of the Legislative Council
18 March 2015
Address: The State of the State
(Rosevears) - Mr Deputy President, I will open with the words at the
beginning of the Premier's Address: 'The eyes of the world are
eyes of the world have been upon our forestry industry, they have
been upon our environmental management and they are very much on our
plans for wilderness areas that we share with the rest of humanity.
If we put a foot wrong, those international eyes will be watching.
Government is committed to showcasing, protecting and celebrating our
unique natural and cultural heritage asset while growing our tourism
industry and creating new jobs. We also want to give more
Tasmanians and visitors the opportunity to experience our unique,
world-class wilderness areas.
some of the proposals to develop our unique wilderness areas are
approved, they will no longer be unique, or indeed, wilderness.
A wrong move over jet skis or helipad proposals can send a message to
the rest of the world that Tasmania is not serious about preserving
its world-important wilderness areas. In a single stroke, we
can negate the reasons why people from all over the world are coming
to Tasmania. Caution is needed.
is a development proposal in Narawntapu that has been put forward to
the minister, Mr Groom, and I trust that will be the sort of
proposal that will be accepted. It will be environmentally
friendly - it is for horseriding in Narawntapu - an extension of the
opportunity which is already there. It has been done there for
years and someone with some get up and go wants to improve that
opportunity but wants to be very sensitive to the area. I look
forward to helping that developer progress that as much as we can.
It is encouraging to hear a state government talking about tourism as
a priority - wonderful.
is one important observation by the Premier on our tourism industry
that I would like to paraphrase. He said 'Tasmania is renowned
for fresh produce, pristine surrounds and the world's friendliest
people'. Quite so. Tasmanians are friendly, we are open,
but I could suggest that our tourism industry give them a bit of help
about other cultures. We are looking to encourage people to
come from other countries, from other cultures, from China.
Perhaps there might be some thought about voluntary workshops or
other programs about cultural differences. It is very good to
hear from the tourism industry. I get my correspondence from
the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and also from my local Launceston
Chamber of Commerce. They are promoting very much that
opportunity to businesses involved in the tourism industry and in
business generally to get across those differences and opportunities,
and ways of making people feel welcome without doing anything
embarrassing that might set those relationships back.
- They are providing workshops as well.
- Yes, I know. It is wonderful that they are doing that but I
am thinking more about taking it to the community: to people
who work in cafes, restaurants and that sort of thing, and who have
contact with our international tourists. The eyes are watching
us and we have to be very careful under their scrutiny.
quote a few lines from the Premier: 'My team is united,
focused, working hard every day, to deliver our long-term plan we
outlined to Tasmanians at last year's election.' What has been
achieved so far with this focused hard work? He said, 'We have
commenced the task of rebuilding essential services'. So far,
we have only seen cuts to essential services. Teachers have
gone from our schools, workers from our health services, and
Education and Health are even more stretched than they were under the
Premier said recently that his biggest regret so far in his first
term was that he has not managed to freeze public service salaries.
Most Tasmanians have the imagination to understand what happens to
families when income is frozen or their main breadwinner loses his or
see a similar story from our State Government as we heard from its
federal counterpart - we have to clean up Labor's budget mess.
The Federal Government has drawn back from that refrain.
Suddenly it is not as urgent a situation as we thought when we look
towards the last Queensland election. Similarly in Tasmania,
after taking a razor to public servants' jobs, to services which
Tasmanians need and want, the task seems completed. I will
reserve judgement on that.
am not saying that this Government is not well intentioned - it is.
It can claim credit for many good intentions as the Premier points
out. He mentions the Qantas call centre operations, tick;
starting to reform the planning system, tick; the focus on the
TT-Line, tick. I support the refurbishment plans for the
That is an important operation. Irrigation projects, tick.
Starting work on the Midland Highway - it makes us late getting from
point A to point B - but the work is tremendous and there is a lot of
it going on. The Department for State Growth, tick.
Reopening our forest industry for future growth - we do not see much
of that at the moment, but I will watch with bated breath. I
will watch to see what occurs there, because we get different
feedback depending who we talk to.
know some people are not positive because it is not where they
thought it would be when the TFA was abandoned. However, they
are there, they are hanging in, but it is not as they thought it
would be. It all depends who you talk to. I should talk
to member for Windermere's Mr Barber, the sawmiller, because he
sounds pretty positive about his involvement with the forestry
industry. I will talk about this a bit more.
The dollar exchange rate has changed dramatically. Many people
said it would not.
- I do not think anyone said it would not. It is impossible to
say that because it ebbs and flows. It was just that, at the
time, it was solidified and it did not look as though it would be
coming down anytime soon.
quote from the Premier: 'While it is early days and there is a
lot to be done, there are very positive signs for the future.'
