E-News February

I recently got back from a few days’ holiday on Cook Islands.

The Cook Islands were amazing. The type of break that you spend 10 metres from the beach, 10 metres from the pool and 5 metres from the cocktail bar. The perfect ratio, a colleague observed.

Cook Islands work on “island time”, a nebulous idea that has less to do with the literal time of the day and more the concept of time as a continuous progress of existence.

Cook Islanders know who they are and what their strengths are and it is summed up in the attitude to island time being anything from something happening in 30 minutes or sometime this afternoon … maybe.

As a tourist you must succumb to the vagaries of island time and embrace it. Because it just works.

Nearly 70 per cent of the country’s GDP comes from tourism and the highlight of that is the experiences offered, fresh food to sample and friendly, laid back lifestyle.

What does any of that have to do with economic development in Northern Tasmania?

Well, the message is: know who and what you are and what you are good at. Do it well and do it with passion and enthusiasm.

Northern Tasmania sees a major part of its economic development in the areas of food and drink and tourism — rightly so.

The experiences and products on our doorstep are among the very best in the world.

But sometimes, particularly if, like me, you have lived here all your life, you don’t see it because it has always been there.

I’m lucky enough to travel around NTDC’s member councils in Northern Tasmania on a regular basis. It allows me to reintroduce myself to these locations with a new perspective; and it’s fantastic seeing things afresh.

Take for example the Break O’Day municipality, which ranges 3809 square kilometres along the East Coast from Eddystone Point (larapuna) and Mt William National Park in the north to Denison River in the south and west to the eastern part of the Fingal Valley.

The region describes itself as diverse: “From the arty and creative hub of St Marys, historic townships like Fingal, Mathinna and Weldborough to the coastal towns and hamlets such as Falmouth, Scamander, Beaumaris, Binalong Bay and St Helens – the Game Fishing capital of Tasmania.”

I’m a fan of the road trip holiday; a car (preferably a convertible with eight cylinders) and a piece of tarmac that winds along the coastline and past a few good pubs.

Tasmania’s Great Eastern Drive — which you should start at Weldborough and head through Pyengana before hitting St Helens and heading down the East Coast —  is the equal of any coastal drive in the world.

Think the Pacific Coast Highway or the Great Ocean Road without the traffic and with better food and drink.

Business confidence at Break O’Day is very high, exemplified by the recent takeover and ongoing renovations of the Scamander Hotel.

There are more opportunities in the region but I don’t want to steal the thunder of Mayor Mick Tucker, who will be presenting his 2020 Vision for the municipality soon in a partnership with NTDC, its Member Councils and The Examiner newspaper.

NTDC has asked its Member Councils to outline their vision for the year and decade ahead in a series of articles.

What you will read is a collection of plans to increase investment, development and economic growth in Northern Tasmania while also focusing on making our communities healthier, wealthier and better educated.

The 2020 Visions are inspiring and exciting reading and I commend them to you all.

Like the Cook Islands, these regions know who they are and what they do well. They are just getting onto it a little quicker than island time.



NTDC is delighted to play a small role in SeedLab — a new initiative to grow emerging agri-businesses in the food and drink and agri-tourism sector.

SeedLab launched its program at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hobart in February.

SeedLab is a new incubator that will provide expertise, resources and training to de-risk export and drive profitable growth.

SeedLab will work with businesses at the start-up level to get them to the export level.

There were so many exciting agri-businesses that have the potential to be the next Tasmanian success story.

There is a veritable cornucopia of wonderful ideas and nascent businesses in the field. What they need to germinate, grow and create solid and long lasting roots is the mentoring and advice that the SeedLab process will deliver.

Growing agri-business and exports was a key strategy of NTDC, which looked forward to seeing the eventual harvest.

Watch Mark’s comments on launch night here.

2020 Visions

As mentioned above, NTDC has been asking its member councils what their 2020 Vision is. The results, which will be published in a series of articles in The Examiner and on our social media channels, is a focus on development, tourism, sustainability, long-term strategic goals. The first 2020 Vision published came from City of Launceston Council Mayor Albert van Zetten who highlighted the implementation of the extended Launceston City Deal, the University of Tasmania relocation to Inveresk and stage two of the Launceston City Heart Project as the main economic priorities.


