Thursday 18 November 2004

Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - I realise that we are dealing with family-friendly hours and people would like to get back. My contribution is going to be short but I do want to make this request of the Government. In May last year I made a call for measures to shorten the unacceptably long queues at the Service Tasmania office in central Launceston. I did have fruitful talks with the State Government and I am happy to say that because of the intervention of the late Premier, Jim Bacon, action was taken and customers are now dealt with more quickly and more efficiently.

Measures introduced included changes to rostering to provide extra staff during peak times, the addition of three cashier stations and the introduction of an electronic queuing system to help customers complete their business faster. In announcing the new measures in July last year, the State Government revealed that the Launceston Service Tasmania office handled 280 000 customer transactions in the previous financial year. That showed an annual increase of about 8 per cent, and I see no reason there was not a similar increase in the year to July 2004.

It is a commendable figure and it shows how the public have really taken to these Service Tasmania outlets. Such is the success of the Launceston office that it is again under some pressure with lengthy queues evident on several occasions during late October this year. It has become evident that this office performs a large number of transactions every day, with demand peaking at such times as the recent start of the recreational sea-fishing season and the changes to the Marine And Safety Tasmania boat licence application conditions on 1 November 2004.

There are, to be sure, Service Tasmania offices at Scottsdale, George Town, Deloraine, as I am informed by the honourable member for Rowallan, and Beaconsfield. But that still leaves a big population concentration relying on the one Launceston office. At the time of my call in May 2003, I suggested that at some stage a second Service Tasmania office in the Launceston area would be needed to address the continuing growing popularity of the one-stop service. I suggested that the ideal location would be Mowbray.

This would be central to a large population concentration and it would serve many people who find it inconvenient to go into central Launceston. I believe that the time has come for the establishment of a Mowbray office of Service Tasmania before the central Launceston office is again put under unacceptable pressure. Rising fuel prices are forcing many people to reconsider where they shop and where they do business, and government as well as business needs to respond to changing circumstances. Another factor putting pressure on use of the central Launceston shopfront is Launceston's increasing parking problem which would be alleviated if there was an alternative on Launceston's northern outskirts.

I hope the State Government will respond to this latest call as expeditiously as it did to my concerns expressed last year. After all, the transactions through Service Tasmania offices save the Government as well as the public time and money.