses have been able to adapt and survive throughout the pandemic, continuing to cater to their customers and patrons, albeit in a different way, this was not possible for everyone.

 

It is in our best interest for local councils and the government to ensure they have the support they need to survive in the coming months and years.

 

Relief by way of easing fees and taxes applicable to running businesses and events would go a long way to showing support to business owners, event organisers, and artists who rely on them to remain viable, employ staff and pay taxes.

 

I could go on, but these are just a few thoughts and I welcome discussion about what needs the community has and how I can best help advocate for them.

Independent Launceston Legislative Councillor

Rosemary Armitage MLC

OP-ED: 'Popular sport needs a fair go with funding'

15 October 2020, The Examiner

In Tasmania, the largest participation sport is football (known as soccer in some parts of Australia) according to Sport Australia’s participation figures. Despite this, it receives less government funding than many other sports in this state.

With the announcement from FIFA earlier this year that Australia and New Zealand would co-host the 2023 Women’s World Cup, we were rightfully elated. Significant opportunities like these are few and far between, and given football’s popularity, we owe it to our communities to ensure that we are properly investing in the game.

Football Tasmania is the governing body for soccer in Tasmania and represents nearly 40,000 players, their clubs, families and communities and is calling for a Fair Go for Football. Tasmanian facilities and school programs support a large number of football players throughout Tasmania, with Sport Australia estimating that 7.4 per cent of Tasmanians play the sport.

Independent research also shows that one in five Tasmanian households are actively involved in football, further expanding the reach of social, health and economic benefits that football brings to our communities.

A Fair Go for Football is asking, very simply, for greater support for the sport and for those who play it. It makes a compelling case for greater investment in the sport to ensure that the opportunities presented by Australia hosting the 2023 Women’s World Cup, and the legacy it will leave, are adequately catered for.

It means that those who already play it will be supported and those who want to take it up will have the opportunities to do so. The benefits that would flow from this are undeniable, the opportunities are plain to see and the demand for access to play the game already exists.

Ticket to Play, a State Government initiative designed to reduce the cost of participating in club sporting activities for Tasmanian children, provides vouchers to assist with the associated costs of sport. In 2019, football recorded the highest uptake of Ticket to Play participation of any team sport in Tasmania, with 35 per cent of all vouchers used to play.

This emphasises the need for further, dedicated financial support for this sport. The opportunities presented by the 2023 Women’s World Cup are clear. If we are able to host any of the games during the World Cup, we can market Tasmania to the world, by showcasing everything that Tasmania has to offer in one of the world’s most popular sporting events.

The Tasmanian Government has an agreement with FIFA that it will provide an investment of $1 million should we secure three group-stage matches and the option of two base camp training venues. Confirmation of final host cities and venues is expected to be announced between December 2020 and June 2021.

York Park, having hosted A-League games in the past, has the potential to be broadcast as a leading sporting venue to the entire world and we have only three months or prepare for this window of assessments by FIFA. We cannot let this opportunity pass us by.

Football Tasmania, under the Fair Go for Football campaign, has made a submission to the State Government for the forthcoming state budget, due to be handed down in mid-November. Among the specifics, the submission asks for investment to upgrade existing playing facilities, with football clubs already struggling to find enough parks for the number of players it has now.

If nothing is done, this will only become more challenging with the Women’s World Cup set to make the sport even more popular, with the result being that many new players – particularly children – will be locked out of the sport.

Regarding funding, Football Tasmania is also asking for a reassessment of how Government funding is allocated to sports and for greater consideration to be given to funding based on the number of players a particular sport has. The demonstrably growing number of players of football in Tasmania means that, if we do nothing to remedy this, the associated benefits of social connection and the physical and mental health benefits that playing the sport has, will be lost, to great detriment.

Of course, there is only a finite level of public resources that can be handed over to our sporting organisations, and football isn’t the only sport that Tasmanians play. But what is being asked for is nothing more than A Fair Go.

Australian Rules Football, cricket, hockey, softball, bowls and all manner of sports are just as deserving of funding and support. However, we shouldn’t be blind to the compelling argument that Football Tasmania makes and the opportunities which present themselves.

An investment in quality football services and facilities is an investment in our communities and their future. It would signal support for players and their families and boost Tasmania’s goals of becoming fitter, healthier and more socially connected.

Independent Launceston Legislative Councillor

Rosemary Armitage MLC

OP-ED: 'Don't underestimate people power promise'

15 October 2020, The Examiner

At the heart of our communities are our people and for a long time, the effectiveness of “people power” has long been overlooked as a driver for meaningful and long-lasting change.

Initiatives which look to bring every day people into decision-making processes often seem like the will bring good results, but can fall by the wayside, become talk-fests or fail to deliver tangible results. I believe that the cause for this is that there is often a focus on implementing ideas that are too unwieldy, too undefined or which don’t have a broad consensus. To my mind, the better and more meaningful approach is to leverage what assets already exist in the community and making them the best they possibly can be.

This is where the City of Launceston’s initiative of the ABCDE Learning Sites comes in as a disruptive force. This stands for Asset Based Community Driven Effort and is all about focusing on “what’s strong, not what’s wrong”, by enabling a community to identify their assets, build connections and create change in the heart of the community to benefit those living within the area.

Three learning sites have already been delivered under a collaboration between the City of Launceston and the Bank of I.D.E.A.S. at Rocherlea in 2017, Ravenswood in 2018 and Mowbray in 2019, which all delivered great results and really got these communities working positively together for great outcomes.

At the conclusion of the Mowbray project, the community devised three fantastic initiatives: the paddock to plate initiative, the identification of future development opportunities in the area and the northern suburbs wi-fi program. These are no small results; they have real, beneficial effects for the community and they were all driven by the people.

The development of a Learning site is a 12-month process. To help coordinate this, the City of Launceston provides a place-based Community Connector who guides a group of community members through a self-led, flexible process. The Bank of I.D.E.A.S. has a methodology which comprises eight touchstones, among which are the recruitment of a community team, hosting conversations to discover assets, engaging locals, building connections through social interaction, visioning and planning, implementing change and fostering celebration.

This process is contextually-based and will vary in application from community to community. This includes consideration of the composition of the community, including age brackets, socioeconomic status, levels of education, demographic data and taking stock of the available assets ad opportunities to leverage. Again, the program focuses on “what’s strong, not what’s wrong”. The challenge is for community members to move from being treated as customers, consumers, clients and patients in programs that aren’t their own, and to star being treated as co-owners, co-producers and citizens in the design and implementation of actions that build their communities as healthy, caring and inclusive places and groups.

Right now, with the Rocherlea, Ravenswood and Mowbray projects being wrapped up, the program is being rolled out in Youngtown and has already started making great strides towards achieving milestones. The Youngtown BUILDERTIME event was held in mid-September and brought together people from right across the Youngtown community, utilising an informal space with conversations being facilitated by the community connector Sarah McCormack, who has been involved in previous ABCDE projects. Sarah’s role involves supporting, facilitating and mentoring the communities as they develop their vision and plans, to encourage the celebration of achievements and reflecting on what occurs. Everyone is welcome to attend the BUILDERTIME events and it is an excellent way to get in touch with other locals who want to make their community the best it can be.

While it’s still in its reasonably early stages, the Youngtown ABCDE Project already has some outstanding ideas to take stock about what it is they love about their community and to get creative about how they will continue to use them in new and novel ways. These include the use of sporting facilities and bringing people together to try new and fun activities, which will ultimately lead to happier, healthier Youngtown residents. Participants of previous projects give the program very high praise  - as a good way to meet their neighbours (both literally and figuratively), to make connections and form new, positive and productive relationships with one another.

The Youngtown ABCDE program is moving up a gear in the next few months, with Peter Kenyon, the Director of the Bank of I.D.E.A.S. conducing a community workshop today, Thursday October 15 at 10 at the South Launceston Football Club Rooms, Highgate Street, Youngtown. This free and fun workshop is open to everyone, to share ideas and hear other people’s thoughts. This initiative is a win for everyone and I am looking forward to seeing some wonderful results come out of the incredible community of Youngtown through this program.

Independent Launceston Legislative Councillor

Rosemary Armitage MLC

OP-ED: 'Getting on board with local representation'

1 October 2020, The Examiner

Like the private sector, the enterprises and organisations that are run in whole or in part by the government, use boards to steer the organisation and to make big strategic decisions. Board members tasked with such important duties therefore need to have good knowledge, skills, experience and savvy. It’s also important that boards meaningfully represent those that work in the industry and their clients.

