Thursday 18 November 2004

Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Last night I was searching for an old saying while I was with my colleagues in Salamanca Place. I was looking for a saying opposite to, 'You don't know what you've got until it's gone', and it is a saying that goes something like -

Mrs Smith - And then we left.

Members laughing.

Mr FINCH - 'You don't realise what isn't there until you need it'. I do not know who said that - Ernest Hemingway, Winston Churchill, Kerry Finch - I am not sure. But whoever said it about whatever, it is a statement which well applies to the lack of public toilet facilities on the banks of the Tamar River and in many other places in Tasmania.

To those members of this House who feel that the subject might be irrelevant, let me remind them of the last time they used toilet facilities -

Mr Harriss - And the state of the river.

Mr FINCH - which I may say, in this building, far exceed those on the banks of the Tamar River for their efficiency and their opulence. I know that in the past Her Majesty's shadow attorney?general, Mr Michael Hodgman -

Mr Aird - QC.

Mr FINCH - QC, believed that the gentlemen's toilets just outside this Chamber were the finest in Christendom, and may I also remind my honourable colleagues of the last time that they wanted, perhaps urgently, to use toilet facilities which were not there - and I will make no reference to the story by the member for Nelson yesterday about hissing snakes.

However, I suggest, Mr President, that public toilets, or any toilets, should not be taken for granted and the lack of them should not be overlooked. There have been many measures of civilisation over the centuries and I suggest that one measure of civilisation in this century is the availability and efficiency of toilets, both private and public. On this basis, Mr President, I am unhappy to report that Tasmania fails the civilisation test.

But public toilet facilities are not just about a civilised society, they also have an economic dimension. We have all heard of the concept of a demand?driven economy. Let me illustrate this concept with one very successful example. Ten years ago Campbell Town on the Midland Highway, in the member for Apsley's electorate, was somewhere that you slowed down for a little just after you had been booked for exceeding the speed limit.

Mr Dean - A part of the quota system.

Mr FINCH - That helped the quota system, that is right. But then you passed right through. Campbell Town had a main street of somewhat neglected buildings. It was a remnant town of a changed rural past - a bit sad. Well, today Campbell Town has revitalised. Drivers not only largely observe the 60 km/h speed limit but they slow to a stop. They can buy good food, they can buy good coffee -

Mr Wilkinson - The reason?

Mr FINCH - I am getting to it - and they can use what are, by any standards, very good, clean public toilets.

Mr Wilkinson - Did you say Campbell Town has a toilet?driven economy?

Members laughing.

Mr FINCH - I am saying that, but even the three faces of the clocks on the old town hall building there now largely coincide.
Members laughing.

Mr FINCH - It is a changed environment. At least they give the exact time, twice a day.

What is behind Campbell Town's revival, Mr President? There are obviously a number of factors like the wonderful park but the main one is the efficient public toilets. If ever public toilets were a catalyst for an economic revival, Campbell Town proves the point.

Mr President, the demand?driven economic influence of good toilet facilities in regional towns even became an issue in the last Federal election with the Opposition seeing high-standard public toilets as part of the tourism policy. However, today, Mr President, I would like to highlight a conspicuous lack of facilities on the West Tamar, particularly at places where people step ashore from boats, as they do more frequently now that there are more efficient pontoon landings on the Tamar. You may remember the inclusion of 10 pontoons. I know our guests will remember that time and will know the area that I am talking about. I went sailing last weekend on the Tamar River in that beautiful part of my electorate of Rosevears between Beauty Point and Rosevears and travelled past the Deviot Sailing Club where there is a popular landing pontoon and a mooring near the clubrooms on the club's crown lease. The club generously allows the public to use its facilities when it is open but there is a considerable hygiene problem when the club facilities are closed. People urinate and defecate around the clubrooms. It is a gruesome thought. There is an urgent need of public toilet facilities near the Deviot Sailing Club. It is a similar story at most pontoons and landings along the west bank.

On arriving at the mooring at Rosevears, the Rosevears Hotel is a very popular place. The hotel's toilets are very much used but there are no public facilities at Rosevears and I think that is unfair on the hotel's proprietors.

Mr Martin - Which council is this?

Mr FINCH - The West Tamar Council. But it is the Deviot Sailing Club which I am highlighting, which is on a crown lease. There are numerous other cases. But in tourism, of course, word of mouth is everything. If Tasmania wants to be regarded as a tourism destination it needs to do more about providing toilets in places where visitors need them. I am hoping the appropriate authority, such as Marine and Safety Tasmania in the case of our pontoon landings on the West Tamar, will hear my call and act quickly. What I would like to see around Tasmania, Mr President, are appropriate toilet facilities where people need them, with universal signage indicating their presence and their grading.

Just in closing, Mr President -

Mr PRESIDENT - The honourable member's time has almost expired.

Mr FINCH - Thank you very much. In the case of the Deviot Sailing Club, I wrote some 12 months ago to the honourable member for Lyons, Speaker of the House of Assembly, Mr Michael Polley, and I received just last night, in Salamanca Place, a very encouraging response to the issue when I spoke to him. Might I suggest, Mr President, we take the issue of a lack of public toilets in many areas of our State seriously and put pressure on the appropriate agencies
to solve this problem.