Media Releases

http://www.examiner.com.au/story/4495236/civic-square-plans-progress-thr...

CIVIC SQUARE- A NEW DEVELOPMENT- This area is one of the most underutilized in the city with the most potential. As Deputy Mayor I commit to play a leadership role with my council colleagues on revitalizing this space to turn it into a multi purpose , multi use venue.. it can be a quiet space, a beautiful garden space, a space for markets, a space for concerts and performances, a place for a food festival, a place where people meet around a big screen and watch events like happens in Federation Square whilst soaking up the atmosphere and ambience. It will become a huge asset for our city and attract people into the city.

BRINGING THE CBD BACK TO LIFE

Alderman Rob Soward is proposing one strategy to help reinvigorate the city and has looked to what other cities have successfully done to bring more people back into the vity

Alderman Soward is proposing to relocate the Esk market into the city and model it on the successful Hobart based markets where side streets and areas of the city are temporarily closed to traffic to enable markets to happen on the weekend .

" People I have spoken to enjoy the Inveresk market idea but feel it would be even more successful if relocated into the city. Imagine it being housed in the Quadrant Mall and along the avenue with local buskers or musicians playing, food and drinks available creating a fantastic atmosphere similar to those one sees in other cities that are vibrant and humming. I have been to similiar markets in St Kilda, Brighton, Carrara and they all get the local area humming with people creating a great atmosphere ."

CBD Business owners I spoke to are excited at the market type idea that brings people into the city and love the idea of temporary street closures to enable the market to weave through the city and people to spill out and walk through the streets sampling the goods, food and entertainment on offer .

SUMMARY OF MY PRESENTATION TO CHAMBER OF COMMERCE/ CITYPROM MEMBERS

If elected Deputy Mayor/ Alderman Rob Soward commits to ;

· Greater council spending on the creation of family friendly spaces, newer seating and more greenspace/ gardens/ flowers- increased resources for cleaning up the city as part of City Heart.

· Incentives for developers developing inner city living- rates remission for 12 months and permit discounts- no cost to council but a rates generator for future earnings.

· Incentives for building façade renewal / renovation.

· All Launceston ratepayers and residents receiving parking discount vouchers for use between April and September providing 2 hrs free parking / 2 hrs parking discount off longer off street stays in council car parks.The 330-530 free parking and pensioner discount parking still remains.

· Tiger bus downsized to a smaller bus that’s cheaper to operate.

· More market style events in the city to get people into the CBD particulalrly in the quieter months.

I have a strong, proven track record of bringing Notices of Motion to council – 17 in 3 years- second most of all aldermen with the majority aimed at improving the CBD / stimulating economic growth- I led the campaign to keep Express post overnight services in Launceston and organised a petition of 10,000 people working in with Cityprom, the Chamber and 100 + businesses. I worked with Cityprom on the reinstatement of the Christmas tree, I have taken notices of motion to council supporting major events that bring people into Launceston- not just saying I support them but lobbying to keep them and trying to secure funding to assist them bring thousands of people to Launceston.

KEEPING THE UNIVERSITY IN LAUNCESTON IS CRUCIAL

The university is a critical part of Launceston and plays a key role in our city. I know our council will be fighting hard for it to stay in the city and I hope our state and federal politicians of all persuasions do the same. It provides hundreds of jobs, it bring people to our city as well as providing a solid educational and cultural program that makes our city and region a much richer place. If the University leaves Launceston it will be a huge disaster for our city and our region .

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LAUNCESTON CITY COUNCIL ELECTIONS

I read somewhere today candidates saying they weren't going to make any promises and wanted you to vote for them on that basis. RU Serious? ! I made promises 5 years ago and have worked hard to keep them and achieve other things our city needed- remember when we were going to lose the Australia Post Express overnight service ? I do- I took a notice of motion to council, got a petition going, worked with Cityprom and the Chamber of Commerce and over 100 businesses and gathered 10,000 signatures. My actions ensured that the Express post service stayed in Launceston because its crucial for business and for the shopper! I consulted, I listened and then I did it- not organised dozens of useless meetings that went no where- if we had done that we would have lost it. Actions not words get it done EVERY time!

*21 SEPTEMBER 2014 *

KEEPING MY PROMISES

Since being elected by you in 2009 I have worked on many, many different issues for you. Some major achievements have included

* Brought the Basin Concert Back – Working with a local promoter we have re established the Basin Concert after an absence of 14 years. The iconic concert brings revenue into the city as well as creates a major event in a magnificent atmosphere.

* Re established the free hard rubbish collection service for large and difficult to shift items.

* Successfully instigated a council motion that will focus on green waste bins for green rubbish disposal.

* Successfully instigated a council motion that saw the faster rollout of 40km signs around local schools keeping them safer for children and families.

* Introduced and led the campaign to keep the Australia Post express next day service in Launceston and for Launceston. I gathered 10,000 signatures and we kept the service!

* Successfully instigated a council motion that brought the Christmas tree back into the city after years of no tree and minimal Christmas decoration in the CBD.

* Worked with a huge number of individual ratepayers on issues like CBD Issues, parking issues, tree removal, footpath repair, street and road issues, building approvals, rate and local government issues and so on.

* Been a part of a council and a strong voice on the clean up of the Tamar River that has successfully seen the removal of thousands of tonnes of silt from the Tamar River as I promised I would do when elected.

* Been a part of a council and a strong voice on the maintenance of AFL Matches in Launceston and the V8 Supercars in Northern Tasmania both of which bring millions of dollars into our local economy as well as top class sport to our city and region as I promised I would do when elected. I have also been active in pushing for a 5th AFL match for Hawthorn against a Victorian team to be played in Launceston.

I love living in Launceston and want our city to be a strong and vibrant place and will continue to do all I can to make that happen. We have challenges in front of us and I want to continue to be part of the team that solves these

SAVING TASMANIAN TAXPAYERS MONEY

It is beyond belief that the state government would consider paying the new incoming state governor over $600,000 at a time where they are pleading tough budget measures. It is an ideal time, as they look to fill the role, to set the tone for future appointments and salaries by selecting a suitable credentialled Tasmanian for the important role on a much smaller wage. The state governor is housed in government house free of charge during their tenure and has a retinue of chefs , servants, gardeners and employees at their beck and call. Previous appointees are usually retired judicial officers already on huge pensions and obviously not in need of massive salaries. The new state government could set a very good example of practicing what it preaches by putting the new governor on a much more modest salary more akin to community expectation and current conditions rather than their proposed salary which is almost 11
times the average Tasmanian's yearly salary.

* 1 SEPTEMBER 2014*

*SOWARD ANNOUNCES INTENTION TO STAND FOR DEPUTY MAYOR LAUNCESTON CITY COUNCIL *

Launceston City Council Alderman Rob Soward has announced that he will be a candidate for Deputy Mayor in the upcoming Launceston City Council elections.

Soward noted that in tough economic time across the state, councils need strong leadership, something which he believes is a strength he brings as a candidate.

Soward also noted he is a 100 percent independent candidate and is not a member of any political party or activist group.

“ I was elected to council as an independent Alderman, I have always been an independent alderman and have always held the view that party politics has absolutely no place in local government. You only have to look at NSW to see the mess that it has caused there- criminal charges laid for corruption, councils sacked and so on.”

“During my time as an alderman I have been extremely active in getting things done in Launceston and for Launceston. My persistence and tenacity have seen many issues resolved that had remained unaddressed for some time. It is my view that the best political leaders are those with many years’ experience of active involvement in their community. Those I have worked with throughout my life can testify to my enthusiasm, effectiveness and sound work ethic whether it is in my professional working life, in sports and community life or in any of the personal interest groups I have contributed to as a volunteer or parent helper.”

Soward said that there will be several issues he would be campaigning on, one being more state and federal support for the many regional facilities Launceston has but is required to heavily fund from ratepayers’ pockets.“We have regional facilities second to none - the Aquatic Centre, Aurora Stadium, The QV Mag Museum, Churchill Park and Hoblers Bridge Netball Centre to name a few. In the past both state and federal government have assisted with contributions but in the main it is the people of Launceston who fund these through their rates. These facilities in many cases are used by people from across the entire region and in some cases across the state, yet it falls almost entirely on the shoulders of Launceston families and pensioners and ratepayers to fund these outstanding facilities. I will be actively pursuing better funding to support them which will help to reduce the burden on Launceston residents and ratepayers.

*1 AUG 2014*

INNER CITY LIVING AND SUPPORTING THE CBD

Three years ago I took a notice of motion to council to assist and encourage the development of inner city residential living above the shops in multi floor buildings as many shops in the CBD are. Sadly it was lost 7 votes to 5 . The concern was that various complex fire regulations and the provision of fire exits were problematic for this type of living at this time in many of these buildings. It is my view that the work we have been doing on recent projects including the new Launceston Heart program will see a growth in this type of living arrangement, building a critical mass of people in the city meaning greater activity, a vibrant CBD and of course additional rates for the council to continue to invest quality resources into our city centre.