 

In Tasmania, the split between the north, north west and south geographic regions brings an additional dimension which should also be considered by our Government boards and committees. With this in mind, let’s get some statistics out of the way.

 

There are 101 government boards and committees, excluding Government Business Enterprises and State-Owned Companies.

 

Of the 830 board members who rune these organisations, 594 reside in the south, 66 reside in the north west, 140 reside in the north and 30 reside interstate.

 

There are six Government Business Enterprises, which include the Public Trustee and MAIB, among others. Of the 32 board members directing these enterprises, 13 reside in the south, two in the north west, four in the north and 13 reside interstate.

 

There are eight State-Owned Companies including Aurora, TasNetworks and TT Line, among others. Of the 45 total board members, 21 reside in the south, two in the north west, eight in the north and 14 reside interstate.

 

To emphasise the challenging nature of this issue, TT Line, whose main operation is the smooth running of the Spirit of Tasmania, has seven board members. Of these, four board members reside in the south, three interstate and zero from either the north or north west, the latter being where the majority of its operations are based.

 

It is important for the makeup of any board to not just have the skills and knowledge necessary to steer an enterprise, but to also have meaningful representation of its workforce and client base. Omitting the geographical knowledge or skills that local board member would bring to a board or committee, not only undermines this principle, but also places our GBEs, SOCs and other boards and committees on the back foot when it comes to best performance.

 

We should also consider how much taxpayer money is being spent on the costs of bringing people from interstate to Tasmanian to participate in board or committee meetings. In the year 2017-18, Tasmanians spent $303,000 on these expenses.

 

This is separate to the cost of recruiting board members, done by Executive Search Agencies; organisations or individuals which find and vet potential board or committee members, costing from $13,000 to $25,000, depending on the size of the business and nature of the appointment. Of the five Executive Search Agencies supplying these services to the Government, one is based in Launceston, one is based in Hobart, two in Melbourne and one in Sydney.

 

I intend to continue probing the government on their board and committee rationale and methodology because I believe that, to be fair to the Tasmanians who use and pay for the services which are provided by Government Business Enterprises, State-Owned Companies and other boards, they need to have confidence that their interests are actually being represented.

 

I, like many others, baulk at the idea of there not being adequate skills, expertise and talent in the north and north west and think interstate appointments should only be made under exceptional circumstances.

 

When I raised this issue back in 2018, the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry led by example and amended their constitution to have tow board members from the north, north west and south and to bring in skilled members as needed. Of course, each board, committee, enterprise and company is different and will therefore have different requirements for their boards.

 

I believe however that the pendulum has swung too far towards the southern and interstate appointments to have meaningful representation and adequate diversity among their ranks. In cases such as TT Line, it makes no sense for there to be no board members that are based in the region out of which it primarily operates.

 

By the Government’s own Guidelines for Tasmanian Government Businesses: Board Appointments document, the six principles with which board appointments must be consistent are: competency, stakeholder engagement, transparency, consistency, timeliness and diversity. I don’t think anyone would disagree with these, but it might be time to mandate the seeking out of appointments out of area when the skills that are needed simply aren’t available locally.

 

As we move out of COVID-19, rebuild and reconnect, local engagement is more important than ever. It is time to seriously consider how we make our government boards and committees more representative of the Tasmanian people and their needs.

Independent Launceston Legislative Councillor

Rosemary Armitage MLC

OP-ED: 'NDIS a Positive Game Changer'

20 August 2020, The Examiner

There is something extraordinary about Jo Ryan and her husband’s family. With three days’ notice in 1989 a son, Ben Gower, came to them by way of adoption and they found themselves very suddenly becoming a mum and a dad. With all the excitement of new parenthood, and not quite sure what to expect, it was a joy getting to know their son and it was easy to overlook his missing his first milestone or two.

 

Red flags started being raised when this continued – Ben wasn’t walking or talking way past when it would be expected and Jo and her husband were at a bit of a loss. Their gorgeous little boy needed some help. After a long while of tests, a peadiatric specialist in Launceston diagnosed ben through DNA but it wasn’t until they discovered the Fragile X clinic in Melbourne that they learnt what was to come. It explained everything.

 

The Fragile X group of disorders are a family of inherited conditions caused by alterations in a gene that is located on the X-Chromosome, hence the name Fragile X. These disorders include a wide range of physical, intellectual and behavioural symptoms. In Ben, this manifested as difficulty learning, concentrating and being understood by his peers. This coincided with his highly enthusiastic attitude.

 

Jo recalls walking with Ben through the park and coming across council workers with machinery and, not just being able to walk past, but having to go with Ben to take a look at the machines and have a chat with the workers. Instilling the virtues of kindness, understanding and confidence in Ben, his difficulties achieving milestones made it all the more difficult for Jo and Gary, who ultimately decide to send Ben to a special school. When he reached Newstead College however, Ben began to shine as he began to work out what he loved doing and what he was good at.

 

Not being defined in any way by his condition, Ben’s personality is on of an outgoing, confident and deeply kind, conscientious and thoughtful man. This allowed him to pick up odd jobs with Gunns and the City of Launceston, in which he took great pride. Not content with just taking on his paid work, Ben has a myriad of extra-curricular interests which includes volunteering with meals-on-wheels and working at the Mowbray Golf Club – where he certainly has a well-developed and highly accurate swing.

 

As a person who is always willing to give something a try and with several passions and interests – like yard work and bike riding – a person like Ben, with his incredible attitude and outlook on life, has the world at his feet. It is just a matter of finding the point at which what he loves doing intersects with a job opportunity. This has become a reality.

 

Ben has a permanent job at Coles which he loves and is adored by the customers and staff. He is always willing to lend a hand and is not afraid of asking if you need help with something. That is just who he is.

 

Throughout COVID-19, Jo says how proud she is that Ben became an essential worker during a global pandemic, who thrived so well and contributed so much. The things many people take for granted can be so much harder for Ben, which speaks so well about Ben’s resilient character and positive disposition. On the day of writing, Ben had an appointment at the optometrist and, with errands like dental checkups, needs a lot of hand-holding. However, if you give Ben a job that tests his memory skills and organizational skills, I would challenge you to find anyone better at the task.

 

More recently, Jo, Ben and their supporters and others living with Fragile X disorders, lit up the Launceston Town Hall orange to raise awareness for the condition. Raising awareness for special needs and disorders is not new for Jo either. In the early days of the National Disability Insurance Scheme roll-out, Jo was asked to join the panel that would help set the direction of the scheme.

 

Jo and Ben are now applying these skills to raise awareness for the Fragile X family or disorders and, had it not been for the advent of the Coronavirus Pandemic, would be conducting a series of fundraising events too.

 

When thinking about the future, Jo is optimistic. The NDIS has been a game-changer and opened up a great deal of opportunities for Ben and possibilities for his mum Jo to connect with, and support other parents in similar circumstances.


What is important however, is living in the moment and appreciating the thoughtful, kind, funny and conscientious person Ben has ultimately become.

Independent Launceston Legislative Councillor

Rosemary Armitage MLC

OP-ED: 'Parliamentary System Education Needed'

6 August 2020, The Examiner

Recent elections in Huon and Rosevears have raised once again the relevance of the Legislative Council. With party members taking bot seats, it raises questions as to the working of the Legislative Council or upper house of Parliament. My comments with regard to party affiliation in the upper house are no reflection on those party members elected.

 

All six current party members – two Liberal and four Labor – are excellent members and all could have been elected as independents in their own right, had they chosen to stand as such. While I don’t personally know Bastian Seidel, I am sure he would be a worthy member, and the same can be said for Jo Palmer, another candidate who would make an excellent advocate and member of our community. All people who stand for any public position should be applauded, as to bare your soul and put yourself up for acceptance or rejection is not easy.

 

Every candidate in the Huon and Rosevears electorates have worked extremely hard and should be proud of their efforts, but losing is never easy. I know, as I will never forget losing the 2009 City of Launceston mayoral election by three votes after five recounts. It is a hard pill to swallow, but you move on and say to yourself “it was never meant to be”.

 

Our Tasmanian upper house up until now has been the only house of Parliament in the Commonwealth, and possibly the world, with a majority of independent members, which makes it a truly genuine house of review. Where my concern lies is in the reviewing of legislation forwarded to us from the House of Assembly. With the exception of bills such as voluntary assisted dying, where party members will have a conscience vote, an independent member has the ability to scrutinize the legislation, seek the opinion of their community, research the matter at hand and vote accordingly.

