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State Development, Construction and Housing – Proposed Macquarie Point Stadium

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 6 June 2023

Tags: Macquarie Point, AFL, Stadium, State Budget

Ms O'CONNOR - Minister, yesterday when we were asking the Premier some questions about the stadium, he kept basically pointing to you as the minister with significant departmental responsibility. Perhaps as a foundational question, can we establish how much the Department of State Growth has spent on consultancy reports since January last year as they relate to the stadium?

Mr EVANS - We can provide that number. I don't have it off the top of my head but I can get it quickly.

Ms O'CONNOR - Is that okay if I write it down and put it on

Mr BARNETT - We're here for a couple of hours so we'll get back to you as soon as possible within that time frame. That is if the secretary is happy to respond.

Ms O'CONNOR - My last question for now: when did work commissioning consultants' reports and scoping on the proposed Macquarie Point stadium actually start? We have a document here signed by Andrew Finch in February 2022 where some work was commissioned. Presumably it was happening a bit before that maybe.

Mr BARNETT- The secretary might be able to assist.

Mr EVANS - I'd have to confirm the exact date. The first piece of work we commissioned was the work on site-selection options. We engaged the consultants on that work at the request of the former premier.

Ms O'CONNOR - That would have been late January, early February last year?

Mr EVANS - It commenced in October 2021.

Ms O'CONNOR - So work on the stadium commenced in October 2021.

Mr EVANS - Can I clear, because you're putting words in my mouth, not the stadium, the work on the site-selection and options analysis, which concluded, in the former premier's mind that Regatta Point was the preferred option.

Ms O'CONNOR - Which was the consultant's recommendation in the preliminary work.

Mr EVANS - Yes.

Ms O'CONNOR - Chair, back to the stadium, the work that's been undertaken on view lines. There's a report here by Liminal which has a series of view lines in it on the proposed stadium. Why wasn't a graphic put in there that would have shown the tree scale of the stadium relative to Hunter Street? It seems to be a selective depiction of view lines, when the one the people would arguably see the most of is the one from ground level in and around Constitution Docks where the stadium would reach a height of up to 40 metres, so, probably seven stories about the current IXL building roof.

Mr BARNETT - I welcome Gary Swain, Deputy Secretary of Transport and Infrastructure to the table. I will pass to the Secretary or Deputy Secretary.

Mr EVANS - I'm happy to lead off and the deputy secretary can add. I think it's important by way of context to understand the purpose of this report and why it was commissioned. We commissioned this report specifically in relation to concerns that had been raised with us by the RSL about the impacts of the stadium on various view lines relating to the Cenotaph. So, the view down Macquarie Street is very important to them, in terms on ensuring an uninterrupted view line as they march on Anzac Day and various other view lines are critical also.

We worked with them to understand some of those important view lines and the work that Liminal did was in response to their concerns. It is work that is predominantly around assisting the RSL to understand the impact on the view lines to and from the Cenotaph.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thanks, Mr Evans. Okay, but the report is called Key Views and it doesn't have what is arguably the key view, which is, this is to the Minister, I am not going to hassle you any more for a bit, Mr Evans. The key view which is the view from the docks.

Minister, can you confirm that on the projected heights that are in these documents of between 37 and 40 metres that the proposed stadium will tower six to seven stories above the roof of the IXL building and the arts school?

Mr BARNETT - What I can advise is that the work is preliminary, there is more work to do. I think the secretary has outlined that quite clearly, in terms of the site lines east and west, north and south, that’s important and mind the standing based on the preliminary work that they have preserved and there is still a lot more work to do.

Ms O'CONNOR - I am aware that the RSL has met with you and also the Secretary and been really consistent in the concerns that they have raised. In your view, do you recognise those concerns by the RSL as legitimate? Do you as Minister support the location of the stadium right there next to the sacred ground of the Cenotaph.

Mr BARNETT - That is a two-part question. To the first question of your double question, I absolutely respect and honour the RSL and RSL Tasmania and their views. They have shared those views with me. They have met with Kim Evans and his team. His team have met with them on an ongoing basis. Both the Premier and I met with them at the Cenotaph many weeks ago now. We respect them and honour them.

The point of the ongoing consultation, which the secretary can respond to, which is very important, is that the Government can be informed and better appreciate and understand their views as we progress through the design process. They are preliminary at the moment. Their views, we would absolutely hope would inform the design, would inform the planning and would inform the work that is to progress in coming months.

To achieve that objective, the secretary and his team meet with RSL Tasmania and indeed other ex-service entities, including, my understanding is, the Vietnam Veterans Association. Likewise, I have met with the Vietnam Veterans Association and heard their views. There is the precinct planning work which is to be undertaken, if I can just clearly outline that, from the Macquarie Point Development Corporation. I have written to them some weeks ago. They announced on Friday that consultation is now underway. They are seeking feedback on the precinct plan, which I have asked them to respond and deliver back to the Government by 1 October this year.

It is very important to get the feedback from the community key stakeholders. Likewise, in the agreement there is a clear understanding the Government and the Macquarie Point Development Corporation will engage with RSLTasmania, Hobart City Council, Tasmanian Aboriginal Community and indeed many others. I will pass to the secretary to add to that answer.

Ms O'CONNOR - I think that is enough, but if you have something extra to add, Mr Evans.

