Thursday 24 May 2018
Hansard of the Legislative Council
MR FINCH (Rosevears) - Mr President, I first congratulate the new member for Prosser on her campaign. I imagine it is the fulfilment of a journey for you to be a member of parliament and to serve your community and Tasmania. Congratulations on being dogged and persistent in wanting to be here and having your dreams fulfilled. This is the place to be. As you can tell, it is very welcoming. It is an opportunity to make that contribution to Tasmanian society which I think you will grasp with both hands, so I wish you well with your career.
To you, 'Mr Hobart', congratulations, Rob. For me, as I told you, it was never in doubt because I think of the calibre of the person you are, as has been witnessed through -
Mr Valentine - Would you like to outline that?
Mr FINCH - What did you write here? As you have exhibited through your life the type of person you are and being lord mayor of Hobart for 12-and-a-half years, it does not happen by accident. It does not happen by political manipulation. It happens because of the quality of the person you are and we are very lucky to have you here in this House. Over the past six years you have given us that wisdom, observation, research and checking and the desire to do the right thing. We have enjoyed that.
I have appreciated your contributions. It is interesting that we are pretty much on the same wavelength while still being in silos. He never phones me; he never writes; he never calls - 'What is your opinion?' Why does that not happen?
Mr Valentine - What are you doing for lunch?
Mr FINCH - Do you have something to talk to me about? What you were saying yesterday was quite right. Certainly for you and me, we do not communicate on an issues level; it is purely as friends. I appreciate the fact that your community has decided to send you back for another six years and you do not get that unless you have done the job. You certainly had competition that could have offered people the opportunity to vote differently and to say, 'What a load of rubbish - out with that, let's try somebody new'. They did not do that; they sent you back for another six years, so congratulations, Rob - well done.
Mr Valentine - Thank you very much; I appreciate it.
Mr FINCH - To the Leader, on your appointment, well done - onward and upward. It has been a terrific journey in this place, to have been given the opportunity because of a tragedy. However, you have grasped it with both hands and you are serving us well and looking to be the sort of leader who can get the results for what the Legislative Council is here to do. I wish you well with that. Best of luck.
Blessed we are with the skills we have here. To you, our new Chair of Committees, congratulations. My understanding is you will bring to the job what is needed in that position. I look forward to supporting you in that role. We have had the member for Western Tiers holding down the fort and doing a terrific job. I think you will be a really good successor to him in that role.
The Governor's speech was very strong on rosy promises. I approve of many of them. The promise to continue investment in flagship industries such as tourism, agriculture, fisheries and resources is a no-brainer. It would be a dire situation if that investment did not continue.
On tourism, it is worth noting the latest international visitor survey results for Australia. Tasmania's growth in international visitor numbers stands at 31 per cent, quite fantastic. We can salute MONA in a lot of ways for that international visitation and putting us on the map overseas. The other opportunities here - Cradle Mountain, Port Arthur and where we are in the mind's eye of people overseas as to what they might experience in Tasmania - are what brings them here. Most other states of Australia show increases of only 10 per cent. If you look at Queensland, which is a magnet for Tasmanians to visit during the winter, it had an increase in international visitation of only 4 per cent. We are doing well. Tourism in Tasmania is in a particularly healthy state.
The Government and tourism industry must be careful not do to anything that might jeopardise Tasmania's international image. A few days ago we saw reports of leaked government documents suggesting the World Heritage Management Plan was being manipulated to allow tourism developments ahead of wilderness values. The minutes from 2015 meetings refer to proposed luxury accommodation on Halls Island at Lake Malbena in the Walls of Jerusalem National Park , with customers arriving by seaplane or helicopter. It would seem the Government has changed the World Heritage Management Plan to allow the development. I stress: the eyes of would-be international visitors are firmly on Tasmania.
I say again, Mr President: the Government and the tourism industry must be careful not do to anything which might jeopardise Tasmania's international image. We must be careful not to kill the goose that lays the golden tourism egg. I am only expressing a word of caution. As you know, I am a great supporter of the tourism industry, and have been for decades. I also genuflect toward what we have here that is driving people to come to visit us. It is that balance.
