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.

Latest News -“Housing Shortage and Population Growth”

Click the link below to access the document. We would appreciate you taking the survey after reading to enable us to progress our ideas where we can grow our population and housing!

Living on the Tarkine Coast for future settlement!

Take the survey below, thank you for your assistance.


Presidents Report 2021/2022 (September 2022)

Vision:  “Supporting our community”

Mission:  “Identify, build on and foster economic, community, recreation and cultural development opportunities for the people of the Circular Head region”

I would like to thank the committee members for their support over the last 12 months and especially our Administration Officer Jane Arnold, who unfortunately had to resign from the position after Christmas for family and business commitments. She did a terrific job in organising our end of year business dinner at Tall Timbers, which once again was a complete sell out.

Guest speaker was Dale Elphinstone, who as a 15-year-old started an apprenticeship with Caterpillar dealer William Adams in Burnie. He started adapting and selling mining equipment to suit underground work from his father’s farm shed. Some 20 years later, his vision and entrepreneurialism, culminated in taking over the firm. The Elphinstone name has become synonymous with underground mining equipment around the world.

Dale didn’t mention it, but I thanked him, on behalf of the community, for the work and money he has put into the Cancer treatment facilities at the Northwest Regional Hospital without which, cancer patients from our region would have been travelling back and forth to Launceston on a daily basis for several weeks at a time.

That night we also celebrated the retirement of 2 well known business owners, Murray House and Bomber Wells. We recognised their service to the community over the many years in running their businesses.

Throughout the year I once again represented the Progress Group as part of the business community on CHETCC. This year after receiving government funding and appointing a Workforce Development Officer, many businesses in Circular Head were surveyed on their staffing needs and training requirements and this is now being collated and acted upon.

We met with Veronica Terry, from Regional Development Australia, and Luke Sayer, the Regional Economic Co-ordinator with State Growth. We explained what we were doing in trying to grow our population and bring about more residential development in Circular Head. The then General Manager Scott Riley, had forwarded our draft version of “Living on the Tarkine Coast” to them as they were interested in what our Group was doing.

We continued lobbying to have the “Western Explorer” sealed, and eventually State Growth released their feasibility study. I had contacted State Growth before they released the report asking that while it was in draft form, could the main stakeholders i.e. The Tarkine Coast Progress Group, The Circular Head Tourism Association, Circular Head Council and the West Coast Council be consulted to bring in local perspective and correct any potential errors. They never got back to me on that.

In the study by Pitt & Sherry, for some unknown reason they included in their costings, the upgrade and sealing of 24kms of the narrow and winding Corinna Development Road from Corrina to Savage River. This should have been costed separately as it has nothing to do as a tourist route and is mainly used by heavy vehicles, including B Doubles, carting silica from a quarry near Corinna to the Savage River Mine. Local input would have prevented this embarrassing anomaly.

As a committee member Paul Arnold put in a lot of work in developing a staged plan for the construction of a walking/cycling track from Smithton to Stanley. It was put out to the politicians for funding in the last Federal election. Although unsuccessful for funding this time around, going by the massive positive feed back from the community, it has started the conversation and we are hopeful for funding in the future.

After several years of research, we finally put together our plan for growing the population of Circular Head, which goes hand in hand with the release of suitable land for residential development to overcome the housing shortage. During our research it became abundantly clear that population growth and the housing shortage are both intrinsically linked. Even long before the Covid pandemic, businesses were having massive problems in attracting workers to Circular Head. It was not because of poor pay and conditions. It was not because of lack of good sporting or recreational facilities. It was not because of inadequate skill training opportunities, because nearly all the businesses said they would provide their own training. It was not because we were not seen as a caring and inclusive community.

The whole problem with attracting workers was and still is, there is nowhere for them to live.

WE can understand people living in camping grounds or sheds or converted garages at the back of people’s properties after bushfires, floods, or other natural disasters. But for this to be happening in Circular Head, one of the most naturally wealthy regions in Australia, is inexcusable. I can only say that the Tasmanian Planning Scheme and the Cradle Coast Land Use Strategy has been the disaster, for the people of Circular Head.

As at the beginning of September 2022 there is only 3 serviced residential blocks for sale in the whole Circular Head municipality, all in Smithton.

Unfortunately, Smithton has 70 ha of land zoned residential, but is undeveloped because the present owner has no desire to develop it or it is uneconomic to develop because it may be swampy, steep, facing south, next to a utility, like the Tasnetworks sub station, or it is a school like St. Peter Chanel.

If a developer comes along, and there have been several, and wishes to rezone land more desirable for residential living, the Planning Commission in Hobart will knock it back, siting that Smithon already has an excess of residentially zoned land. The fact that the land is undeveloped is of no concern to them. Similarly, Stanley has nearly 30ha zoned residential but undeveloped.

Back in 2009 the Latrobe Council recognised that they had this problem where land zoned residential was not being developed by its owners. They took the bull by the horns and rezoned more appropriate land, where the land holder was keen to develop. (Latrobe Township and Environs Strategic Plan 2009). The rest is history, Latrobe has been one of the fastest growing regions in Tasmania.

With financial help from some businesses, who are feeling the pain of worker shortage, we had engaged CBM Sustainable Development to collate our groundwork research and put together “Living in the Tarkine Coast.”

This is not only a snapshot of where we are but is also a “Plan for Now and a Vision for the Future”. This was presented to Council at a workshop in January. It was passed unanimously by Councillors at the next Council meeting, to then go out to the community for examination and feedback. We sent hard copies out to our membership and have now put the document on our website, with a link to complete a 1 minute, 9 question survey on Housing Shortage and Population Growth.

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

Yours sincerely,

John McNab.


Tarkine Coast Progress Group.

Presidents Report 2020/2021 (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