Tamar River Report Card

Tuesday was report card day for the Tamar and there were mixed marks.

The not-at-all good news was the release of the Tamar and Esk Rivers program 2022 Tamar Estuary report card, in which the Launceston to Legana Zone (Zone 1) was still rated as “D” for poor ecosystem, after 14 years. The 2022 Report card has been produced using 12 months of kanamaluka/Tamar estuary ambient monitoring data, collected between December 2020 and November 2021, at 16 sites along the length of the estuary. The poor ecosystem rating is mostly driven by high levels of nutrients and elevated turbidity (cloudiness or haziness of a fluid caused by large number of individual particles that are generally invisible to the naked eye).

In good news, it was announced that Nick Duigan MLC has been appointed Parliamentary Secretary for the Tamar Estuary. As passionate advocates for the Tamar, we welcome the announcement of a parliamentary secretary to report directly to the Minister for State Development, Construction and Housing and hope that the establishment of this position sees a number of areas addressed to improve the environmental, social and economic aspects of the estuary. The Chamber is in support of the TEMT vision for the Tamar and we hope that with Nick Duigan’s appointment we will see the plan implemented at a much faster pace than that of the Launceston Sewerage Improvement Program (LSIP), which was announced in 2016, yet we understand work is not planned to commence until 2025.

We strongly believe that if the health of the Tamar, particularly at Zone 1 is to improve, we need to see actions out of LSIP and overall better management of the Tamar. Our preference is for strong collaboration with river users, all levels of government, industry, agricultural producers and TasWater. We believe it’s time for integrated catchment management through a statutory authority.

We need to ensure the health of the river is improved, we need to make the river accessible to the public, we need to see the businesses that sit along the shore are thriving and most of all we need to see this now, not in another decade.

The Tamar

AFL in northern Tasmania

With the debate raging over a Tasmanian AFL team, we feel it’s vital that we protect AFL in northern Tasmania. Since 2001 when Hawthorn began playing at its second home in Launceston the economic stimulus to the region, particularly the hospitality & tourism and retail sectors, has been incredibly valuable. You only need to be in the CBD or Invermay on an “AFL weekend” to witness the value to the region. With AFL a winter sport, this economic stimulus comes at a traditionally quieter time.
In addition to the need to protect AFL in northern Tasmania, we note the media are now reporting the cost of the proposed Stadium Tasmania at $1 billion. With the current construction crunch and supply chain concerns, we are concerned this amount will dramatically increase.
What are your thoughts on a Tasmanian AFL team? We’d love to know, please contact us and share your thoughts and ideas...


Minimum wage increase

Yesterday (15/06/22) news broke that following its Annual Wage Review 2021-22, the Fair Work Commission made the two announcements: 

  • The National Minimum Wage will increase by 5.2% which amounts to $40 a week.
  • Award minimum wages will increase by 4.6%, which is subject to a minimum increase for award classifications of $40 per week and based on a 38-hour week for a full-time employee.  

This announcement comes on top of the planned increase to the superannuation guarantee rise from 10% to 10.5% on the 1 July. The super guarantee will continue to increase by .5% until it reaches 12% in 2025.

While the super guarantee increase has been known for some time and a wage rise was expected, the value of this wage rise is a lot higher than expected and may see business owners scrambling to recast their 2022-23 budgets.

There are some important considerations when looking at this issue: 

  • Cost of living continues to increase and those on minimum wage or award rates may be finding it incredibly tough.
  • This wage rise will increase costs for businesses in sectors that are already facing cost increases in raw materials and ingredients and supplies.
  • There is the potential for such a significant wage increase to contribute to inflation, and inflation is considered the biggest threat to the economy.

Do you pay your staff under an award or the minimum wage? How will this wage increase affect your business? We’d really like to hear from you, please contact us and share your thoughts. All comments will be treated with sensitivity and will be anonymised.


They’re onto us!

Come with me on a short journey, if you will, back in time.  Its late 2021 and Launceston is named a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy. Fast forward to February 2022 and Launceston is named WOTIF’s Top Aussie Town. Jump ahead to last Monday and the news broke, Launceston is the Tourism Industry Council Tasmania (TICT)’s Top Tassie Tourism Town for 2022.

Three awards were presented in the 2022 Top Tourism Town Awards, with Strahan taking out the award for towns with a population less than 1500, Sheffield taking out the award for towns with a population under 5000 and Launceston winning the category for towns with a population over 5000.