COUNCIL AMALGAMATIONS ARE COMMON SENSE

I wonder what the view of the anti amalgamation camp would be if someone gave them this case study with names removed- Imagine with all your local government experience you see there's a place that has a population of 500,000 people and 29 councils. Even more ridiculous is the fact that there's 4 of them in a regional area of 100,000 people- two of them with boundaries 2 km from the CBD. These 4 councils rely on the city for their the bulk of their employment, education, retail and consumer needs, their major sporting facilities and refuse disposal services yet argue that they should be different council areas. Within this framework there are people who live on different sides of the same street opposite each other and have children who attend the same schools and play for the same sports clubs but reside in different council areas. I'd think, with the wisdom and knowledge that these folk have they would highlight how stupid this was.

KEEPING OUR COMMUNITY SAFE

It is fantastic to see the success of Tas Police Operation Dorothy that captured and charged a number of criminals involved in the very serious crime of drug trafficking .It must be bitterly disappointing to these hard working police, as it is to our local community, where the majority of these convicted criminals receive suspended sentences. The courts have gone soft on crime and it appears that drug trafficking is yet another crime like child molestation, rape and dangerous driving that sees guilty offenders not receive non custodial sentences or just plain old suspended sentences.

KEEPING OUR PETS SAFE

Launceston City Council alderman Rob Soward has called for the state government to seriously beef up penalties for those who are cruel to animals following a spate of rent attacks that have left pets maimed or dead.

Alderman Soward highlighted the appalling dismemberment of the dog at Rocherlea and yesterdays discovery of a dog that had been drowned at Blackstone Heights as but two examples of animal cruelty that has to be dealt with tougher penalties for offenders.

"There are volumes of psychological research shows us that murderers and vicious criminals often start by targetting animals as the starting point for their sick and sadistic behavior that ends up being directed at people . At present the penalties are nothing more than a slap on the hand with the onus being on bodies like councils, the RSPCA and well meaning citizens to do so much of the work needed to guarantee the perpetrators are caught and prosecuted. Tas Police do a fantastic job but we know the pressures they are under and even once an offender is caught the penalties applied are just slaps on the wrist.

Our state laws need to get more serious and reflect the anger the community has.

Alderman Soward will be establishing an online petition where Tasmanians can register their anger.

BREATH OF LIFE

My suggestion came about as the event got no support from the recent grant round. My motion for the funding was indeed [ as I said many times] outside our policy but was done because I do not want to lose the event which I fear may happen after 2014.. no scaremongering as I was accused of- just stating a fact- think of it from a music promoters viewpoint- "if your local council- the biggest in the whole state doesn't give you a cent why not take it to mainland where mainland councils have said they will support it??" no brainer really. . I understand the procedural reasons it was defeated and of course I abide by my colleagues decisions. I respect my colleagues and their views. Nothing personal on my part. It was a very interesting debate . Age has nothing to do with it.. some older alderman made positive remarks whilst younger aldermen didn't. I hope the community always hold aldermen to account by how they vote - because all of us need to be held accountable for how we vote.. I'm proud to say I voted against wasting money on the ridiculous trees in Wellington St, I'm proud to say I voted against a council owned gym being set up in opposition to 32 privately owned gyms and I'm proud to say I voted to give money to a festival that brings millions of dollars into the city and creates over 200 full and part time jobs directly and a large number of others .Make sure you demand the same of all your elected representatives.

*20 SEPTEMBER 2013*

WHY BE AN ALDERMAN ?

People often ask me why would you want to be an Alderman- its long hours 24 hrs /7 days a week /365 days a year technically - and lots of work. To me its not about being on the front of the paper or about being in every photo in the social media gallery or being seen at every new thing in the city. Its about something that happened this afternoon- I took a call from an old lady who I had been helping to get her driveway fixed.She had been battling for months to get it done but had been given the run around- she rang me a week ago and I got onto it. She rang to say the council workers had been there today and had done a great job for her.Thats why I do what I do.Helping people is great and I love my job as your Alderman.

PARKING FINES

The online and vox pops reaction to the increase in Launceston's parking fines overlooks one key fact; people are ONLY fined if they break the law.To read hysterical comments like "it will cause businesses to go broke,create a ghost town, cause an increase in online shopping etc " is indicative of people who are not informed. Parking fines are ONLY issued to people who break the law, not given to the 95 percent of citizens who park their cars legally or pay the correct amount for their parking and keep to that time frame. If you think the fines are too high the easy way to avoid them is to not break the rules or laws. Easy fixed.

TASMANIANS HAVE TO SAY YES IN THE CONSTITUTIONAL REFERENDUM !

As a former councillor who knows first hand of the importance of Federal government financial grants and infrastructure assistance , Rene Hidding should be ashamed of himself for his fear mongering concerning the upcoming referendum.Across the country there are thousands of roads, hundreds of sporting , cultural and arts facilities, childcare facilities and playgrounds that simply would not be there if it werent for federal government funding that will be at huge risk if people vote No.

Mr Hiddings remarks should alert Tasmanians to two things- either he is opposing this referendum because the Tasmanian Liberal party will be giving councils hundreds of millions of dollars in increased taxes to fund these things the federal government wont be able to fund if people vote No or he is advocating for local councils to increase its rates by 200 percent to pay for the infrastructure themselves.

PLEASE VOTE YES IN THE REFERENDUM

Letters and conversations on local government by and large write about things local government would, should or could do better but at present without the money for local communities for the services that they so badly need. This referendum is a real opportunity for all Australians to put their words into action.If Australians do not see fit to support the referendum then they will not only see their local councils continue to be under resourced and not able to do all that needs doing they also then face the very real possibility that councils will do what they need to do to meet rising works and capital costs and that is raise rates and charges. No one wants to see that so I humbly ask readers to vote yes on this referendum to guarantee the federal government's ability to directly fund local government projects such as the Roads to Recovery program, as well as services such as childcare, sporting fields, swimming pools and libraries.

SUPPORT TASMANIAN SUCCESS STORIES- DON'T DESTROY THEM THROUGH BAD STATE GOVERNMENT DECISION MAKING

In the tough Tasmanian economy there have been few current success stories and happenings recently have seen the potential devaluing of two of them by poor government decision making. The Tasmanian Poppy industry is a world leader and recent proposals to import material from Turkey will not only cause immense damage to a successful industry but impact on local employment as workers, local businesses and farm contractors all will see reduced emplyment or be made unemployed if this importation is allowed to occur. Similiarly the highly successful AFL experience has been diluted as we all knew it would be by government funding a team to play out of Hobart- instead of having a great crowd at one venue we now have horrendously low crowds at Bellerive and reduced crowds in Launceston.The state governments ability to potentially destroy successful enterprises beggars belief and greatly concerns local farmers and local business people who rely on these enterprises to generate employment and their livelihoods.

LAUNCESTON SUPPORTS RATEPAYERS WITH RANGE OF WASTE DISPOSAL OPTIONS

Council provides weekly rubbish collection via a bin of size chosen by the ratepayer. There is also a fortnightly recyclable collection, and in addition to this pensioners get 12 free tip passes per year and there is also a free hard rubbish collection service provided once a year for all ratepayers and residents to collect those items that cant be collected as part of the normal service. Further to this sadly there are a very small number of people who choose to dump rubbish and would do so whether the tip entry was $1 or $10. These are the same people who put items like motor oil, car batteries, syringes and the like in their recycling bins.Council regulates many things but individual idiot behaviour sadly doesnt come under our bylaws.

GOVERNMENT PRIORITIES NEED TO BE BETTER

The Federal and State government commitment to waste $30 million of taxpayers money on expanding the capacity of Bellerive Oval beggars belief. Only once in its 12 year history has this ground ever been anywhere near capacity[ back in 2003] and in December 2012 drew negative remarks from national media due to the poor crowd numbers at the cricket.The government has shown a fondness for trying to shut down facilities that they believe arent at capacity as we saw in the school closures furore during this Green /ALP governments term yet now all of a sudden they want to waste money expanding the capcity of a venue that is never anywhere near capacity.Perhaps their resources would be better spent on resources that are at and above capacity like hospital beds or dentists which have huge waiting lists.

