A Contest of Ideas: 2014 Tasmanian Election Platform

The Property Council has prepared these initiatives to enhance community prosperity, supercharge productivity and increase liveability.

Our Practical Solutions: The 7 Game Changers

1 Grow Tasmania

The issue

Tasmania’s population must grow in order to attract further investment and keep existing investors in the State.

Tasmania has a healthy and vibrant future ahead of it provided there is appropriately planned population growth with clear targets matched with employment generation policies.

The solutions

The Tasmanian Government must:

  • Develop and implement a population strategy with clear targets to ensure that at a minimum Tasmania matches the national growth projections;
  • Establish a strategic partnership with the University of Tasmania to double Tasmania’s international student intake; and
  • Develop a Tasmanian growth strategy based on market-driven job creation policies. 

2 Stand on our own two feet

The issue

Tasmania can be a strong net contributor to the rest of the nation over the next decade.

As a State we can become financially independent through innovation, driven by smart and strategic micro-economic reform.

The solution

In order to stand on our own two feet there must be:

  • A Federal and State Government program to support Tasmania achieve financial independence by 2025;
  • An immediate review of the Economic Regulator’s role to put consumers front and centre of the cost of living and doing business considerations; and
  • A Competition and Efficiency Commissioner and Council focused on driving the new government’s strategic micro economic reform agenda through a prism of job creation and achieving efficiencies.

3 Modernising Tasmania's planning regime

The issue

Tasmania’s outmoded planning system is a key barrier to investment in the State.

Modernising the State’s planning regime will unlock significant new investment across Tasmania.

The solution

The property industry recommends a comprehensive reform agenda, based on the following seven step plan:

  1. In-principle planning approval – utilising code assessment framework for all major projects;
  2. Implement independent Development Assessment Panels;
  3. Tightening Third Party Appeals;
  4. Establish Ministerial Call in Powers;
  5. Fast track major project planning processes;
  6. Implement comprehensive set of interlocking state policies such as housing and coastal policies; and
  7. Strict timeframes for development assessment.

The planning system is a driver of job creation and investment – it must be a key priority addressed in the first year of a new government.

4 Get serious about tax reform and governing

The issue

Tasmania needs to modernise its tax system to attract investment, create jobs and ensure that expenditure at local and state government level is kept in check.

The solution

The next Tasmanian Government, in its first 100 days, must commit to:

  • A full State Taxation Review outlining a program to reduce all local and state government property taxes, fees and charges including developer charges; and
  • A Commission of Audit, independently chaired by an eminent Australian, to ensure expenditure at local and state government level are reviewed against efficiency targets. 

5 Work with the market to create jobs

The issue

Tasmania needs to take a more ambitious approach to job creation.

We need to grow and keep talent and we need to attract and retain the best talent from Australia and beyond.

The solution

To drive economic growth through job creation the next Tasmanian Government should:

  • Establish Infrastructure Tasmania modelled on the national and NSW models to set smarter infrastructure priorities for our State;
  • Adopt innovative financing and funding mechanisms for infrastructure provision;
  • Streamline authorities to remove duplication in the delivery of infrastructure;
  • Establish a Co-ordinator General position to facilitate public and private investment;
  • Establish a new government unit, charged with match-making national and international business with local skills and office space requirements;
  • Place an immediate freeze on all taxes, utility costs, rates, fees and charges until the completion of the State Tax Review to encourage private investment across various property sectors;
  • Immediately implement legislative and regulatory changes to encourage the private sector to increase investment in all housing, including social housing;
  • Create an Asia-Tasmania Investor Gateway to drive foreign investment from Asia, in Tasmania;
  • Implement policies to green our built environment intelligently;
  • Connect and leverage Tasmanian tourism assets;
  • Finish the reform of water and sewerage services, with particular focus on the Weight Average Cost of Capital, cross subsidisation and the payment of distributions;
  • Establish a Jobs Fund to attract more seed and venture capital to Tasmania. A Jobs Fund will partner Government with venture capital fund managers to stimulate high growth enterprises in fast growing economic sectors. Higher business investment will boost jobs, competitiveness and export income, as well as build a more robust tax base; and
  • Develop and implement a Retirement Village Industry Strategy focused on increasing the number of independent living units built.

6 Reform two tiers of government

The issue

Modernising local and state government will provide economic and prosperity dividends for the community and future Tasmanian generations.

Local government

Across the State’s 29 councils, there is little transparency or accountability in the raising of rates, fees and charges, and no direct nexus between the raising of rates and the delivery of services.

Council rates have been increasing by 8.4 per cent each year for the last 11 years, far out stripping CPI.

A new Government has a brilliant opportunity to modernise local government.

State government

There is a need to streamline all advisory bodies to ensure that the incoming Government’s strategic plan can be systematically implemented.

The added benefit of streamlining is the saving of some $10 million per annum, which can be redirected towards service delivery and implementing the vital reform agenda.

The solutions

The following steps must be taken:

Local government

The State Government should implement a fully funded and resourced local government reform agenda to:

Direct the Local Government Board to immediately start a wide ranging review of the 29 councils, starting with the findings of the Southern Tasmanian Councils Authority’s 2010 Final Options Report;

  • Reduce inappropriate cost increases for rate payers by:
    • Requiring councils to publicly identify and declare their core business and methods for delivery;
    • Base the rating system on unimproved land value;
    • Fix rates for three years, thereby requiring councils to find efficiencies; and 
    • Appoint an independent umpire to judge the legitimacy of proposed increases with the power of refusal.
  • Set efficiency targets for local government of: 
    • 15 per cent within 24 months of implementation; and 35 per cent within 48 months.
  • Ensure local government is an active participant in economic development.

State Government

The following initiatives must be undertaken:

  • A Commission of Audit to review all advisory bodies to reduce the recurrent $10 million spend;
  • Competition and Efficiency Commissioner and Council to drive the reform agenda across government;
  • Strict performance-based management system in place for all SES positions; and 
  • Efficient management of government property through a centralised property authority. 

7 Clear red and green tape

The issue

Regulations frequently overlap, conflict, create confusion and add to the financial burdens being placed on investment through the escalating cost of compliance.

The solution

The Property Council seeks more sensible, integrated regulation that reduces duplication and balances the expectations of
industry with the needs of the community. At a whole-of-government level, there must be:

  • An annual audit of existing regulations across specific sectors such as planning;
  • A reduction of 20 per cent per annum, of green and red tape across local and state government levels;
  • A targeted plan to eliminate the duplication between state and local government regulations;
  • Regulation Impact Statements (RIS) for all legislation;
  • The establishment of a standing Regulation Review Panel that includes private sector representatives to review red and green tape on an ongoing basis;
  • Dedicated parliamentary red and green tape repeal days to deal with the cutting of regulations; and 
  • Direct the Auditor General to assess departmental performance against regulatory review targets.

Two top level industry initiatives to clear red and green tape are:

  • Centralising property facilities management; and
  • Overhauling government tendering and procurement processes.