As the editorial article that formed part of Launceston’s submission to the award states:

There’s something that lies beneath the surface here that defines us as a city. You may not see it at first, but the moment you step foot here, you feel it. You sense it in the architecture, in the streets, out in nature, between the people —an undercurrent—born from generations of hard-work, curiosity, community, resilience, independence.

It’s clear from our UNESCO designation, and our Top Town Awards that they’re on to us… the world is waking up to what a wonderful piece of the world we have here. It’s also clear we’re on our way to achieving the Chamber’s vision for Launceston to be one of the great regional cities of the world.

While these awards and the UNESCO designation are an amazing achievement, particularly for our outstanding tourism, food, beverage and hospitality businesses, we can’t rest on our laurels. We need to keep striving to improve our city.  So how do we continue to progress our city?

  • Greening will make for a great start. A greener city is a more vibrant city and vibrancy attracts more social activity in our CBD.
  • An improved night-time economy will enable visitors to enjoy our amazing food and beverages in style while enjoying on-street dining. This will commence with City Heart Stage 2, which we still hope will receive the federal funding it needs to commence.
  • Innovation and technology to make Launceston an even smarter city, offer wayfinding to tourists and telling our heritage stories could increase awareness and interaction with our rich history. (Please see the article below participating in the Smart City Strategy survey)

To quote Mayor Albert van Zetten, “It’s fantastic to see our city being recognised once more for its tourism offering and I want to congratulate all those who work in the sector so passionately to attract new visitors to Launceston.”

Congratulations Launceston!

Have you got an idea that would make our top town (city) even better? We’d love to hear it.


Do you play WORDLE?

I will happily admit I do. It’s a great way to start the day with a mini-mental workout. If you haven’t played Wordle, it’s all about five-letter words. When you type in your guess, you pause hit enter and wait with bated breath as the squares around your letter change colour, hoping that you’ve found the right word and all the squares turn green. This may or may not be followed by a brief episode of happy dancing.

And the five-letter word GREEN is becoming more important by the day. According to the Bureau of Meteorology, our nights in January were the warmest on record and our days were the third warmest on record. In the same report, Launceston had the warmest days on average at 27 degrees. We need to cool our city and region down; this is why the Chamber has such a passion for Urban Greening. There is a huge amount of evidence that Urban Greening has a triple-bottom-line benefit:

Environmental: Urban Greening will help cool our city and suburbs, and increase our biodiversity.

Economic: Increased property values, increased foot traffic and the time people spend in the city will lead to increased sales.

Social: Improved physical and mental health and improved community connectedness.

At yesterday’s Tamar Valley Leaders Lunch (LUNCH is another great five letter word), it was fantastic to hear that the University of Tasmania is contributing to a greener Launceston with sustainable, environmentally friendly developments as part of the Northern Transformation project.

Another five-letter word is LOCAL. Last year we encouraged everyone to Buy, Support and Eat locally. Supporting our local businesses is still extremely important as we navigate our way through the current health and social situation. Buying local is the best form of stimulus. Revisit this blog post for more details and suggestions.

Our next five-letter word is YOUTH. To quote Austrian novelist Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach “in youth we learn; in age we understand.”  If there is a young person within your organisation that’s learning their profession and could use some more business connections, why not bring them along to a Chamber event? Attending a Chamber event will allow them to make valuable new connections and gain insights from the keynote speaker.

Our final five-letter word is ISSUE. If there are any issues your business is facing that you need assistance with or need advocacy for, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


An obstacle for skilled migration

During a recent conversation with a group of members it was revealed that potential staff intending to relocate to the region to take up positions, after successfully navigating the recruitment process and accepting the role, were unable to as they couldn’t find somewhere to live or stay on a long-term basis. The members in this conversation were primarily from the Health and Community sector, which just happens to be the largest industry in the region* and also the sector that’s experiencing a significant labour shortage.

In an article in today’s Examiner, the private rental market has been described as near impenetrable [with a] vacancy rate that’s basically 1% and according to a table published with the report, 51% of houses sold in the last quarter were to 2+ Home Buyers.

While the Tasmanian Government has a plan to increase housing supply, which will increase housing affordability, what can be done to house skilled migrants who are needed in our region?

  • It’s been suggested that more student accommodation in the CBD could free up housing in the northern suburbs.
  • Inner City Living or Infill projects like those underway by Chamber members such as Tas City Building, and S. Group could be a path forward. (Stay tuned for future Infill-related news).
  • Is there potential for hostel-style accommodation for incoming skilled migrants? Keeping in mind the construction industry in Tasmania is currently at capacity (something it is hoped the TasTafe reforms will address) any construction will need to ‘join the queue’.