SAVING LIVES WITH BETTER TELECOMMUNICATIONS IN RURAL AREAS

Whenever a disaster befalls us we must learn from it. It appears the issues around lack of telecommuincations and mobile coverages has not been learnt- in the aftermath of Port Arthur then Prime Minsiter Howard noted the terrible lack of mobile coverage in the area and now in the wake of the bushfires the exact same problem has been noted. I ask the relevant ministers and the telecommunications companies to heed this particulalry in the context of Launceston where residents of heavily forested areas like Lilydale, Nunamara and Blessington have less than satisfactory mobile phone coverage and would be at severe risk in the case of a bushfire.I intend taking this to council as a Notice of Motion to get the problem addressed.

ROB SOWARD PRESENTS AT SISTER CITIES NATIONAL CONFERENCE

Launceston City Council Alderman Rob Soward spoke about sister city relationships as being a building block for success at the recent Sister Cities National Conference in Devonport. Alderman Soward highlighted the three sister city relationships Launceston has with Taiyuan[ China] , Ikeda [ Japan] and Napa [USA] and the economic, cultural and educational benefits these relationships bring

Alderman Soward also highlighted the need for a change in focus with regards to International trade where traditionally regions have gone to the market trying to sell its normal local produce rather than going to the international market and seeing what the market needs were and then producing that locally. He highlighted the success of local Tasmanian companies exporting Wasabi into Japan as an outstanding example of local farmers thinking outside the square to generate economic prosperity in Tasmania.

Alderman Soward also argued that relationship building was a fundamental part of the sister city philosophies and councils should always keep informing their community about positive actions that grew out of such strategic relationships.

KEEPING JOBS IN NORTHERN TASMANIA AND NOT OVERSEAS

The awarding of Tasrail contracts to China ahead of local Northern Tasmanian businesses is appalling.
Whilst the obligation is clearly on getting the cheapest economic price for the rail cars, this should be offset by a social obligation to an economy that is struggling and the even more obvious fact that even if the local product costs a little more up front, if purchased the government doesnt have to pump money intio local indstry to keep it afloat.It would have created local jobs but more importantly actually kept people in employment.This decision will bring further financial hardship onto a community that has lost significant forestry related jobs, lost Gunns related jobs, lost Chickenfeed related jobs now misses out on a proftable manufacturing contract.

OBEYING THE LAW

Once again Tasmanians are subjected to protesters breaking the law as part of their campaign against mining in the Tarkine, a practice that has interestingly carried on for over a century.The televsion news showed protesters illegally erecting banners and signs on public bridges and on buildings in Laucneston, both practices of which are illegal.As a private citizen I am not allowed to erect such signage and face the risk of court action. As an elected official I face serious financial and other penalties under the Electoral act if I breach laws around this.These extreme green environmentalists seem to think the means justifies the end and do anything they wish it seems without sanction.The 85 percent of us who dont vote green are getting sick and tired of their hypocisy in apparently fighting for justice on issues but then breaking several laws and disrupting others in doing so. Enough is enough.

SUPPORTING LOCAL JOBS AND SENSIBLE LOCAL DEVELOPMENT

The ink isnt dry on the long awaited new Launceston planning scheme and the Greens are already out and about with their anti everything tirade. Remarks attributed to Tim Morris that "bad developments will find it just as difficult as ever" highlight the Green mentality that any development is bad and they will, both directly and indirectly through their support groups campaign against it and oppose it. One only needs to look at the voting records of Greens aldermen on our Tasmanian councils and see how many developments they actually support to see their pattern of negativity and opposition to anything that creates employment and opportunity.

CREATING A VIBRANT ECONOMIC FUTURE FOR NORTHERN TASMANIA

Today I enjoyed a fantastic economic forum aimed at finding strategies for boosting the retail and industry sectors in Northern Tasmania, and enhancing employment opportunities.I spoke about how important education is and about how nowhere in history will you find a society or a culture that has failed because it is too smart or because it has been too well educated. Societies and communites that value education are also shown to rely less on welfare, have longer life expectancy and be more resilient to extreme economic times.Food for thought and a great forum !

* 15 JUNE 2012 *

NORTHBANK- AN EXCITING DEVELOPMENT FOR THE FUTURE OF LAUNCESTON

I'm delighted to announce that the Northbank committee of council [of which I am a member] are doing some hard work that is dedicated to establishing the Northbank precinct of the Tamar River and tidying up the god awful mess that is there.It is my firm view that having a river in the middle of your city is a massive asset and the Northbank Committee are all working hard on establishing a plan that will see the area renewed, refreshed and reinvigorated for all of Launceston to enjoy ! Northbank is a name you will be hearing plenty of of stay tuned...

COUNCIL AMALGAMATIONS- SAVING YOU MONEY !

Council amalgamations are a necessity in Tasmania but the fundamental point is that it will not happen across the state voluntarily. The three political parties need to show leadership on this and not make it a political point of difference as there is no way it is arguable for Tasmania to have 29 councils.If left to councils to force the issue I predict we will be having this same debate in 50 years as most councils wont vote themselves out of existence. The process has to be driven by the government with tripartisan support in order to have this important reform happen. On an even smaller scale in this amalgamation debate there is no way anyone can justify 4 councils within 30km of the Launceston post office with 4 general managers, 4 mayors, 4 deputy mayors and over 35 councillors / aldermen with the huge majority of the residents of those council areas relying on Launceston for their services, their education, their refuse disposal, their recreation and leisure facilities, their jobs and so on. Amalgamations make sense and I call on the ALP, Liberal and The Greens not to play politics with this issue.

INVESTING IN LAUNCESTON AND CREATING JOBS

I'm planning on generating investment and revenue in our CBD by doing the following through my notice of motion to council a)The Launceston City Council investigates potential incentives to property owners within the city to develop inner city residences in the top floors of existing buildings. These potential incentives could include, but are not just limited to, such things as 12 months free rates on new developments of existing buildings, discounted or waived building permits , planning application fees etc.
b)The completed report come back to council as an agenda item where the report can be discussed in its entirety.

SPENDING TAXPAYERS MONEY WISELY.

As a strong opponent of wasting taxpayers money in holding AFL football in Hobart when there is a perfectly good purpose built AFL stadium in the north of the state I am bemused at the thousands of excuses being put forward by ther powerful Hobart football clique to justify the extremely low crowd of just over 11,000 for Sundays match .Some excuses are beyond belief with some even claiming the official AFL figures were wrong.Interestingly the lowest crowd for an Aurora Stadium AFL football match is 12,465 and the average is 16,728 so once again the Tasmanian people vote with their feet and show where they think AFL Football belongs. Its a pity the Tasmanian government dont listen.

INVASIVE SPECIES TASKFORCE
I am delighted to read that the Fox taskforce is going to become part of the Invasive Species Branch which will give officers greater power and will cover feral cats and pigs, rabbits, birds and weeds. I will be taking a motion to council to ensure that the Launceston City Council builds a strong relationship with this branch to ensure that these invasive species are effectively managed within our council area, particularly given the number of calls I have personally received over the damage caused by feral cats.I have lobbied extensively over a better use of taskforce staff and am delighted that the community voice on this issue has finally been listened to.

CLEANING UP THE TAMAR RIVER

The problem whenever the clean up of the Tamar River is mentioned is that the government has the view that its just a cosmetic exercise and in these times of government cutbacks its not worthwhile to simply make the river look nicer. What this argument fails to recognise is that by making the river and its surrounds more appealing that more appropriate waterfront development will come.In a time where economic development is seriously stagnating how refreshing it would be to see boat and tour operators and more water front hospitality businesses building and investing in our city. Increased recreational use of the river would also follow with boating and watersports usage being located nearby the beautiful surrounds of Royal Park. Cleaning up the river will bring many millions of dollars into the city through increased usage as well as creating a more picturesque setting for visitors and residents to use.The Labor government promised 6 million dollars to clean up the river of which we have at present received nothing.

COUNCIL AMALGAMATIONS- SAVING YOU MONEY !

The problem with common sense reform is that people want to run self interest arguments against it. I urge anyone who can mount an argument for 29 or more councils to put the supporting data out there to use against the common sense amalgamation argument. Common sense shows us in Northern Tasmania for example people who live 5km from the CBD of the city and use all of the resources and facilities of that city including schools, recreation facilities, the tip and so on should be part of one council as opposed to the existing three. It will save ratepayers and residents money so there wont be a situation like exists in the greater Northern / Tamar Valley area for example where there are 5 general managers, 5 Mayors, 5 Deputy Mayors and 40 councillors /aldermen within 50km of the Launceston CBD with a population of approximately 120,000 people. In Victoria a similiar size population has 1 Mayor,1 Deputy mayor, 1 General Manager and 12 councillors with no deterioration of service. The argument that this is too big and things wont get done has no evidence to support it- Federal and state government electorates are around about 85,000 people in size and have existed since 1901 without too much trouble.

REFORMING LOCAL GOVERNMENT- SAVING YOU MONEY !

