Senator secures $30 million for Cradle Mountain Masterplan

In yet another major win, Senator Steve Martin has obtained $30 million in funding for the Cradle Mountain Masterplan. The new funding, which Senator Martin secured in negotiations with the Federal Government, promises to be a major boost to Tasmania’s economy, allowing the tourism industry to scale new heights around one of the state’s premier attractions.  

The Federal Government funding, announced alongside Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull today, follows Senator Martin’s announcement yesterday of $4.8 million for the Cradle Coast Coastal Pathway.  Together, these add to Senator Martin’s already impressive list of wins for Tasmania since taking office in February. These include $125,000 for an agricultural export funding package, $100,000 for a fruit fly bio-security campaign, and being instrumental in strengthening the future of the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme.  
“The $30 million of funding negotiated for the delivery of the Cradle Mountain Masterplan is another proud moment during my relatively short time in the Senate,” Senator Martin said. “It will further bolster Tasmania’s reputation as a premier tourist destination, and strengthen communities through the economic and social benefits that will flow from the stronger visitor numbers. The delivery of the masterplan will go a long way towards Tasmania achieving its vision of attracting 1.5 million visitors annually to the State by 2020. 

“The masterplan identifies that the aging infrastructure within the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area needs revitalising to attract more tourists.  The masterplan highlights investments of $160 million for visitor facilities including Dove Lake revitalisation, a World Heritage Village, a cable way and more accommodation will draw more tourists to the area. Forecasts project that the delivery of the masterplan will result in $29 million per year of additional economic activity to the area and create 120 long-term jobs.”  

The masterplan was developed by the Cradle Coast Authority, the Tourism Industry Council Tasmania, the National Parks Service and the Kentish Council. 

Senator Steve Martin wins $4.8m funding for Cradle Coast Coastal Pathway

Senator Steve Martin has labelled the latest announcement of $4.8 million of Federal Government funding contributing to the completion of four sections of the Cradle Coast Coastal Pathway a significant boost for economic, health-related and recreational activity in Tasmania.

The Cradle Coast Coastal Pathway of 110km will connect coastal communities from Wynyard to Latrobe, and is a three-way partnership with the Federal Government, the Cradle Coast Authority, and five local councils.

“The Cradle Coast Coastal Pathway is a big win for Tasmania and expected to increase tourism expenditure by $8.5 million per annum, generate $17 million of overall economic activity every year, and create 97 ongoing jobs for the North West,” said Senator Martin as he made the joint funding announcement with Senator the Honourable Mathias Cormann Minister for Finance at the Turners Beach Berry Patch today.

“The pathway provides cyclists and pedestrians connectivity between communities, and will bring new business opportunities with interstate visitors using the Spirit of Tasmania. The funding to help build four sections is another step towards the pathway being completed by 2025.”

“The recreational, financial and health benefits will flow from the Cradle Coast Coastal Pathway for decades to come and will strengthen surrounding communities. This funding is a stamp-of-approval for the region taking in a population catchment of 85,000 people and representing 70 per cent of the Cradle Coast’s population.”

Senator Martin said the funding will help build sections from Latrobe to Devonport, Devonport to Leith, Sulphur Creek to Penguin, and Penguin to Ulverstone. The completed pathway is expected to cost $26.5 million.

$125,000 of agriculture export funding sowing seeds for $10m of income for Tasmania

A $125,000 funding package striving to strengthen Tasmanian agricultural export markets could translate into $10 million worth of annual income for the State’s producers, Senator Steve Martin announced on the eve of Agfest.

The Senator for Tasmania said today he had secured funding of $50,000 for Seed Potato – Indonesia Market Improvement and $75,000 for Export Onion Rebuilding strategies to be undertaken by Horticultural Export Group Tasmania.

“The $125,000 of funding to strengthen exports of seed potato into Indonesian markets, and onions into Asia and the Northern Hemisphere could potentially be worth $10 million each year, according to Horticultural Export Group Tasmania estimates, to Tasmanian producers,” Senator Martin said.

“The eve of Agfest is the perfect time to make this funding announcement as it builds on the excitement stimulated by Tasmania’s biggest agricultural event and strengthens the push by Tassie producers into more markets around the world.

