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Tasmania in recovery, but not safe

Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Michael Bailey.THE state’s peak industry group says Tasmania is on the path to economic recovery, but it can’t take its eye off the ball.
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Latest figures show the state’s unemployment rate dropped slightly in December, with 500 more Tasmanians in full-time work.

Australian Bureau of Statistics labour force data released yesterday recorded an unemployment level of 6.8 per cent in trend terms, down from 6.9.

The state is slowly catching up with the national rate of 6.1 per cent.

There were 17,900 Tasmanians classed as unemployed over December, which was 300 fewer than in November.

The participation rate grew 0.1 per cent between November and December, and was up 1.9 per cent since December 2013.

Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Michael Bailey said the numbers were “really encouraging”.

“They certainly show and reflect that the economy in Tasmania is well on the way back,” Mr Bailey said.

“There’s still work to be done and we need to remind all levels of government that the focus has to be on enabling business to grow and to employ people further,” he said.

Mr Bailey said he was concerned about the number of people leaving the state.

More people are leaving Tasmania than arriving, but the rate of loss is down.

“We’re going to need to really look at that to increase our economy further,” he said.

“We know the economy and access to jobs is the number one important thing to maintain growing a population,” he said.

“It’s an exciting time in Tasmania, but we can’t take the eye off the ball,” he said.

Launceston Chamber of Commerce executive officer Maree Tetlow also welcomed the figures, and said she’d like to see a more positive 2015.

“Hopefully 2015 is a more robust year for business overall and employment in particular,” she said.

Tasmanian Council of Social Service chief executive Tony Reidy said he hoped the trend continued to be positive.

“This is the prime time to be providing support and training to long-term unemployed people to develop skills in those areas of the economy that are emerging.”

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Emotional moment as Currant dream is realisedPhotos

Environment Minister Matthew Groom, co-manager Renee Anderson, developer Simon Currant, and Premier Will Hodgman. Picture: Daniel McCulloch Pumphouse Point from the air. Picture: Daniel McCulloch
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PUMPHOUSE Point developer Simon Currant choked back tears yesterday as he officially opened the doors of the remote wilderness retreat.

Mr Currant stopped to take stock on the banks of Lake St Clair, reflecting on a dream that has taken him, his family and his team of staff more than 18 years to bring to fruition.

“It was a very bumpy road … there’s been all sorts of things that have caused problems for us,” he said.

“It’s been a long time coming and it’s a really momentous day.”

Mr Currant reflected on first exploring the site 20 years ago, carrying his infant daughter on his back.

Now an adult, Miss Currant stood proudly by her father’s side for yesterday’s official opening.

Mr Currant acknowledged unwavering support received from successive state governments, the Parks and Wildlife Service and Tourism Tasmania, in the face of some sustained, vocal opposition to his development plans.

Emotional moment as Currant dream is realised | Photos A tour through Pumphouse Point, with developer Simon Currant, in December 2014. Picture: Scott Gelston

A tour through Pumphouse Point, with developer Simon Currant, in December 2014. Picture: Scott Gelston

A tour through Pumphouse Point, with developer Simon Currant, in December 2014. Picture: Scott Gelston

A tour through Pumphouse Point, with developer Simon Currant, in December 2014. Picture: Scott Gelston

A tour through Pumphouse Point, with developer Simon Currant, in December 2014. Picture: Scott Gelston

A tour through Pumphouse Point, with developer Simon Currant, in December 2014. Picture: Scott Gelston

A tour through Pumphouse Point, with developer Simon Currant, in December 2014. Picture: Scott Gelston

A tour through Pumphouse Point, with developer Simon Currant, in December 2014. Picture: Scott Gelston

A tour through Pumphouse Point, with developer Simon Currant, in December 2014. Picture: Scott Gelston

A tour through Pumphouse Point, with developer Simon Currant, in December 2014. Picture: Scott Gelston

A tour through Pumphouse Point, with developer Simon Currant, in December 2014. Picture: Scott Gelston

A tour through Pumphouse Point, with developer Simon Currant, in December 2014. Picture: Scott Gelston

