Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Editor's Choice - Row 2

Sorry ratepayers … eat cake

The university doesn’t pay rates, sorry ratepayers – eat cake!

Why would any sane person think it was a good idea to move campuses from the up-market suburb of Sandy Bay to the city and why didn’t the council, who knew they wouldn’t receive any rates revenue object? I guess they were too busy packing their bags for the ratepayer-funded trips to Europe with their guru Professor Peter Rathjen. Who I might add jumped ship before it all hit the fan.

We are the poorest state, with a critical shortage of housing, people sleeping at the Showground etc. A booming tourist industry that is always complaining about the shortage of accommodation in Hobart. Very little said about the university (UTas) buying two hotels, staff losing their jobs so close to Christmas.

I read that the price accommodation at the MidCity will be up to $442 a week for a room. Parking spaces $2,500 per year. As I suspected all this CBD student accommodation is for international students, how could battling Aussie students afford to pay these rents. I asked current Vice-Chancellor Professor Rufus Black many times why the students accommodation wasn’t put in the cheaper outer suburbs. As usual, no reply. Professor Black doesn’t like to explain what UTas is doing with taxpayers’ money.

Listed below are the properties owned by UTas and the HCC ratepayers receive no rates. And I did ask them to tell me how much rates revenue they lost because of the buying spree by UTas. I’m still waiting for an answer.

UTas has recently purchased the MidCity Hotel and the Fountainside Hotel, for student accommodation. UTas (taxpayers) paid $25,850,000 the Capital Value $8,900,000 for the MidCity a former gaming hotel, cost of refurbishment unknown. Loss of rates income for HCC unknown.

How much UTas (taxpayers) paid for the Fountainside unknown, cost of refurbishment and loss of rates income unknown. When asked by the media how much was paid, Professor Black refused to say. In my opinion it is about time Professor Black got off his high horse. It is taxpayers’ money the university is throwing around like confetti.

Domain House, nursing and midwifery, cost of refurbishment $3.5 million … No rates for HCC.

UTas (taxpayers) paid $9.8 million the capital value was less than $5 million for No 62-66 and 70-82 Argyle St, in August 2015. These two CBD properties were purchased for STEM, no rates income for nearly four years. Surely, STEM shouldn’t go ahead in the CBD.

No 44 and 40-42 Melville St.
No 141-143 Elizabeth St.
No 139 Elizabeth St. All four properties to be developed for student accommodation … No rates for HCC

Theatre Royal Hotel, 31 Campbell St, paying rates prior to the purchase by UTas in March 2016; lying idle since then. It was purchased for a ‘student hub’ they are now going to make it student accommodation. Another lost revenue for the ratepayers of Hobart.

Next door the new University Conservatorium of Music, ‘The Hedberg’ development, another large and valuable piece of CBD property a potential rates money spinner … But UTas don’t pay rates.

Menzies Medical Science Precinct, a large CBD block previous ratepayers include, accommodation, offices, a pub, units etc. The potential for development of hotels etc on this block and a big rates earner for the HCC was huge.

In January 2013 the council (ratepayers) sold 49 Melville St Car Park, a big block to UTas for student accommodation, for $3.8 million. It wasn’t put on the open market and no future income to the council from rates.

The IMAS, 20 Castray Esplanade. A prime piece of real estate right on the waterfront … No rates for the HCC.

Another large CBD property the Ex Forestry building 79-83 Melville St recently sold and I’m reliably informed but no proof, the purchaser was UTas; no rates for the HCC. Interesting to see how much UTas (taxpayers) paid for this one. It was bought in May 2001 for $12 million.

Not only here but also in Launceston the LCC gifted the ratepayer’s land to UTas; the value nearly $5 million. Numerous emails were sent to the mayor and every alderman giving clear and accurate details of what UTas was up to here in Hobart. And how much taxpayers’ money they had to splash around.

Did the LCC show any interest in this information? Of course not they were too busy falling over themselves, moving a university from one suburb to the next.

Most people would kick up a stink if their revenue is taken away, why the deafening silence from the HCC. Of course it’s not their money and if things get a little tight, easy just up the rates for the defenceless battlers, small business owners etc.

Not only does UTas have a seemly bottomless pit of taxpayer’s money, no accountability and they don’t pay rates. I think the ratepayers of this city should be justifiably angry that prime, inner city real estate is used for student accommodation and mainly international students; it’s outrageous.

If UTas is exempted from paying rates by legislation, considering the huge loss of rates revenue in Hobart, the council should take action immediately to have the legislation changed. For anyone representing ratepayers to turn a blind eye to this is unconscionable.

Scott Heares is a hardworking ratepayer of this city and I’ve had a gutful of how taxpayers and ratepayers are been ripped off by UTas. And complaints to politicians about the situation is continually ignored. 

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  1. Pete Godfrey

    February 16, 2019 at 2:34 pm

    I wonder who owns the buildings that UTAS is purchasing. Who pays for UTAS?