Martin Gilmour's remarks about local government reform have much to like about them [Examiner Sept 27] Further it will provide a common sense synergy between suburbs and cities and eradicate this ridiculous situation where people who live 5km from the CBD of the city and use all of the resources and facilities of that city including schools, recreation facilities, the tip and so on are deemed to live in another council and pay rates there. It will save ratepayers and residents money so there wont be a situation like exists in the greater Northern/ Tamar Valley area for example where there are 5 general managers, 5 Mayors, 5 Deputy Mayors and 40 councillors /aldermen within 50km of the Launceston CBD with a population of approximately 120,000 people. In Victoria a similiar size population has 1 Mayor,1 Deputy mayor, 1 General Manager and 12 councillors with no deterioration of service. Seems pretty sensible to me.

MS FESTS MOVE TO HOBART- THE FACTS

It is extremely disappointing to read of promoter Charles Touber's outburst over his decision to move MS Fest to Hobart. The extremely hard working council staff do not deserve Mr Touber's rant; it was indeed his choice to take the event away even though he did have the first weekend event so one could imagine he could have put on a massive high energy show that would have been highly successful. His comments in statewide media are not reflective of the hard work that council and the Chamber of commerce put into this which makes his remarks that he would look at bringing it back to Launceston next year even more bizarre. To suggest as he did that it was council ineptitiude that lost this and AFL games to Hobart is simply not true.

ALDERMAN ROB SOWARD ANNOUNCES HE WILL STAND FOR LAUNCESTON CITY COUNCIL DEPUTY MAYOR

Launceston City Council Alderman Rob Soward has announced that he will be a candidate for Deputy Mayor in the upcoming Launceston City Council elections.

Soward noted that in tough economic time across the state, councils need strong leadership, something which he believes is a strength he brings as a candidate.

Soward also noted he is a 100 percent independent candidate and is not a member of any political party or activist group.

“ I was elected to council as an independent Alderman, I have always been an independent alderman and have always held the view that party politics has absolutely no place in local government. You only have to look at NSW to see the mess that it has caused there- criminal charges laid for corruption, councils sacked and so on.”

“During my time as an alderman I have been extremely active in getting things done in Launceston and for Launceston. My persistence and tenacity have seen many issues resolved that had remained unaddressed for some time. It is my view that the best political leaders are those with many years’ experience of active involvement in their community. Those I have worked with throughout my life can testify to my enthusiasm, effectiveness and sound work ethic whether it is in my professional working life, in sports and community life or in any of the personal interest groups I have contributed to as a volunteer or parent helper.”

Soward said that there will be several issues he would be campaigning on, one being more state and federal support for the many regional facilities Launceston has but is required to heavily fund from ratepayers’ pockets.“We have regional facilities second to none - the Aquatic Centre, Aurora Stadium, Churchill Park and Hoblers Bridge Netball Centre to name a few. In the past both state and federal government have assisted with contributions but in the main it is the people of Launceston who fund these through their rates. These facilities in many cases are used by people from across the entire region and in some cases across the state, yet it falls almost entirely on the shoulders of Launceston families and pensioners and ratepayers to fund these outstanding facilities. I will be actively pursuing better funding to support them which will help to reduce the burden on Launceston residents and ratepayers.

Further to this, I will continue to hold the state government to account over the Tamar River clean-up funding. We have received none of the 6 million dollars they promised at the last state election. I have business people speak to me who wish to open businesses or expand businesses which would help bring people to Launceston but won’t because of the appalling silt levels in the river. If the state government cleans the river up it will lead to business growth and a growth in employment in Launceston as businesses expand and develop. As 80% of the river catchment is outside Launceston and the silt comes from as far afield as St Marys clearly the health of the Tamar River is a state responsibility.”

DUCK REACH POWER STATION WILL HELP MAKE THE TAMAR RIVER CLEANER

It is fantastic to hear that Hydro Tasmania are serious about a power station at Duck Reach.[Examiner July 30 2011]

The benefits this would bring the city of Launceston are many and the project will require the support of the Hydro, the Launceston City Council and the State government, particularly the Bass MP's who will need to persuasively and forcefully lobby the premier for the funding contribution that has to be made.

It cant be another election promise like the broken promise about Tamar River silt removal funding where none of the $6.5 million has been forthcoming.

There is no downside for such a development with the generation of power and an increased water flow down the gorge making it an extremely effective project that will also go a long way to making the Tamar Basin far more attractive that it presently is.

CONTAINER DEPOSIT SCHEMES GENERATE MILLIONS OF DOLLARS INTO THE ECONOMY AND CREATES LOCAL JOBS

At the most recent Launceston City council meeting, my motion requesting the investigation of the establishment of a container deposit scheme that includes glass drink bottles [such as wine, beer and other alcohol bottles and soft drink glass bottles] , and plastic containers of carbonated soft drink and water to be returnable with a refund value of 10 cents per container was passed unanimously.

Recent reports show that such a scheme injects over $20 million into the South Australian economy and creates over 300 jobs. It also provides a great source of revenue for charity and non profit groups with the Scouting Association reporting income of over $2 million from collecting and returning drink containers. It is interesting to note that the Tasmanian government undertook a report into this matter over 2 years ago and no action has been taken. One would think that in the tough times we live in and where every cent counts, that the state government would be keen on seeing the same success that has been achieved in South Australia as well as a number of states in the USA.An injection of 20 million into our economy and the creation of 300 jobs would be welcome news for Tasmanians .

BASIN CONCERT REVIVIAL GATHERS MOMENTUM

Launceston City Council Alderman Rob Soward has been blown away with the community enthusiasm behind the revival of the Basin Concert. Alderman Soward noted that the organising committee had set up an incorporated body called The Basin Concert Revival Inc and had almost completed two grant funding applications to apply for funding from both the Launceston City Council and the state government which will be submitted this month.

Alderman Soward noted that the level of community support and sponsorship was also impressive with people wanting to help in any way possible.

"Local High school Kings Meadows typifies the sort of community spirit we see out there and their prefect board has organised a coin line to raise money for the concert." Alderman Soward said."We also have other businesses committed to doing their bit as well."

"The biggest cost will be the sound and staging costs" Alderman Soward said, "which is why the government grant is so important. We have had musicians offer to play for free and pay their own costs in getting here but the staging and sound costs will run into many tens of thousands of dollars. Its a community event organised by the community for the community and we need both the state government and Launceston City Councils support in making it happen.At this stage we have received good advice, support and guidance from both council and government representatives and need this to be translated into dollars once our submissions are completed to make the event go ahead.Our organisation comprises volunteers and we are not for profit so be rest assured there's no promoter or promotion business out to make huge profits out of this- just a group of community minded people working to revive an iconic event."

This event will be a family friendly event and will showcase local musical talent. Entry will be by gold coin donation and is alcohol free and when combined with the magnificent, iconic Cataract Gorge has all the makings of a fantastic January day in 2012.The official date will be announced once funding is confirmed.

Alderman Soward said he has been regularly writing to the Bass MHA'S keeping them informed of what is happening and urging them to support the event going ahead.

"There simply is no downside to this event- family friendly, fantastic atmosphere, super affordable and showcasing local talent.. you couldn't say no to any funding requests for something like this. "

MY LETTER TO THE PREMIER AND EDUCATION MINISTER
PLEASE KEEP OUR TASMANIAN SCHOOLS OPEN

Dear Premier Giddings and Minister McKim

I am writing as someone who worked hard in my local Launceston community, in particular with the Waverley community, on saving their school from closure and as a parent and as an educator.I have copied in all cabinet members as well given the gravity of this issue. I write regarding the potential closures of Tasmanian schools. The Minister has set a 4 week process for school associations [ made up in the most part of volunteer community minded parents and friends of the school] to write professional educational and economic justifications of why their school should stay open. This is an appallingly short time frame and given that these school associations are made up of volunteers [ usually busy people in their local communities who are members of other voluntary bodies as well as workers and parents themselves with busy lives] an unnecessary impost on them

Instead of schools being asked to plead their case to remain open as education Minister Nick McKim has ordered them to, I challenge Mr McKim to produce hard evidence and reliable data on each individual school that shows why they should be closed. Schools shouldn't have to justify their existence- their existence is fundamental to the right of every parent to have their child educated in their local community. All I have heard from both the Premier and Education Minister is rhetoric and spin about children in smaller schools being disadvantaged. The experience of school closures in the ACT suggests that using size as a criteria for school closure (and the idea that one size fits all) was a major flaw in the process. Size of school alone does not explain the impact on outcomes.

I am also concerned of further potential closures; if the school communities of these 20 schools knew nothing about the proposed closure of their schools until they read about it in Friday's newspaper and the government denied the existence of such a list, how on earth can we believe that there aren't other schools on another list somewhere being looked at to be closed in a second round? The credibility of the government given its recent back flips and policy changes on a range of issues gives me and our community no comfort whatsoever.

