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State Development - Macquarie Point


Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 7 September 2021

Tags: Macquarie Point, State Budget

Ms O'CONNOR - Thanks, Chair. Looking at the master plan for Macquarie Point, and there are a number of extremely exciting proposed developments there, can you guarantee that the parkland and the green space designated in the master plan will be just that, public, open green space?

Mr FERGUSON - I don't know what your definition of green space is, you might let me know, but I do take that view, Ms O'Connor, that it would be public, open space. The master plan, which has been stamped by the commissioner, specifies that, so I would invite Ms Massina to correct me or to confirm it.

Ms O'CONNOR - It does, it's called the park. I've read it, so I've had a look at it. There's a bit of uncertainty in parts of the community about what the future of Macquarie Point is because it has been finding its future for a very long time.

Mr FERGUSON - That's true, we locked that in about two years ago but, yes, I think your comment was fair.

Ms O'CONNOR - What we are looking for is a commitment from government that the open public spaces will be just that and this won't turn into a high-end, mostly private and commercial development precinct.

Mr FERGUSON - The park section of the master plan?

Ms O'CONNOR - Macquarie Point itself, including the Antarctic space, the potential IMAS. I hear all of that. There is a concern about where it might end up if there is money to be made for government.

Mr FERGUSON - Let's answer that in bite-sized pieces. Thank you for your question. I can confirm the clear intention as part of the vision. The park itself comprises a significant minority of the overall site.

Ms MASSINA - The park itself is 13 000 square metres of public open space.

Ms O'CONNOR - How much of that is that of the nine hectares?

Mr FERGUSON - It is a substantial part and it is like a very central backbone to the whole property, which links the different parcels of land. The park is a place for people, whereas we have to acknowledge that while there's some residential component, there's quite a lot of commerce that's envisaged on the site. It is of the nature that is very consistent with the master plan and the vision.

In particular, the very important progress that's being made to develop the Antarctic and science precinct is a very bold vision. We haven't quite landed that but the business case is afoot, which we are taking to the federal agencies CSIRO, AAD and the University of Tasmania's IMAS. It is gathering momentum but still not confirmed. That is the vision for Macquarie Point, together with the transport activation for commercial use.

Ms MASSINA - Residential, commercial and arts and culture.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you, Ms Massina. Can you explain to the Committee the process for sifting through the expressions of interest? Presumably, private developers will come forward with development proposals for Macquarie Point through the EOIs. Who makes that decision?

Mr FERGUSON - We are encouraging those, and I will ask Ms Massina to step us through the escarpment and district stages. We tested the market in the middle of the pandemic and we felt - and we had some advice from realtors on this - it didn't seem like the natural time to do it but we still wanted to test the market to see what proposals might come forward through and REOI process. That has happened. It has matured to the point where we will be coming to a decision point in the near future. I am waiting -

Ms O'CONNOR - Where are the decisions being made?

Mr FERGUSON - and I don't think you are because these will be decisions that are made by the board. I don't think you're on the board.

Ms O'CONNOR - No. My question for you was, where will these decisions be made?

Mr FERGUSON - The board is assessing the current bids. The board will make advice to Government.

Ms O'CONNOR - So, you, as minister, will make the final decision?

Mr FERGUSON - Yes.

Ms O'CONNOR - Will your pro-development adviser, Mr Behrakis, assist you with that decision making?

Mr FERGUSON - He may well.

Ms O'CONNOR - Do you think there is a potential conflict of interest there?

Mr FERGUSON - I might ask for a range of advice but the advice I will be seeking is from the Department of State Growth.

Ms O'CONNOR - Mr Behrakis comes from a property developing background and family. Do you think there is potential conflict of interest there?

Mr FERGUSON - Mr Behrakis won't be part of my considerations. I will be taking advice from my department.

Ms O'CONNOR - You will probably be posting against council at the time.

Mr FERGUSON - Ms O'Connor, if you would allow me to answer. Mr Behrakis won't be part of my deliberations. I will take advice from the board and from my department.

Ms O'CONNOR - So you get to design the final look and feel of Macquarie Point, is that right, minister? Does the decision go to you as minister, or to Cabinet? How can we know it is hands off? How can we know there is not a conflict of interest in the process?

Mr FERGUSON - Well, Ms O'Connor, one of the things you failed to do in the earlier output was to even ask me about how interests are managed in my office with an elected alderman as a member of my staff. Since you didn't ask me, I will tell you. Mr Behrakis and my chief of staff have a very clear arrangement of separation of responsibilities.

Ms O'CONNOR - That is my fault for not asking you?

Mr FERGUSON - Ms O'Connor, I am answering the question. Mr Behrakis has clearly been guided in managing conflicts of interest or potential conflicts of interest and has no role in matters that relate to a Hobart City Council jurisdiction. That is an important point which might blunt your attack but that is the fact.

Ms O'CONNOR - You failed to mention that the first time.

Mr FERGUSON - You didn't ask me, Ms O'Connor. You were asking me about Facebook posts that I had not seen.

CHAIR - You indicated that Ms Massina might have more to add on that, minister. Does she, or are we moving on?

Ms MASSINA - It is worth saying that the assessment of the Expressions of Interest is done by an evaluation committee and two proponents were short listed and are invited to enter into the corporation's request for proposal.

Mr EVANS - Minister, I might add that the board has set up the normal sort of probity arrangements under our procurement. We have independent probity auditors, independent members on assessment panels so we operate as a board as we would through any normal government procurement.