Infrastructure Australia has added the University of Tasmania’s $300 million proposal to build new campuses in Burnie and Launceston to the Infrastructure Priority List.
The Infrastructure Priority List is a pipeline of nationally-significant proposals for governments at all levels to choose from. The University of Tasmania’s Northern Transformation Program is now listed as a Priority Project, alongside its proposed Hobart Science and Technology Precinct project.
Infrastructure Australia Chief Executive, Romilly Madew, said that being included as a Priority Project on the Infrastructure Priority List shows that a proposal has undergone a rigorous business case assessment and has been proven to have significant benefits for the community.
“This supports better project selection by ensuring Australia’s governments are presented with the best available evidence when making funding decisions.
“The Northern Transformation Program involves relocating existing campuses in Launceston and Burnie to new inner-city locations with modern, world-class teaching and research facilities, and delivering new degrees and courses that better meet the needs of students and industry.
“It is a nationally-significant investment opportunity that will drive better community outcomes by encouraging more local, interstate and international students to attend university.”
Ms Madew said that the educational outcomes are significantly poorer in Tasmania relative to the rest of Australia, and student enrolments are continuing to fall. Between 2013 and 2018, the number of local student enrolments at the University’s Launceston campus fell at a rate of four per cent per year, and six per cent per year at the Burnie campus over the same period.
“The existing campuses at Launceston and Burnie are nearing the end of their usable lives, are poorly located for students and staff, and constrain the university’s ability to deliver the technology-enhanced learning environments that students want.
“The proposed relocation will help to deliver vibrant, accessible and flexible campuses that will attract students, while also enabling the university to develop courses that better respond to existing skills shortages and the social, economic and technical needs of communities.
“We are pleased to see that the university has developed mitigation and monitoring strategies for a range of identified risks, including the potential for flooding at the proposed campus at Inveresk in Launceston. To manage this risk, the university is planning to construct buildings with higher ground floors and no habitable spaces within 2090 flood modelling levels, ensuring that the buildings are resilient to future environmental impacts,” Ms Madew said.
Infrastructure Australia has also concluded its independent evaluation of the Tasmanian Government’s Derwent River Crossing proposal following a rigorous assessment process. It has not been added to the Infrastructure Priority List at this time as a Priority Project, as the business case did not demonstrate that the benefits of the project would outweigh its costs.
“We found that the cost of the proposed project would outweigh its benefits. The business case also identifies a number of unresolved engineering issues that could add further costs to the project, including design issues and future maintenance requirements for the existing bridge.
“Infrastructure Australia recognises the strategic importance of crossing capacity over the River Derwent, which is why it retains its current status as a Priority Initiative on the Infrastructure Priority List.
“We would welcome a revised proposal for a less expensive solution that better matches the project’s expected benefits,” Ms Madew said.