It is sheer madness to read that the state government has 20 schools on a hit list to close that have recently had over $12 million of tax payers money spent on them. It is no wonder that the government faces a perilous financial position when the Federal government BER money can be wasted in such a way in the state system that is now looking to shut these same schools. Interestingly the schools weren’t consulted and the government denied the existence of such a hit list yet now that wants to rip the very fabric out of rural communities that are already doing it tough. In low socio economic areas, school closures have great potential to exacerbate the financial pressure on disadvantaged families because they will have to spend more on transport in order to access a school outside their immediate area. The reality is that many families would not be able to afford the additional bus fares and petrol involved in getting their children to a more distant school and in some instance attend less frequently. I can tell you I know this happens and families keep their children away from school.

Schools provide well established, well known and highly effective social support networks between families in local communities. In many cases friendship groups for children and for parents are formed in the local pre-school and primary school and are developed into broader social networks that form essential and crucial social capital in these communities. These social networks provide tangible assistance and support that would definitely reduce psychological and physical stress on these families and often avert the need for costly government intervention services. I know this first hand as an educator but also as someone who grew up in a rural community and attended a rural school.

It is with absolute disbelief that I hear the education minister and premier argue that selected rural schools or smaller schools must be closed because of their restricted curriculums and that children are disadvantaged by attending them. Each and every Tasmanian school uses the mandated Tasmanian curriculum whether you attend the largest or smallest school in the state- all students undertake study in what we used to call the basic subjects including Literacy / English, Numeracy/ Maths, Sciences, Humanities and Health / Physical Education. Furthermore, in a high school context, if students want to study a highly specialised area that’s not offered at their school then there are numerous options like online learning, service providers, flexible programs etc to meet the provision of it. These options are also used by the largest Tasmanian schools- online learning is accessed right across the state. Schools are key institutions in our community and are a focal point of small communities and to be fed government spin that smaller schools are disadvantaging their students is an insult to our intelligence and to the communities in question.

I urge you to drop this policy of school closures- any simple economic benefit it may bring [ and personally this is, I believe, highly questionable] are heavily outweighed by the social cost of closing a school. The ALP and the Greens see themselves as championing social justice and community- this policy will destroy social justice and community. It is short sighted and narrow in focus and I hope you take notice of the community outrage on this issue and listen to your constituents and scrap this policy.

Yours faithfully

Alderman Rob Soward B.Ed., M.Ed., T.T.C.

PLEASE KEEP OUR TASMANIAN SCHOOLS OPEN

Launceston City Council Alderman Rob Soward has praised social media users for their responsible efforts in lobbying to keep Tasmanian schools open.Alderman Soward, who worked closely with the Waverley community in keeping Waverley Primary School open when it was flagged for closure in 2010, has established a facebook group entitled Please Keep our Tasmanian schools open which is one of a number of groups that has sprung up in the past 48 hours aimed at fighting the State government's attempts to close 20 Tasmanian schools. Alderman Soward said that whilst none of this list of schools was located in Launceston, the fundamental principle and right of children being educated in their local community was paramount and having gone though this process with the Waverley community last year could understand the hurt and angst felt by the other communities.

Alderman Soward said " Instead of schools being asked to plead their case to remain open as education Minister Nick McKim has ordered them to, I challenge Mr McKim to produce hard evidence and reliable data that shows why they should be closed.Schools shouldn't have to justify their existence- their existence is fundamental to the right of every parent to have their child educated in their local community.All I have heard from both the Premier and Education Minister is rhetoric and spin about children in smaller schools being disadvantaged. "

Alderman Soward also raised the concern of further closures. " If the school communities of these 20 schools knew nothing about the proposed closure of their schools until they read about it in Friday's newspaper and the government denied the existence of such a list, how on earth can we believe that there aren't other schools on another list somewhere being looked at to be closed in a second round?."

SAVING TASMANIAN EDUCATION

It is sheer madness to read that the state government has 20 schools on a hit list to close that have recently had over $12 million of taxpayers money spent on them. It is no wonder that the government faces a perilous financial position when the Federal government BER money can be wasted in such a way in the state system that is now looking to shut these same schools. Interestingly the schools weren’t consulted and the government denied the existence of such a hit list. Minister McKim is quoted as saying consultation will take place before any closures. More spin from a financially inept , completely out of touch government that wants to rip the very fabric out of rural communities that are already doing it tough.

It is with absolute disbelief that I hear the education minister and premier argue that selected rural schools or smaller schools must be closed because of their restricted curriculums and that children are disadvantaged by attending them. Each and every Tasmanian school uses the mandated Tasmanian curriculum whether you attend the largest or smallest school in the state- all students undertake study in what we used to call the basic subjects including literacy / English, numeracy/ Maths, Sciences, Humanities and Health/ Physical Education.Furthermore, in a high school context, if students want to study a highly specialised area thats not offered at their school then there are numerous options like online learning, service providers, flexible programs etc to meet the provision of it. These options are also used by the largest Tasmanian schools- online learning is accessed right across the state. Schools are key institutions in our community and are a focal point of small communities and to be fed government spin that smaller schools are disadvantaging their students is an insult to our intelligence and to the communities in question.

It is also interesting to read that apparently one of the criteria for the closure of Tasmanian schools is school results and achievement. When the Literacy and numeracy testing regimes were imposed by government we were told that it wasn’t about comparing schools but about outcomes for children. When the heavily flawed My School website was launched we were told it wasn’t about comparing schools but outcomes for children. Now apparently it is all about comparing schools with the heavy irony being that the schools flagged for closure aren’t amongst the lowest achievers anyway. More spin from a government that must be making itself dizzy from the spin it is inflicting on the Tasmanian community

LAUNCESTON'S RETAIL STRATEGY AND THE BIG W DEVELOPMENT IN LAUNCESTON

Its disappointing to read of what appears to be a growing opposition to the Big W development in Launceston even though the councils retail strategy document is not released as yet. I wrote to the Examiner back in January stressing the importance of not being for or against the proposal until the proposal was completed and the strategy document was also released so people can have access to all the facts before they form a well researched viewpoint.With all of this information people can then argue a well supported case for or against the development, its location and future plans for Launceston's retail sector.

For people to be running round saying the CBD will be destroyed and businesses will go bankrupt is irresponsible and not founded in fact nor data given that neither proposal nor strategy document is completed or released. The best way for a city to move forward on any policy is to ensure stakeholders have good levels of contribution to its construction through consultation and research and to then be well informed before advocating a position. I find it hard to believe that people can take a strong stance either way on this issue without all the facts or information.

THE KEY ROLE OF PARENTS IN THE LIVES OF THEIR CHILDREN

Congratulations to Examiner editor Martin Gilmour for reminding us of the important role of parents in the lives of their children [Examiner Editorial May 18] This clear reminder should not have to occur but sadly a percentage of parents seem to hold the view that they have no responsibility for input into their children, their childrens actions , behaviour, education or diet and that it indeed is someone elses job to fix it.

I have made the point time and again that increasing childhood obesity rates have nothing to do with poor education programs but everything to do with the food their parents feed them or the purchase of fast food refined breakfasts. Children are the single greatest asset a parent will ever have and there needs to be significant time invested with them to support their learning of all manner of things educational, behavioural, social and nutritional. The sooner all parents start to do this is the sooner we see a decrease in anti social behaviour and obesity rates and an increase in the educational outcomes , literacy and numeracy rates of Tasmanian children.

PLANKING- ITS DANGEROUS AND STUPID NOT FUN

Alderman Rob Soward is pleading with Launceston youth to stay away from the seemingly growing activity of planking.

Planking involves participants laying flat on their stomach in different and usually dangerous settings and sharing photographs of their efforts with fellow plankers, particularly on social media sites such as Facebook. Various planking groups have sprung up with more dangerous venues being selected as plankers try and outdo each other.

Alderman Soward said he has seen photos of young people on major Launceston buildings and bridges laying on narrow rails 20 and 30 metres off the ground.

A recent death in Queensland highlighted the dangers of planking but Alderman Soward said that it seemed to have made no difference to Launceston youth with a number of photos circulating on Facebook today.

"Life is a precious gift and stupidity such as this has to be avoided; it certainly isn’t fun for the emergency services workers who will have to deal with the medical emergency or for the grieving family and friends of planking gone wrong" Alderman Soward said.

