Like many Tasmanians, I‘ve had a few sleepless nights worried about the impact of coronavirus.
Are my children OK at school? Are my elderly parents at risk? How will the economy cope? Will friends in business survive? Am I doing the right thing going to that meeting or should I work from home?
They are existential questions many in the community are asking.
Those restless nights become early morning starts and with sunrise getting later as we head towards winter, it can be a little gloomy.
But, if it is always darkest before dawn, then it is in that auroral light that hope dawns anew.
Two moments last week brought some focus for me.
The first was a hot air balloon rising in the still air, the noise of its burner the only sound over the Tamar River.
The second was a magnificent sunrise that turned the water pink and the clouds purple.
It might seem glib now with people losing their jobs, people uncertain about their businesses and people worried about their health or the health of their loved ones, but we will get through this.
The coronavirus pandemic is first and foremost a health and well-being issue and that is rightly the focus.
Listen to the expert advice and do not think it doesn’t apply to you: solipsism will be society’s undoing.
But I would encourage people to consider how their spending choices could help the local economy.
Tourism, hospitality, retail and event businesses are already feeling the pressure of fewer customers, and small to medium businesses will be hardest hit.
Just as we are trying to flatten the curve of increased infection, we should also try and flatten the curve of any economic decline, and the packages presented by the state and federal governments will help in that regard.
It is really important that we try and sandbag small and medium businesses from the economic impact of COVID-19 so that when we come through the pandemic, businesses are still in business and workers are still working.
It is why organisations like CityProm, various Chambers of Commerce and Tourism Northern Tasmania should be congratulated for the proactive steps they have all already taken to encourage people to buy locally.
Tasmanians should consider their buying choices and spend their money in local businesses where possible.
With the federal government’s cash payments hitting many people’s bank accounts at the end of the month, it’s important that money is spent locally to keep businesses afloat.
Whether that’s supporting a retailer with an impulse buy, taking a stay-cation in the region or picking up some take-away from a restaurant, it all keeps cash flow in businesses with small reserves.
My wife and I picked up some dinner from the Black Cow and while I probably should have had greater focus on RSA (I blame Count Camillo Negroni for asking his bartender to strengthen his favourite cocktail – the Americano – by replacing the soda water with gin) it was something small that might keep that business in business for a while longer.
People who are able to might also consider supporting businesses by buying a gift voucher and tucking it away for a future date or perhaps a Christmas present.
In these uncertain times, NTDC will be working closely with its Member Councils on measures needed to bounce back from the economic impact of the pandemic.
Areas like population growth, renewed exports, resumption and rebuilding of the tourism and events industry, and a focus on smart technologies and different ways of working will be more important than ever in the months and years to come.
Jokingly, I often steal Bill Clinton’s campaign advisor’s line when friends and family ask what NTDC’s role is and say, “It’s the economy, stupid”.
In truth, economic development is the process by which communities become wealthier and healthier and have higher standards of living and educational attainment.
That is being challenged in ways not seen since the Great Depression.
We are in uncharted times but this is also an opportunity for Tasmanians to stick together and support each other and that is what we do really well.
This is the crucible through which our community and economy will be reforged.
COVID-19 Helpful Links
We have a list of helpful links at the end of this newsletter.
City of Launceston Community Care and Recovery Package
NTDC’s chief executive Mark Baker congratulated the City of Launceston for its proactive response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The City of Launceston will vote on the $8.5 million Community Care and Recovery Package. The package has been developed to provide assistance to Launceston’s business sector for the next six months.
The proposed Community Care and Recovery Package includes $4.2 million in rates relief for eligible commercial business, $586,000 in rental relief on Council-owned facilities, a $700,000 business grants package, a new Rates Charges Hardship Policy, and more than $465,000 in fee relief for business.
Mark said the Council had shown tremendous leadership at a local government level to move swiftly to offset some of the economic impacts.
“The coronavirus pandemic is first and foremost a health and well-being issue and that is rightly the focus, but just as we are trying to flatten the curve of increased infection, we should also try and flatten the curve of any economic decline,” he said.
“This local government package complements and contributes to the state and federal governments’ stimulus measures already announced and will go a long way to helping businesses and community groups navigate the uncharted road ahead.”
Mark said NTDC would be working closely with its Member Councils to enact a structured and consistent regional approach to economic recovery.
“Many businesses are and will continue to struggle – we are being challenged in ways most of us have never experienced and the country has not experienced since the Great Depression.
“That is why it’s important, more now than ever, to have a clear direction and plan to bounce back from the economic impact of the pandemic.
“Areas like population growth, renewed exports, resumption and rebuilding of the tourism and events industry, and a focus on smart technologies and different ways of working will be more important than ever in the months and years to come.”
Mark recognised the leadership shown by Mayor Albert van Zetten and his fellow councillors and the significant amount of work City of Launceston CEO Michael Stretton and his team had put into this package.
“In uncertain and worrying times, what will sustain Northern Tasmania are our close connections, willingness to work together and support one another and our ability to adapt.”
The Council will vote on the plan on Thursday
Hydrogen Alliance Launch
An exciting alliance of industry and government representatives has been established to promote Hydrogen as a viable energy source support the development of a Hydrogen production facility at Bell Bay.
Hydrogen is clean, and this innovative solution to local and interstate energy needs is indicative of the innovative and sustainable thinking in Northern Tasmania.