ASPIRE chief executive Cameron McKenzie sums up his company’s online recycling platform in four simple and memorable words:

“It’s tinder for waste.”

Essentially, the website connects businesses and councils that have waste product with people who want to reuse it.

Cameron uses the example of a business that was spending $8,000 a month sending its food waste to landfill. ASPIRE connected that business to a nearby zoo who wanted the food and would take it for $1,000. The savings allowed the company to invest in more staff and capital expenditure.

A 5% improvement in efficient use of materials could benefit GDP by up to $24 billion according to the National Waste Report 2018.

Every 10,000 tonnes of waste recycled creates 9.2 jobs.

ASPIRE (Advisory System for Processing, Innovation & Resource Exchange) arose out of a collaboration between the CSIRO, the Victorian Digital Futures Fund, and the Victorian councils of Kingston, Hume, Dandenong and Knox. The project started as an economic development opportunity in response to manufacturing companies talking to their local councils about waste disposal costs, particularly those associated with increasing landfill levies. The resulting product is a digital platform to help SMEs minimise costs associated with waste disposal and also provide a marketplace to dispose of waste in ways other than to landfill.

The platform is targeted towards councils and the businesses within their municipalities. ASPIRE works as a subscription based service. Councils as individuals or as a collective can subscribe to ASPIRE, and once they subscribe, each SME with fewer than 20 employees can access the platform for free. Given the nature of ASPIRE, it works best when a local network of users has access to the site as it intelligently matches businesses with potential remanufacturers, purchasers or recyclers to find new purposes for waste materials, working towards the circular economy for Australia. Since launching, ASPIRE has diverted hundreds of different waste streams from landfill including batteries, e-waste, metals, organics, polystyrene, ferric chloride and timber pallets.

Break O’Day Workshop

Mark, Georgie and Edward visited the beautiful coastal town of St Helens this week for a workshop with Break O’Day Councillors and staff.

Mark presented an overview of our key programs for 2020 and beyond, Edward discussed NTDC’s Population Program approach, and Georgie discussed the Regional Economic Development Strategy (REDS) and how we are moving forward with the implementation.

We introduced Product Manager of Definium, Tony Oetterli, who provided an overview of his business and discussed opportunities with the LoRaWAN ‘Internet of Things’ network in Break O’Day.  He talked about the technology, network and the potential opportunities it opens-up for local business/community.

The presentation was followed by a great discussion with Council and staff about what’s happening in Break O’Day and how NTDC can work collaboratively to achieve our shared goals.

This was Edward’s first time to St Helens and he was amazed by its beauty!

Skilled Worker Support

Professional dancer Chloe Dobson was apprehensive about moving to an unknown city but has fallen in love with the beauty, lifestyle and community of Launceston in northern Tasmania.

Chloe and her partner started considering the move to Launceston in May 2018, after deciding to be close to her partner’s family. With the job offer came hesitations and fears that come with fresh starts and the unknown.

Chloe comes from an extensive background of dancing competitively, professionally and independently for 15+ years. She is the owner, creator, instructor and face of Bloom Barre which provides a positive and motivating space for everybody while focusing on safe and mindful movement.

Living here less than a year, Chloe successfully runs Bloom Barre in Launceston. Bloom Barre is a fusion of ballet, Pilates and yoga. You can see more here https://www.facebook.com/bloombarre/

Chloe was concerned about moving to a small town but with time she has come to enjoy the beauty, lifestyle and community of Launceston.

Chloe’s advice to newcomers is: “Stick it out. Put yourself out there and meet people you may not naturally come across; you’ll see that Launceston (and Tasmania) has a lot to offer.”

NTDC is committed to the retention and growth of the skilled-worker demographic in the region. Edward Obi, Population Program Manager at NTDC, has been interviewing interstate migrants to learn from their experiences.

If you are a newly arrived interstate migrant and you would like to share your story of settling down in the region, please write to Edward at edward@ntdc.org.au.