I signal to this present Government, to all governments of Tasmania, to all people involved: we have to be careful how we handle those changes to what we do and the developments we offer. It is important in these sorts of constructs that we take people with us. We have to listen to what people say about the opportunities that might be proposed. I hark immediately to this protest action against the development on kunanyi/Mount Wellington. It is the people's right to protest, to have their opinions heard. If you ask me now where I stand as a member, I grew up on Mount Wellington. I know it; I know kunanyi.
Ms Forrest - We have heard the stories, don't you worry about that.
Mr FINCH - You are saying, 'Send a copy of my previous speeches to you'?
I know the mountain intrinsically and I am also a supporter of tourism. If we go down the path that I need to make a decision, it is going to be a very interesting debate for me. Part of my thinking will be, 'Okay, do people want this to occur? Will people be damaged by this in future? Will they accept this will be a good development if it goes ahead?' People have to be listened to. You have to listen to what Tasmanians are saying about these ideas. If the end result is not going to move us forward as a population, if there is not going to be agreement - and you cannot always agree with everything - we need to be careful about that decision we make.
Sitting suspended from 1 p.m. to 2.30 p.m.
Resumed from above.
Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Mr President, before the break, I was talking about tourism, and about killing the goose that lays the golden tourism egg. One of the pleasing aspects of what the Government has done, and continues to do, is to have the Premier as the Minister for Tourism. Recently we had the Tourism Industry Council Tasmania conference in Launceston - perhaps it was held there because of its central location. In talking to the delegates, I noted how their confidence and sense of worth and pride in their industry is boosted by knowing that the Premier is the Minister for Tourism and that their industry is given that importance within Cabinet because he holds that portfolio. In his new Cabinet, the Premier reappointed himself to that position, and some would say, 'Why wouldn't you, because it is very much a positive element of what the Government does.' Apart from that, just the fact the Premier is there as their representative in Cabinet is very important to the tourism industry, and they appreciate that.
They are also appreciative of the way in which the Tourism Industry Council Tasmania conducted the conference, with wonderful speakers over a couple of days. There is a lot of training. The delegates can come together and it is very important for the industry to have that focus for what it is doing and achieving - not so much dealing with the past but looking forward. There was a lot of positivity in that gathering and a great opportunity for networking within the industry as well. That strengthens their sense of being in this together.
It is a big industry. Although they work in little silos in whatever aspect of tourism they are working in, here they can come together and see that they are part of a bigger picture that benefits not only them but their state and the industry generally. I salute the Tourism Industry Council Tasmania. I have put the report of its recent survey on the Notice Paper. I intend to call that on 12 June 2018 when we resume to have that debate about tourism and the figures that came out in that survey result. I think everybody has a copy of that report and I know that the new Chair of Committees would have read it twice.
Ms Forrest - I don't recall getting a copy.
Mr FINCH - If it is not there yet, it is coming. I refer to something that occurred over lunch. We went to the latest report of the Auditor-General. Members of the upper House were there, seven of us in attendance, and I am sure those who were there will correct me if I stray from the facts of the matter. I, as do other honourable members, salute the work of the Auditor-General's Office, and what it represents in our system of processes that keep the departments and agencies up to par and its help in scrutinising departments on behalf of the Tasmanian taxpayer. This one today was of concern.
It was a follow-up on the security of information and communications technology infrastructure, and they chose four departments to refer back to. The objective of the audit was to form conclusions on the extent to which recommendations made in those four reports had been implemented, and the appropriateness of the rationale or evidence to support non-implementation. Interestingly they have come up with a new method of highlighting those aspects of their recommendations. Although it is a small frame I am showing you, it is colour-coded: green represents full implementation of the recommendations; blue represents partial implementation, 75 per cent or greater; orange represents partially implemented, below 75 per cent; and red, not implemented.
A couple of areas were not implemented so they are in the red colour zone - DPIPWE and the Department of Health and Human Services. That is of crucial concern to some honourable members. You are dealing with medical records and all sorts of private information.
Ms Forrest - Not only that, they had not adopted any of the recommendations in full, and none even partially. They were all less than 75 per cent, or not implemented at all.
Mr Valentine - They did it partially.
Ms Forrest - Some were less than 75 per cent. There was real concern about cyber security.
Mr FINCH - That is tomorrow's headline. The Auditor-General's conclusion is that ICT security is a critical risk, the impacts of which have been played out regularly in the media. He also said that they expected state entities to place a high priority on addressing this risk and leading the way in the implementation of risk mitigation strategies.
