27 June 2016
TRANSCRIPT OF SENATOR THE HON RICHARD COLBECK
MINISTER FOR TOURISM AND INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION
INTERVIEW WITH LEON COMPTON,
MORNINGS, 936 ABC HOBART
Topics: Brexit; the 'Geeves Effect' project at Lake Geeves; Cradle Mountain.
Good morning Leon.
Look, hard to go past the story of this morning, indeed the last few days, Senator, do you think Tasmania will see any direct benefits, any direct consequences as a result of Britain's vote of Thursday last?
Well there is probably some opportunity in the trade sense and that is part of the conversation that you were having this morning, so some opportunity there perhaps to get in early and negotiate a trade deal with the UK. Although, they will be pretty busy because they will have to re-negotiate all their trade arrangements with all of the European countries, but I think an opportunity for us to get in there and do that quickly.
A story we have been talking about on Mornings for a little while now - a proposal to look at a walk into Lake Geeves at the foot of Federation Peak in southern Tasmania. Your party has put $70,000 for, in inverted commas, a demand study into that walk and idea. Can you explain what you'd achieve with that demand study?
Look, I suppose it's the first stage in the process of developing that project. I've had a couple of meetings now, over 18 months I suppose, with people who are keen to see some tourism opportunities developed in that region. The opportunity to create a precinct around Tahune, the opportunity to provide something fairly significant with, perhaps even disability access, and I have to say the vision of the 'Geeves Effect', as it's being called, really is something that caught my eye. So we met with the group again just a few weeks ago, they talked to us about what they required to take it to the next stage, which is effectively a demand study, and I felt that it was worthy of Coalition support.
This, for the people who haven't been listening regularly, is a walk that would go into Lake Geeves and it sits at the foot of Federation Peak which rises up, effectively, above it creating quite the natural impression. How challenging is the fact that it is effectively in a World Heritage Area - the challenge of managing that in any proposal?
Well it comes with all of those obvious challenges but we, I think, are quite experienced in managing those sorts of things here in Tassie, we have the Overland Track for example, we have a number of attractions that are in and around the World Heritage Area and I suppose its realising some of the value of that. Experience is one of the things that people are looking for globally in a tourism sense. In fact, while I was in the US earlier in the year they talked about experience being the new star rating so people are looking for a genuine experience, something that is unique. 670 metre vertical cliffs off Lake Geeves, 500 metres from where you are standing, I think, is quite a spectacular thing to be able to look at and it just provides an additional reason for people to come to Tasmania and grow our tourism offering. We are talking about growing the economy, creating new jobs, developing new opportunities for wealth production in our regional communities and here is an opportunity to start the process on a new offering that gives people another reason to come to Tassie and grow our tourism industry.
On other matters again, last week you announced $1 million for further investigation of the Cradle Mountain Master Plan. That's a long way short of what the tourism industry Council were arguing for which was effectively full funding of the portion of that project they had allocated to you. They are disappointed.
Well look I can understand that but I think that, from the investigations that we have done of the project, what we have put on the table is a responsible amount. When they first launched this project back in March/April they were asking for $30 million from the State and $30 million from the Commonwealth. We have looked at the proposal very, very closely and there are a number of things that still have to be done within that document, that the document identifies, to bring it to an investment ready stage. One of the things that the proposal asks for was full Commonwealth and state funding of the cable car. Now my advice from one source is that could be a commercial operation completely which would then relieve the taxpayer of having to put that money up and that reduces the amount that the State and the Commonwealth might have to put in, given that the $160 million project was made up of $60 million for a cable car, $41 million for other infrastructure developments around the park and the visitor centre, and the $62 million for a private hotel. So if you take the $62 million and the $60 million out, that leaves $41 million which means the ask from the State and the Commonwealth could be somewhere in the order of $20 million. Now I'd like to understand what I need to put in, of taxpayers money, to make this go ahead. I'd very much like to see it go ahead, I understand the value of Cradle Mountain, not just to Tasmania, but nationally as a tourism icon. So funding the work that needs to be done to take it to an investment ready stage, working with the State Government, Cradle Coast Authority and the industry here in Tasmania along with Austrade, our Investment Specialists and our Major Projects Facilitation Unit, I think this really puts us in a good position to be able to work our way through making this happen and that's what I'd really like to do. I'd like to see it happen, it's an important project.
Good to talk to you this morning.
Thanks very much Leon.