CLEANING UP THE TAMAR RIVER

When I ran for office, I committed to cleaning up the Tamar River. It is a position I am still firmly committed to today. Since my election, Launceston City Council has worked hard on securing funding commitments of the State Government to cleaning up the river/ silt removal. Council quite rightly pointed out to the State government that approximately 80 percent of the river catchment is outside council boundaries and is subject to the effects of a variety of farming and agricultural practices, forestry etc ; all of which can contribute to soils being deposited in the catchment and being carried down into the estuary. This is all out of the Launceston City Council’s control as it can happen in the upper South Esk which is 140km away.

In the last state election campaign the State government and then Premier Bartlett committed $6.6 million dollars towards cleaning up the river. In August 2010 not a cent had been received and after a meeting with council the government committed to providing $1 million to commence dredging work.As I write this in April 2011, Minister Bryan Green could not confirm or deny that any of this promised $1 million had been spent on the work promised in 2010.I am meeting with the Premier and Cabinet on Monday April 18th and commit to ask the hard questions on getting this promised funding.

*16 MARCH 2011*

BRING BACK THE BASIN CONCERT

Launceston City Council Alderman Rob Soward has convened a group to explore some options about resurrecting the nationally renowned Basin Concert. This has been in response to a motion passed at Monday’s council meeting requesting an officers report to explore options for works and a stage at the Basin venue

Soward has set up a Facebook group entitled “Please bring back the Basin Concert” where people can express an interest and opinion on the event and it has already garnered 600 members in less than 36 hours.

Alderman Soward said that he felt that convening a group to explore options was a very important part of the process and would enable plans to become more concrete once the report came back to council.

“I have a firm belief that we have some enormously talented people in Launceston and the group I have convened features well known Launceston business, hospitality and entertainment identities with decades of experience in this event. Too often we try and reinvent the wheel; this group is a common sense group with loads of experience and I’m sure that our discussions will identify a number of ways we can make this event happen again. The Basin Concert was an iconic Tasmanian event and it is my intense desire to once again see it assume that status.”

*6 JANUARY 2011*

WATER SAFETY IN OUR COMMUNITY

Recent articles in the media have made mention of the importance of learn to swim programs. Sadly there seems to be a school of thought promulgated that it is somehow the fault of schools that children can’t swim.I am a strong advocate for learn to swim and aquatics programs in schools K-10 and totally support federal and state funding to reduce the financial burden on schools and parents for this to happen.

However parents also have a moral obligation to teach their children to swim in the same way they should teach them to read and write before they attend school. Teaching children to swim saves lives and parents should take the initiative with this as well as providing ongoing support to school aquatics programs by ensuring their children participate.

I intend taking a motion to council that seeks to promote water safety in our local community and looks to secure state and federal support for parents in teaching their children to swim.

NEW YEARS EVE EVENTS IN LAUNCESTON

I share many of the concerns raised over the lack of a major new Years eve event in Launceston but also provide some background as to why it never occurred. Some months ago council were approached to make a major contribution to the New Years eve on Royal event which it committed to as there was recognition about how it provided a fantastic family event. Some time later we were advised that there was insufficient financial commitment from local business and corporate sponsors which would mean the event would not run. I found this to be very disappointing due to councils significant contribution and the seeming lack of interest from business and corporate sectors, who had indeed made their verbal support very clear for such an event.

Its also important to note that unlike the Taste of Tasmania our event was not state government funded.I would be happy to work with interested people like James Harding and his committee on ensuring a family oriented and family friendly event runs for next New Years Eve and hope that a year long lead in would enable us to secure government and corporate support in addition to council support.

*8 DECEMBER 2010*

RETAIL DEVELOPMENT IN LAUNCESTON

The recent debate about Big W coming to Launceston is timely and relevant in the examination of modern day retail strategies. The challenge retailers face today is that we have a global market. Consumers can access goods from anywhere in the world at the click of a mouse. Some retailers, in my view, have not fully embraced this challenge; they simply do business the way they always have.
Consumers have limited budgets to spend and will , in the vast majority of cases, seek an item at a cheaper price and in many instances they can be sourced far cheaper via the internet.
We also know that buying local supports local jobs and the local community so the challenge in this entire debate for all involved is to look at it with an open mind and seek to understand all of the challenges, not just simply be anti or pro Big W.

*8 OCTOBER 2010*

PROTECTING OUR CHILDREN

One wonders why any government commissions expert investigations or reports to look into important matters then ignores most of the findings. Commissioner for Children Paul Mason's report into the case of the 12 year old girl pimped out to over 100 men is a sad tale of systemic failure. Mr Mason has highlighted a number of recommendations to be implemented which will stop this type of tragic situation occuring again yet the government has ignored this expert and independent advice.
Please lobby our state politicians and ask them to implement this expert and independent report so childrens rights are protected from those who want to do harm to them and none of our children have to face this level of abuse ever again .

*2 OCTOBER 2010*

PROTECTING OUR CHILDREN

Tasmanians should be disgusted and horrified that we have a loophole in our criminal code that allows people to abuse children and then claim they looked 18. This loophole has existed for some time which makes one wonder why our politicians have not legislated to close this defence off in cases where it is completely apparent that a 12 year old child is not an 18 year old adult. I have worked in Tasmanian schools for 20 years and have taught thousands of children and have never in all that time seen a 12 year old child who could be mistaken for an 18 year old adult. Interestingly when it suits the government of the day legislation can be be drafted and prepared in a very short time such as the Pulp Mill legislation yet in this case where we only have a small section of the criminal code that needs amending there appears to be a lack of will to close the loophole. If this loophole is not closed off it provides a defence for pedophiles and those who thrive on hurting and abusing children.

*26 SEPTEMBER 2010*

PROTECTING OUR CHILDREN

Launceston City Council Alderman Rob Soward, co convenor of a support group to stop child prostitution, has called upon all who support the group to make a stand in light of the predicted lack of charges against the one hundred or so men who had sex with the under age girl who had been prostituted out in a court case earlier this year.

"It was our intention to organise a rally to show the support the community has for law reform in this area " Alderman Soward said. "In order to be fair and properly organised , we were advised to wait until police investigations were complete so investigations were not in any way compromised. We had always been mindful of only commenting on information that was in the public
domain."

"The disappointing outcome that there more than likely wont be any charges gives us the belief that there needs to be urgent law reform of the Tasmanian Criminal code in this area as well as in the area of stricter sentencing."

"We are finalising rally dates and will be advertising them through the local media. We call upon Tasmanians in their thousands to join us on the streets to show that we need urgent reform in this area. Our children are so precious and we need laws that protect them and stop them being abused."

Public relations director and Oasis (The Salvation Army's Youth Arm)
Committee Member Amanda Johnstone set up the Facebook group earlier this year and was assisted by Alderman Soward with the group currently having over 23,000 members across the world.

"Daily I get questioned about what is happening with the momentum of the group, what individuals can do to voice their opinion" Ms Johnstone said "our group members are more outraged than ever that these series of cases are being swept under the carpet, especially in regards to a certain high profile individual involved. Everyone is ready to make a stand, and not just over Facebook. Our Tasmanian community, and the greater Australian community not only want justice in this particular case, but tougher laws against
those who dare to even dabble in crimes against children, particularly child prostitution. No one wants a repeat of the poor sentencing that has occurred in this case"

"There is clearly significant support out there for this cause " Alderman Soward said and "we want these people to join us at the rallies to show our state politicians that they need to act immediately on this situation. We will have rally dates in the media within the next few days.

Ends

For comment please contact Alderman Rob Soward 0402-357-536

risoward@hotmail.com

QUEEN VICTORIA MUSEUM AND ART GALLERY

At the Launceston City Council meeting on Monday September 6th I asked a number of questions over the situation at the QVMAG.

In the presence of 10 aldermen and a packed public gallery the General Manager provided extremely detailed and factually accurate answers to the questions that covered the issues ratepayers, residents and friends of the museum had raised with me.

Other aldermen also asked questions to allay their concerns as well. These questions were also answered in depth with factual information by the General Manager.

The minutes of this meeting will be available on the council website for all to see and hear.

If anyone walked out of that meeting and thought natural justice had been denied to anyone then they either weren’t listening to the answers or they were unwilling to believe the truth.

The conduct of some in the public gallery, particularly in the council foyer afterwards, leads me to believe that no amount of information or evidence will ever make them believe the truth.

*6 SEPTEMBER 2010*

40 KM SPEED LIMITS AROUND ALL SCHOOLS IN LAUNCESTON

Alderman Rob Soward brought the following motion to council which was passed 10-1

"That the Launceston City Council write to the State government and DIER requesting consistency across the city in the provision of 40km speed zones around all schools ."

At previous council meetings we have discussed speed limits around child care centres and unanimously supported motions to this effect. Our actions have highlighted that child safety, road safety and family safety are paramount to this council.