This is of great concern. The Auditor-General's work is carried out independently. It behoves the departments given these recommendations to take them seriously. It is in support of the work they are doing. It is an independent assessment. When you are in the system, you become used to what is happening and say, 'We are getting by, that is okay', but when somebody comes in and says, 'It is not okay, you are not doing what you are supposed to', you have to take that very seriously.
Ms Forrest - The other concerning thing about this was the original report was done back in 2015. When the Auditor-General undertook the audit, he did not publish it straightaway because it would have exposed those departments to significant risk of cyber attack. He delayed it until they were able to fix some of the problems they had. It increases the level of concern to have these recommendations and have one department in particular not to have implemented any of them.
Mr FINCH - Here we are three years later and they are in the red. In anybody's terms it is not good. It is a negative, but I will highlight how positively we regard the work of the Auditor-General's Office and how well it completes and presents its reports to us.
Mr Dean - It would be interesting to know if there were any breaches within DHHS in the meantime, in this period from 2015 until now.
Mr FINCH - Yes. That might be a question to come from the media to the Auditor-General.
Turning to training: the promise to address Tasmania's shortage of skilled labour by ensuring young people have the opportunity to undertake apprenticeships or traineeships is most welcome. Those of us who are a bit long in the tooth hark back to those times when apprenticeships were a focus and part of what the future might represent for young people coming through the education system. To a certain extent it is paid lip service, but it does not have the fulsome approach it had when we were younger.
I look forward to seeing further details on these proposed centres of excellence that are going to occur in agriculture, the trades, water and hospitality. I am not sure if trades and water are combined. That is the way it was written.
Mr Willie - Trades and water are together.
Mr FINCH - You only had to see the tents on the parliamentary lawn a few weeks ago to realise Tasmania has a housing crisis. The Government's plans go some way to address this, but not far enough.
I talked to a group this morning that is allowing a homeless man to sleep in a toilet block in their building because he has nowhere to go. The system is not caring for him. The person allowing him to do that is knocking down doors trying to find some support for this person and it is not forthcoming. This person sleeps on cold concrete outside their building and due to the extreme weather we had on Monday night, they allowed him to sleep in their toilet block. It would be the most comfortable shelter he has had in many a long day, except when he was in prison. That is another story. The point is, that to me is -
Ms Forrest - It is a sad indictment on our restorative justice system if that is where he ends up when he comes out.
Mr FINCH - Who picks these people up? The system will tell us, 'You go to this, you go to that'. This bloke has been duckshoved . The person who is advocating for him is being duckshoved. As it is, with all her efforts he is no further down the track. He is sleeping in the toilet because the system will not care for him.
Mr Dean - There are some people you cannot help at all.
Mr FINCH - I realise that.
Mr Dean - There are those who want to be homeless and the police can tell you that. They do not want the system. They do not want help. That is their life.
Mr FINCH - I understand that. I realise I am touching on an individual case and I am suggesting the system is failing when they have probably tried. The person who is advocating is befuddled about the system not taking care of this chap because it does not have anything in place to take on this chap and his concerns.
I know this myself from advocating for a person in respect of Housing Tasmania. I have dealt with it at budget Estimates and found the system wanting. He is getting better support, but it took quite a journey to get there.
Mr Dean - You have a number in Launceston doing everything; you see them around, but they sleep out.
Mr FINCH - The particular case I am talking about is with Housing Tasmania, and being dealt with appropriately. Anglicare's recent report on rental affordability is probably a dismal snapshot of our sorry situation. A summary of Anglicare's report noted that in keeping with the trend findings across recent years, the 2018 snapshot highlights both decreasing affordability, and an overall contraction in the private rental market. The lack of affordable rental options is particularly stark in the southern region of the state where it was found that half, of the 14 low income household types examined were no longer affordable rental options amongst all properties advertised in the south of the state on the weekend of the 24th and 25th of March this year. The situation, as depicted in the snapshot reflects what Anglicare's observes in its housing and other services throughout the state.
The summary went on to say that too many Tasmanian families are now entirely excluded from the security of an affordable home. The impact, that not just felt at a personal level, but will increasingly become a barrier to our state achieving positive outcomes in the range of other areas such as health, employment, education and justice.
