Monday, March 17, 2014

Westerway, we're heading your way

Notice of Council Meeting - 20 March 2014

The Westerway Community Hall will be the venue for the March council meeting this Thursday, March 20. The evening will start with a community forum at 6.30 and this is your opportunity to come along and ask any questions of concern, or have a chat with your councillors. The formal council meeting will follow at 7pm. Please join us - and if you would like any assistance or information about the meeting or community forum, please do get in touch. Due to technical problems at the council, the meeting agenda is not yet online. Printed copies are available at the council chambers and will be available at the meeting.

The council meeting for the rest of the year is:

17 April 2014 New Norfolk 6.30pm
15 May 2014 New Norfolk 6.30pm
19 June 2014 Granton (community forum at 6.30pm)
17 July 2014 New Norfolk 6.30pm
21 August 2014 New Norfolk 6.30pm
18 September 2014 New Norfolk 6.30pm
16 October 2014 Bushy Park 7pm (community forum at 6.30pm)
20 November 2014 New Norfolk 6.30pm
15 December 2014 New Norfolk 6.30pm (including AGM)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Tasmanian Nationals position on Willow Court

THANKS to the leader of the Tasmanian Nationals, Craig Davey, for the following statement about Willow Court, which he has provided on behalf of his fellow candidates for Lyons.

"The Tasmanian Nationals believe that the Willow Court historic site is of national and international significance, for both its diverse built history and for the social history associated with the institutionalisation of people with mental illness and intellectual disability.

"The Tasmanian Nationals recognise the potential of this site to be a major tourist attraction that will provide much needed employment in the Derwent Valley.

"The Tasmanian Nationals would like to see support given to the local council in order to fulfil the conservation and restoration project and are happy to lend our support to your campaign to attract second and third year funding of $2 million per annum and fourth and fifth year funding of $750,000 per annum."

Palmer United Party position on Willow Court

I THANK Palmer United Party state leader Kevin Morgan for the following position statement on Willow Court.
"Built Heritage is seen by our party as one of the keys to the future of Tourism in Tasmania. Our rich history in buildings is vital to the future of destination branding and marketing.
"The Palmer United Party have shown an immediate commitment to lifting tourism numbers in the State by announcing our Bass Strait policy which will place a new low cost fast ferry operation on Bass Strait as soon as possible after the election.
"This service will be increased as soon as it is shown to be suitable, with the addition of two new ferries for the crossing. These ferries will by way of being a low cost fast efficient ferry service lift the traffic flow across Bass Strait significantly. The commitment to Tourism means we are also looking at destination marketing and destination projects to create the future for regional Tourism.
"The project of Willow Court is one that is part of the Derwent Valley region's keys to the regional development of the tourism brand for Tasmania. Our party fully supports your [council's] vision and ideas for the Willow Court project. The Derwent Valley Heritage Rail project is another key link in the chain of tourism and the river ferry from Hobart is another key that you already have in place, we see heritage rail as another key to the future of Tourism.
"Likewise your project of the Plenty Rd linking your region to the Huon is another vital cog in building a user friendly approach for business and tourism. Taking the load off the central business district of Hobart with Davey and Macquarie St traffic will assist in the alleviation of transport issues as well.
"...Once we understand the state's financial position we will show commitment to all Tasmania’s regions and look at how we can assist in the future of the development of your lovely valley."

Liberal Party position on Willow Court

"THE Tasmanian Liberals are aware of the history of [the Willow Court] site and the challenges that face the council in the ownership of it," Liberal leader Will Hodgman said in a recent letter to the general manager of the Derwent Valley Council.

"We look forward to working closely with the Derwent Valley Council on addressing the challenges and opportunities of Willow Court as well as other issues within the Derwent Valley.

"You will be pleased [to know] of our recent announcements which provided for $300,000 towards the freshwater marina project on the Derwent, and $100,000 for the Schools LINC project," Mr Hodgman wrote.

Labor Party position on Willow Court

THANKS to Rebecca White MHA for forwarding the following statement from the Minister for Heritage, Brian Wightman MHA, regarding Willow Court. It is published here without alteration. Other parties are welcome to send me their position statements.

"Labor recognises that Willow Court is an important historic site with special meaning to the local community. That is why this Labor government is proud of the significant support it has provided to Council for the Willow Court Precinct whilst in Government.

"In 2006 the Government provided a $750,000 grant to Council for the purpose of Willow Court, to enable the Council to undertake necessary works towards enabling the adaptive re-use of the site for the future.

"In 2012 this Labor Government demonstrated its continued support for the Council’s plans for the site by renegotiating the $750,000 grant deed to allow Council to retain this funding, despite the original grant deed expiring with the funds unexpended. In doing so, the government also allowed the Council to retain significant interest of over $200,000, bringing the total financial support for the site to almost $1 million.

"Given the magnitude of required works on the site to achieve an adaptive re-use, this government also entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Council to provide additional support, specifically for redeveloping, activating and conserving Willow Court as an integrated part of New Norfolk, a multi-purpose community facility, heritage site and attraction.

"In addition, this government also provided Council with one full-time Project Manager for a period of one year, specifically to work on progressing works to achieve these things.
While there is still a great deal of work to be done at the site, it is very encouraging to see the progress Council has made over the past 18 months, with works on the provision of electricity to the site, increased security of the whole site, refurbishments at Bronte and landscaping and conservation works at the Barracks being undertaken.

"A Labor government will continue to offer support to the Council by way of the MoU, and assisting the Council where possible to raise the necessary funds at both a State and Australian Government level."