In driving around the city it becomes very apparent that not all schools have 40km speed zones around them. This seems quite inconsistent with previous advice tendered to this council by DIER which indicated that motorists become confused when there are inconsistencies in speed zones. It would seem logical that all schools are designated as 40km hour zones at certain times that reflect the times pertaining to the arrival and departure of children. Every motorist would then know that this speed limit applied to all schools.

*3 SEPTEMBER 2010*

BRINGING BEAR GRYLLS TO TASMANIA

Launceston City Council Alderman Rob Soward’s attempts to bring Bear Grylls to Tasmania have hit a snag when the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and the Arts have indicated that they will not be pursuing this opportunity.

CEO Felicia Mariani stated it was that , after a study by consulting creative agency Whybin TBWA , that Bear Grylls extreme adventure activities did not sit well with the brand positioning Tasmania has established.

Alderman Soward was completely mystified and disappointed by the response ; “Bear Grylls is a family man, a committed Christian who freely gives of his time to many leading organisations around the world. He is currently the patron of the Scouting Movement in Great Britain and is a shining example of a person who has overcome extreme adversity [ a life threatening spinal injury suffered whilst a member of the British Special Forces] . I can’t think of a more suitable well known international identity to promote Tasmania to the world.

“Bear Grylls extreme adventures are well planned out, well researched and supported by world leading safety advisors. For the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and the Arts to cast aspersions on the extreme side of his adventures affecting Tasmania’s brand in the world is ludicrous. Clearly other world venues, governments and tourism bodies have no problem with it including Australia’s own Kimberly region in WA that featured on a recent program.”

Its sad that the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and the Arts cannot see the millions of dollars of exposure this could bring Tasmania; at a time when world tourism is copping a hammering due to GFC factors it really is narrow thinking.

Alderman Soward is undeterred in his quest to bring Bear Grylls to Tasmania and will be looking at other avenues to secure the world famous adventurer. The Department of Economic Development, Tourism and the Arts also reported they had unsuccessfully tried to contact the production company but had no success; “people have spoken to me with connections to this company expressing interest in the venture so I will be following these up as well.” Alderman Soward said.

CHURCHILL PARK- A REGIONAL SPORTS FACILITY

I totally empathise with the genuine concerns raised by parents and administrators over the condition of the Churchill Park Sporting grounds complex. These grounds are but another example of the large regional facility funded by the Laucneston City Council that caters for thousands of young people from across the entire North of Tasmania. The roster includes teams from all across the Launceston , West Tamar, Dorset and Meander Valley municipalities including teams from Deloraine, Prospect, Riverside,George Town, Scottsdale but is funded and mainntained by the residents and ratepayers of Launceston. As a lifelong supporter of sport and the healthy lifestyles it promotes, I have written to the Bass members of parliament and the Treasurer seeking significant regional funding support for this complex and will also be bringing the matter to an upcoming council meeting.This regional facility needs state level support if it is to be maintained to a high standard for our junior soccer players.

*13 JUNE 2010*

KEEP THE AFL IN LAUNCESTON

It is disappointing to read of secret meetings between the AFL and the Tasmanian government regarding AFL Games in Hobart- I thought this new Bartlett government was about openness and transparency. Mr Bartlett would be well served to study the big picture approach taken by the late Jim Bacon who recognised and publicly stated that Northern Tasmania was the home of AFL Football. Mr Bacon saw, as a leader with vision, that Bellerive would be the home of cricket and Launceston for football ,which maximised benefits for our state. Now we we have a southern Tasmanian dominated cabinet that wants to feed egos and ultimately jeopardise what has been an amazing Tasmanian success story. If Hobart residents want to see AFL, I urge them to jump in their car and drive two hours north just as Northern Tasmanians do in the opposite direction when they want to watch the cricket.

*2 JUNE 2010*

SAFETY IN THE BRISBANE STREET MALL

I applaud any effort at resolving the unrest over the behaviour of a minority in the Brisbane Street mall.However, as research shows us time and again,. a lot of these type of problems arise due to a lack of well funded state and federal government programs designed to build social capital or support at risk youth. For example in Launceston in the past few months there have been cuts to funding for programs or a complete cessation of funding for programs aimed at supporting at risk youth.In addition to this much needed support we also have the ludicrous situation where our hard working Tasmanian Police officers are tied down to providing security detail at the court instead of using security guards, which would free up the police to work in our community.We can have meeting after meeting but unless the state and federal governments adequately fund programs designed to support those at risk and in need then the anti social behaviour will rise along with levels of poverty and crime.

*14 MAY 2010*

FIGHT FOR A WELL FUNDED LAUNCESTON GENERAL HOSPITAL

It seems the only people who arent keen on having a well funded Launceston General Hospital are the state government who seem hell bent on having things centralised in Hobart.The Prime Minister, the well respected and knowledgeable medical specialists, federal election candidates and the Northern Tasmanian community in general all support a well funded Launceston General Hospital so one must wonder who are the state government listening to in looking to move towards a single local hospital network based in Hobart.Consultation will show the Minister Michelle O Byrne and the Premier David Bartlett that a system based in Hobart is not what the community want and will not work.I urge the Northern Tasmanian community to write to, email and phone the government members to make your views on this crystal clear or else we will lose out. Launceston and Northern Tasmania cannot afford to have a single local hospital network based in Hobart; it will mean a loss of employment as well more importantly a loss in medical services and ultimately even a loss in lives.

*19 APRIL 2010*

CALL FOR SPEED LIMITS TO BE REDUCED OUTSIDE CHILDCARE FACILITIES

Launceston City Council is calling for speed limits around childcare facilities to be lowered in line with those around schools.

Council will write to the State Department of Infrastructure, Energy and Resources asking that the speed limits around childcare facilities be lowered, following a motion put forward by Alderman Rob Soward at today's Council meeting.

Alderman Soward highlighted the fact that speed limits in school zones drop to 40km/h during school pick up and drop off times and strongly believes the same should occur around childcare facilities given the risk to young children from speeding drivers.

*29TH MARCH 2010*

COMMUNITY MEMBERS STAND UP IN FACEBOOK GROUP AGAINST UNJUST RULING IN AUSTRALIAN CHILD PROSTITUTION CASE INVOLVING 12 YEAR OLD GIRL.

International public relations director Amanda Johnstone and Launceston City Council Alderman Rob Soward (both Tasmanian residents) have joined forces to lead the fight to stand up against child prostitution in Australia. Both were disgusted about the short length of jail sentence handed out to Gary John Devine and started a Facebook group that aims to raise the profile of stopping child prostitution in Australia, and to also ensure that politicians make stricter laws around this type of behavior. The group is in no way a hate group and was designed to give people an avenue to voice their opinion as well as providing information to them.

In strategically setting up the group, both stressed that the site was designed at providing information to people through its information section in terms of contact points such as contacting the Glenorchy Police, Commissioner for Children and the Attorney General to register community concern about the issue. The group will lobby to increase the perpetrators jail time as well as raising the issue of sentencing for such crimes.

In personal communication with a number of members that have joined the group, Alderman Soward said there were two distinct ways forward on this issue –“The Australian community are sending a message that they want our politicians to legislate stricter and longer sentences for people who perpetrate crimes like this. Secondly a way to solve this sort of situation is for our politicians of all political persuasions to ensure there is much more funding for health and community services, mental health services, child and family services, police and education to do all they can to help those in need, to prevent such situations happening again and to provide assistance to those who have serious issues that can lead to the crimes being committed.”

The group has celebrities, journalists from the biggest publications and media networks in Australia, mothers, fathers, board members of charities, teachers, youth workers and community members from all works of life in it, many who have left comments in a ‘letter to the editor’ type comment.
All content is moderated, any names that are not already in the media are removed within minutes, and any criminal information is forwarded to the Glenorchy Police.

“This page is fair, is legally correct in the information the administrators provide and is for community resource purposes only. Some of the comments on the page are disgusting, however that shows the community is disgusted”- mentions Johnstone, who works with some of Australia’s leading youth charities in gaining them media and celebrity support such as Oasis (she sits on the committee), Reach, National Youth Week and Waverly Action for Youth Services, and began her career as Youth Development Officer at the West Tamar Council. “I am glad that the momentum and sheer anger of our community is giving this issue more media exposure – now is the time for our politicians to stand up and listen to the noise”.
“Family members of the victim have also been in touch, very thankful that we have been able to pass on crucial information to the Police. At the time of this media release, we have 11000 people who have joined our group in just three days. Providing them with encouragement and information of the correct people to contact is our priority. As a publicist I have worked with some of the biggest brands, celebrities and charities in Australia, I know this is my duty to give this injustice the media exposure it needs to create change and potential law reform.”
Both Johnstone and Soward will be forwarding all the comments to relevant community ambassadors, and will continue to press forward with their fight for justice in Child Prostitution in Australia.