That was the point the member for Elwick was making earlier: the foundation must be there to help the other situations build on that and the last sentence points out the negative effect of the shortage of affordable homes on the health, the employment, the education and the justice. It is highly significant, Mr President. Education and health services are also listed as a priority. On education I quote our Tasmanian economist, Saul Eslake, in a report entitled Saul Eslake's vision for Tasmania in 2050, where he points out that we are on the bottom rung of the ladder of Australian states and territories ranked by economic performance. This seems in stark contrast with the glowing impression of Tasmania's situation in the Governors speech. In the last financial year Mr Eslake says Tasmanian household disposable income averaged just over $41 000 a person. Almost $7000 or 14% below the national average. Tasmanians are the poorest people in the nation, because of our longstanding poor economic performance. Gross state product is 22% below the national average, and the lowest of any state or territory.
Just to counter any tendency for despair from those figures, quoting another two paragraphs from Saul Eslake's 'vision', it doesn't have to be like that -
We can make choices, today, that will enable a higher proportion of our population, of any age, to find employment. We can make choices which will ultimately lead to a higher proportion of the jobs which we do have, being full, rather than part‑time. And we can make choices which will eventually enable those Tasmanians who do have jobs to produce more value for each hour that they work … and thus earn higher wages and salaries. A lot of those choices are about how much education we want our young people to have, and how we provide it to them, or about how we make up for the inadequate education we've provided to Tasmanians who aren't so young anymore.
Like many others, Mr President -
Ms Forrest - I would add one more thing he has not mentioned - that would be facilitating the return of women to the workforce. That is well documented. If it can increase women's participation, it will improve as well.
Mr FINCH - I have not finished what I was saying, but I will leave that now.
Saul Eslake sees education as the key to Tasmania's economic future. It is apparent that the Government agrees, and the Governor said in her speech -
There will be more support for the early years, which are so critical to a child's development, and greater mental health support in our schools.
For the first time, we will progressively remove school principals from staffing formulas, enabling principals to focus more on school leadership, with extra teachers in the classroom to allow this to happen, starting in schools with the greatest need.
New schools will be built, and other schools significantly redeveloped, in key regions of growth and demand.
My Government will also continue its plan to extend all high schools to Year 12, ending once and for all the notion that school ends at Year 10, and giving students and families choice and the best chance to get ahead in life ...
Mr President, let us hope that is a core promise.
I note also the promise on health services, particularly increasing funding for frontline services, but any mention of the key to Tasmania's health problems - preventive health to keep people out of frontline services - is conspicuously absent.
This Government demonstrates a strong awareness of Tasmania's history as a penal colony. Instead of trying to reduce our prison population, it is intent on making the provision to increase it despite a falling crime rate. There are good arguments for a northern prison - not a problem: to enable closer contact between northern prisoners and families, and of course that gives us a greater rehabilitation factor. I have no argument with that whatsoever. I do have an argument with this conservative Government seemingly obsessed with law and order. This was demonstrated in the last parliament with the failed attempts to bypass our judiciary and pursue mandatory sentencing. I just hope that has gone away. We are getting signals that it is going to come back. I think it will get the same treatment as it got last time.
Mr Dean - There's nothing wrong with making the state safer, is there?
Mr Willie - It might not even get here yet.
Mr FINCH - No, that is why I will not indulge in an argument with the member for Windermere because I am hoping you are right - it will not get here. The message has come from us loud and clear. To trot it out again, to bash up the Legislative Council again, or the 'Labor bloc' again is going to be demeaning for our House - fruitless. Please get the message: we moderates and progressives are saying, 'Leave it out of here; we have had the debate, we don't like it'. Eight of us do not like it.
Conservative governments often use law and order. They use the scares to gain votes but I believe that does not work these days.
Building more prison capacity is all well and good. Of course we need to confine dangerous people away from our communities, but we need to realise that people who do not really need to be confined are just being put into a training facility for further criminality. There are plenty of other penalties that can be applied and it is time we realised that rehabilitation back into communities is by far the cheaper and more productive alternative. I have no problem with stronger bail laws or with criminal declaration laws to ensure that dangerous criminals are not released if they are considered too dangerous to re-enter society. This system is working in other countries, but obviously this system must be administered fairly with adequate safeguards.