    Is this another example of the Government artificially inflating real estate to shift public money into mates’ or party coffers as pork barreling funds?

    One great example I can think of was the inflated price paid for Hobart Airport by the government super fund. It paid something like three times what it was worth and it didn’t even get a majority shareholding. That went to Macquarie Bank.

    How much of this UTAS money will end up being recycled as election funding or pork barreling?

  2. Russell

    February 16, 2019 at 8:34 am

    Is UTAS a place of tertiary learning, or is it an estate and investment business?

  3. Simon Warriner

    February 13, 2019 at 6:17 pm

    The chair of the UTAS University Council is Michael Field, ex Labor party genius. Draw your own conclusions.

  4. elk

    February 13, 2019 at 8:45 am

    It is of great distress that as an HCC ratepayer, that I will inevitably have to pay extra rates as a result of the loss of rate income due to the UTAS not paying rates on these inner city properties which they the UTAS have now purchased. My taxes wasted by UTAS paying way over the capital value of these properties.
    Add to that the traffic congestion and parking issues which will greatly increase as the result of having so many extra students housed in the city.
    Many wealthy cashed up students getting benefits such as not paying rates while having the pick of the accommodation while disadvantaged locals are living in tents at the showgrounds.
    What sort of people do we elect in both state, federal and local government who do not listen and address the ratepayers concerns about this issue?

  5. max

    February 13, 2019 at 8:34 am

    Not only in Hobart but also in Launceston the LCC gifted the ratepayer’s land to UTas; the value nearly $5 million,Why?
    Why would any sane council condone moving from Newnham, to a flood plane on a sewage laden river in an area affected by smoke from an inversion layer when the present location at Newnham was safe, clean with a good out look and only 8 kilometres away.
    The council is relying on a newly built flood levee that was built at a hight to stop a flood that occurred in 1929. They apparently are climate change deniers and trust there will not be a rain bomb in the biggest catchment in Tasmania or there will me no sea level rises while they are in charge.

  6. Ivo Edwards

    February 13, 2019 at 8:22 am

    Great article, thank you!. Like you say – ” Why would any sane person think it was a good idea to move campuses from the up-market suburb of Sandy Bay to the city?”

    That has to be on a par for stupidity with spending $50 million on poisoning non-existent foxes (but plenty of iconic endemic native animals), For all this wasted money we could have funded a similar amount on vital early bush fire detection methods and means to extinguish newly started fires via provision of local sky crane water bombing helicopters, primed to attack fires at a moment’s notice?

    • MJF

      February 14, 2019 at 6:17 pm

      All the fox baiting was only done around plantation boundaries, according to some experts.

      I see no reason why our Federal members couldn’t squeeze enough out of Morrison to fund a decent chopper and crew. After all, Hodgo has now got the hand out anyway for cleanup money.

      • Ivo Edwards

        February 15, 2019 at 9:45 am

        Yes, it will be interesting to find out just what the damage bill for the bush fires will tally to. For example, just how much compensation will Hodgo be seeking?

        Presumably Ta Ann (at least) will be seeking compensation for loss of their veneer mill and future timber supply. It can plausibly easily argue that their loss was due to TFS’s negligence in not responding effectively and in a timely manner to lightning strike fire initiation.

        Presumably we tax payers will also, one way or another, have to pay for the Tahune air walk repairs, the Neville Smith sawmill damage, and Sustainable (??) Timber Tasmania resource loss.

        It would seem an opportune time to get a promise of 2 Skycranes for Tasmania as a pre-election promise from the main political parties.



        Statements do not end with a question mark. Questions do.

        — Moderator

        • Russell

          February 16, 2019 at 8:33 am

          Compensation? No way!

          As MJF commented in another post … They can “claim it on insurance, replant (or rebuild) and move on.”

      • Russell

        February 16, 2019 at 8:29 am

        “All the fox baiting was only done around plantation boundaries, according to some experts.”

        Bullshit. You really don’t know anything about your own industry, apart from how to spread misinformation.

        • Ivo Edwards

          February 16, 2019 at 10:25 am

          That is right, Russell. I didn’t want to distract the conversation by explaining to MJF that the fox control “experts” he cited were plain wrong, as can be very easily proved.

          I am more concerned that the so called “expert” review into the 2016 bushfires was conducted by an Antarctic science expert, Dr Tony Press, who has no special knowledge or experience in fighting bushfires.


          I believe that this report was seriously lacking in serious bushfire technical information, and seriously lacking in practical recommendations about how to improve early fire detection and control in Tasmania, and that it was generally pretty useless as a practical guide .. apart from recommending more studies!

      • John Maddock

        February 16, 2019 at 1:18 pm

        Hmm … So “Whitewater” on Spring Farm Rd. Kingston, currently being subdivided, is near a plantation?

        That’s the first I’ve heard of it being so!

        Clearly “some experts” are not that at all.


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