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Candidate comments on Willow Court

AT the beginning of this final week of the current State Election campaign I wrote to all those candidates for Lyons (and a couple of extras) with publicly available email addresses. I was concerned about the almost complete lack of interest and/or commitment to this region by candidates seeking election to Parliament. In particular, I wanted to know what commitment each candidate and their party was prepared to make towards the cost of completing the restoration of Willow Court, which is now well under way. Included with my email were an update on the recent progress at Willow Court and a few photos showing the work now in progress.

I am grateful to those candidates who have been able to find time to respond in this very busy week. A basic outline of their responses follows, in the order received.

Craig Davey, leader of the Tasmanian Nationals and candidate for Lyons, phoned to say he supported the preservation of heritage sites like Willow Court and their important role as economic drivers.

Wayne Shoobridge, Palmer United Party candidate for Lyons, said Willow Court has been high on his agenda for many years and he gave a commitment to attract as much funding for Willow Court that he can. "If elected, that is a priority for our municipality," he said. 

Kevin Morgan, Tasmanian leader of the Palmer United Party, sent a lengthy email broadly describing the party's approach to policy development and explained that the party was not making financial commitments as the true picture of the state's finances was not yet known. Referring specifically to Willow Court, Mr Morgan said built heritage was seen by the party as one of the keys to the future of tourism in Tasmania. "Our party fully supports your [council's] vision and ideas for the Willow Court project," he said. "Once we understand the state's financial position we will show commitment to all Tasmania’s regions and look at how we can assist in the future of the development of your lovely valley." 

Rebecca White MHA, Minister for Human Services and Australian Labor Party candidate for Lyons, said she appreciated the update on Willow Court and would speak with her colleagues about what level of financial support might be possible in the future based on the evidence of improvements and work that has started on the site. 

Jessey Dillon, ALP candidate for Lyons, said that if elected, Labor would work with the council to develop a funding submission for the 2014-15 State Budget to help restore Willow Court to its full potential. "[We] recognise the potential of the Willow Court site and we support the long term vision to create a multi-purpose heritage and interpretational centre utilising the historically significant buildings. This project will assist in bringing an iconic asset into adaptive reuse, and help create a tourism precinct in the area as well as developing skills and supporting the community in many ways," Mr Dillon said. 

Craig Farrell MLC, Member for Derwent, Leader of Government Business in the Legislative Council, Minister for Corrections and Consumer Affairs and Minister for Sustainable Transport, is not a candidate in the election but as our former deputy mayor and with his senior position in the State Government he has a key role to play in conserving and developing Willow Court. He forwarded my email for comment but said as the government is in caretaker mode it may be difficult get the information before the election. 

A staff member from the office of Lara Giddings MHA, Premier of Tasmania, wrote that the premier had received a similar request to mine from the Derwent Valley Council's general manager and had "responded directly to the General Manager on behalf of Tasmanian Labor detailing Labor’s position on the issues raised." 

Tim Morris MHA, deputy leader of the Tasmanian Greens and candidate for Lyons, emailed the following statement with express permission to publish it:  "No one  from the Council, or Willow Court committee (or whatever it is), has shown the slightest inclination, until your email, to brief or update me on progress with Willow Court. That said, I trust that the erection of the scaffolding is a good indicator that some progress is being made. As you know I am vitally interested with what happens there and have been very disappointed with the lack of co-operation (between various parties),  community consultation and public disclosure on all things Willow Court and Royal Derwent. That disappointment remains. Whilst I have given consideration to your request for funding in the lead-up to the election, I have concluded that it would be irresponsible for me to do so at such a late stage. Whilst Malcom McDonald's report provides overall guidance for the protection of the heritage of Willow Court, it does not provide anywhere enough detail on which to be able to commit to specific levels of funding; more detailed documentation would be required. However I do give a commitment to advocating for further funding from the State Government if I am re-elected and I am provided with adequate documentation to demonstrate that funds allocated to date have been appropriately allocated."

David Llewellyn, ALP candidate for Lyons, has been volunteering for nearly two years as chairman of the Willow Court Conservation Committee and while unable to make promises on behalf of the Labor Party he said: "On a personal level I believe additional State and Federal Government support is and will be necessary to create the self-funding arrangements needed to sustain the on-going care needed for particularly the Barracks and Frescati buildings. I also agree that the financial commitment to develop the precinct appropriately is beyond the capacity of the Derwent Valley Council without the support of the State or Federal Government or a government authority." Mr Llewellyn has previously served as Deputy Premier and a minister in many portfolios, during which time he was instrumental in rebuilding the Mt Field National Park interpretation facility and the Salmon Ponds facilities. "There are a number of other exciting opportunities possible and I commit myself to pursuing their development," he said. 

The chief of staff to Liberal leader and State Opposition Leader Will Hodgman MHA, forwarded a copy of a letter from Mr Hodgman to the Derwent Valley Council's general manager, which said in part: "The Tasmanian Liberals are aware of the history of [the Willow Court] site and the challenges that face the council in the ownership of it. We look forward to working closely with the Derwent Valley Council on addressing the challenges and opportunities of Willow Court as well as other issues within the Derwent Valley," Mr Hodgman wrote.
I still hope to hear from: Lara Giddings MHA (ALP), Bob Gordon (ALP), Darren Clark (ALP), Rene Hidding MHA (Liberal), Mark Shelton MHA (Liberal), Martyn Evans (Liberal), Bertrand Cadart (Liberal), Nick McKim MHA (Greens), Pip Brinklow (Greens), Hannah Rubenach (Greens), Mark Grewar (Palmer United), Quentin von Stieglitz (Palmer United), Anne Salt (Nationals), Brett Hall (Nationals), Leo Perotti (Nationals), and independent candidate Paul Belcher. I was unable to find email addresses for the other independent candidate and two other Tasmanian Greens candidates.