I return to my earlier argument. The prison system must be designed to confine only those who are a danger to society. Other law-breakers can be penalised in other ways and the stress must be on bringing them back as productive members of society. That is more just and it is a lot cheaper. I do not see how releasing prisoners by remission is an outdated practice. Given that the emphasis of our justice system should be focused on rehabilitation, as I suggest, and bringing those who have broken the law back into the community as responsible citizens, it seems to me this Government is confused over punishment, deterrents and rehabilitation, let alone creating a situation where crime is prevented in the first place. It could also be argued that the 4000 prison building jobs the Government is promising could be perhaps be better spent on building or improving schools.
As we are a small state with a small population, most of our community has a good relationship with police officers. We know them, we are related to them and we live alongside them. The Government should be doing more to enhance that connection. We have the opportunity to be a low crime state. That is where the emphasis should be with government justice policies. It would enhance Tasmania's international image, too. We are a former penal colony, but let us forget it.
I am probably blessed with my area of the West Tamar. We have been able to develop with the number of police officers we have - seven - a zone and we are really pleased with the way vandalism, theft and criminality is countered. We have a close community; it is similar to Neighbourhood Watch. It is working in our community and we are protective of our community. It is working and we have a very low crime rate. When anything occurs, it is pretty much solved straightaway.
Moving to energy and climate, most recent polls ask voters about their main concerns and they put jobs, health and education at the top of the list. Climate change concerns used to be up there but many people have given up because they see little government action or coordination. However, there is one highly significant paragraph in the Governor's speech -
Over the next four years, my Government has targets and plans to:
ensure zero net emissions, make Tasmania 100 per cent energy self-sufficient and break links with the National Electricity Market to ensure Tasmania has the lowest regulated electricity prices in the country.
Tasmania is way ahead with hydro‑electricity, wind and solar farms progressing, and the increasing profusion of solar panels on our home roofs. Fantastic. I put 40 panels on my house, on the one roof. An island with zero net emissions is another plus in how the world and international visitors will view us.
I believe we are doing well in a world beset by climate change. However, Tasmania seems to be increasingly affected by extreme weather events. There is not much we can do about these except to manage them as best we can. We seem to be able to handle that. I salute the SES, police and emergency services people who respond when we have these dramatic events in our community. They do a fantastic job. A lot of them are volunteers and we appreciate their work.
Given our progress in non-carbon emitting energy, we need to plan to use it more wisely. Perhaps there should be government support for electric vehicles, especially because a lot of us would have vague memories of the trolley buses and electric trams we used to have. Members may remember the bus going down to Sandy Bay, always in Macquarie Street, on the corner as they pulled out of their bus stop. The driver would have to step out and reconnect the things for the powerlines.
Mr Willie - If you ever want to see one again, there are some in the Glenorchy Transport Museum.
Mr FINCH - I saw those when we had an electric tour some time ago. Did you take us there?
Mr Willie - That might have been the previous member for Elwick.
Mr Valentine - There is one buried at Creek Road as well.
Mr FINCH - Yes, I think you are right. I suggest government support to steer visitors into electric or hybrid hire vehicles; there is another point. That would enhance our international image.
I come to gun laws. They need to be under constant revision as the situation changes, but not without full consultation and public discussion. That is why the member for Windermere has his inquiry underway and that can only be a good thing. No government would float ill-considered changes to gun laws on the eve of an election when the Port Arthur massacre is still a haunting memory for a lot of people. If there are to be changes, let them be carefully considered. At least have informed knowledge about firearms. Was the Government talking about Rimfire Semiautomatics or the type of centrefire rifles used by Martin Bryant? There is a vast difference. The Port Arthur massacre was horrific and traumatising. Any talk of gun law changes has to take that into account. It still resonates with the Tasmanian population.
The Governor's speech mentions a growing problem with traffic congestion in Tasmanian. It is a real and growing problem in Hobart at certain times of the day, but it is also a problem in my electorate at Rosevears. You think we live the good life up there but we know traffic congestion. I have 9000 voters in the Launceston City Council area but the rest are in the West Tamar . The council is concerned about congestion on the West Tamar Highway between Legana and Launceston city. At one point, going home in the evening, a car passes by a house each second. That is a lot of traffic heading home.