“The export onion funding will be utilised to pursue rebuilding European and Asian markets through scoping mechanisms to open up new markets into Indonesia in light of China being a closed market, and exports to the Northern Hemisphere being replaced by New Zealand and Western Australian farmers at an estimated cost of $5 million for Tasmanian farmers.

“The Seed Potato – Indonesia funding will push for Tasmanian producers to be included alongside Victoria and South Australia in import protocols that have allowed for Australian produce to be exported to the Indonesian market.”

Senator Martin said the funding was secured through Projects Assisting Small Exporters (PASE) grants to be included in the Federal Budget on May 8.

Tasmanian-based Qantas pilot academy concepts take off

The benefits of a Qantas Group Pilot Academy being based in Tasmania will be presented to airline executives when Senator Steve Martin meets them in Sydney next week. It follows Senator Martin discussing key points of the plan with Devonport Airport General Manager Dave Race today.

“I will be meeting with Qantas executives to promote the establishment of the Qantas Group Pilot Academy in Devonport from 2019,” Senator Martin said. “My talks with Dave Race indicate that the academy would have wide-reaching benefits for Devonport, Tasmania and Qantas.
“For Devonport, an academy would bring substantial economic and social benefits to the region with 100 pilots expected in the initial intake. Up to 500 pilots are expected to be trained annually at the academy once it is established.

“For Qantas, the benefits that a Devonport-based academy would provide include a regional facility that is ideally placed for navigational training, the region has the adequate infrastructure to support the development of the flight training academy, and the airline’s objectives would not be hampered by the commercial capacity of the airport.

“For Tasmania, it would lift the State’s profile on the international stage as a provider of world’s best training facilities. The pilots trained in Tasmania by the Flying Kangaroo would also be likely to spread the news nationally and internationally that the State is a place of outstanding beauty, it has friendly and welcoming people, and world-class attractions worth visiting.

“I will be informing the Qantas executives that the establishment of the academy would be a win-win for Devonport, Tasmania and the international carrier.” Senator Martin is scheduled to meet the Qantas executives on April 12.

Steve Martin gets the votes but High Court battle ahead 13/12/17

Mayor of Devonport Steve Martin today released an update on the process involved in taking up a seat representing Tasmania in the Senate.

Mr Martin said he wanted to help Tasmanians understand lingering questions over his own eligibility. ”Tasmanians voted in good faith at the election and they deserve to be kept in the loop as the citizenship saga in our Parliament gets ever more complicated,” Mr Martin said.

The move comes after the High Court today confirmed Mr Martin would be elected to the Senate, subject to eligibility, after a special recount of Senate votes in Tasmania identified him in ninth position out of twelve Tasmanian Senators. Mr Martin ran second on the JLN senate ticket in the 2016 election behind Jacqui Lambie, who was last week ruled ineligible due to her dual citizenship.

As part of that hearing Mr Martin took the proactive step of attaching himself early as an ‘interested party’ in the High Court deliberations. The next High Court hearing has been scheduled as a full-court hearing for the first available day after 25 January. That hearing is expected to finally decide the matter.

“I’m humbled and thrilled to be so close to representing Tasmania in the Senate, and I’m eager to take up the fight on behalf of my great state. But for now there are still a few legal hurdles concerning my eligibility to deal with and we need to tackle with those head-on,” Mr Martin said.

The issue is whether or not Mr. Martin’s position as Mayor is considered an ‘office of profit under the crown,’ according to Section 44 (iv) of the Constitution.
Commonwealth and State public servants have been disqualified by previous High Court rulings, but the status of aldermen and local councillors has never been determined.

“The reality is this issue has never been tested by the High Court,” Mr Martin said, “despite many Mayors and local councillors serving in parliament over the years. It’s now time we put this issue to the test then put it to bed once and for all – if nothing else, at least clearing the legal path for future local government representatives seeking Federal office.”

Mr Martin is being represented in the proceedings by barristers Mr Philip Solomon QC and Dr Charles Parkinson, instructed by solicitors from Corrs Chambers Westgarth.