Premier refers to the labour force participation rate improvements, a
stronger gross state product, a narrowing gap between the state and
federal unemployment rates, and abolishing headworks charges.
He says: 'There is no doubt policy decisions we have made have
an impact on this' - quite. However, how many of these
improvements were going to happen anyway? That is a question I
would ask; others might not. I would say they would have
happened. That debate could go on ad infinitum.
always comes a time when a new government must stop blaming the
previous ones and then start taking credit for the result of its own
accomplishments, even if these are hard to prove. Ideally they
should coincide. I look forward to this Government taking
credit for some of those changes and improvements they have made.
From about now, the Liberal Government can start taking credit.
As the Premier said, 'We are more than happy to be judged on our
us look to the future. You cannot quibble with the Premier's
plan for the next year. Unquibbleable - a new word I just
thought I would throw in to see if I have your attention. I
have already voiced support for the work on the Spirit
ferries. You cannot argue against the international shipping
arrangements with Swire
Shipping, nor against affordable housing, an energy strategy, the
statewide planning scheme, or legislation on victims of crime - all
good concepts and we await results.
saw promises about the future of what remains of Tasmania's forestry
industry. So far the trend does not seem to be uphill. A
question was asked by the member for Apsley about the Triabunna
woodchip mill. One moment it is crucial to the growth of the
industry, then it is of no importance.
I never said that.
- I know. I do not want to put words into your mouth, but it
seemed that way. The gist of the answer given by the Leader
yesterday was that it could be solved. There was the devious
injection of $30 million of taxpayers' money into Forestry
Tasmania, and then no certainty about its future. We noted
optimism about crucial forest stewardship certification, and then
uncertainty, to say the least. Like most Tasmanians, I am a bit
confused about what is happening. Before this Government
destroyed the historic TFA, Tasmanians at least had some idea about
the future of our forestry industry. If you ask anyone in the
street about its future now, they would be hard-pressed
come up with an answer. That is the way I am reading it, unlike
the member for Windermere -
No, a lot of people support the industry.
- That is my observation; that is my noting. After listening to
your response, I have made a couple of quick calls to people in the
industry, and I did not get the positivity that you are suggesting.
The Branxholm mill is a good one, it is positive.
It is a good story all the way through. Branxholm
never relied on handouts. They have just gone about their
business and done it well.
- Yes, of course there are good stories out there. I talked to
a sawmiller a moment ago. He said that he chose to stay in the
industry. Whilst he thought that there would be some more logs
available to him, they are not available. When he was
encouraged to stay in and look beyond the TFA and its destruction, he
stayed in there. He is making a go of it, but it is not as he
thought it would be. I am sure different people would have
- No doubt a lot of competitors have gone out of the industry, and it
must be good for some.
- That is right.
note this Government's initiatives over trade with China, and they
are to be applauded. However, let us not neglect other trading
partners, particularly in India. In respect of the Government,
I appreciated very much to be part of its effort with the Chinese
delegations that came with the Chinese President and the function we
were able to share in at the Grand Chancellor, and to watch the
networking that took place there linking up the two governments.
The Government did this very well, to link up people in Tasmania who
wanted to explore opportunities with the Chinese business people who
wanted to come and see what was in it for them. It was
stupendous. It was thoroughly enjoyable to witness that taking
place, and very well done by the Government.
of trade, I would like to hear more from the Government on the
secretive Pacific Economic Cooperation Agreement process and how that
will benefit Tasmania, if at all. At the risk of overplaying
the Premier, one more quote:
Government will be engaged in a more outward looking approach to
international engagement and an active participation in trade
missions as an essential investment in our state's future prosperity.
could not have put that better myself, and I appreciate those
future depends on how we and our products are perceived by the rest
of the world and the eyes of the world are indeed upon us. They
can watch us on Google Earth as we manage our environment and forest
industry. They can see the result of development in wilderness
areas and they can watch this debate in parliament in real time.
Let us be conscious of that.
after survey shows the concern of Tasmanians over health. The
Premier rightly points out 'we are less healthy and more exposed to
chronic disease than most other Australian populations'. He
says: 'We are developing a strategic plan for preventive health
in Tasmania with a bold and ambitious vision.' I applaud that
sentiment but note that Australian, federal and state governments
have not even started to come to grips with preventive health.
It is a complex problem which includes everything from local
government planning to recreational areas, to legislation to
encourage healthy eating, to much stronger and better resourced GP
and dental systems. What we need in the preventive health area
is an intensive program of public and expert consultation.
People are becoming more aware of the problem and to some extent are
more aware of the need to manage their own health and wellbeing, but
they need the coordinated help from government at all levels, and
from health professionals.