 

Party members on the other hand, must vote according to the will of their party. This clearly prevents adequate scrutiny. With any bill of Government, the Government members will obviously support and on many occasions, unless there has been support in the House of Assembly their party, the opposition members will likely oppose. If we end up with eight party members, it will be the first time that party numbers will outnumber independents. This also limits debate on the floor of the Parliament as it is usual for one party member to have carriage of the bill, meaning for example in the case of the Labor Party if they have five members, it is likely only one will speak. In single-member electorates, it is important that the view of every electorate is represented on the floor of the Parliament, irrespective of party politics.

 

I am also concerned by a Labor draft bill that proposes an increase in the Legislative Council candidate campaign spending cap from $17,000 to $30,000 and to be increased by the amount of the Hobart Consumer Price Index (as determined by the ABS) each financial year.

 

This clearly disadvantages independent candidates and further advantages party candidates as what an unaffiliated person in the community can afford to spend $30,000 on a campaign with no certainty of election. The $17,000 figure is a huge amount of money to spend and many people use the tried and true form of electioneering by door-knocking and being available in the community, but with a party opponent able to spend $30,000 puts most independents at a major disadvantage.

 

An amendment such as this could see the Tasmanian Legislative Council having a one-party majority which in turn, could make it a rubber stamp for a Government or an automatic house of opposition for a non-ruling party.

 

It would therefore, be a complete waste of taxpayers’ money and lose all relevance. Before I entered council and then Parliament, as a mum with four children, I took very little interest in politics. It was quite low on my radar, and at voting time, we would scan the brochures and often voted for the person as opposed to a party. As a child, my father was staunch Labor, stating they were for the working man and I believe my mother was a swinging voter. When I was at school, I don’t recall any lessons on politics and while I appreciate now that some schools do not visit the Parliament, perhaps there needs to be more education in schools as to our Parliamentary systems and the workings of both chambers, as effective houses of Parliament are essential for good governance.

Independent Launceston Legislative Councillor

Rosemary Armitage MLC

OP-ED: 'Sad reality of youth within Justice System'

10 July 2020, The Examiner

I wonder how many people have heard of the Independent Person register with Tasmania Police. This is an extremely important and personally fulfilling community service that can be undertaken by the average person to assist Tasmania Police in their daily duties.

There is a daytime roster and a nighttime roster, as crime happens any time, and the average time at the station would be between 30 minutes and an hour. Obviously sometimes it is less and on occasion I have been there for a couple of hours. It all depends on the crimes and whether someone is charged and bailed to reappear.

Videoing interviews and statements, taking photographs and fingerprints etc. all time, but are essential and I couldn’t hazard a guess how many video interviews I have appeared in. I have been an independent person for over 20 years and never cease to be amazed at the young people who fall foul of the system and get themselves into strife. As an independent person the duty is to be an independent adult observer in police interviews of young people.

My understanding is that police policy requires an adult, parent or guardian present during an interview to ensure that statements are made freely without threat or coercion and that no claims can be made that the alleged offender has been treated unfairly. During my time as an independent person all the young people have been treated very well.

When attending the police station, I introduce myself to the young person as attending on their behalf, shake their hand and ask whether they have a parent or guardian that they would rather have there. Regrettably, they often say their parent couldn’t be reached, or refused to come. I am led to believe that sometimes parents or guardians have had enough and simply can’t turn up for their own wellbeing.

Being a mother, I always ask them why they allowed themselves to get into that situation and stressed they could still have a good future as nothing would appear on their record should they turn their lives around as they were under 18. Officers have said they liked the fact that I responded like a mother and I have had many repeat visits.

The youngest person I have sat with was 10 and I was called back to sit with this child, who the police told me was basically a good kid, many times. How sad it is to witness an interview when a young child of 10 has allegedly committed theft and vandalism. He used to sneak our after his mum had drunk herself to sleep and go on a spree of theft and vandalism around his suburb. He had a partner in crime who was even younger, whom I never saw as he was too young to be charged. He would be an adult now and I sincerely hope his life has turned around.

On the other end of the scale I recall sitting with a 16-year-old who was a regular Ashley attendee. This young man could have passed for much older, he was good looking, athletic, articulate and appeared to be well-educated by preferred a life of crime. He could have followed any path he wanted but he saw no problem with what he did and wasn’t prepared to change.

I recall one interview where the police were asking if this young person had set fire to the car he and his mates had stolen. He said his mates had done it by igniting their socks, but not him. I looked down and noticed his feet were bare in his shoes.

I often left the police station feeling very sorry for the young person.

I recall one girl from a difficult home who told me she had no friends outside of Ashley because other children were not allowed by their parents to have anything to do with her, so she simply reoffended to go back to what she considered a safe place where she had friends, food and a warm place to sleep. She was all of 13 and she told me she believed there was no hope for her. How sad it is that a 13 someone things there is no hope and they have no future.

You ask yourself: what can we do as a society to help young people like her from becoming another statistic. I could write a book on the young people I have sat with during these interviews and there is no particular stereotype. They can be from any background, any age, male or female.

I would recommend to anyone to consider registering for the Independent Person register. Apart from assisting Tasmania Police to get on with their daily business, it makes you truly appreciate just how lucky you are.

Independent Launceston Legislative Councillor

Rosemary Armitage MLC

OP-ED: 'A better system for kinship carers is crucial'

26 June 2020, The Examiner

  

How many people have heard of Kin Raising Kids, an organisation which encourages and supports kinship carers, including grandparents raising grandchildren, who are the primary carers of diverse family and kin.

We often hear the term parent or guarding concerning children. We all know what a parent is and what they do and, for many years, I had considered a guarding to be a temporary carer, such as close family member or perhaps a foster parent. While this isn’t necessary incorrect, the term “guardian” is far broader than this.

In reality, when these children are not in the state care system, their caring arrangement is usually informal, with costly and time-consuming court-mandated care arrangements being a disincentive to make alternative care arrangements legally formal.

About 80 per cent of all kinship carers in Tasmania are informal carers according to Kin Raising Kids Tasmania, which supports kinship carers, offers peer support, advocacy, information and referral services to member kinship families throughout Tasmania. It is this large contingent of kinship carers which tend to so often fall through the cracks and have little financial assistance.

In late 2019, Kin Raising Kids briefed Legislative Councillors on their work and the issues that informal kinship carers are continuously faced with, and some of their experiences were heart-rending. Often, carers tend to be grandparents raising children in situations where a child’s biological parent is unwilling or unable to look after and raise their child. With the alternative of having a child placed into the state system, grandparents are of course usually the ones who step up and take care of the child or children.

Often, the focus is quite correctly on the rights and welfare of the child. However, this isn’t to say that we can’t also consider the impact that an unexpected guardianship arrangement has on kin-carers such as grandparents. During the briefing, we heard about the personal experiences that some of the grandparents had shared, and I believe this is worth repeating in their words:

“Our plans for retirement changed immediately. The long-awaited grey nomad leisurely tour of Australia and other plans were set aside while we struggled with formula, baby food, nappies, daily bathing, walks in the stroller, trips to the park, play dates and stimulating a lively 11 month old, the life we had known changed dramatically… too old to form firm friendships with the parents of other toddlers and finding our social lives very restricted, over the years we sadly watched most of our friendships fade away along with the activities we used to enjoy in their company.”

As this couple entered their sixties, they found their days filled with activities for the child and either falling asleep in front of the tv or falling into bed exhausted. They further said that they had spent the entirety of their married life of 32 years, raising two children who would have otherwise been in in state care, and received neither recognition nor assistance for their efforts and sacrifices.

They were also very clear that, should they have to do it all again, they would do so in a heartbeat and that it could never have been any other way. Kinship carers are often confronted with complex psychological problems arising from abuse, neglect, violence and issues such as the children’s parents’ drug and alcohol addiction; problems which require appropriate training and experience to deal with. In contrast, foster carers are trained, prepared and supported before receiving children and during their care for them.

It is not through positive circumstances when a child must be taken care of by someone other than their parent or parents. It is usually something which has resulted from tragedy with addiction, neglect, violence and abuse being common factors and additional challenges for their carers. This makes the job of Kinship Carers all the more difficult and intimidating, whether they be grandparents, siblings, close or distant relatives.

Likewise, this makes the work of Kin Raising Kids all the more important, as they are filling a gap which has so unfairly developed for carers in informal care situations, who receive little to no acknowledgement or support, whether that be financial, mental or emotional.

Kin Raising Kids Tasmania is working towards resolving that.