NTDC welcomes this new alliance and strongly endorses the production of Hydrogen in Northern Tasmania. This new venture is not only good for Australia’s energy market, it could result in a large number of jobs for Northern Tasmanians.
Labour Market of Northern Tasmania
Coronavirus has severely impacted the economy and job market.
While people in hospitality, tourism and aviation have been impacted by job losses, there are industries still looking for workers.
Job vacancy data shows there is strong demand for regional workers in agribusiness.
There has also been a rise in the demand for Healthcare, Medical and Pharmaceutical workers.
Finally, the federal government has just expanded the working hours of all student visa holders who work in supermarkets and warehouses in order to cope with replenishing stocks.
We deeply sympathise with those who have lost their jobs during this difficult time. We will continue to keep you updated where we can on available jobs. If you know someone looking for a job please visit and share our Facebook jobs page.
Let’s Get Working Seminars
Population Coordinator Edward Obi organised workshops in each council area for jobseekers and those who want to help jobseekers find employment.
While we have had two very successful “Let’s get Working” seminars, the ongoing situation with COVID-19 means we have postponed the remaining events.
We hope to bring the seminars to Meander, Northern Midlands, Break O’Day and City of Launceston municipalities at some point in the future and will keep you posted.
In the meantime, NTDC population coordinator Edward Obi will still be sharing his employment and interview tips shortly to those who had registered for our events. If you have any questions, please contact him via Facebook Messenger.
Thank you to all that attended a Let’s Get Working seminar, including our most recent George Town participants (pictured), one of whom walked out of the session with a new job in social work.
Cross-Cultural Communication in Job-Hunting
Edward shares his tips and knowledge for skilled workers in the below here.
Regional Economic Development Strategy Implementation Plan
Recently we held our first workshop with Local Government members to commence development of the Regional Economic Development Strategy implementation plan.
This is where the rubber hits the road in putting measurable actions against the RED Strategy agreed to by all levels of government to grow Northern Tasmania.
The key focus of REDS are Exports, Population, Innovation, Investment, Infrastructure, Participation and Productivity and there were a lot of great ideas shared on how to maximise the opportunities ahead of us.
NTDC have decided it best to put our REDS work on hold while we currently focus on economic recovery.
Population Advisory Group
A few weeks ago the population advisory group caught up to try to identify and develop proposed initiatives for the Population Program Action Plan (PPAP). The group which consists of stakeholders from all relevant sectors discussed employment initiatives within their organisation and how they can utilise and assist Edward.
COVID-19 Helpful Links
Below is a compilation of updates on COVID-19 response measures and where to find the latest information that you may find helpful. These sites are updated regularly as information changes.
The whole-of-government website www.australia.gov.au collates all COVID-19 updates and information from all Australian government agencies.
This website is your one-stop-shop as it links you to information, available services and selected state and territory resources.
Visit the Department of Health website for the latest information on how to protect yourself and others, advice for travellers and those working in the health sector, as well as the latest information on health response measures.
Australian citizens outside Australia
If you are an Australian citizen currently overseas or outside Australia and you wish to return home, you should do so soon.
For urgent Australian consular assistance contact:
⦁ +61 2 6261 3305 from overseas
⦁ 1300 555 135 from within Australia
For general information about assistance for Australian citizens overseas, see the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website at www.dfat.gov.au
Temporary visa holders in Australia
Temporary visa holders in Australia must remain lawful by applying for a new visa before their current visa expires. This includes Temporary visa holders unable to depart Australia due to COVID-19. See what to do to stay longer in Australia at https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/visa-about-to-expire/stay-longer
Temporary visa holders can request to waive ‘no further stay’ conditions imposed on their current visa, within the 2 months prior to the expiry date. See how to request a waiver at https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/already-have-a-visa/check-visa-details-and-conditions/waivers-and-permissions/no-further-stay-waiver
Students are able to work extended hours within supermarkets and the aged care sector. See further information at https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/news-media/current-alerts/novel-coronavirus
Temporary visa holders outside Australia
From 9pm AEDT 20 March 2020, only Australian citizens, residents and immediate family members can travel to Australia.
Some exemptions are in place for temporary visa holders who have a compassionate or compelling reason to travel to Australia. You will need to apply online for an exemption at https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/news-media/current-alerts/novel-coronavirus before attempting to travel to Australia.
TAS State Government updates
The Tasmanian Government is working closely with the Commonwealth and state and territory jurisdictional governments to respond appropriately to the outbreak of COVID-19.
Latest information on the measures being taken to protect the community and minimise potential impacts of COVID-19, is available on the Tasmanian Health Department’s website at https://www.dhhs.tas.gov.au/news/2020/coronavirus_update
The Tasmanian Government has declared a State of Emergency and tough border restrictions are in place. Important information for travellers who are arriving into Tasmania is available on the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment website at https://dpipwe.tas.gov.au/biosecurity-tasmania/biosecurity/biosecurity-forms/covid-19-important-information-for-travellers
Resources in community languages
The Australian Government provides translated COVID-19 information resources in various community languages.
The Australian Government response to COVID-19 is changing rapidly in response to the evolving situation. Information on websites will continue to be updated in line with the decisions announced by Government. These updates will subsequently be translated and become available from the following websites:
Department of Home Affairs website – https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/news-media/current-alerts/novel-coronavirus
Department of Health website – https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert
Australian Government portal – https://www.australia.gov.au/