Mr EVANS - The only other thing I would add is, as the Minister said, these are indicative designs only for the purposes of understanding view lines around to and from the cenotaph. This work was done, as I have already indicated, in response to meetings the Premier and minister had with the RSL and I subsequently had on a regular basis. In fact, I actually presented this work to the RSL congress in Launceston a couple of weeks ago, to indicate to them the view lines. But I did caveat the presentation of that work by saying we have not done the detailed design work. The next stage will be subject to the precinct plan, then coming up with a functional design brief, which takes account of the key stakeholders' views about a whole range of matters.

It is at that point that would go into a more detailed process to design the stadium. We would take account of those key stakeholder views as part of the brief we would put to market at that time. But we have not done that work yet. I have caveated, as I say, the presentation of this information to the RSL by saying we will work with them on the precise details around their views and how we would incorporate those into the functional design brief.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you, Mr Evans.

Ms O'CONNOR - Minister, we've just had the secretary confirm there was advice in writing, which we'd expect there to be, advice from Treasury and finance, advice from State Growth, poetically from Veterans Affairs, for example, that are not covered by Cabinet in confidence. I just think it's regrettable that you would try to pretend that there wasn't departmental advice coming up to ministers including yourself that were captured by motion 125 and last week we saw these documents the stadium documents, the commission consultants' reports and not one piece of departmental advice which tells us that you still have not learned about your straitened circumstances that you are in minority. You gave parliament effectively the middle finger because parliament said 'you will produce departmental advice' and then you produced none. Can you confirm that you received written advice from your department on the stadium that is not captured by Cabinet in confidence because it never went to Cabinet; it is a minute that you signed as minister?

Mr BARNETT - To be very clear, the answer is no. I did not receive any written advice; to the best of my knowledge all documents not Cabinet in confidence have been provided, as the Premier has outlined to the parliament last week. The Premier was very clear in his response to the statement of documents pertaining to the motion 125 to which you refer. That is on the public record; the Premier has answered that in the parliament; he has answered it again yesterday. I have just made it very clear that I did not receive the advice and I will not speak about matters before Cabinet.

Ms O'CONNOR - That was first-class deflection. All you needed to confirm, and if your agency did not provide you any advice on the stadium and the work that they had been doing on it, in fact I do not believe it. I do just not believe that your department provided no minutes to the minister, provided no, for example, advice once a report had been commissioned, and what would happen is the department would send you a minute to the minister with a summary of the report and some advice on it. It is true, isn't it? I have been in Cabinet, I have been a minister. I understand how frequently you get written advice from your department.

Mr BARNETT - I am not the relevant minister with respect to the AFL licence.

Ms O'CONNOR - Well, you might want to backpedal frantically from the licence but you are the relevant minister in the context of the stadium. The Premier said that yesterday. He said, 'go and ask the minister for state development.

Mr WINTER - You are the minister, but you are refusing to - if the Treasurer and the Premier are referring us to you to answer these questions, and you are saying that it is someone else, who should we ask?

Mr BARNETT - You are asking questions about the AFL licence. I am saying that I am not the minister. I have made it clear I am not the minister for the AFL licence.

Ms O'CONNOR - We are not asking questions about the licence, we are asking questions about the procedure. A Westminster parliament's order to the executive to produce advice which we know exists - we know it exists and you are saying it does not.

Mr BARNETT - I have answered the question. I have referred to the Premier's answers yesterday and the Premier's answers in the parliament last week. I thought he was very comprehensive in that in terms of what he has tabled in the parliament, to the best of his knowledge. It was clearly everything that he said in terms of what is confidential and he made reference to in camera briefings last week as well. He is committed to making that available, which he did last week and responded very clearly yesterday. I am responding again today, but cannot speak about matters that are before Cabinet. I have responded to your question as well.

Ms O'CONNOR - No, just saying words is not a response to a question. It is not answer if you are just sort of doing verbiage. Minister, you are responsible as the minister for state development for this report, which is the cost-benefit analysis final full report that shows over 20 years, in the best-case scenario, the stadium will lose about $306 million and will deliver a 50 cents in a dollar return on public investment. Can you tell us, in the interest of transparency, what that page tells us about the cost-benefits of the stadium and why it was redacted?

Mr BARNETT - Thank you for the question. The deputy secretary has a response, I understand.

Ms O'CONNOR - I suppose you could share the page. Page 25. Why would that be redacted, Mr Swain? I do not think you should have to answer that, I think it is a question for the minister. I am sorry for your loss, sir. You have been invited to the table to answer a question the minister should answer.

Mr BARNETT - Andrew Smythe, General Manager Strategy, Policy, and Coordination. Can you ask the question again?

Ms O'CONNOR - Just to burn a bit of time before lunch? Sure. minister, can you explain why page 25 of the cost benefit analysis report is entirely redacted, what does it say about the cost benefits of the proposed Macquarie Point stadium that you do not want us to see?

Mr BARNETT - Well, it is my understanding that redactions are done to protect commercial interests as a matter of course, that is not unusual. What others questions do you have, put your questions through the minister and we will try and assist the members at the table.

Ms O'CONNOR - Did you receive no written advice on the stadium from your department?

Mr BARNETT - Yes, correct.

Ms O'CONNOR - You received no written advice on the stadium from your department?

Mr BARNETT - I have answered that question.

Ms O'CONNOR - So, you said yes, you have received no advice.

Mr BARNETT - I said yes, I have received no written advice to me directly, as minister, and I have also noted I do not speak about matters in confidence before a cabinet, and I cannot discuss matters that go before the Cabinet and you would know that as a former cabinet minister.