Kin Raising Kids aspires to establish a kinship care network across Tasmania, represent the collective view of their carers, raise public awareness and develop partnerships with similar organisations and support services related to looking after, and raising children.

Working towards a better system for Kinship Carers is vital if we are to ensure that these children and their kinship carers are properly supported and the extraordinary work being done by Kin Raising Kids Tasmania and their affiliate and partner organisations are making great strides towards that goal.

  

Independent Launceston Legislative Councillor

Rosemary Armitage MLC

OP-ED: 'Clifford Craig Foundation needs more support more than ever'

11 June 2020, The Examiner

 

Now, more than ever, medical research is vital. Now just as it relates to the prevalence of the novel Coronavirus, but as it relates to keeping ups healthy and well otherwise during these difficult times. I want to shed some light on some of the world-class medical research that happens right here in our own backyard.

The Clifford Craig Foundation is a health promotion charity that supports the Launceston General Hospital and the tertiary referral hospital for North and North-West Tasmania.

Founded in 1992 the Clifford Craig Medical Research Trust (as it was then known) was named after the late Dr Clifford Craig, a distinguished surgeon, administrator and medical historian. Dr Craig was a revered and outstanding contributor to the Launceston General Hospital during his 40 years there. Dr Craig started at the LGH in 1926, becoming director of surgery in 1949 and retired in 1951.

When it was founded, the foundation was set up as an independent organisation focused on the health needs of the local community. Its aim is to support medical research which improves the understanding and treatment of key health conditions affecting Northern Tasmania, particularly diabetes, heart disease, cancer and age-related conditions such as dementia.

A key intention from the outset has been to attract specialists to the Launceston General Hospital by providing them with strong support to undertake medical research locally. A priority for the foundation is medical research and through its activities, the foundation enables and empowers its research teams to find better treatments and ways to cure the health-related issues that are important to Tasmanians.

To this end, the research and educational opportunities provided by the Foundation help attract and retain medical specialists, researchers and higher degree students to live and work in Northern Tasmania.

This work done by the Clifford Craig Foundation is even more impressive when consider that it does not get any government funding. Funding is sourced from other channels including community activities, fundraisers, bequests and grants. Since 1992, the Clifford Craig Foundation has funded over $6.5 million in medical research.

The projects that have been supported are inspiring. Associate Professor George Razay’s research into a potentially treatable form of dementia called Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus is one such example of the incredible progress being made towards diagnosing and treating conditions which have historically been much harder to work on.

Another example of the fantastic work which has been done by the Clifford Craig Foundation is through attracting the likes of Dr Katie Flanagan to come and work in Northern Tasmania. Dr Flanagan studied at Oxford, completed her medical training in London and worked for seven years in West Africa conducting an infant immunology research program. A desire for a lifestyle change and an opportunity to undertake vital medical research in her area of expertise through the Foundation saw Dr Flanagan’s eventual arrival to Launceston.

At the LGH, Dr Flanagan has advised on how to treat tricky infections, as well as on antibiotic use in haematology and oncology departments. Dr Flanagan has also co-led a study of 1,500 babies which looks at the benefits of the BCG vaccine for asthma, allergies and the immune system and a separate study about vaccine mechanisms. In addition to this, Dr Flanagan has supervised several PhD students and continues to conduct research made possible by the Foundation.

Community outreach and events hosted by the Clifford Craig Foundation are also second-to-non. Many will be familiar with the annual International Women’s Day Luncheon which is hosted by the Foundation each year, attracting inspiring guest speakers and generating extremely valuable revenue to continue on its work. Much the same can be said of the Foundation’s Walk and Run for your Heart event, the annual Charity Ball and the Ladies Day out – amongst many other events it runs throughout the year.

Moreover, the Foundation relies heavily on the support of its volunteers and partners. The Friends of Clifford Craig are a group of dedicated volunteers who work tirelessly to raise money for the Foundation’s medical research programs. The wonderfully talented and dedicated people who work with the organisation such as Chief Executive Peter Milne and Toni Maloney, who was the original boss when it was formed in 1992, and who works very closely in a voluntary capacity, also do much to keep engaged with the community and to bring even more enthusiastic volunteers into their ranks.

Now, more than ever, medical research needs our support. The Foundation’s inspiring work cannot continue without our faith and without funds. As things return back to normal, I would encourage everybody to take a look at the work that the Foundation does and, if you are able, to take a look at the volunteering opportunities it offers. We are extremely lucky to have the Clifford Craig Foundation.

Independent Launceston Legislative Councillor

Rosemary Armitage MLC

OP-ED: 'Now not the time for Coronavirus Complacency'

May 28 2020, The Examiner

 

While it’s great that we can start to enjoy a more relaxed lifestyle with some of the COVID-19 restrictions lifted, and more to be lifted in coming weeks, it could all come to a sudden halt if we go back to normal too quickly, and who knows just what the new normal will be. I question whether we are starting to become a bit complacent with fewer daily infections recorded as we must remember that while the northern hemisphere is going into summer, we are heading towards winter, our typical flu season.

 

We are told the key is to transition slowly, to avoid a second wave should we let our guard down too soon. Unfortunately, it only takes one infected person to kick it all off again, and we know how quickly it spreads. It is important for our mental and physical health that we enjoy life, see, talk with and relate to family and friends, but let’s not kid ourselves that the enemy has gone.

 

With restaurants and cafes, many of whom have been open with takeaway options, now able to take that further step of some in-house service, albeit 10 people per dining area to start with, it is up to all of us to make sure we continue to observe social distancing and other measures put in place so that they and we can continue to move forward. My family have loved takeaway meals, and I enjoy a welcome relief from cooking, hence doing what we can to help these businesses remain viable.

 

It is good to see people are now visiting our national parks and reserves with some restrictions lifted, but I query the restrictions for recreational fishers, as in the Launceston municipality there is no direct sea access as available in other areas. While I appreciate and support keeping our coastal communities safe, I fail to see the difference between someone checking their shack for the day, possibly visiting the local takeaway and getting fuel, with a person towing a boat and enjoying a day’s fishing before heading home. While I endorse the need for caution, in this case, I can’t see the common sense.

 

It is interesting to see as of Mid-May, that various districts in China, Germany, Iran, South Korea, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia have re-imposed lockdown measures after a spike in coronavirus infections. Obviously, economic reasons can trigger the decision to ease lockdowns, and that can’t be discounted, but we need to ensure that the pain and suffering already undertaken by many in our country and state, hasn’t been in vain.

 

Our Premier Peter Gutwein, and Health Minister Sarah Courtney have deservedly been lauded for the decisions they have made with regard to this pandemic and it is hope people will remember the hard decisions made were about saving lives rather than money when the cost of unemployment and net debt is fully known later this year. We should never forget that these people are not superhuman and have feelings and families just like the rest of us. In particular, our Premier, Health Minister, Chief Medical Officer and Secretary of the Department of Health have put their lives on hold since this pandemic took over. They have done the best they could in very difficult circumstances and unknown territory, and regardless of anyone’s political persuasion, they have managed this situation well. It is extremely sad that there have been 13 deaths recorded and my heartfelt sympathy goes out to those families as one death is too many.

 

To all our frontline staff wherever they work, emergency workers, hospital and medical staff who continually go above and beyond, and these include domestic staff, orderlies, security and virtually everyone  who doesn’t know if they will come across a COVID-19 case that day at work, but go nevertheless, thank you. Thank you really doesn’t seem enough.

 

I not that some states are now clashing with border wars over interstate travel with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian claiming states keeping their borders closed were hindering the nation’s economic recovery. At the end of the day in the context of this pandemic, I believe each state has the right to protect their own economies and communities in a way they see fit and not be bullied by other states.

 

Medical health experts around the world warn that returning to normality too quickly could risk a second wave of infections. One can only imagine the economic disaster that would befall us if we have to go back to severe lockdowns and for this reason, it is incumbent on all of us to keep up the social distancing as much as possible, stay home when we can, and not shop unnecessarily. We are not quite out of the woods yet.

Independent Launceston Legislative Councillor

Rosemary Armitage MLC

OP-ED: 'Daily work about helping communities'

May 14 2020, The Examiner

 

As a Legislative Councillor, it’s important for people to know what we do, our function in the wider operation of Parliament and everything we do in our communities as it is not widely understood. Like any political office, the functions of an MLC aren’t limited to legislative duties. Our day-to-day work is usually wrapped up in meetings with constituents or getting out into the community to events, school and to spend time with, and assist community groups.