The West Tamar Council wants to study and seek solutions. Those could range from major road improvements, more public transport or even a second bridge across the Tamar, which has been mentioned by the Government. The first step, the West Tamar Council suggests, is a comprehensive study seeking solutions to the current and forecast congestion problems on the West Tamar Highway between Legana and Launceston city. The estimated cost of that study would be about $250 000. I do not want to say it is small beer, but it is money that will be invested wisely in giving us an understanding of the traffic problems we have now and how we can ameliorate those in the future. That is what we have to think about.
What is going to happen? We keep attracting people to west Tamar. They are coming there to live and energise and to enjoy a great lifestyle. More and more are moving to the west Tamar, particularly people from interstate. It means more traffic on the roads. Legana has a population of about 2500 now and that is projected to reach 10 000 in the near future. The council is doing a lot to develop that area.
A lot of the West Tamar Council's wish list comes in under $500 000 dollars. They include stage 1 of a recreation corridor from Launceston city to Legana. Connectivity already exists between the city and Tailrace Park, and between the Windsor Community Precinct and Tamar Highway. That ability to walk, run and cycle separated from the West Tamar Highway will bring enormous community benefit. Many years ago, I talked about having that opportunity to start walking in Launceston and make your way, unimpeded by traffic on the West Tamar Highway, to Bass Strait, up to Greens Beach through the bush. There are opportunities to do that, and while it sounds a bit pie in the sky, it would be a fantastic situation to have this walk for people to enjoy their recreation.
The council also wants a roundabout built at the intersection of the West Tamar Highway and at Glen Ard Mohr Road at Exeter. That intersection is heavily used by students, parents and staff of the Exeter primary and high schools. So it is very busy at school times, coming and going.
Mr Armstrong - And Nigel's Butchery.
Mr FINCH - Nigel's Butchery is up the road, with people pulling in to get those beautiful sausages.
Their priorities include a problem with land stability on a section of the West Tamar Highway between Rosevears Drive and McEwan's Road at Legana. The final project on the council's under-$500,000 wish list is the extension of the Glen Ard Mohr Road in Exeter to create a link to Gravelly Beach Road. Rather than going out of Exeter, going down Blackwall and then doubling back into Gravelly Beach, the road would go past the school to Gravelly Beach. It is nothing, about a kilometre. For people at Gravelly Beach, shopping and egress and ingress from school would be made much easier. This is no-brainer, but of course it has to be funded and provided for.
But there are another two more expensive projects. The duplication of the West Tamar Highway near Legana and the upgrade of the highway through Lanena, which the council says is substandard and dangerous for pedestrians. In previous speeches I have banged on about this particular location often enough. It is very narrow and I am surprised more rear‑vision mirrors are not knocked off by passing buses and trucks. Young families in the area are pushing their prams along a gravel sidewalk about a metre from fast-moving trucks, including log trucks. A bizarre situation.
Over on the other side, there is a ditch as deep as the table here, on the side of the road with no walkway in between. If you slip off the side of the road, down you go into a big ditch. I hope this is on the radar and will be progressed. That is at Lanena, just before Exeter.
To GST funding: it has been suggested that government employees in Tasmania are paid less than in any other state or territory. It has been reported over six years that the total cost to Tasmania in lost GST because of lower public sector wages is $816 million. It has also been suggested the Tasmanian Government's 2 per cent wages cap delivers no benefit to the budget, but invokes a substantial hit, not only to workers' incomes, but also to the economy as a whole.
On jobs: it seems the situation is not as rosy as the Government's speech suggests. Tasmania is shedding jobs overall, but full-time jobs in relation to part-time ones are increasing. Tasmania lost 300 jobs in March and April. Job figures are a nonsense to many people, because you only have to work a few hours a week to be classed as employed. But encouragingly, full-time jobs seem to be on the increase - however, if you look at youth unemployment, particularly in the north-west, you become despondent again.
Mrs HISCUTT - In Burnie, the figures used to be around 20 per cent youth unemployment, but have dropped to 11. Though they are still high, they are certainly are not as high as they used to be.
Mr FINCH - Some aspect of the Tasmanian economy give us hope. Money may not be everything, but let us not forget Tasmanians are the poorest people in the nation, with a gross state product 22 per cent below the national average and household disposable income 14 per cent below the national average.