While there isn’t a clear solution at the moment, it is paramount that housing and accommodation isn’t an obstacle in the relocation of staff and skilled migrants to the region.

What are your thoughts on this issue?
Do you have any ideas you’d like to share to solve the problem?
Please let us know…


Buy Local

In last week’s eNewsletter we looked at Supporting Local as part of our mantra of: Buy Local, Eat Local, Stay Local and Support Local.

This week we turn our attention to Buy Local.

Recently The Examiner launched their Local. Strong. campaign, aimed at encouraging residents to support Northern Tasmanian businesses and nearby producers and manufacturers. In last Friday’s editorial, it was highlighted that spending money in Northern Tasmania has significant benefits for the state economy. The editorial went on to say that “Buying local, not only at Christmas, is the best form of stimulus so it is important we all think about what we are buying and where the goods are made and brought.” 

This is a message, not just for residents but for businesses, organisations and government as well. It’s important we ask ourselves some serious questions:

  • If you’re sitting at your desk as you read this, take a look at the items surrounding you. By purchasing your stationery, IT equipment, even that box of tissues next to the phone, are you supporting an American owned company, a conglomerate with interests in hardware, groceries, and a huge chain of stores where almost all the products are manufactured overseas or the local family business that has its heart and soul right here in the community?
  • If you still use business cards, letterhead or pre-printed stationery, when it’s time to order, do you go to a certain company that’s American owned but Irish-domiciled? Or the local business that’s been employing Launcestonians for almost a century and supports local community organisations regularly?
  • When it’s time to reward staff or thank clients, is it a bulk order of gift cards from that same conglomerate that has interests in hardware, groceries etc or do you purchase gifts or gift vouchers from local retailers, restaurants and cafes?

Now, more than ever, it’s important that we Buy Local and if we’re asking our customers to Shop Locally, we must lead by example.


Support Local

In our weekly eNewsletter dated the 21st of October, we encouraged members to embrace a new mantra for modern times: Buy Local, Eat Local, Stay Local, Event Local and Support Local.

Today we’d like to focus on Support Local.

With one week and one month until Christmas (gasp!) our calendars are filling up, our ‘to do’ lists are getting longer and we’re all looking forward to a festive break. During this busy time it can be easy to overlook the less fortunate in our community. Thankfully we have some wonderful organisations in our community and amongst our membership that are there to assist the vulnerable people in our community.

Would you or your business like to support local at this time of year? There are a number of ways we can suggest:

  • St. Vincent de Paul Society are running their annual Christmas Appeal, where for as little as $40 you can help deliver hope and the Christmas Spirit in the form of nourishing meals, hot drinks and snacks via their Soup Vans.
  • City Mission are also running their annual Christmas Appeal, where your donation will help provide meals, grocery supplies, food vouchers, clothing and household goods to those in need. It also assists with purchasing Christmas gifts for families.
  • The Examiner has launched their 113th Empty Stocking Appeal to raise funds for those in need via their charity partners – the Benevolent Society, the Salvation Army, City Mission and St Vincent de Paul. All funds raised are passed on to these organisations and as it says in the launch article; …every cent makes a difference to someone’s life. It can be the difference between a smile or a tear for someone this December.
  • The Launceston City Community Christmas, a city-wide Christmas lunch event hosted by a number of community organisations in partnership with the City of Launceston are seeking donations and volunteers. The Launceston City Community Christmas provides families and individuals with the opportunity to connect, provide encouragement and build community at Christmas. Last year saw approximately 250 seats filled with people who may have had a much lonelier Christmas.
  • Another opportunity to support local, that’s very close to our hearts, would be to support the David Peach Fund. The David Peach Fund is part of the Men’s Table charity, a charity that creates a unique environment for men to share openly about their lives, their challenges, their highs and lows with a group of men who they learn to trust and accept.

Please consider supporting local this festive season.


From Paddock to Plate… to the World!

It’s official. After a mammoth effort by Launceston Gastronomy and the Creative Cities Steering Group, Launceston has successfully bid to be designated a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy. Launceston will be one of 49 cities joining the global network. This is a pivotal moment for Launceston and a significant step up to the plate as one of the great regional cities of the world!

In the official media release issued by Launceston Gastronomy yesterday, Mayor Albert van Zetten said the project would cement Launceston’s identity as an internationally recognised region for food and beverage production. “The UNESCO brand is recognised worldwide and is a marker of the very highest quality,” Mayor van Zetten said.

