of the Legislative Council
28 May 2014
the Governor’s Address
. The arguments about widening and/or increasing the
GST will be with us for some time. First, it would be a retrograde step to
widen the GST on fresh food. That would affect a greater proportion of the
incomes for the less well‑off. Second, it would have some effect on consumption
of fresh food by Australians, which is also very worryingly low. Studies are
starting to emerge on the health effects of widening the GST to fresh food. We
have to remember that a good part of Tasmania's economy depends upon production
and marketing of fresh food as well.
- Did you listen to or read Tim Costello's comments on this?
- No, I have not seen them.
- They would be worth reading as he has a different view, so some people
disagree. High‑income earners also pay. It is about supporting and compensating
the low‑income earners. I encourage you to read it. I commend his article to
you. I will send it to you.
- Thank you. Compensating the low‑income earners - that is my concern about the
GST on fresh food.
- If we need more revenue, and we certainly will, let us increase the GST on
its present base. At 10 per cent, it is one of the lowest consumption tax rates
in the developed world. If memory serves me correct, in Europe it is somewhere
around 20 per cent, and in Great Britain it is somewhere around 15 per cent. So
ours is quite low. I am reluctant to join an argument for higher taxes but we
will need them if we are to maintain essential services in Tasmania.
I am gratified by the focus put on our tourism industry
by the next Government, and I applaud the appointment of the Premier as the
Minister for Tourism. During our investigation in New Zealand, which the member
for Pembroke was on, what stood out for me was that the Prime Minister of New
Zealand is the Minister for Tourism. It is no wonder that tourism is given that
high priority by the New Zealand government when the Prime Minister takes on
that portfolio. I trust it will have a similar impact with our Premier taking
the lead in the Tourism portfolio. I am hoping for more recognition of the
importance of the tourism industry. During that investigation it was quite
troubling that we could not place how important tourism was for the economy of
Tasmania. It leaves it open for people - because of their vested interest - to
put tourism on a lower level. I could talk to some and they would put tourism,
as far as the driver of the economy is concerned, down around number 4 or 5. I
believe it is much higher than that, but you cannot get the figures to prove the
point that it is an important economic driver. People in the tourism industry
recognise that and try to get that message through and it is very difficult.
There was a time, not so many years ago, when it was
argued that the forestry industry was more important than tourism in the
Tasmanian economy. Any argument that environmental damage might deter tourists
was dismissed, but of course there is no argument now. The need to reassure
customers for our forest products is now widely recognised. Soon we will be
debating the Forestry (Rebuilding the Forest Industry) Bill
2014. It is well known that I supported the now‑defunct Tasmanian Forest
Agreement, with the majority of my colleagues, and I maintain that view.
However, I will be looking closely at the new bill in the hope that it will lay
a new foundation to rebuild the failing industry, and to provide those jobs
that so many of you here are championing for the future of Tasmania.
I can assure this House that our present and potential
customers in Japan, China and India will also be looking closely at the
Government's proposals. Not only can these customers watch the debate online,
but they can only observe forestry operations through Google Earth and loosely
follow any protests and community attitudes, so they can keep a close eye, as
they do now, on what we do.
- Isn't there a two-year time lag on Google Earth?
- Two years? They will catch up to it eventually.
- You can hardly watch forest operations.
- Yes, but they will get some idea of what is going on here, through –
- Has gone on.
- I did remark a short while ago on the focus put on the importance of the
tourism industry. However, I have already made the point that we refer to
building the competitive strengths of industries when talking about forestry,
mining, agriculture, aquaculture and tourism. I trust that they all receive
this boost that I am looking forward to in what we do in Tasmania with this new
I commend the promise to deliver a single statewide
planning scheme that is fairer, cheaper, faster and simpler than the current
system. Do we not all wish for that? It will not be the first attempt, and may
take longer than my just-beginning term in this House, but I am pleased that
the intention is there. It is a source of great frustration throughout our
There are many good ideas in the new Government's
program and they are to be commended. However, the majority of them require
additional spending. I ask, with respect, where is the money coming from?
I would like to go from the Government's program to my
recent election for the division of Rosevears. Thanks very much to colleagues
who have welcomed me back. To the member for Huon, welcome to this place. I look
forward to working with you over the next six years. You have already seen how
welcoming and warm the reception is to members, even those who have been
re-elected. You will enjoy the work environment and the opportunity you have to
do good things for your people and for Tasmania.