Legislative Council member are local people who deeply know and understand their communities and constituents, dealing with a wide range of issues. Like other political members, we build and maintain relationships with as many constituents and community groups as possible, through volunteering on boards, helping out with events and keeping in touch with some of our fabulous community groups such as New Horizons Tasmania, Self Help and the schools that are in our electorates.

If constituents have an issue, be it federal, state or local, and are not sure where to go to seek help, a good first point of call is their Legislative Council member. We will always try to help, and if it is not within our means, can often suggest a way forward with other contacts.

 

Assisting constituents is one of the most rewarding parts of my work. We have an open-door policy and are readily available with Members for Launceston, Windermere and Rosevears all situated on the ground floor at Henty House in Civic Square.

The Tasmanian Legislative Council was established in 1825 and is the only house of Parliament in Australia – and perhaps the world – that has never been controlled by any government or political party. This should inspire a great deal of confidence in the Tasmanian Legislative Council, as it gives us the means to apply greater scrutiny to bills, with nine of its current fifteen members being beholden to no particular political party.

Most Australian states and territories (in addition to the Federal Parliament) are bicameral systems, meaning that there are two houses of Parliament. Tasmania’s House of Assembly, known as the Lower House, is usually where the government is formed and the Legislative Council or Upper House being where Bills are scrutinized and further debated. This functions as a check and balance on the power that is typically held in the Lower House, which is almost always controlled by a political party either as a majority or minority government.

Some jurisdictions, like Queensland, only have one house of Parliament – this is known as a unicameral Parliament. Tasmanian Legislative Councillors each represent a single electorate of around 25,000 constituents – fifteen in total and are responsible to the constituents in each of these areas. Currently, nine MLC are independent, four represent the Labor Party and two represent the Liberal Party.

This is unlike the Federal Upper House (the Senate) where Tasmania’s twelve senators of for Labor, five Liberal, two Greens and one Jacqui Lambie Network, who first and foremost represent the interests of the entire state.

Bills (draft Acts or proposed laws) which generally originate in the Lower House are debated and considered clause by clause and possibly amended. They are then sent to the Upper House for approval. The Upper House, being a house of review, scrutinizes and debates the Bill, making amendments if considered necessary. At times, a Bill is sent off to a committee for more intense scrutiny before being reviewed. If there are no amendments passed, the Bill is approved and sent off to the Tasmanian Governor for Royal Assent, at which time it becomes an Act of Parliament or a law.

If amendments are made, the Bill is returned to the Lower House for agreement, however, if amendments are not agreed to by the Lower House or the Upper House doesn’t pass the bill, it is thrown out.

Another integral duty of a Legislative Councillor is service on various committees. House of Assembly Members of Parliament also serve on committees, but for Legislative Councillors, their role as scrutineers of legislation extends to other actions of government. This includes scrutinising government policies through the budget estimates period, through Government Business Enterprise herrings and through the Joint Standing Parliamentary Accounts Committee, which is also comprised of members from the House of Assembly.

Legislative Councillors also find themselves participating in committees examining one-off issues through select committees such as the Short-Stay Accommodation Inquiry.

I urge anyone interested in the Legislative Council, or the Parliament more generally, to get online and to look at some of the great resources available. Please remember, should you require assistance on any issue, but particularly in these difficult times, I, along with my colleagues at federal, state and local levels of government, are here for you.

 

Independent Launceston Legislative Councillor

Rosemary Armitage MLC

OP-ED: 'A Veteran's Legacy well worth remembering'

April 30 2020, The Examiner

 

With Anzac Day still in mind I write about a remarkable returned serviceman, Launceston’s Ron Cassidy, whom I have the honour to meet in 2015. That year I presented a speech about him to Parliament with Ron sadly passing away at age 94 shortly after.
 

Born in Scottsdale in 1921, Ron was the fifth youngest of 10 boys and two girls. Ron remembered his mum Margaret and dad William who was a Boer War Veteran, as devoted parents and it was always a busy house with plenty going on.

He used to play football as a youngster and went to West Scottsdale Primary School completing sixth grade. At the age of 14, he earned 10 shillings a week milking cows a Lietinna twice a day, seven days a week and also did other farm jobs as needed. Later he helped dig holes to insert phone cables for the Postmaster General.

When he was 19, Ron decided he wanted to join the army. He said ‘I thought it would be fun. I never thought it would be like it was.’ To join the 2/40th Battalion he put his age up to years to 21.

Ron joined with a few of his friends and he said their goal was to fight for the honour of their country. The 2/40th Battalion recruited almost entirely from Tasmania, was formed in 1941 at Brighton in southern Tasmania and Ron was a truck driver. They caught a boat from Tasmania to Melbourned and travelled to Bonegilla, near Wodonga in Victoria, then on to Darwin where they built roads for the camps.

Things changed in 1941. The Japanese had entered the war and the 2/40th went to Timor as part of Sparrow Force to help the Dutch protect the Penfui Air base and their Hudson bombers. The division had just under 1,000 Tasmanians who were up against the might of a reported 23,000 Japanese soldiers. It was formidable and they had never fought in the jungle before.

Ron recalled one battle which lasted for four days. In 1942, they were captured by the Japanese and he drove trucks for them for seven months, sometimes with a pistol to his head. From Timor they went to Java where a plane tried to bomb their shop. Thankfully the bomb did not hit the boat as the truck drivers were locked underneath.

The ship reached Java and they unloaded petrol and guns from the ship. From there they went to Singapore and within two weeks they were on the notorious Burma Railway.

The men worked 16-hour days and all they would get to eat for the day would be one cup of rice. The Japanese view was if the soldiers did not work, they got no food. Ron said ‘If you straightened your back the Japanese would beat you and they had their guns trained on you at all times.’ Ron said it was his strong friendships that kept him going through these times and he would regularly share the little food he had with sick mates.

Ron was on the railway for 18 months. The fittest from the 2/40th, known as the Dunlop Force, were picked to travel to Japan. In Japan, Ron worked at a copper refinery and helped to make iron ore at the zinc works in Omuta, south-west of Nagasaki where he also worked at a smelting works in the Mitsubishi factory. Another of Ron’s jobs was to feed the factory furnace at night so that sweet potatoes could be cooked for the Japanese. Ron said they would give him six sweet potatoes to cook and he would take two. He said those sweet potatoes tasted beautiful.

In August 1945, America dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killing an estimated 200,000 people. Omuta, where Ron was at the time, was 20km or so from the fallout zone from the Nagasaki bomb.

Ron recalled seeing a large puff of smoke on the horizon by the 2/40th Battalion members who shared that moment had no idea what had happened, let alone that the end of the war was in sight.

By 1945 the landing of Americans in Ron’s camp confirmed rumours the war had ended. He said ‘freedom was a marvelous feeling’.

Ron Cassidy was instrumental in helping to establish a memorial garden for the 2/40th AIF Battalion at Kings Park in Launceston and a tree carving at Green’s beach. The garden honours those who served in this Battalion and the planting replicates the Battalion’s ensign using a white rose and a red rose.

Ron Cassidy was reminiscent of the many servicemen and women who served our country with bravery, fortitude and honour.

In 2015 when I asked if he had a message for us, his reply was simple but powerful: appreciate what you have and how lucky you are.

Independent Launceston Legislative Councillor

Rosemary Armitage MLC

OP-ED: 'A different world awaits us post-COVID-19'

April 16 2020, The Examiner

 

When the coronavirus crisis is finally over, and it will be, in six or twelve months, one of our biggest challenges will be making sure people have survived not just financially, but mentally. The toll this crisis is taking on our communities of all ages cannot be underestimated. We have had serious challenges in the past, but during my years on earth, I have never seen anything like it. The Vietnam conflict would be the closest with our young men and women going off to war and many people conscripted into the forces.

I can only imagine the stress, grief and worry that caused for people in not knowing if their loved ones would return from war, and if so, in what condition. In reality, while this is a different challenge, and not underestimating the dangers of this virus, I am grateful that my children simply need to be careful to avoid this virus and are not being sent off to a battlefield in a far-flung country. As is said, if you are not working, stay home and save lives.

There are numerous issues with COVID-19 affecting people in countless ways. Financially it could take years for many businesses to recover, and some may never recover. Imagine having a business such as hospitality, and I can relate to this as my husband Bruce owned the Royal Oak Hotel for 42 years, having sold it in late 2018. While Winter has always been stressful for the hospitality industry, they have usually managed to come out the other side with Spring, Summer and interstate tourists adding welcome relief.

For these businesses now having enforced closure, it must be a nightmare they are hoping to wake up from. To help our businesses survive we must support them now, from online shopping to takeaway meals, as all provide a valuable service to our community plus much-needed-employment.