Over many years, Northern Tasmanian has consistently demonstrated expertise in the development of agriculture, food processing, wine and beverage production, tourism and agritourism. Now that we have been recognised and listed as a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy, it will contribute positively to our regional economy and create new jobs in food-related industries and activities over the coming years. In addition, it formalises Launceston’s identity as one of the world’s great regional food cities.

The media release also stated that The City of Launceston will contribute $25,000 towards the implementation of Creative Cities related projects. Six other Northern councils have also collectively committed more than $28,000, including Break O’Day, Dorset, George Town, Meander Valley, Northern Midlands and West Tamar.

The Chamber is and has been a strong supporter of the UNESCO Creative Cities bid for a number of reasons:

  • It helps connect Northern Tasmania to the world via food.
  • It places Launceston as one of the great regional food cities of the world.
  • It provides a platform for food sustainability in a mixed agricultural and urban context.
  • It creates an interplay between local agriculture in our Tamar Valley backyard; Agriscience that combines the best of agriculture teamed up with start-up and established technologists, hospitality that thrives with the abundance of local produce and destination tourism that underpins a vibrant visitor economy – all hallmarks of a growing and thriving city.

Launceston Gastronomy Chair (and Chamber President), Andrew Pitt, said of the announcement; City of Gastronomy status will become what Launceston and Northern Tasmania is recognised for nationally and globally. For some time, we have been lacking a cohesive, accessible and intuitive identity for our city. Now we have one. The activities and projects that underpin the bid will de-silo our food system from paddock to plate, adding value, providing jobs and careers, improving social outcomes, and helping to implement the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. It’s all about local action with global collaboration.

We at the Chamber wish to congratulate Launceston Gastronomy and the Creative Cities Steering Group and we can’t wait to see what happens next. Depending on when you’re reading this, please raise your glass (or other drinking vessel) and join us as we toast Launceston, international city of Gastronomy!


Under Attack!

Yesterday at our October Business Breakfast with Project Lab, if any of our attendees were a little drowsy at its commencement, they were quickly roused, and not by the coffee! The grim reality is that cyber-crime is a huge risk to businesses, organisations and homes worldwide and Australia is not immune – in fact, we’re a prime target.

If you couldn’t make it to yesterday’s breakfast, here are a few key facts you should know:

  • If we measure cyber-crime as a country, it can be considered as the world’s third-largest economy after USA and China. (This is even larger than the damage caused annually because of natural disasters, and even more profitable than the combined trade of illegal drugs globally).
  • A 2020 Global Attitude survey found Australia is a top target for cyber-attacks, with 67% of respondents reporting a ransomware attack, coming in second behind India from the 12 countries surveyed (Australia, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Middle East, Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, U.K. and U.S).
  • In 2020/2021 Australians reported losing over $33 billion due to cyber-crime with 1 in 3 adults affected.
  • $29 Billion is the estimated cost of cyber-crime to Australian businesses last year. Medium sized businesses were the most affected.
  • Almost 90% of small businesses think they are safe because they have antivirus software. This is a big mistake! 43% of attacks were targeted at small business, but only 14% were prepared for defence.
  • A cyber-attack occurs in Australia every 8 minutes.
  • Phishing attacks in Australia increased by 75% from 2019. Worldwide COVID related phishing increased by 600%. (Phishing is where bad guys pose as a trustworthy organisation or person, using online communication to send dodgy links or attachments to access and steal people’s info for financial gain).
  • On average, it takes a business 51 days to resolve a ransomware attack.
  • 90% of cyber-attacks are due to human error.

Have you considered the consequences of a cyber-attack on your business?

  • The financial losses?
  • Having to close and stand staff down while the issue is corrected?
  • Having to replace equipment?
  • Customer/Client loss?
  • Compromised customer/client data
  • Lost time from re-entering data/recreating work?

This is a serious risk for your business – no matter what size or industry you’re in. A Café or Retailer’s Point of Sale can be attacked right through to systems in large corporate environments.

So, what can businesses/organisations do?

Gold Chamber Member, The Project Lab, are currently running the CyberUP program. The Tassie CyberUP team are funded by AusIndustry to help our SMB’s develop a Cyber Risk Plan for their business at no cost. 

You can book in for a free 2-hour session online, or a team member will come to you. 

CyberUP are also running free cyber-crime awareness workshops online and around the state. They can even visit your business for an in-house session. 

Not-for-profits are also eligible for help under this program. 

For more details on the CyberUP program, please visit:

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