I will talk about one of the most obnoxious aspects of
the election - the Liberal Party robocalls - a tactic that backfired. Robocalls
were tried by John Howard, in his own voice, and he lost the election
resoundingly. I doubt the tactic was used in Huon because it is hard to put out
unsolicited negativity when there are seven candidates.
My friend Ryan Pitt, the brother of a member of
Parliament from many years ago, Neil Pitt, said to me, 'Kerry, do not be a
nasty winner', and I will try not to be. But I will quote an email to my
Liberal opponent, Don Morris, from a person in my electorate. It expresses the
view of many who contacted me, through all forms of media. I will just quote
part of it:
Dear Mr Morris,
I was disappointed to say the least to be interrupted
during dinner tonight by a prerecorded message regarding the upcoming election.
The message was authorised by one of your Liberal party colleagues, Sam
McQuestin. As I'm sure you're aware, the message was saying that your opponent
in the upcoming election, Kerry Finch, has ties to the Tas Greens. I found this
message petty, offensive, inaccurate and malicious.
Kerry Finch is an independent Legislative Councillor
without ties to any political party. Based on my observations, he judges each
issue on its merit and votes accordingly. He may share some values with the Tas
Greens - such as compassion, a care for people and the environment; the belief
that everyone should have the right to be legally married. This does not make
him a green.
I had not decided who I was going to vote for in the
upcoming election yet - I didn't know much about you before this phone call. I
had planned on doing some research about who you are and what your values are.
I no longer need to do this. The phone call told me everything I need to know -
I have no interest in dirty politics.
That is a typical email about the Liberal Party
campaign in Rosevears. If people hold true to what they signalled to me, the
Liberal Party has been clearly told that the robocall business has to come off
the agenda. The most upset people from my electorate were Liberal Party
- Isn't that a good thing? Wouldn't you encourage that, if you're the
beneficiary of it?
- People just do not like it - the invasion of their privacy, and the smear
campaign. We do not need it in politics. As I said at the declaration of the
poll, 'Where is our standing in the Tasmanian and Australian communities?'.
Where do politicians sit? I will remind you - it is not up here, with nurses,
with doctors, or with ambos. We are not even here. We are down here, lower than
I can reach. We are down there, and we have to do something about it - the way
we present ourselves, the way we behave, and the way we run our election
campaigns. People are sick and tired of nastiness. People are fed up with it.
Member for Murchison, you were calling for us to be
more collaborative in what we do. People have to see that reflected –
- And support each other when we change our mind on the basis of information
- Absolutely. When we go on with this stuff about 'the contest' –
Mr Dean -
Do you really think it is ever going to change?
- Member for Windermere, you might chuckle and think that is part of the
landscape, and think it is what you do and how you conduct yourself and how it
should be done, but people are sick to death of it.
Mr Dean -
Don't make me stand up. I didn't say that. I conduct myself openly and
- But the implication is there. You think that is going to go on and it should
continue to go on. I do not think it should go on.
Mr Dean -
And here you are doing it.
- I take the opportunity, while I can, to highlight this as part of what we do
in politics in Tasmania, in Australia. We have to reassess how we go about it
because it is not serving us well; it is not lifting up our standing in the
community, which is too low for my liking.
Now that I am back for my third term, I will not be
slowing down in my representation of the people of the West Tamar. I have some
wonderful population centres, Summerhill through West Launceston, through
Riverside, Trevallyn, and we have the fastest‑growing area in Tasmania in
Legana. I have Exeter, Beaconsfield and some lovely hamlets all the way through
to Greens Beach; it is a fabulous area. I will be fighting harder than ever for
what the community needs: infrastructure, education, health and road safety.
One of the top priorities will be to persuade the
Government to do something about the deplorable state of the so-called
Frankford main road. It is an important transport route from the West Tamar to
Devonport and the north-west, back up through Birralee as well. I believe whilst
there have been improvements made, it is substandard and unsafe. I did a lot of
walking during my election campaign, delivering 10 000 letters throughout my
electorate and I walked some of the Frankford main road. I was astounded by the
number and the speed of the heavy vehicles on what would be regarded elsewhere
as a country road standard. I hope to see that Frankford main road become the
Frankford highway. I talked about it many years ago, but I had not experienced
what it is like now, with a lot of heavy traffic using that area.