- End -

For more information please contact:

Amanda Johnstone | Amanda@theinterluxe.com | 0457 037 777
Alderman Rob Soward | risoward@hotmail.com | 0402 357 536

Page link here:
http://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/group.php?gid=108198132538447&ref=mf

*25TH MARCH 2010*
STOP CHILD PROSTITUTION

An eight year sentence is far too lenient for this most disgraceful of crimes. Media reports indicate that Gary Devine will be appealing the sentence on the grounds that it is manifestly excessive. Part of the way forward with this issue is for our state politicians to show some guts and legislate to make jail sentences for acts like this far more severe.Judges can only sentence within the parameters that the laws allow them. Secondly, given that the family kept records of who the 12 year old girl was prostitued to , it should be relatively straightforward for the police to deal with the 100 or so low lifes who have abused and defiled this girl.This type of crime should never be allowed to happen again and politicians of all parties should unite to toughen our laws around the protection of children.Our children are the most precious part of our society and should be protected at all times.

*25TH MARCH 2010*
CLOSURE OF WAVERLEY SCHOOL

The Northern Tasmanian community should be concerned about the way the education department has gone about closing the Waverley Primary School and reducing it to a K-2 facility only. The process has lacked honest and open consultation from the beginning. Events this week were reported to me by local residents who said that a meeting was held that could only be attended by parents who had children currently at the school. Parents of intending students, grandparents, community members , community organizations who use the school, the local business community and concerned citizens were not invited to attend this meeting. The closure of a school is something that affects the whole community and the entire community should be part of the consultation process. This lack of transparency indicates to me that the decision has already been made and the actions carried out by the education department bureaucrats are a facade.

*15TH MARCH 2010*
MY FIRST 100 DAYS AS YOUR ALDERMAN

I am writing to update you about how I am progressing my election promises.

The Tamar River- I spoke passionately at council about the importance of cleaning up the Tamar and how it is a state responsibility given over 80 percent of it and its catchment is outside our council boundaries. Aldermen voted unanimously to get the state government to clean it up and we have seen during the election period statements from parties on how they would do that if elected. Once the election is decided we can then pressure the government to get straight onto it.

Car parking- I have undertaken a car park audit and have spoken on several occasions at council how I would never let council owned land or carparks be leased or sold to other car parking providers. At the March 15th Council meeting, I voted down a proposal to allow a permit extension to a proposed 5 storey Care Park car park in the central city.

The Rates system-There is a review underway at present into our rates system being undertaken by our rates department and models will be available for aldermen to look at in the not too distant future. We are also awaiting some legal information due to the rating systems other councils have used which may be outside the power they have under the Local Government Act

I want to thank you for electing me and will keep you up to date with council happenings. I’m keeping my promises and will continue to work on ensuring that matters are dealt with sensibly and for the betterment of our city.

*1ST MARCH 2010*
CANCER CHARITY FUN RUN IN LAUNCESTON

Its great to see so many people getting onboard the fun run designed to raise funds for breast cancer including well known televsion celebrities. I only hope that this year such an exercise is not as heavily laden with overheads which saw only approximately 20 percent of the total raised actually go to breast cancer research in 2009.

According to media reports last year the bulk of the funds raised went on airfares and accomodation for celebrity visitors as well as the production and staging of the event etc. One would hope that the celebrities would pay their way as a way of contributing to the success of this extremely worthwhile event, leaving more monies available for the true cause of the event, that being breast cancer research. As one of many who have lost a loved one to cancer I can only hope that people see fit to support this cause and that celebrity guests are not absorbing funds that should be going towards breast cancer research.

*8TH DECEMBER 2009*
ADOPTION OF ETHIOPIAN ORPHANS

The Federal government decision to suspend adoption from Ethiopia is heartless and inhumane. Loving, caring families here in Australia , many of whom have waited years on a list for the opportunity to adopt, are now expected to receive this news as if all is ok. Adoption by Australian families for many of these Ethiopian orphans is their ticket to survival; many of those orphans will die if not adopted out to families from places like Australia.Friends of mine have been on a waiting list for three years, have visited Ethiopia and are devastated by this news that lacks common sense and compassion.When one reads the newspaper it seems if you are a celebrity and have millions of dollars you can circumvent the process and adopt a baby but if you are a loving couple of normal means then unfortunately you are not able to adopt an Ethiopian child and in effect save their life. I call upon our federal members of both houses of parliament to make a stand and bring common sense to this debate and have the adoption program re started.

*2OTH NOVEMBER 2009*
HOUSING DEVELOPMENT CONCERNS

I'm extremely disappointed to hear Human Services minister Lin Thorps negative comments levelled at Newstead and Newnham residents in reponse to their very legitimate concerns about housing developments in their area.

Many residents have contacted me concerned with issues like increased traffic flows, reduced enjoyment of amenity and issues around parking and access in their street.None have been criticial of the fact that it is public housing but have objected to the strata unit development concept that they believed was not allowed in the area under the planning scheme. Minister Thorps attempts to make these people sounds like snobs or bigots does not reflect well on her or the government.

*3RD NOVEMBER 2009*
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT

I would like to thank all of those who supported me in the recent Launceston City Council elections and to congratulate all candidates for their efforts.

As a newly elected alderman I look forward to working hard for the people of Launceston.

I firmly believe that elected officials must remember that they are there to represent everyone not just those who voted for them and to this end, I look forward to working with our entire community on making Launceston a better place for all..

*9TH OCTOBER 2009*
FIXING OUR CAR PARKING PROBLEMS

The Launceston City Council needs to address the parking situation in Launceston. For too long we have waited for a common sense parking strategy yet we still have an expensive, poorly planned parking system with too few car spaces .If elected I promise to reform our parking system, make it less expensive and take it away from Care Park and bring it back under council control. This way if there are problems they can be sorted out easily at a local level with council instead of with a mainland operator like Care Park who have proven very difficult to deal with for many Launceston residents.

*6TH OCTOBER 2009*
FIXING OUR UNFAIR RATES SYSTEM

I was always taught as I grew up that people should be treated equally and that hard work should be rewarded. The current Launceston City Council rates system does neither of these things; it is not fair as it penalises you on where you live and it also penalises those who upgrade or add value to their family home though renovation. The council has the power to fix the rates system but has chosen not to; other Tasmanian councils such as Brighton, George Town and Devonport have led the way in coming up with fairer rates systems.

Our current council aldermen have been happy to let the existing system stay in place for a long time; some of them have been on council for up to 25 years so they have had plenty of time to fix it but have chosen not to.Those up for re election are now promising to review the system ; I say if you have had years to fix it and havent why should we give you more time? Time is up for years of inaction.

*21ST SEPTEMBER 2009*
LAUNCESTON CITY COUNCIL- A COUNCIL OR A RETIREMENT HOME??

On many board and organisational elections the candidates have to disclose their age, a personal statement and a photo which are all put together in a small booklet for voters to find out about the candidates.

It is a great idea to have a council with a range of age groups represented but unfortunately the Launceston City Council is heavily biased towards the far older end of the scale. The youngest alderman is 41 and the oldest is 84 with 6 of the 12 aldermen well in their 60’s plus the oldest at 84. A balanced organization is needed to better represent the interests of all citizens.

*1ST SEPTEMBER 2009*

University of Tasmania lecturer Rob Soward has announced his intention to seek election to the Launceston City Council.

"I have chosen the first day of spring to announce my candidacy for alderman because spring traditionally signifies the start of new life and growth. The council needs new lifeblood if it is to grow and move forward on a number of issues."

Soward identified a fairer rates system and immediate improvements to the Tamar River environment as two urgent priorities he would act upon if elected.

Soward said he had been approached by a number of Launceston residents to stand for alderman as they were fed up with the council promising a lot, but delivering very little, on these two issues.

"It frustrates me that these two issues could have been fixed at any time over the past 20 years but they haven't; simple as that. I'm a person of action not meaningless words and I will get things done. Both issues must be addressed immediately as Launceston looks to move forward."

CLEANING UP THE TAMAR RIVER- WE NEED TO ACT NOW !!

As usual, Tamar River experts Geoff Smedley and Jim Collier are right to suggest raking as one way of assisting to reduce the silt build up in the Tamar River. A strategy involving a number of approaches is the way forward with fixing the Tamar River but it seems that council continues to undertake study after study, report after report and investigation after investigation that all tell us there’s a silt problem in the Tamar. Millions of dollars could be saved if aldermen dedicated the money they waste on reports into useful approaches like raking, increased dredging and more importantly lobbying for increased flows down the cataract gorge all year round to help flush out the sediment. Only a combined approach will fix this problem which has been unfixed by council for the duration of my 40 year lifetime. I'm sick of promises and endless reports; I want action before its too late.