Monday 22 JuneĀ  2009

Estimates Committee B (O'Byrne) - Part 2

Mr FINCH - It is a good idea to put that ferry ride into the overall cost of your ticket to the site so that it does not become an extra option - the extra dollars going out. It is in your ticket when you go in so it makes it a much easier way, a much better visitation.

Ms O'BYRNE - An easier step, yes. And it is an important part of your experience of Port Arthur. I think, to congratulate them, they have done a lot more engagement work. When you go now it is not just about lovely buildings but you get a lot of experiential tourism as a result. They give you a particular convict who you then follow through the whole process. They may have worked in the gardens or they may have been housed in a separate prison or they may have been out on the island.  I think that is really wonderful. But the visitor numbers are up for Port Arthur.

Mr GADD - Yes, they are holding up. We did have a glitch in the last couple of months but they are holding fine and firm and the ferry itself is pretty much at capacity.

Mr WING - Yes, good service.

Mr FINCH - I am just wondering, Minister, if you can tell us some of the funding priorities now.

Ms O'BYRNE - For Port Arthur?

Mr FINCH - Yes. What is looming large?

Ms O'BRYNE - Conservation, clearly.  A lot of funding at the moment is targeted around meeting the ICOMOS requirements that we will have with the World Heritage listing. As you know, we have done the interpretation around the separate prison. It is a big step in heritage to make a decision about whether or not you redevelop a site.  There is the Burra Charter, which says you should actually leave things as they are because that is telling a story.  The interpretation work that they have done with Port Arthur with the separate prison is clearly built to be new.  So it is clearly showing that this is what it would have been because that provides the experience but allows you to understand that clearly it had not survived in that state and that is really important.  So there is the extension of the separate prison. There is a lot of stabilisation work required around the penitentiary.  And we have had some very interesting work happening there with the surveyors with the laser scanning to identify where the stabilisation work should occur.  I think you would all reasonably have had a tour of Port Arthur?

Mr FINCH - Yes.

CHAIR - The other thing is that there is an issue with the caravan park which you will be aware of in terms of facilities.

Mr GADD - The lease is due to expire so we are currently looking at what the future of that might be and whether or not there is an opportunity to expand that capacity, if you will.

Mr FINCH - In another location?

Mr GADD - There might be an opportunity to expand on the current location but also to improve the product mix that is offered. We have cabins at caravan sites there now. There might be an opportunity to put a few slightly more up-market caravans on-site and change the mix and maybe expand the footprint slightly to improve its commercial outcome.

Mr FINCH - Would that impact on your budget outlay?

Mr GADD - In terms of revenues in from the new lease arrangement, hopefully, yes, it will in a positive manner.

Mr FINCH - But would you require an operator to take those extensions on, or would the Government make those alterations and then up the lease?

Mr GADD - We are just doing some feasibility at the moment, but the concept would be that we would identify what was possible and then go to the market to see if there was a private sector developer prepared to invest to deliver that.

Mr FINCH - And the current investor?

Mr GADD - The current investor would be in that mix as well.

Mr WING - I do not suppose you have any conceptual plans of the proposed new motel or hotel to replace the existing one?

Ms O'BYRNE - Do we have one with us?

Mr GADD - No.

Ms O'BYRNE - I do not think we do but I think there are some around.

Mr GADD - We have seen some. There is a prototype. There has been a prototype that has been built. It does require some modifications because some minor issues have been identified. I imagine the developer would be more than happy to probably give members a bit of a preview of that.

Ms O'BYRNE - I think the main thing is that it is certainly going to be more sensitive to the area than the existing one.

Mr WING - The concept sounds very interesting.