The jobseeker and jobkeeper payments will go some way to assist workers to meet several commitments, but there are still people that will fall through the gaps and this is not acceptable. If we are all in this together, no one should be left behind.

Let's not forget our farmers either. Where would we be without them? How often they struggle to make ends meet particularly with drought or floods, and we should look at some way of ensuring they are adequately equipped financially to weather the many storms as they often don't qualify for any assistance.

On the positive side, I am pleased to see that many of our homeless now have a roof over their heads with Winter fast approaching and maybe for some this will be the change required to alter their circumstances into the future. We should remember that above dark clouds, there is still blue sky.

During this disruptive period for year 12 students to assist those wishing to go to university, and to ensure they are not disadvantaged, interested students will be able to apply after the Easter holidays through an online university portal. UTAS will send the school principal a list of the students who have applied with a recommendation form for them to complete for each student and return along with the students' year 11 results. Offers will start to go out to students after UTAS receives the school's recommendations. UTAS will still work with the state government to ensure that students get an ATAR at the end of the year, but most students should have offers to UTAS before they receive their ATAR.

To a different learning, I have learnt a new way of contact with my family, two of whom live interstate. I have never been overly computer literate, but I have now discovered Facetime and WhatsApp. It's not that hard once you give it a go. How good is it to be able to speak with loved ones far away, or in these times of social distancing, a few streets away and see them.

I am not fond of the term "social distancing" and believe it should be more "spatial distancing" because people need social contact. we need to talk to people and while it's often easier to put off phoning "mum" or "dad", and it can be seen as a chore, make the effort. It is only when our parents are gone that we truly appreciate them.

Let's be clear about this, once the COVID-19 threat is over we will all need to support each other. It will be a different world. Hopefully a world where we appreciate our environment, the great place we live and the people around us. Let's look out for each other, be kind and considerate as together we will get through this.

Independent Launceston Legislative Councillor

Rosemary Armitage MLC

OP-ED: New Horizons Funding Rejection Puzzling

2 April 2020, The Examiner

 

For anyone unfamiliar with the work of New Horizons Tasmania Inc. I would invite you to get online and have a look at the incredible opportunities they provide to Tasmanians living with a disability, their friends, families and carers. Established in 1986, New Horizons runs a roster of sporting and social activities including tennis, Aussie rules football, cricket, basketball and the lower impact activities like arts, crafts, socials and song and dance. Membership is open to people with any disability (intellectual, physical, spectrum disorders, anxiety disorders and more), from ages five and upwards.

The importance of an organisation like New Horizons isn't limited to just those who participate in their activities, but also their friends, families and carers whose bonds over shared joys and hobbies extend far beyond the activities of New Horizons into everyday life. Members and volunteers of New Horizons describe it as a beautiful community, where everyone can belong and be their best selves.

Moreover, the work being done by New Horizons, to build inclusion, social mobility and focus on health and wellbeing makes significant strides towards preventing serious health issues and isolation. New Horizons works to bring their volunteers, members and their families together, making our communities more cohesive and inclusive. The utility and need for valuable organisations like New Horizons in our community cannot be understated.

Historically, New Horizons has received funding from the Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services to cover approximately one third of their funding, which equates to a significant amount of their operational costs. When the National Disability Insurance Scheme was rolled out in Tasmania, this funding to New Horizons was redirected to the NDIS, leaving them to seek funds elsewhere.

Under the NDIS, there are grants available for organisations like New Horizons under the 'Information, Linkages and Capacity Building' stream which is "about creating connections between people with a disability and the communities they live in". During 2019, New Horizons applied three different times to the NDIS Information, Linkages and Capacity grants program and three times were unsuccessful. Needless to say, this was an extremely disappointing development.

Through their state-wide programme of activities, New Horizons supports over 400 Tasmanians with a disability - not all of whom may necessarily qualify for NDIS support. Consequently, New Horizons bridges a gap that some people may fall into by providing these quality services and activities for people who are fundamentally valued in our community and deserving of support.

The future of New Horizons at this time, and especially with the advent of the Novel Coronavirus threat, is uncertain.

The funding New Horizons currently receives - in the order of under $120,000 per annum - has been the same as from their inception since 1986. This funding ensures a 'doors open' policy, covering one salary, insurances and a small amount of admin. The modest program fees from their members and revenue from fundraising initiatives which New Horizons receives, covers the cost of one part-time admin employee and one part-time communications, partnerships and marketing employee. The organisation runs on the smell of an oily rag and yet provides such a vital and much-needed set of activities to people who will be significantly disadvantaged if New Horizons is forced to close its doors.

In my discussions with New Horizons, I believe they have been very proactive in seeking out funding sources and adapting their activities to meet the objectives of grants programs, and I am puzzled as to why they have thus far been unsuccessful. This isn't to suggest that the funding New Horizons has applied to have unfairly assessed their applications, but it is disappointing to see that the work New Horizons does seems to be inconsistent with the priorities of NDIS funding programs - something which I find difficult to understand.

New Horizons conducted interviews with six participants from the club and were able to summarise their activities across five key themes: sporting opportunities, health benefits, growth and development, importance of friendships and belonging and inclusion.

These are all very important themes for any organisation, but for one which works with some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in our community, its importance becomes amplified. The benefits these themes bring to New Horizons members' lives permeate throughout their own family and friendship networks and ultimately, is a strong preventative measure to our health and social security system. There is no downside to New Horizons's comprehensive roster of programs and activities and supporting them is a win for everybody.

Bringing attention to the work of New Horizons and the positivity they foster in our community is one way to do that, and I urge all others to get to know the fantastic work they do and help in any way they can. They are a truly inspirational organisation, working with truly inspirational people.

Independent Launceston Legislative Councillor

Rosemary Armitage MLC

OP-ED: A Single Tamar Authority Worth Discussing

19 March 2020, The Examiner

THE Tamar River, or Kanamaluka, which runs through our wonderful city of Launceston, has experienced some extraordinary changes since Launceston developed and it changes drastically every year.

As an estuary leading out to sea, the Tamar naturally shifts from fresh to saltwater during the year with ebb and flood tides, and along with the changing weather, develops mudflats which, whilst unpleasant to look at, are a part of the natural cycle.

Dredging, a process to drag along the bottom of the waterway to artificially deepen it, has historically been used as a way to move larger vessels into, and back out of the river.

It is a practice which continues to be brought up as a possible solution to target the mudflats to "clean" the river but, as they continue forming despite this, dredging has more or less been debunked as a practical solution to restore the Tamar to optimal health. It was also found that dredging in times of high floods, while somewhat successful in removing silt, had detrimental effects further downstream.

While the mudflats are aesthetically displeasing, I believe the biggest issue by far is the amount of faecal matter in our river.

In Launceston, our combined drainage system involving over 9200 homes, was constructed in the 1860s and during periods of heavy rain, has no option but to release stormwater and raw or partly treated sewage into the waterways.

In 2018-19, there were 15 spills due to wet weather ranging from 400,000 litres to one consisting of 1.2 million litres.

A river, running through a city, containing combined stormwater and sewage is not what you would expect to see in a first-world country and is not something that we should be willing to tolerate. I note TasWater and the state government have a 10-year plan with a new secondary treatment plant to cut raw sewage emissions into the Tamar estuary at a cost of around $285 million and I believe this should happen much earlier.

In the meantime, we have the River Health Action Plan, an initiative developed under the Launceston City Deal, which details the main issues affecting river health and quality and establishes a framework to resolve the most pressing issues.

The taskforce has quite rightly decided to make its initial focus to look "at actions to improve public health measures", "eg. faecal contamination from human and other sources as measured by enterococci levels in the water". The $100 million under the Launceston City Deal has been provided to address this and much of this funding will go towards catchment works, such as fencing out livestock from the river and thus reducing contamination.

More of this funding will go towards improving combined system catchments.

It is expected that a considerable amount of the contaminants that enter the Tamar will be eliminated once the combined system catchment improvements are made and it is hoped this will occur sooner rather than later.

What enters the river upstream affects what occurs downstream and by monitoring and eliminating waste that goes in, river health as a whole will be improved. Leadership on the health and amenity of the Tamar River Estuary is required and the City Deal does present an opportunity to do this.

While my sincerest hope is that there is adequate follow-through to ensure that our river is made an asset to our region and provides amenity for the generations to come, over the preceding decades there has been report after report and incalculable dollars spent on experts and working groups that it becomes more talk and less action.

