Thursday 13 December 2012

Hansard of the Legislative Council



AGREEMENT BILL 2012 (No. 30)

[2.16 p.m.]

Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - It is interesting to look across the chamber and see Terry Edwards sitting in the gallery. He sat there when we talked about the process for the Gunns pulp mill, in bringing it through this House. I think I am the only one left who disagreed with that process. Did you disagree with the process?

Ms Forrest - I supported the process but -

Mr FINCH - It is interesting to see Mr Edwards here in this different guise, with this different group of people he is now representing.

I am reflecting on the vote I have already made in support of this bill. That vote is solid. I made that commitment to the Tasmanian Forest Agreement and I do not think a protracted situation like a select committee will enhance my commitment. We have a committee process. It is here. That is what we do with bills. We have the second reading speeches and we go into committee. We then go clause by clause through the bill. We pick at the pieces. We sort it out. We make it a better bill. We are ready to do that. We have a committee. We have the committee process of the whole House.

What are we talking about with a select committee that is going to daw December dle along until March? If the member for Huon's motion said we should come to a decision by 30 - if we do our investigation and come to a decision by 30 December - I would be inclined to support that. I heard someone say this morning, 'No, you can't. You've got to call for people and papers and you just can't just pluck them out of the air'. Hello, they are here.

Mr Dean - Not all of them.

Mr FINCH - Every Tasmanian connected to this bill is watching us. They are watching us on the internet, listening to us on the media, they are gathered here. They are ready; the government is here and ready. Everybody is here, pull together, we are ready to go. They are ready here on the committee process as well. The leader can adjourn as often as he likes during the committee process and take us to briefings where we can thrash it out. We can draw on the information we need straightaway. A committee process will take until March. Why do I not want it to go on until March? Because we have imperatives that are bearing down on us. The member for Windermere talks about a gun at the head, and I have heard others use that comment. Well, I can tell you, the safety catch has come off this morning. The federal environment minister, Tony Burke, who offered $62.5 million extra to make the deal work if passed this week, is quoted in the media as saying that a delay caused by a committee process would be little different to an outright rejection.

Mr Dean - I think he has put a second round in the chamber.

Mr FINCH - That is right. He says:

It's an extraordinary gamble to take with Tasmanian jobs …

Effectively it's daring businesses to continue to lose millions of dollars or make commercial decisions which would ricochet around the entire industry.

Speaking to members of the signatories group, when I talked about this imperative of Ta Ann and my support of trying to keep them in the state, they said, 'It's not just about Ta Ann. What about all the other businesses that are hanging off this that are losing money?' - even if we focus in on those that work directly to the Ta Ann process. We have had a swag of letters from Evan Rolley, 100 letters from businesses directly associated. It is not just about them, it is about the rest of the industry that is losing these millions of dollars. This is our last chance, that is the way I read it.

We heard a briefing this morning that allayed some of the fears. What does the government have to do? They are bending over backwards to provide the information, the compromise and the support for this. What more can we ask of it? We can ask for time, time to clarify. Had that been in this bill, I could support that. It is: 'No, we finish up today, or this week. We've got Christmas to think of. We've got our break to think of.' To hell with that, what is our job? Our job is here as legislators. I will work here through the night, midnight to dawn, it does not worry me. I might like a break for Christmas to be with the family, but it does not worry me. I will work every day up to 30 December because that is our job. I am prepared to do that but to delay this until March is wrecking the process. That is the way I read this and I will not have a bar of it.

If people agree to support this process, I will not be on the committee because people are going to judge me on the decisions we make here. I have made my decision and I am happy with it and I am going to stand by it. When I move around in my community and around Tasmania I am going to look people in the eye and be proud of the decision I have made because I think it is the appropriate decision. People will say, 'I knew you'd vote that way', and I think to myself, 'What the hell. I don't even know myself how I am going to vote until I take the evidence and come in here'. People do not know how I am going to vote. I am an independent and I keep my mind open. I do not follow like a lamb to the slaughter. I have made my decision and I am proud of it and I will face the community and be happy with my vote. I have never made a vote in this House that I have not been happy and satisfied with and been able to sleep at night. I am going to sleep soundly with this decision.

I say to you, member for Huon, if this gets up, I will be moving an amendment to have my name withdrawn from the committee. I will not be part of it. It is wrecking