A tour through Pumphouse Point, with developer Simon Currant, in December 2014. Picture: Scott Gelston

A tour through Pumphouse Point, with developer Simon Currant, in December 2014. Picture: Scott Gelston

A tour through Pumphouse Point, with developer Simon Currant, in December 2014. Picture: Scott Gelston

A tour through Pumphouse Point, with developer Simon Currant, in December 2014. Picture: Scott Gelston

A tour through Pumphouse Point, with developer Simon Currant, in December 2014. Picture: Scott Gelston

A tour through Pumphouse Point, with developer Simon Currant, in December 2014. Picture: Scott Gelston

A tour through Pumphouse Point, with developer Simon Currant, in December 2014. Picture: Scott Gelston

A tour through Pumphouse Point, with developer Simon Currant, in December 2014. Picture: Scott Gelston

A tour through Pumphouse Point, with developer Simon Currant, in December 2014. Picture: Scott Gelston

A tour through Pumphouse Point, with developer Simon Currant, in December 2014. Picture: Scott Gelston

A tour through Pumphouse Point, with developer Simon Currant, in December 2014. Picture: Scott Gelston

A tour through Pumphouse Point, with developer Simon Currant, in December 2014. Picture: Scott Gelston

A tour through Pumphouse Point, with developer Simon Currant, in December 2014. Picture: Scott Gelston

A tour through Pumphouse Point, with developer Simon Currant, in December 2014. Picture: Scott Gelston

A tour through Pumphouse Point, with developer Simon Currant, in December 2014. Picture: Scott Gelston

A tour through Pumphouse Point, with developer Simon Currant, in December 2014. Picture: Scott Gelston

A tour through Pumphouse Point, with developer Simon Currant, in December 2014. Picture: Scott Gelston

A tour through Pumphouse Point, with developer Simon Currant, in December 2014. Picture: Scott Gelston

A tour through Pumphouse Point, with developer Simon Currant, in December 2014. Picture: Scott Gelston

A tour through Pumphouse Point, with developer Simon Currant, in December 2014. Picture: Scott Gelston

A tour through Pumphouse Point, with developer Simon Currant, in December 2014. Picture: Scott Gelston

A tour through Pumphouse Point, with developer Simon Currant, in December 2014. Picture: Scott Gelston

A tour through Pumphouse Point, with developer Simon Currant, in December 2014. Picture: Scott Gelston

A tour through Pumphouse Point, with developer Simon Currant, in December 2014. Picture: Scott Gelston

A tour through Pumphouse Point, with developer Simon Currant, in December 2014. Picture: Scott Gelston

A tour through Pumphouse Point, with developer Simon Currant, in December 2014. Picture: Scott Gelston

A tour through Pumphouse Point, with developer Simon Currant, in December 2014. Picture: Scott Gelston

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Plan to rezone wilderness area

LABOR has thrown its support behind a push to allow tourism ventures in untouched parts of Tasmania’s World Heritage Area, but warned the state government to tread carefully.
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But the Greens and conservation groups say the plan abandons the concept of wilderness and could damage the state’s reputation.

The government plans to rezone the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, reclassifying wilderness areas as remote recreational zones.

The shift would allow development of low-scale tourism ventures including huts and basic accommodation.

The plan paves the way for greater air and water access, while also allowing for select specialty species timber logging.

Environment Minister Matthew Groom is confident the blueprint strikes the right balance.

“It’s about genuinely respecting our cultural and natural values in these areas of extraordinary beauty,” Mr Groom said.

“But it’s doing so in a way which allows us to experience those areas, celebrate their extraordinary values, and share them with the world.”

Mr Groom played down reference to logging in the draft plan, saying harvesting of some speciality species timber inside the area was already permitted under legislation.

“Under existing law there’s a small number of regional conservation reserves where under very limited circumstances there’s a capacity to access specialist timber, but there’s no change under this new plan,” he said.

Labor environment spokesman Craig Farrell said the party supported boosting visitor numbers and experiences inside the area.

“Greater access and sensible, appropriate tourism projects have Labor’s backing,” Mr Farrell said.