So many interests, individuals and groups have had a say in discussions on how to improve the Tamar's health from more Cataract Gorge flow to barrages or weirs but to date, we still have a river that is more of a liability than an asset to our city. We can only imagine the kind of interest and economic activity a clean, beautiful river would generate.

There are plenty of issues and possible solutions on the table, but there seems no one group able to take responsibility and leadership, and the steps needed to improve the state of the river. This has to change.

As the famous quote says "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result".

It has been suggested that a single authority could be established and charged with responsibility for the Tamar River, which is certainly a discussion worth having.

Getting to the stage to task one organisation or authority with these responsibilities would likely be a challenge but the dividends would be extremely valuable and the state government should take notice of this as a possible course of action.

We can only imagine he kind of interest and economic activity a clean, beautiful river would generate.

Independent Launceston Legislative Councillor

Rosemary Armitage MLC

OP-ED: Metro Must Take Notice of Community Angst

5 March 2020, The Examiner

THERE are situations in the community that I am aware of, particularly for people who rely on the Metro bus service who are older or have mobility or other issues, that the new service plan makes less accessible or convenient.

Many people in the community I have spoken to, especially in places that have lost or changed services are feeling disadvantaged.

I would also urge consideration for frontline workers as it is not just bus users who could be caught up in this.

Spare a thought for bus drivers who often go out of their way to assist passengers and Metro staff managing calls and emails, who all work so hard and can cop much of the flack for these decisions and changes.

The implementation of the new service plan, depending on the route, has caused concern and disappointment for many.

There is a level of discontent in the community over some of these changes and in the past few weeks, I have counted at least eight published letters to the editor in The Examiner with even more comments left on Facebook.

I have also been approached with regard to some bus stop and route changes, and in the wake of the new service plan's implementation, many people I have spoken to feel ignored and alienated from decision.

In addition, some bus routes to the Launceston General Hospital are changed and somewhat confusing and an Examiner letter to the editor on February 17 on this issue was clear - a route that had previously taken 10 minutes and went straight past the hospital now takes people from West Launceston 40 minutes and requires a changeover in the city.

The consultation campaign was from April 'to June 2019 using letterboxing, newspaper, radio, posters and social media to advise people that a review was taking place, and passively relied on the community getting in touch with the Department, rather than proactively seeking out feedback. From this feedback five major changes were proposed.

Unfortunately often it is only once change is implemented that we appreciate the difficulties and hopefully it is not too late for some tweaking to ensure the community is well catered for.

I am told the changes are for the good of the community, to make it easier to catch a bus, and to take less time to get where you are going, but some people may have a longer walk.

Many of the people I have spoken to don't agree, and it will be harder in some areas for elderly people especially who may have further to walk, as they can't all get taxis or community cars.

What was a 100 metre or less walk to the bus may now be a 400 metre walk. That is fine for someone fit and healthy, but not for the aged, infirmed or perhaps a mum with stroller, toddlers or shopping. A quicker trip may be more attractive for some, but we can't forget those who have no option but to catch a bus and find 400 metre down hill hard, but 400 metre up hill, impossible, especially in Tasmania's colder and hotter months.

Understandably, any organisation would want to review bus services that have few passengers and I am advised Metro trips are free before 7am, to encourage people to go to work earlier, thus finishing earlier meaning less cars on the road. If State Growth want to make a real impact Metro buses could be free before 9am and after 5.30pm.

This would have a positive impact on our CBD and peak hour traffic with more people catching buses and less cars on the roads.

Metro is a government business enterprise which operates the majority of the state's public metropolitan bus services. This imposes on them an obligation to service customers who rely on their services in the manner that is most efficient, reliable and safe. Metro must provide services to people who rely on them, even if it isn't always to a profit.

After all, according to Metro's website, their values are: safety, respect, resilience, unity and service-driven. Interestingly the Metro board is currently comprised of six people, not one of which is based in the state's north or north-west.

On a positive note the changes have been welcomed in some areas, and I am pleased to hear that more weekend services have been put on, as many suburbs have been disadvantaged in the past with a lack of Saturday and Sunday buses.

I would urge Metro to take notice of community concern and implement changes on the new service plan where and when it disadvantages people who need the service the most and have relied on it for so long.

There is still time to listen to the community and get their priorities right: servicing the community safely, reliably and respectfully.

Rosemary Armitage is the Independent member for Launceston.

Many people in the community I have spoken "to, especially in places that have lost or changed services, are feeling disadvantaged.

Independent Launceston Legislative Councillor

Rosemary Armitage MLC

OP-ED: Review Needed to Improve Safety Outcomes

20 February 2020, The Examiner

FOR some time, I have been hearing of issues with the Tasmanian Building Act. Brought into force in 2016, the act enumerates four different categories of work, based on the level of risk involved.

The act also allows for so-named "competent persons" and "owner-builders" to undertake a wider range of works in the lower-risk categories. However, the act has failed to provide clear guidance on how that work should be undertaken to maximise safety, consistency and legality.

The Building Act is supplemented by directives issued by the director of building control. These directives are for the "making of determinations for miscellaneous procedural requirements" or the "issuing of guidelines to assist in complying with the act".

What has occurred in reality are rules being made up on the run, with little scrutiny or input from those working in the industry.

As a result, the operation of the act has had the perverse effect of increasing red tape by making the categories of works harder to understand.

As work becomes more difficult to undertake and riskier to complete, insurance for builders and building surveyors may fail to cover the work. Consequently, insurance becomes more expensive to obtain, especially where builders or surveyors are working to advice which is difficult to properly comply with.

This is especially relevant to professional indemnity insurance, the nature of which requires a policy-holder to mitigate all risks as much as possible. This made headlines in Launceston last year when Building Surveyor Protek closed after the company's insurance premiums rose from $25,000 to $80,000 and its excess from $5000 to $50,000.

Seven people lost their jobs.

Owing to misunderstandings of the act and difficulty in knowing when permits and reports are required, much of the defective work being carried out residentially leaves homeowners with little prospect to recover damages. Residential work is being completed by "competent persons" and not necessarily registered builders. The Building Act allows this for certain jobs that are defined by the act as being "lower risk".

However, even jobs that are "lower risk" can have a significant effect on the overall quality of a home. Consequently, the only legal option for those seeking recompense for defective work is to personally sue the person who did the work - assuming they can afford a lawyer and the person being sued could actually afford a payout. A typical family who buys a residence that has had unlawful and/or unregistered work may therefore be purchasing a liability, not an asset.

The Building Act does not seem to have delivered the benefits it promised. To be transparent, I voted to pass this bill in 2016.

I particularly believed that it was important that small building works could be undertaken by an owner-builder or a competent person, in order to make things easier for residential developments such as construction of a lean-to or a carport.

Over time the practical effects have become clearer, and not only have industry practitioners had difficulty adapting to the requirements of the act, non-professionals do not possess the expertise to understand what these rules actually mean. The number of determinations issued in the interim has also meant that the system of rules and regulations is now manifestly different to what it was when the act was initially passed.

In 2018, the Building Confidence report (the Shergold Weir report) examined the building industry nationwide, identifying a number of issues and made suggestions for remediation. One issue identified was the inconsistent requirements for registration for industry practitioners to operate between jurisdictions.

"Some states and territories have been reluctant to register practitioners in other jurisdictions on the basis that they believe the registration standards set by other jurisdictions are of a lower level," according to the report.

There is one case I am aware of where the Victorian Administrative Appeals Tribunal determined that conditions for registration under the Tasmanian act were so radically different to the conditions in the Victorian act that a Tasmanian practitioner was refused permission to work in Victoria - even though they were actually capable of doing the work in question. Reading between the lines, one could argue that the judiciary is making a statement about the quality of the Tasmanian act.

Practitioners I have spoken to are increasingly dissatisfied and, in some cases, are looking to get out of the industry entirely. They are working harder than ever before and are competing with unqualified practitioners who suffer minimal consequences if their project fails, as they work in an occupation (such as landscaping) which falls outside of the act.

What is clear is that the act needs to be reviewed to improve safety outcomes, provide certainty to those working in the industry and bring some degree of flexibility to lower risk jobs.

This will require meaningful consultation with those who work across this entire industry for the safest and most productive outcome for all Tasmanian building projects.

Independent Launceston Legislative Councillor

Rosemary Armitage MLC

OP-ED: Problems & Pitfalls with Planning Scheme

6 February 2020, The Examiner

HAVING spent nine years on local council I am well aware of the deficiencies and intricacies of the Land Use Planning Act and more than once I have seen people deflated, angry and left scratching their heads when something that seemed so simple and a no-brainer was refused.

