A declaration of Project of State Significance (PoSS) status shifts the Mac Point stadium into the realm of rarely used planning processes (spot the euphemism) that exist solely for the purpose of bypassing council approvals and removing rights of appeal.

And this is proposed for a project that is unpopular, unnecessary and unsustainable on a site that already has a hard-won, now-shelved plan that had broad community support, offering the best elements of current thinking about placemaking.

The stadium

  • has not been adequately costed
  • comes to us at the dictate of the AFL, a multi-million dollar corporate
  • will lose $300 million over 10 years
  • is a financial risk for taxpayers (we will pay for overruns and time penalties – and a lengthy PoSS process itself will, in part, cause the delays that will incur those penalties)
  • dismisses Aboriginal reconciliation (perverts a site to jam in an “Aboriginal culturally informed zone” in place of a central truth and reconciliation art park)
  • will create a traffic nightmare
  • adversely impacts on the cultural heritage and reverential ambience of the Hobart Cenotaph
  • is illegal under the prevailing Planning Scheme, set up to protect the unique values of the Sullivans Cove area
  • does not fit on the site
  • robs Tasmanians of all opportunities provided by a prime waterfront site in their capital city.

The Rockliff stadium has nothing to commend it.  On current figures, Tasmanians are told $750 million will come out of the State budget to pay for the stadium.  This figure is already outdated. Some economists estimate the project will blow out to cost approximately $1.2 billion.  Tasmania cannot afford it.  Tasmania should not want to afford it. 

Tasmanians want government funds directed towards addressing well-identified shortcomings in housing, health, education – not a stadium that has no grounding in community consultation and no connection with community need.

The PoSS process

  • is lengthy and costly
  • rewrites the planning rules
  • results in a decision that is not subject to any appeal rights on process or merit
  • will tie up critical agencies for months (if approved as a PoSS, the project will be the subject of an integrated assessment by the Tasmanian Planning Commission and that assessment has to include every agency which might be relevant to the project).

You can read about the procedural detail of the PoSS process on the Tasmanian Planning Commission’s website.

Tasmania has a questionable record in working within well-designed planning systems but this project is marked by unprecedented failures in transparency, independence and vision.  When considering a potential PoSS, our legislators cannot properly do their jobs if they don’t have sufficient detail about the project in question.  Have we ever been presented with a project less defined, more poorly costed and less connected with what Tasmanians expressly stated they wanted for this site?

This project carries echoes of the fast-tracked approval process for failed timber company Gunns Limited’s Tamar Valley pulp mill.  This was also a highly controversial project, with the process challenged in the Supreme Court.  It divided a community, ended political careers and ultimately resulted in the collapse of Gunns. The end result for the community included loss of jobs, widespread anxiety and stress, and adverse economic impacts due to 10 years of uncertainty for existing businesses.

Tasmanians do not want their legislators to again take them down this path.  The PoSS process will suck time and energy from a community that has no heart for further division, all for nothing.

It is a process that would allow this project to be assessed even though it clearly fails to comply with the Sullivans Cove Planning Scheme.  It breaches many of the principles of the scheme, designed to protect the cultural heritage of Hobart’s waterfront precinct.  The scheme specifically precludes development that overwhelms the historic spaces and buildings.  By the government’s own assessment, it is over 40 metres high.  The latest version of the Draft Precinct Plan does not reveal the height of the stadium.  This tells all of us that it is problematic.  Digitally-rendered images already published by Our Place reveal a build that fully overwhelms this historic site in our capital city.

The stadium precinct plan fails to include and accommodate an Aboriginal reconciliation component in a meaningful or sensitive way.  It will become a superficial interface between the stadium and the Tasman Highway, rather than a space for reflection or contemplation as originally conceived.  The recent proposal for the Macquarie Point site to be given heritage listing notes it as the place – already inhabited by Tasmanian Aboriginals – where the British landed on 20 February 1804 to occupy what is now Hobart, with the intention of establishing a convict colony.   This gives the site very considerable significance for Aboriginal reconciliation.  Yet, no recognition is offered.

This could not be further removed from best practice planning.

Despite having no merit and warranting no further assessment, with the support of the two major parties, this project has already made its way through the Lower House as a PoSS, thus one step closer to being built.  Our Upper House is now the only thing standing in the path of Tasmania, once again, being dragged through a lengthy process that will do nothing more than promote division.

The relevant Motions are scheduled for Legislative Council debate on 1 November 2023 – next Wednesday! 

That’s why we are asking you to contact all Members urgently.  Urge them to vote against this declaration. We can flood their inboxes with messages.  We can let them know that this is important to us and that we are tired of our community being subsumed by such divisive, costly and pointless exercises.