Welcome to Tarkine Coast Progress Group Inc

Our Vision
Supporting our Community

Our Mission
the Purpose of the group is to identify, build on, and foster economic, community, recreation, cultural  and development opportunities for the people of the Circular Head region.

Presidents Report September 2021

Firstly, I would like to thank the work and support of the Committee Members and especially to Jane Arnold for all the unpaid work she performs as admin officer without which our group would not be able to function.

Throughout this last 12 months during the COVID 19 pandemic Jane has been responsible for passing onto our members all the communication and directives we have received from Government especially concerning small business.

I have personally been involved in several regional chamber forums with small business minister, Sarah Courtney, where we have had webex meetings with other municipality community groups and chambers and been able to share how small businesses in our different regions were coping during restrictions imposed by the government because of the pandemic.

In July I sent out an updated preliminary business plan for sealing of the Western Explorer and showed how a 5 – 7 day self-drive touring loop from Devonport through Sheffield, Cradle Mountain, Queenstown, Strahan, Zeehan, Corinna, Arthur River, Smithton, Stanley and back along the coast to Devonport again. We are the only region in Tasmania that does not have a sealed touring loop and with the arrival dates of the new Spirit’s now set and the increase in capacity of both vehicles and passengers it is more opportune that ever to take advantage of this.

What was originally investigated as a great business opportunity for Circular Head tourism has now been expanded to be game changer for most of the Cradle Coast region and the many Councils that make it up.

This report was sent out to Tourism Tasmania, RACT, Cradle Coast Council, GM’s and Mayors of both the West Coast and Circular Head Councils as well as all Braddon members of Parliament both at State and Federal level. Both Minister for Tourism, Peter Gutwein and Minister for Infrastructure, Michael Ferguson was also sent copies.

Our Smithton and Circular Head maps prove popular, and an updated version was reprinted and freely distributed to many locations throughout the municipality.

Both UPC and Petuna have met with the Committee this year, as in previous years to inform us of updated to their proposed projects. Neither group has sought endorsement for their projects but merely to keep us updated with their proposals.

As part of the new Tasmanian Planning Scheme, each municipality had to call for representations to the Local Provisions Schedule and we were consistently told that this was the opportunity to have our say on what we wanted to include in our Local Provisions Schedule to better represent the desires of our local community. Unfortunately, the Planning Commission had already predetermined new zonings and how and where they would apply and new overlays to be included. It was somewhat the case as in 1904 when Henry Ford said of the Model T “you can have any colour you want as long as it is black”.

None the less we argued our case against splitting up the old more flexible Rural Resource zone into Agriculture, Rural, Landscape Conservation and introducing a new Environmental Management zone which is effectively the same as a National Park declaration.
Each time there is a change to Planning Schemes it seems to become more restrictive and less discretionary and keeps taking away from Council the ability to interpret in a way that best represents the wishes and desires of our local community.

We put forward the case that the new Tasmanian Planning Scheme is city centric and somewhat removed from how a small population but large landmass regional municipality like ours wants to develop and grow.

We also put to the Planning Commission that Circular Head has a massive shortage of developed building blocks, nil houses to rent although on paper there is about 70 ha’s of land zoned residential but lies undeveloped. Much of this land will stay undeveloped for housing for a mixture of reasons.

St Peter Chanel Primary School is zoned residential, so too is the land at the Smithton Substation owned by Tas Networks. Neither are likely to be developed. Other land is owned by individuals who have no desire to use it for housing, they like the idea of not having neighbours close by. Other land is either low lying, swampy, or has no outlook and so developers would not recover their costs after putting in roads, footpaths, underground water, power and sewerage services and therefore there is no incentive to move forward. This argument used by the Planning Commission to knock back development on more desirable locations by developers over the years has finally come home to roost and has no led to the dire housing shortage predicament that Circular Head finds itself in.

The Commissioners at the hearing were completely unaware of the situation and heard from industry representatives present that had employees living in caravan parks or being bussed in from outer regions because of the housing shortage and how things were only getting worse due to the number of jobs coming on stream.

Coming from the hearings was a proposal from the Bob Brown Foundation to have 399,000 ha’s of Future Potential Production Forest Land rezone to Landscape Conservation or Environmental Management, which was later opposed by DPIPWE, and we wrote in expressing our agreement with turning down the rezoning and made known our displeasure that a political group was trying to use the Circular Head Local Provisions Schedule to achieve their own political agenda.

Throughout the pandemic I was invited on several occasions to attend a Regional Chamber Forum with webex meetings with Small Business Minister Sarah Courtney which included chamber or community group members from around regional Tasmania.

As part of the new Tasmanian Planning Scheme, Circular Head Council has started on a Settlement Strategy with a survey of residents on where and why they choose to live. The Tarkine Coast Progress Group have put together a Settlement Vision/Plan for where we see settlement expansion could grow using both existing and new areas with an emphasis on desirable liveability which was consistent with survey results with coastal locations and blocks with views being the most sought after. This draft report has been placed with Council for comment.

In February after complaints from farmers, we met with the Forest Practices Board and put forward our concerns on how the Act is being interpreted to the detriment of land managers and the land clearing restrictions being imposed. Many board members were unaware of farmer concerns and some consensus felt that a whole farm plan approach may deliver better outcomes where the Forest Practices Board become award of the long-term goals of the farm development proposal and time frames involved.

In April I met with the members of the Tasmanian Community Fund and was able to explain what our Groups is about and learnt from them future funding opportunities that may be available for our region.

In May we held a business dinner evening where we recognised the accomplishments of Jon Poke from Boulduan Bay/Tarkine Fresh Oysters and his role in developing the oyster farming business in Tasmania and congratulated him on his upcoming retirement. Our guest speaker for the evening was Errol Stewart, Manager Director of the JMC, Entrepreneur and Developer who talked of his life from growing up on a dairy farm in Circular Head, to acquiring his first motor dealership in eastern regional Victor, to hotel and property development in Northern Tasmania. When asked if we had a topic for him to talk on, I chose State Planning and Development Applications which he spoke with some passion. It was a full house event and will be hard to back it up in the future.

We thank our membership for their support and hope our group goals aligns with yours.

Yours sincerely,
John McNab



For further information please contact   E: info@tarkinecoastpg.org.au