It is going to be very tough to follow that act. I understand that, before I came in, Senator Bilyk was asking whether there was anything in the budget for Tasmania.
Senator Bilyk: I was—besides tax increases.
Senator Duniam: I am pleased she is here to listen. My very good and hardworking colleague, Senator Nash, was able to point out a couple of things to me very quickly. In addition to the $730 million for the Mersey Community Hospital, which—
Senator Smith interjecting—
Senator Bilyk interjecting—
Senator DUNIAM: It is $730 million, Senator Smith, which is a good outcome. If Senator Bilyk is suggesting we close it, then I am glad she is putting that on record.
Senator Bilyk: I didn’t say that. Don’t put words in my mouth.
Senator DUNIAM: The $200 million extra for the Building Better Regions Fund will be available to Tasmania, and that is in addition to the $260 million for the Launceston City Deal and, in the Regional Jobs and Investment Packages, the $25 million especially for Tasmania. With that short summation, I thought I would let Senator Bilyk off the hook from having to read the budget papers for herself by letting her know what is in the budget for Tasmania.
Senator Bilyk: Two things! Two things for Tasmania.
Senator DUNIAM: And, clearly, with her saying ‘two things’, maths is not her strong point either. I am pleased to be able to continue my pattern of rising to speak on the good and positive things coming out of Tasmania, and I am pleased that Senator Urquhart is also here as a strong representative of the northwest coast.
Today it is my pleasure to speak about two very hardworking Tasmanians: Ben and Sally Milbourne. I want to talk specifically about their vision for Tasmania and how proud they are of what our great state has to offer. Ben and Sally have a passion for quality food, and they know how central this is to Tasmania’s brand. As I have said in this place before, brand is extremely important, given Tasmania’s status as a food tourism destination and, increasingly, as an exporter of our fine food and produce. Ben Milbourne—who some in this chamber, including Senator Urquhart, may know—attributes his love of food to his grandmother. He says that when he was younger she used to bake each morning for a number of decades for the 40-plus tradesmen employed by the family business. He learned from her how important and how wonderful food could be. Ben grew up on the beautiful northwest coast of Tasmania, as did I. Having done so, Ben learned from a very early age the beautiful and clean taste of Tasmanian seafood, freshly cooked, caught from the sea. He recounts that as a child he would go on family camping trips, and ‘would take out Dad’s boat, go fishing and cook the fish. We would go diving for Abalone and cook it on the campfire.’ That is a wonderful recollection to have about the wonderful produce we have available in our beautiful state.
Cooking has always been a passion of Ben’s, but it was not where he was headed initially, with a career in teaching beckoning first. As a teacher, though, Ben used food to teach his students about chemistry. He would explain to his students that there were just over 100 elements on the periodic table, then use an analogy of a pantry to demonstrate all of those elements and make the point that that is how we have built the world around us. The year of 2012, when MasterChef season 4 was airing, proved to be a turning point for Ben. Indeed, Sally, his wife, also saw the opportunity for both of them to pursue their passion for food. The experience allowed Ben to refine his skills, immerse himself in food and be taught by some of the most experienced chefs in the business, and he has been able to bring all of those skills back to our great state of Tasmania.
Since MasterChef, Ben has made regular appearances on Ready Steady Cook and Everyday Gourmet and now has his own TV shows, including Ben’s Menu and Food Lab, which both air on Channel Ten. Central to a lot of Ben’s TV work has been the promotion of Tasmania’s fine produce, food and drink, and I cannot blame him. It is a wonderful thing to be able to use his skills and ability to communicate through the media to promote these wonderful assets that Tasmania has.
On that note, I think this is a good opportunity to touch on a great project that is unfolding in the northwest of Tasmania, the Devonport Living City project, which I know many Tasmanians will support. The redevelopment of the central Devonport business district will accommodate a great facility, which will include what will be known as ‘Providore Place’. It will be home to farmers’ markets, some top-end restaurants and also a TV studio for filming Ben’s cooking show. Right there on the north-west coast of Tasmania we will be able to showcase all of those beautiful things that are on offer in this part of the world. Hopefully, too, we will see a training facility available for hospitality sector students. That is an important thing, because we need to enhance our offering by ensuring we have a good level of skill amongst those working in the hospitality sector.
All of this showcases a brilliant offering of the great north-west coast of Tasmania. Inside one hour from Devonport’s Living City, you can get to amazing distilleries, beautiful farms and vineyards and taste all of these fruits. By putting them all in one place, Devonport Living City is going to be a great boon for that community, and we are going to see great economic growth and some opportunities for that region.
All of that is based right where the Spirit of Tasmania docks, on the Mersey River in Devonport, which is where tourists often decide whether they are going to turn left, to go straight to Hobart and bypass the regions, or whether they will turn right and visit some of our beautiful, lesser known places, our better kept secrets along the north-west and north coasts; indeed, down the west coast as well. Living City is one of the many projects that will go a long way to growing the sector, as I have said.
I am looking forward to hosting a forum in the Meander district very soon to enable tourism business operators to have a say about ways in which we can grow the tourism sector for that community, where visitor numbers are not what they are in other parts, particularly around Hobart and Launceston. I am looking forward to having business operators there, along with the Minister for Tourism, Hospitality and Events, Will Hodgman, local government representatives and the Tourism Industry Council. We will be able to talk about projects like the Cradle Mountain upgrade, which I think is a great project and I will be pushing very hard for it in the years to come.
Going back to Ben and Sally Milbourne, the chief reason I wanted to speak about them today relates to training and skills. As I said, Living City may provide an opportunity for them to provide training in the hospitality sector. Ben honed his passion for food while on MasterChef, but anyone who has met Ben and Sally will know that they are a formidable couple. Both are teachers by trade, and they strive for quality in learning and also in food, which is important with our brand. It was great to hear Sally speak recently—in fact, just last week—at the Devonport Chamber of Commerce and Industry women’s professional breakfast, on her background and also the journey that she and Ben have made: the decisions they have taken and investments they have made in promoting Tasmania the way they have.
With increased tourism demand for Tasmania comes increased need to ensure that tourism and hospitality services provided in our state are of the highest quality. We need to know that both interstate and international visitors can expect a high level of service. If you have a good offering in the way of food, beverages and accommodation, you need to complement that with highly trained staff to provide what people are expecting and used to in other tourist destinations. You cannot have one without the other. That requires investment in our vocational and education training sector, not only in cooking but also for service staff, transport staff, front-of-house staff and management staff. Ben and Sally recognise this and have seen an opportunity to bring together their passion for food, their love of their home state and their background in teaching. They recognise that we need to grow our ability to train the much-needed workforce for our hospitality sector and are willing to back their ideas with hard work.
This is an important thing to recognise—which I do—at a time when we have high youth unemployment rates in Tasmania, particularly in the north and north-west, and when we have been battling school retention rates as a result of a broken education system where people thought school finished at year 10. That is a problem that is being addressed now. I am looking forward to hosting a forum of interested parties in Tasmania in the very near future, with the Assistant Minister for Vocational Education and Skills, Karen Andrews, to enable people from the sectors that require this training to come along and have their say about how best the system can be structured to enable them to access the skills they need in the workers they want, and enable them to grow their businesses.
The reason I am mentioning this now is that I agree with the Milbournes about the need to ensure that we have training for our youth, to provide them with job opportunities in our regions. I commend Ben and Sally Milbourne for their drive, their commitment and their passion and the goods things they are doing for our community, for investing and backing the local community, for doing something to give others opportunities and for supporting the need to grow skills, particularly where they are needed in the regions.