I will also, among numerous other things, be arguing
for maintaining the health services at Beaconsfield. People want to recuperate
after acute care at the Launceston General Hospital as close to their homes and
families as possible. Palliative care should also be provided as close to home
and family as possible. This is a role the Beaconsfield
District Health Service has played in our community now for many years and
it is to be lauded for the way it deals with the people from our community they
look after. It is a fantastic facility. We do have some changes coming up in
about four years. There is a suggestion of relocating the Beaconsfield District
Health Service. I will be fighting to maintain the services we now have because
there is a plan B that will see a downgrading of services and becoming more
like a 9‑5, Monday to Friday centre. That is not what we want for our
Separate from the Beaconsfield Health Service, or the
health centre, is the Beaconsfield Child and Family Centre, which has been a
tremendous success. I have supported the concept since its conception and will
continue to do so. From the beginning the centre was developed to work in
collaboration with services to provide support for the families with children
aged from birth to five. Through this collaboration, easier access to service
or referrals and support has had a huge impact on families in my electorate. It
has been wonderful. An early childhood intervention service now operates one‑and‑a‑half
days a week from the centre, which offers assessment and ongoing support
through courses offered by TasTAFE and Avidity Training. Mums, dads and carers
have the opportunity to participate and gain qualifications in a diverse range
of genres, such as hospitality, community services, first aid, through to
connections with the University of Tasmania. Parents gain confidence through
participation in certificate courses, cooking sessions, parenting courses or
playgroups, which then enables them to progress and develop to take on future
endeavours such as employment or volunteering.
The Beaconsfield Child and Family Centre was the first
in Tasmania - it might have even been the first in Australia. That was the plan
by the Federal Labor government, and it has been duplicated in areas such as
Ravenswood and elsewhere. It is a groundbreaking concept and has my dedicated
support. I am still on the advisory council. Just to go there and see it
working would open your eyes and I am sure you would want it for your communities.
There has been considerable talk about the need for a
primary school in our very fast-growing Legana and I will be urging the
Government to keep an eye on that need. I know it was talked about during the
election campaign and I will be keeping a close communication with the
Education minister and supporting that development as strongly as I can.
There is also ongoing need for vigilance about the
health of the Tamar River. I was pleased with the announcement by the Federal
member for Bass, Andrew Nikolic, of the $3 million that
will go to the Tamar River recovery plan. That gesture of taking notice of what
is going on in the Tamar River is really important as we continue this long,
ongoing campaign to make that estuary healthier.
- I am wondering if we are back in the Tamar mud.
- I will just draw a line under that. It is finished.
- One of my important roles over the past 12 years has been as a conduit
between my community and the government, and I will continue to be very active
in that role. I already signalled this when we had our opportunity to speak
with ministers and the Premier last night. I have already expressed my desire
to be that and to do that. I will continue to spend as much time as I can
facilitating community initiatives, helping grassroots movements to achieve
their aims, and helping to achieve all those things which help make a community
inclusive, caring and sustainable. I shall continue to support the volunteer
groups doing important work near my home in West Launceston. Closer to my home
it improves the values of the property, and that will be most appreciated.
- Not Landcare people but people who care for the parks in our area. Also, I
might highlight the Trevallyn Reserve is not that far from my home and there is
a lot of very good work being done by the Launceston City Council. This support
now from the Federal Government is money that has come through to help support
work in the Trevallyn Reserve. I have been a long-time supporter of the Friends
of the Trevallyn Reserve. Further up in my electorate, there are the Friends of Redbill Point. I took the idea of the Friends
of Trevallyn Reserve to people up there when they were looking to safeguard a
piece of land, a beautiful area called the Redbill Point Reserve. They have
flourished with the way they have taken care and concern for Redbill Point. It
is a nice place for you to visit if you are ever in my electorate.
I have not gone on too much about my election campaign,
but I made a speech that you will not be surprised has been recorded. It is on
my website. It is being accessed by people and it is on my recorded video
- There are some tragic people out there.
- Well, I have watched it 14 times!
- While speaking of tragedy, let me say, my colleagues and Mr President, I am
looking forward to my third term with great enthusiasm.