Refused, not because the planner didn't think it was reasonable or met many conditions of the planning scheme, but because at least one criteria were not permitted under the Act. It is not just the big developers who are affected, and who we hear about regularly, it is also the everyday person, be it, mum and dad, young couples renovating, or in some cases people making what seems a simple addition or change to their home.

We are seeing residential developments suffering in cases which can be characterised as vexatious and, at times, downright absurd. An example is a shed, which incidentally could not be seen from the road or other properties, proposed on a large rural residential block in the Rural Living Zone with many of the neighbouring blocks already having sheds much larger.

This constituent jumped through lots of hoops before being advised that under the current interim planning scheme you cannot have greater outbuildings (one or combined) of 150m2 in this zone.

However, he was advised that if he waited for the new statewide planning scheme, this would be discretionary and in all likelihood approved. Northern Tasmania, Launceston in particular, has already seen two significant developments slip through its fingers, due in part, to burdensome and confusing planning and development regulations.

Developers Errol Stewart and Josef Chromy have decided to move prospective developments to southern Tasmania. The loss of these developments from Launceston translates into the loss of tens of millions of investment dollars. All developers need certainty and confidence to go forward as well as a level of consistency across this small state.

The Examiner's editorial (January 28) rightfully pointed out that the push for a statewide planning scheme goes back years, my recollection being it was to have been in place from July 1, 2017.

The Tasmanian Planning Scheme is slated to "deliver consistency in the planning controls applying across the state, and provide the necessary flexibility to address local issues".

To this end, the scheme will consist of State Planning Provisions, which are the baseline standards to which all developments in all municipalities must comply, and the Local Provisions Schedules which are council-specific and allow them to make variations to development applications to preserve local character as councils are best placed to determine specific requirements or "unique" places in their own municipalities.

The Tasmanian Planning Scheme still seems very much unsettled and until it is, interim planning schemes are in place.

Some degree of statewide standardisation is apparent under the interim schemes, but clearly, some municipalities are more attractive to developers than others.

As I understand it, most councils submitted their draft Local Provision Schedules in the latter half of 2019 and it is expected that the entirety of the Tasmanian Planning Scheme is to be finalised and in place later this year. I believe the Tasmanian Planning Commission will publicly exhibit the draft provisions in the coming months and following this the commission will then provide final approval, with sign off by the relevant minister, allowing the statewide provisions to take effect.

We have waited long enough and the consequences are already being felt.

Launceston is a city which is aspiring to be one of the great regional cities in Australia if not the world.

However, if the Tasmanian Planning Scheme is not implemented properly and expediently, we will become further ill-prepared to meet the future needs that are quickly becoming apparent.

With hundreds of millions of dollars being poured into our region through the City Deal and the University Transformation Project (among other projects), we need to be thinking - and acting - quickly to ensure that our infrastructure is well-prepared to accommodate the associated growth in population, business and services.

The loss of these developments from Launceston translates into the loss of tens of millions of investment dollars to our region. All developers need certainty and confidence to go forward as well as a level of consistency across this small state.

Independent Launceston Legislative Councillor

Rosemary Armitage MLC

OP-ED: Launceston Ring Road Must be Seriously Considered 

28 August 2019, The Examiner

 

The question of an eastern bypass, ring road or link road for Launceston has been going around in circles for years.

In July 2018, then Infrastructure Minister Jeremy Rockliff responding to questions advised of the establishment of a Northern Councils Transport Working Group to identify and prioritise regional transport projects for the long term.

It is my understanding that Meander Valley, West Tamar and City of Launceston council general managers make up the steering group along with State Growth who has engaged a consultant to work with them but that the purview is broad in scope. 

For example, a transport vision and how people move around. It is hoped that a bypass or road/traffic policy would be a major focus, but I don't believe that is the case.

With the hundreds of millions of dollars being placed into the UTAS Northern Transformation Project, I would urge the decision-makers to seriously consider the impacts this will have on traffic issues and the effects that traffic issues will have on the new campus in the heart of the city.

The precinct being developed at Inveresk leads directly into arterial and freight roads.

With the current state of these roads the ease, amenity and safety of those working, studying and living at the campus will be significantly affected.

It would, therefore, make sense to incorporate funds already put aside to address the existing traffic flow issues, particularly along Cimitiere and William streets, in concert with the building and maintenance of university-related infrastructure.

This then feeds into the opportunity to ameliorate the wider traffic issues which Launceston has been dealing with for decades.

If the state government truly views the University relocation as a fundamentally transformative project, then I cannot see why decision-makers won't consider or prioritise university traffic amenity as a factor informing their priorities to determine a traffic vision and, as a consequence, the much-needed bypass.

It is unquestionable that living near and experiencing the effects of heavy, high-emissions vehicles is unpleasant.

Even for residents, parts of the city are rendered virtually inaccessible at points where such vehicles pass through. This includes the walk from the CBD to the Gorge area, such as where Paterson Street intersects with Wellington and Bathurst streets.

It is intimidating, noisy and, especially for foreign visitors (including the students that will be attracted by the redeveloped University precinct) presents a hostile veneer, even in some of the most beautiful parts of the city. Consequently (and understandably) this contributes to an increase in the hiring of cars, even just to get around the inner city, feeding right back into the aggravation of the pre-existing traffic issues.

Despite all of the government's talk about traffic and transport "visions", their most recent answer to me in Parliament strongly indicates that their considerations are extremely narrow in scope.

The explicit answer to my question regarding steps towards an eastern bypass was met with the response that other projects were of greater priority, as they would "deliver the greatest travel time and economic cost benefits".

This contradicts existing sentiment relating to developing a transport vision, as it disregards the wider considerations to make Launceston a more socially-oriented, clean and accommodating city for our residents and visitors. Along with the transformative effects of the UTAS relocation to the heart of the city, we are seeing a greater focus on inner-city amenity and livability.

Private investment in inner-city living projects are accelerating, and taking a walk through the Launceston CBD reveals a great deal of construction work going on. Moreover, Launceston has seen an unprecedented level of public and private investment to make the city more attractive and amenable.

The construction of the Silo Hotel, the redevelopment of the C.H. Smith site and the Quadrant Mall, Civic Square and Brisbane Street Mall refurbishments have all contributed to a quantifiable shift in the city's disposition.

The community is raising funds for four local charities as part of The Examiner's Winter Relief Appeal. Can you help?

We cannot, however, simply construct and refresh these areas and expect them to flourish alone - work must be done to maintain, and accelerate, the move towards making Launceston a great regional city.

As Launceston moves closer to becoming the great, educational regional city we are steering it towards, we will find that, despite these opportunities arising, the work being done to make the inner-city more liveable and attractive will be for nothing.

If the traffic issues, particularly as they relate to heavy, high-emissions vehicles, remain a non-priority for the government, urban sprawl will commensurately worsen and the opportunities once present for city living and development will dissipate.

If we are to attract a younger demographic, we must leverage the world-class infrastructure that already exists here; not take it for granted and not allow it to worsen.

It makes very little sense for such significant expenditure to be channelled into Launceston's livability and amenity without also ensuring that issues like traffic flow and road maintenance detract from it.

MEDIA RELEASE from  the member for Launceston ROSEMARY ARMITAGE MLC

March 31, 2017

 

The Independent Member for Launceston, Rosemary Armitage MLC has raised serious concerns about Northern Tasmania’s lack of representation on the state’s Government Boards.


A table documenting Board membership for six GBE’s and state owned companies as at October 2016 (supplied by the Tasmanian Government in response to a question from Mrs Armitage) shows the vast majority of Board comes from the state’s south.   The next greatest representation came from interstate Board members.  


A breakdown for GBEs to 14th October 2016 was South 19, North 1, North West 1 and Interstate 12.


Board membership for state owned companies showed 23 members from the South, 8 from the North, 1 from the North West and Interstate 14.


Additional government boards showed membership of 179 from the South, 42 from the North, 29 from the North West and Interstate 1.


Mrs Armitage said while the government was making positive progress into its goal of 50% women across Tasmanian Government Boards and committees by 2020, and appreciates that they are often skill based positions, a lot more work needed to be done to ensure Northern Tasmania was getting fair representation also.


Mrs Armitage called on the State Government to commit to a strategy for achieving fair representation for Northern Tasmania on all government boards.


Rosemary Armitage MLC is available for comment on 0419 341 178

 

CALL ROSEMARY

 

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Launceston 7250

 

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© 2020 Rosemary Armitage MLC

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