I do not know if anyone else has seen it but the producer, director
and actor, Damon Gameau, came to Launceston Saturday before last to
present his film to the community. Dr Gary Fettke invited me
along to host a Q&A session after the film. He put it on
Facebook and there was a full house straightaway - 260 - and not
because I was conducting the Q&A session. When Dr Gary
Fettke presents to the public, people flock to hear what he has to
say because of concern for their own health, for the health of their
family, and for the health of their children. I encourage you
to watch That
It is very humourous, but it sends some super messages about what I
was talking about before. Gary Fettke, on his No Fructose
- That was a special interest matter you raised.
- That is right. He raises concern and our community's concern,
as you have heard from the member for Launceston, about diabetes and
obesity in our community. Those issues are wrapped up in That
this needs extensive input. I look forward to the Government's
white paper and hope it deals adequately with preventive health, not
just another of the seemingly continuous and sometimes circular
reorganisation of our health system. I would also be interested
to hear about the concerns about diabetes. I hope they
translate very strongly over to the white paper. I know that
the minister is being apprised of this situation by that
endocrinologist who was mentioned earlier, and I am sure that if
anyone is going to give a due concern it will be our Minister for
taking issues in the Premier's order, we come next to Education.
With Health, it is undoubtedly a top concern to Tasmanians, as it
should be. We are told the vision is to be above the national
average in every NAPLAN measure. Yet we see teacher numbers
being cut. This Government's initiative to improve rates is on
the right track and we now await tangible results. Will they be
forthcoming? Let us hope so. It is a no-brainer that a
better educated population leads to better community engagement,
health and family life and improved economic productivity, and
Tasmania has a lot of room for improvement. From a retention
rate of only 47 per cent, are we going to do better than the
national target of 90 per cent? We have a long way to go.
You do not get closer to that aim by cutting teacher numbers and
increasing class sizes.
is getting down to the basics of government income. We cannot
ignore possible changes to the GST. I cannot but strongly
endorse the Premier's promise not to agree with anything which would
see Tasmania's share of GST reduced.
I agree with the Government's aims, I endorse what the Premier has
been saying about the Aboriginal community. I look forward to
positive results endorsed by that community. To sum up the
Premier's Address about heading in the right direction, I can only
say that I sincerely hope it is and will continue to do so.
my electorate of Rosevears local government issues dominate.
The West Tamar Council covers most of the territory while not
ignoring the importance of the Launceston City Council area for my
electorate. I have 15 000 voters in the West Tamar area
and 9 000 voters in the Launceston area. The
Auditor-General's report card on local government puts the West Tamar
Council among the top three performing councils in Tasmania.
The report reflects strong management, the high standard of elected
members and the responsible financial management by the General
Manager, Ian Pearce, to ensure the strong ongoing improvement of
services to the municipality.
West Tamar Council continues to improve its community facilities and
in February completed the $3 million sports pavilion at the
Windsor community precinct. That pavilion, which offers modern
facilities for the various sports user groups as well as a function
centre, was fully funded from council reserves. This month the
10metre space climbing net and slide was completed at Tailrace Park
to add to the already comprehensive recreational facilities at the
park. This equipment is the largest of its kind in Tasmania and
is designed to build confidence in children of eight years to
adulthood. There is a small climbing net alongside the large
net designed for children up to three years of age. I will not
be trying it anytime soon; I will go and watch. The equipment's
$250 000 cost was again fully funded from council reserves.
31 March the new extension to the Beaconsfield Museum and Heritage
Centre will be formally opened. The opening of the mine yard
will add yet another attraction to the hugely popular museum.
The museum last year attracted nearly 40 000 visitors to
Beaconsfield and has won both Tasmanian and national tourism awards.
A funny story: I had some friends from Sydney visiting -
Mum, Dad and four kids - and they were driving up the street heading
toward the mining centre and the eldest girl said, 'Dad, I wonder if
we are going to see Todd Russell and Brant Webb', and Dad said, 'Oh,
that would be Todd Russell over there!'. It was a bloke walking
his dog and it was Todd Russell. Quite a coincidence.
council's focus for the next 10 years will be the development of the
Legana and Exeter strategic plans. Both of those plans involved
extensive community consultation and have been adopted by council.
Legana, the fastest growing region in Tasmania last year, will see
the population go from the present 3 500 residents to more than
13 000 in the next 10 years. In Exeter the council will
redevelop the community facilities that will see the incorporation of
most of the widely spread existing facilities into one centralised
area of Exeter. Work on the redevelopment is expected to start
in the next three to five years. In my special interest matter
tomorrow I will talk about the Exeter improvement committee, which
has been working for a few years now, together with other improvement
committees in the municipality. They are doing a great job.
Exeter is looking a million dollars at this stage, and there is more
is a summary of the very successful local government program in my
electorate, Madam Deputy President. It reflects the optimism
that I hold about Tasmania's future, and that I share with the