In attaching himself as an interested party, Mr Martin hopes to clarify the operation of a law he believes is too murky. This confusion discourages local councillors and aldermen from seeking to adapt their unique skills and experience to the Federal Parliament.

There are around 537 local government bodies in Australia, consisting of about 6,600 elected aldermen/councillors.

“These are civic-minded people, many of whom work at the coal-face of community engagement and embody the best traditions of independent, non-partisan politics. They should be encouraged, and it is my sincere hope that this rare opportunity is used to help finally clear the air,” Mr Martin said.

MEDIA STATEMENT 17th November 2017

Today I am announcing my decision to fill the JLN Senate vacancy should the High Court find me eligible. And I’d also like to make public, written legal advice from the respected former Senate Clerk, Dr Rosemary Laing and former High Court Justice and President of the Court of Appeal, Michael Kirby, which indicates respectively, that my bid for the Senate is “legally sound” and that “Local Government was not part of the Crown.”

Obviously when it comes to parliament and the law, you can’t get two bigger heavy hitters than Dr Laing and Justice Michael Kirby.

After consulting with my family, I am comfortable with my decision to seek to fill the Senate vacancy, following Jacqui Lambie’s surprise resignation.

In the lead up to the 2016 double dissolution election, I took every reasonable action and acted diligently, to ensure that my candidacy didn’t breach the Australian Constitution. This included officially asking (through Senator Lambie’s office) for advice from Dr Laing on Section 44 (iv) of our Constitution.

Dr Laing’s letter of reply is unique, because she doesn’t just write generally about local government members and their eligibility to run for federal parliament, as you’ll see today Dr Laing specifically pulls apart the Tasmanian Local Government Act 1993 in relation to Section 44 (iv) of our Constitution or the, Office of Profit under the Crown – Clause. And in doing so Dr Laing makes some very strong supportive statements, which in summary claim that my position was, legally sound.

In part Dr Laing also writes:

·       The key point is that payments to councillors are not in the gift of the executive government, such that it could be said that councillors are paid by the Crown. and…

·       In my view, it is unlikely that the office of councillor, including the office of mayor, would be found to be an office of profit under the Crown within the meaning of section 44(iv) of the Constitution.

This is because councillors are elected by the electors, they are not appointed by the executive government, and payments made to them are determined by statutory entitlements in respect of their offices.

Dr Laing’s March 2016 opinion was reconfirmed when I recently wrote to the new Clerk of the Senate, Richard Pye. I understand that some respected legal experts have publicly said that my Senate eligibility is in a Grey area. I’d ask those people to read Dr Laing’s letter and once again consider retired justice Michael Kirby’s black and white views on the matter that he expressed in a 1997 report to the House of Representatives titled Aspects of section 44 of the Australian constitution, which simply reads: “Local Government was not part of the Crown.”

I have recently written to Prime Minister Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten. They both have a copy of Dr. Laing’s advice. I look forward to speaking with them and finding out their opinions on the matter.

Never-the-less, given the extraordinary chain of legal and political events that have occurred and the number of Senators and lower house members who have been found to be ineligible, should the Government choose to refer my matter to the High Court for further consideration, I’m very comfortable with that course of action.

Parliament library studies last year indicated that at least 38 Mayors have been elected to the federal parliament and not one has been referred to the High Court for a breach of Section 44 of the Constitution.

If I have to be the local government test case to help solve a problem, which has been in the too hard basket for decades, then I welcome the government’s action.

Many Tasmanian local government members have been in contact with me and offered their support and encouragement. The bottom line is: we all would like this question definitively answered sooner rather than later.

As to Jacqui, Jacqui’s work in the Senate has been amazing. She has fought tirelessly for Tasmania and for all Tasmanians. Jacqui has battled her way through Canberra, cut through the nonsense and never took a backward step.

Jacqui gave a voice to those who are too often not heard. And has done it all with the trademark humour and honesty for which she is loved for all around Australia.

The JLN have candidates running and registered for the state election and Jacqui is giving me all the space I need as Jacqui is paying attention to the state candidates. However, Jacqui is on my speed dial and available should I need her.

Right now though, I look forward to the chance, if eligible, to pick up where Jacqui has left off, Putting Tasmania first.