Unless we stuff it up, we Tasmanians have a beautiful natural environment. Our environment and our small population allow us the best natural recreational opportunities in the country. Money may not be everything, and we may not need as much as those who live in the big mainland cities, but we need to create jobs for our young people, low-cost housing, a better health system and eliminate poverty in Tasmania. Above all the strongest message from what I have said is that we need to give our young people the best education possible in Australia.
I have enjoyed debates with the minister, Mr Rockliff. I look forward to those debates and opportunities for us to offer advice and bring our communities' feelings to the minister, his advisors and the Government so we can help with some guidance.
I would like to salute the Gravelly Beach Foreshore Committee in my area. Barry Blenkhorn has a committee called the Gravelly Beach Foreshore Reclamation and Beautification Committee. Reclamation is another word thrown in, making this an elaborate description, but they have and are looking to improve even more of the Gravelly Beach foreshore. They want to open the area up and make it more accessible to the public; it is a lovely recreation spot for the Tasmanian community.
The improvement committees in my area sponsored by the West Tamar Council are at Beauty Point, Exeter and Beaconsfield. There are others - the council is very proactive in supporting the beautification of our electorate. Beauty Point received a cruise ship visit recently, and this was a great experience for the community and gave it focus. I went to a meeting in preparation for the cruise ship and at least 50 people turned up to lend their weight. I offered my support for the visit, but they said, 'We will call you', so I appreciate the community not calling on me to bring my tremendous amount of influence to what was happening It turned out to be a huge success.
Speaking about Exeter, the services club there is being refurbished. This used to be the RSL club but is now the community centre, which is being refurbished. Federal government money was coming into the community to refurbish it. It is shut down until November, but it will be a fantastic community facility when reopened.
I have an important message for members to hear. Once I have your attention, I will proceed with my advice -
Mrs Hiscutt - I never stopped listening.
Mr FINCH - It is okay, because before the election promises were made to community groups - offers of money to those community groups if the Government were re-elected. I hope those promises are not complicated or truncated and are fulfilled by the Government. If they are not, the Government will suffer harshly in people's estimation of its honesty with those promises. I know in my area money was offered, but now there is some doubt about the size of the offer. There was an offer here, one there, and they have to be brought together, so it will perhaps only be the one offer, which will be a little bit lower than we were expecting. If those promises do not come to fruition for the communities, it will be a black mark against the Government. I tell the Government: you made the promises in good faith, the community expects them to be honoured - please honour them.
Mr Willie - Anecdotally, in my electorate a lot of promises were made to different organisations so I will be watching that closely too.
Mr FINCH - It is important for the parliamentary system and for the Government. If they go to the election with promises and offers of money, those promises and offers should be honoured.
There is one thing that the members for Windermere and for Launceston will be interested in. Our offices are close to the changes taking place in Civic Square in Launceston. LINC is very closely connected to that area and it has been clearly indicated to LINC Tasmania that incorporation of the word 'library' in the name is going to be important and will make it far clearer for all people, locals and visitors alike. It will be consistent with all institutions around the world. When they come to Tasmania and are looking for a library, people scratch their heads - 'You have to go to the LINC.' LINC does not mean anything to visitors. The refurbishment in Launceston follows redevelopment at the LINC in 2015. Since reopening the library, its visits have increased, different to the general trend across Tasmania and globally. Within the building, the staff have observed changed behaviour. People have moved from just borrowing or just researching to using other activities that are available and, of course, it is a prime place for social meeting.
Mr Dean - And for a cup of coffee.
Mr FINCH - Anecdotally, people are taking the opportunity to go to the cafe there, but also accessing the services and attending the programs and holiday events that occur there. This is traditionally a cohort that is most difficult to attract into a library, but in Launceston they are able to do it.
Mr Dean - I think the opening of Civic Square and the change to that will probably bring more people there as well.
Mr Valentine - They can meet their local members not far from there, too.
Mr FINCH - We appreciate visits but on a rostered basis.
Mr Dean - In fact we will be closer because we will be downstairs soon.
Mr FINCH - There are coffee spaces and meeting rooms which previously had little or no interaction. Room hire revenue at the library has tripled. I look forward to the change of name. We have had the refurbishment so away we go. Things look bright on that front.
Thank you, honourable members, for your attention.