Thursday 29 November 2018
Hansard of the Legislative Council

Second Reading


[3.05 p.m.]
Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Mr President, the chief executive officer or executive officer of Brand Tasmania is here today and he is an old ABC man.  When I say 'an old ABC man', I use the term very loosely.  As you can see, he is quite young, but we were at the ABC at the same time.  He was Acting Head of Television for Tassie, and I was a mere whippersnapper mucking around in radio up north .

However, I wanted to highlight Robert, not only because he is wearing a Melbourne tie, but also because in my time in dealing with Brand Tasmania I always found him to be very accommodating, running a good show, no self-aggrandisement and just quietly going about being a huge success story in Tasmania in his role as executive officer.

It is with a little disappointment that we have a new iteration of Brand Tasmania going into a different realm, from what was more a private enterprise-style operation with a dynamic leader and a good board into a bureaucracy, into the public service near the Department of Premier and Cabinet.  It is into another location.  It is a signal concern, because it is very important that it does not get lost in the bureaucracy.  It is very important we have a good CEO - Mr Heazlewood is not staying on, after a good 20 years he is going on to other things.

We need somebody like him from the private sector - somebody who knows how business works, somebody who has connections within private enterprise and the business community, who knows how business ticks over.  That will be very important for the future of Brand Tasmania along with a new board.  It is very important Brand Tasmania has a good chairman.  Michael Grainger has been a dynamic chairman of the board.  A very forthright - I was going to say 'gung-ho', but he is a very assertive positive figure and what is needed at the head of a board and all those good people.

When I talk about good people, I have always had contact with Kim Seagram from my community in the north of the state.

Ms Rattray - Now, there is a dynamic lady.

Mr FINCH - She is from Stillwater and helped establish with Rod Ascui the Stillwater regime which has gone into the Black Cow; now she has a company, Fermentasmania, which she is involved with.  I have always had feedback from her about how Brand Tasmania was going.  I asked for her comment about this development.  She tells me that Brand Tasmania was formed by a group of Tasmanian exporters, one of whom was Andrew Pirie, when he was at Pipers Brook Vineyard, and they established it to develop and maintain, protect and grow the Tasmania brand as a place-of-origin brand to help them in their export endeavours - that was the idea behind it - led by one of the best boards, or councils, as it is referred to, comprising many businesses and industry leaders of the main economic drivers of the Tasmanian economy.

Ms Armitage - There are people in the north who have skills and could be on the state board.

Mr FINCH - Absolutely.  Kim is on the board.  I know your concern would probably be with the new board.

Ms Armitage - It is very much with the new board and that it gets statewide representation.

Mr FINCH - Yes, of course.  I know you stressed that in the briefing.  It was a very good point to make.  We have to look at it, and I think we were assured, if my memory serves me correctly, that gender equity is going to be harder -

Ms Armitage - I am not worried about gender equity; I want them to serve the state.

Mr FINCH - Also, there is that statewide opportunity if the skills come out of the woodwork.  I suppose that is the driver of the people who are appointed.  It is who applies and who wants to be part of the board.

Ms Armitage - As long as they know it exists.

Mr FINCH - As long as they know.  You mean, that it is advertised?

Ms Armitage - It is advertised widely.

Mr FINCH - Advertised widely, not just at one end of the state. 

Mrs Hiscutt - I will be informing my local tourism associations about it.

Mr FINCH - Thank you very much, Leader.  It is important we stress in this Chamber that it is not a rivalry thing, it is an equity thing.  We have to make sure we get representation, because everybody is going to come with different views and have different readings from their community, different ideas and thrusts.  We need that to occur. 

The other interesting point you noted was the fact that this is going to be a paid board.  I know that Kim was a volunteer.  All were volunteers.  It is a different set‑up.

Ms Armitage - I am looking forward to hearing what the budget is.

Mr FINCH - Yes, and where the budget comes from.  Does the board set it themselves?  Do its members suggest what their remuneration might be?  No, it is going to be dictated.  We will see what happens there.

Mrs Hiscutt - It will be in the budget.  There will be money budgeted.

Mr FINCH - We will be able to scrutinise that as we come through the government business enterprises scrutiny.  GBEs or -

Mrs Hiscutt - Through Estimates.

Mr FINCH - Through Estimates as an authority.  We will be able to look at that and see what remuneration they get.  They will have skills and it will be good they will be remunerated for their contribution.  But over the last number of years of Brand Tasmania, it has been increasingly drawn into the Department of State Growth with Robert Heazlewood and Martin Turmine, from within government, providing the human and financial resources. and, as mentioned, Michael Grainger providing the stewardship as chair for almost a decade, if not more. 

Kim says -

When I was sitting around the board table, I departed after 10 years on the council in 2012.  We had only between $640,000 to $750,000 in funding per annum to do all we did, but we leveraged that with industry contributions in kind and memberships to do the best we could.  We developed the Brand Champions TV campaign to build the Tasmanian brand and pride locally, but did most of our work externally with many international visiting influences, supported many industry showcases, created a collaborative brand, aligned industry events, and developed the Tasmanian brand ambassador program with Tetsuya, the chef from Sydney, and now Singapore, and then the chef's scholarship for Tassie chef trainees to work with him in Sydney, just to name a few initiatives. 

I will leave the email there to remind others that when I was chair of the Devil Island Project, we had a couple of fundraising dinners, one in Launceston and one in the south.  Down south, my friend Fiona Hoskin went to Robert Heazlewood for support.  We ended up with Ray Martin as the compere on the night through Robert's connection.  We had Tetsuya to do the cooking.  On that night we raised $168 000 for the Devil Island Project.  A lot of that was driven by Robert Heazlewood.  Brand Tasmania was fantastic.

Back to the email.  It was also responsible for the Wings logo, which I am wearing and have been wearing for probably a couple of years - much to the chagrin of Tony Stacey, the ex-Blundstone boss, and myself, because we wanted to stand behind Tasmania and the Tasmanian brand and we did not want another logo, but you cannot win everything.  I have always liked the stylised map of Tassie, in the form of a pair of wings.

Kim says -

I have just heard government are trying to get new blood on the board, which we have talked about and better insights into place of origin rather than just place branding.  More marketing and branding knowledge is needed.  That is where it is going to be important for those new people to bring those skills that we need to the board to progress and take Brand Tasmania or the council to the next level.

Kim concludes -

I don't know if this will make it better or not but it will be a change.  Sometimes change is a good thing.  But whatever happens it needs to be industry led and properly resourced if it is to be effective in the future. 

So, some advice from Kim Seagram.  A brand is only good as the product or the products behind it.  One flaw in a product can destroy a brand's image.

In the second reading speech one line was that 'our brand is one of the state's greatest assets'.  I agree with that to a certain extent, but let us start at the other end:  our greatest assets are our natural resources, our environment and our clean, green products.  If you damage them, the brand is meaningless.  It is very important that it is safeguarded as we move forward in this branding of Tasmania.  What is actually bringing people?  What puts us on a pedestal?  And, in the tourism sector, what brings those people to Tasmania and what do they want to experience?

This attempt to strengthen Tasmania's brand, while necessary and with the best of intentions, must go hand in hand with a structure that will protect what we are branding.  That said, the bill has my full support.  I sense the Government is trying to get new blood on the board, better insights into place of origin rather than just place branding.  So, more marketing and more branding knowledge is needed, as suggested by Kim Seagram. 

I support the bill.