“The pressure is now on the Liberal Government to get this right.”

But Greens parks spokesman Nick McKim claimed the draft plan was the biggest threat to Tasmanian wilderness values for a generation.

“Tragically the Liberals see our world class wilderness as something to be profited from rather than protected for all of humanity,” Mr McKim said.

“They want to sell off Tasmania’s great natural treasure for nothing more than trinkets.”

Tasmanian Conservation Trust director Peter McGlone was among members of five environment groups speaking out against the proposed changes yesterday, questioning the economic benefits.

“There are record numbers of tourists coming to Tasmania and a massive increase in numbers visiting national parks … so there seems to be no good economic reason for making it easier to build new attractions,” Mr McGlone said.

The groups have promised to fight the changes, which have the support of the tourism industry.

Public consultation for the plan begins on Monday and will run until March 22.

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Ben Lomond study move

A PROPOSED $20,000 feasibility study into expanding activities on Ben Lomond will be tabled for funding by Northern Midlands Council on Monday.
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The proposition, which would explore the establishment of year-round activity on the mountain, was unsuccessful when forwarded for discussion with the council last year.

Northern Midlands Mayor David Downie said the motion was brought back by deputy mayor Richard Goss after further information about the report was gathered.

The Department of State Growth has pledged $5000, $2500 from the Ben Lomond Committee and Regional Development Australia Tasmania, and $2000 had been promised from Launceston City Council and Northern Tasmania Development.

A further $1000 from two community members had also been offered as contribution to the report.

If approved, Northern Midlands Council will contribute $4000 to the project.

‘‘If it’s approved you’d hope that the feasibility study would be acted on and that the Ben Lomond area would be able to be progressed or developed for recreation,’’ Cr Downie said.

‘‘If this feasibility study goes ahead it would be trying to stimulate interest in the area.’’

Northern Tasmania Development executive officer Derek le Marchant said the area was highly accessible and held great potential for further activity.

‘‘It’s highly accessible and a well-recognised national park that’s close to the airport and town,’’ Mr le Marchant said.

‘‘When we saw a range of private and community interests also looking to do some study that, for us, was a really good sign, it means there’s commitment from all sections of the user groups.’’

The council will discuss the proposition during its Longford general meeting at 5pm on Monday.

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Beer, comedy the perfect mix

Comedian Justin Hamilton, who will perform at the Esk Beerfest Fresh Comedy show.STAND-up comedian Justin Hamilton doesn’t drink beer.
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But that’s not going to make his performance at the Esk Beerfest Fresh Comedy show tomorrow awkward at all, considering that beverage is something that will be on everyone’s mind.

“I don’t really know anything about Beerfest, and I don’t drink beer, so I’m hoping it’s not a case of me not being given accreditation,” the Melbourne-based funny-man said.

“I don’t drink much any more, as now that I’m 42, if I have one glass of white wine, I wake up and I am blind in my left eye and have a taste in my mouth like I have been gargling batteries, so I’ve cut right back.

“But, I am more than happy to be around people that do drink.”

The “story-telling” comedian admitted the audience that the Esk Beerfest will attract in comparison to a more intimate setting would mean a different type of show.

“You still do what you want to do, but you do keep things shorter and punchier.

“In a theatre everyone is invested in whatever you are doing, in a club setting you mix and match longer and shorter form of stuff, but with Beerfest it will be short and sharp.”

Hamilton, who is a regular visitor to Launceston, promised he would have plenty of new material for Saturday.

The Fresh Comedy at Beerfest performance will take place between 2.30pm and 5.30pm.

Rhys Nicholson, who Hamilton described as “one of the new breed of of comedians coming through”, will also feature, and it will be hosted by Stewart Bell.

It will be part of an entertainment package at The Esk Beerfest that will also feature the music of Pete Cornelius & The Devilles, Reuben Koops and The Embers from 2pm tomorrow, and Discovery, the Australian Daft Punk tribute show from 6pm.

Tonight will see the likes of Luke Parry, Agent 99 and Lorenzo Von Matterhorn in action during the evening.

For the full entertainment program visit www.eskbeerfest南京夜网.au

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