Thursday 19 March 2015

Hansard of the Legislative Council


Improvement Committees in Electorate of Rosevears


[11.11 a.m.]

Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Mr President, once upon a time we had progress associations around our regions.  They were sometimes criticised because progress for progress's sake was not necessarily seen as a positive.  Support and participation in progress associations lost steam.  There was a period of hiatus in some areas, but now we have improvement less ambiguously replacing progress.  Improvement movements are springing up all over my electorate.  There seems nothing ambiguous about improvement, whatever your views about developments.  Communities are right behind the improvements movement.  The biggest in my electorate is the Beaconsfield Improvement Committee.


After the mine disaster in 2006, the West Tamar Community Recovery sub-committee realised that the Beaconsfield community would benefit from various improvements to help in the community recovery process, and also to improve the experience of visitors, by encouraging people to stop and spend time in Beaconsfield.  The Beaconsfield Improvement Committee was formed in September 2006 as an external committee of the West Tamar Council.  Its main purpose was to provide direction and a whole-of-community approach to the improvement of Beaconsfield.


One of the main problems with the old progress associations was that they were often dominated by the few who had time to attend the meetings.  This often led to a distortion of aims, some of which were not necessarily a priority for most community members.  The Beaconsfield Improvement Committee was careful to involve the whole community.  One questionnaire was circulated which made it apparent that the top issues for child and family wellbeing was a safer Beaconsfield, free of drugs, violence and poverty.  Respondents wanted a police presence back in town.  They wanted Beaconsfield to be a place that people could be proud to live in.


Ms Rattray - Didn't they have a policeman at Beaconsfield?


Mr FINCH - They have just increased numbers and a better presence in Beaconsfield. 


They wanted a beautiful town centre.  They wanted it clean, tidy and well-maintained, with vibrant businesses and a thriving economy, where people had a sense of belonging.  This is from the community.  The list went on.  The report on the response is a vibrant document which could be a model for many other Tasmanian communities.


Not only are improvement associations more representative of the community and its wants than the former progress associations, but they are close to local government.  One of the aims of Beaconsfield is, and I would like to quote -


To develop a main street program that aligns with civic pride and heritage values through identified improvements; encourage investment and job creation; enhance the town precinct to become a catalyst for tourism and economic growth, and develop a strategic plan that reflects community values, traditions and attitudes and recognises the partnership between the council and the community.


For those of you who heard the Premier's Address yesterday, I talked about the 40 000 tourists who came to see the Mine & Heritage Centre.  I also talked about Exeter.


Ms Rattray - And you also talked about the family who saw Brant Webb.


Mr FINCH - That is right, that is a funny story.  No, it was Todd Russell.  Get your facts right, please. 


Exeter is another very strong community.  Its improvement committee was formed after a public meeting held by the council in 2012.  Nine committee members were elected, seven of them business operators.  It is chaired by Nigel Birrell who recently won a National Sausage King title in Adelaide with his beautiful sausages.


The committee also includes the council's infrastructure manager, two councillors and the council's community development officer. 


The committee's terms of reference are similar to Beaconsfield.  After seeing the good things happening in Beaconsfield and Exeter, the Beauty Point community established its own improvement committee and that is still in its early stages.  There is an embryonic group at Greens Beach.  At this stage it is called the Greens Beach advisory group, not the progress association.


These improvement groups are a great way to promote community engagement - to get things done that the whole community wants and to connect, not only with local government, but also with the other two tiers of government.  They give communities a voice and they give governments an opportunity to listen.