The Hobart I’ve grown up in has matured and been discovered. People want to live here, people want to visit and when we travel, we share with pride that Hobart’s our home.
Recent figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistic show that Greater Hobart’s population grew by 16 per cent (34,800) in the ten years to 2021, with last year’s Census bringing Tasmania’s population in at almost 570,000. This growth has surpassed the expectations of many and the pressure this is putting on our infrastructure and services surrounds us.
Our discovery and growth present opportunities and challenges. Increased diversity can fuel innovation and we’re edging closer to the economies of scale needed to make major infrastructure projects viable. More people can also promote greater productivity and enable uniquely Tasmanian niches and specialisations to flourish.
But increased demand places more pressure on all levels of government, making it essential that they reassess their resourcing and priorities. People need a strong safety net, safe and warm homes, reliable healthcare and education. They also need high-quality community facilities, infrastructure, and services that they interact with daily to support healthy and rewarding lives.
In addition to the inherent challenges of growth, we need to meet our growing city’s needs while preserving what makes Hobart special. And with cost of living high and climbing, hitting taxpayers for more is off the table.
At the local government level I want to see Hobart thriving, with opportunities for all. To achieve this, we need the Hobart City Council focused on ensuring we have the basics in place and that we’re delivering them brilliantly. Our city needs the strong foundation of an efficient Council that delivers first-class core services upon which our city’s sustainable success can be built.
What I’m proposing is not radical. I’ve heard loud and clear that ratepayers – those who deposit around $90 million into the Council’s bank account each year – want their hard-earned money directed to real local government priorities.
They want a complete network of accessible footpaths, durable roads, and safe and clean streets. They want places to play, explore and escape. They want modern sporting and recreation facilities and open areas where they can be active.
With essential health and community services located in the CBD, Tasmanians need affordable access to our city centre by car. We need major improvements to our walking and cycling infrastructure to make active transport safer and more appealing. We need blinkers off to the accident, injury and property damage aspects of the hire escooters scattered across our footpaths so risks can be minimised.
Our community wants the peace of mind of knowing that our city’s stormwater infrastructure can take what our changing climate will bucket down on it, and that our city is prepared for drought, heat and fire. We want to know that our special places are preserved, our that impact on the environment is being minimised and that the recycling we sort is, in fact, being given new life close to home.
There is a lot to do and only finite funds to make it happen. Prioritisation must occur and value for money must be delivered.
But not everything costs money.
Critically, our community needs affordable homes, and with the bulk of our growth expected to come from overseas migration, this need will continue to be immediate. To have any hope of improving housing affordability, our housing supply must meet demand.
Trying to build new homes in Hobart is rife with uncertainty and this is a major deterrent for players – big and small – even considering breaking ground in Hobart. Disturbingly, even if you comply with planning requirements based on professional opinion, applications are still frequently voted against.
No one wants rubber stamping, but the Council must deliver balanced and consistent decisions to provide home builders with the confidence they need to develop in Hobart. If we truly want our community to be housed, and if we truly want to restrain the tentacles of urban sprawl, we must provide these homes. Allowing density in the inner city where apartment and townhouse living make sense and making innovative housing solutions more accessible as obvious starting points.
To provide the employment opportunities our community needs, Hobart must be open for business. We need a Council that recognises the big challenges our business community is facing, such as rising costs, staffing challenges and increasing competition. We need a Council that supports our local traders to launch, grow and thrive. Our business sector needs a Council that listens and supports them with practical action and common-sense decisions.
To meet increased demand being impressed upon us and to realise our potential, our community needs a capital city Council with an approachable, problem-solving, and collaborative attitude and a balanced perspective, so that Hobart is a place of opportunity where good things happen.