In Their Own Words...Liberals | Labor | Greens | Premier Will Hodgman | Labor Leader Bryan Green | Greens Leader Cassy O'Connor
Peter Gutwein MP, Shadow Treasurer
03.10.09 2:03 pm
The Premier must today provide a guarantee the people of Flinders Island will have a shipping service that meets the needs of its businesses and residents.
The State Government provides around $250,000 in taxpayer funding to underpin a freight shipping service for Flinders Island however, yesterday’s standoff between Tasports and the operator demonstrates just how fragile this relationship has become.
The security, and adequacy, of shipping services to the island is one of its biggest concerns and addressing this issue is critical to this regional community achieving its potential.
The government is well aware of these concerns. Today the Premier is visiting the island and he needs to step in and do what his hapless Minister Graeme Sturges wouldn’t yesterday - and that is to provide a gaurantee that the Island will not be cut off should the dispute between the operator and Tasports escalate further.
The Premier shouls also provide the people of Flinders Island with an explanation as to whether his government is “ecstatic” about the state of shipping services to the island.
The shipping operator made this claim on ABC radio yesterday.
To say it has left Flinders Island residents scratching their heads would be an understatement.
Will Hodgman MP Leader of the State Opposition
03.10.09 2:00 pm
The Leader of the State Opposition, Will Hodgman, has congratulated the organisers of the Health and Wellbeing Expo, being held in Ulverstone today.
It is well known that there is a need for a greater emphasis on preventative health in Tasmania, with many of the health problems that Tasmanians suffer from being preventable.
We need to have clever solutions and plans to help the community become healthier. We need to educate people about the lifestyle choices they make, but more importantly, we need to provide support and assistance to people who want to make a healthy change.
This expo is a tremendous opportunity for people to share positive ideas about preventative health measures that at the end of the day will reduce the strain on the State’s health system and I am privileged to be attending it.
Involving the community in such a positive, forward-thinking event is the sort of initiative that I strongly support. I will be attendintg the expo later today.
The Tasmanian Liberals have been pushing for preventative care to be a key plank in Tasmania’s health strategy and one of our long standing policies is to create a Health Promotion Foundation and tasking it with implementing preventative health strategies throughout Tasmania.
Will Hodgman MP Leader of the State Opposition
03.10.09 1:46 pm
· Why won’t the Premier commit to extending the rent holiday for pensioners in public housing, as the Liberals have done?
· Is the Premier going to dig further into the pension pay-rise with water and sewerage levies after the election?
· Premier more interested in his own short term political interests than the long-term interests of pensioners
Premier David Bartlett is showing blatant disregard for the plight of some of Tasmania’s most disadvantaged citizens by refusing to rule out using a pension rise to increase Housing Tasmania rents.
I announced this week that a Hodgman Liberal Government would exempt the pension rise from public housing rent calculations for a further two years. A rent holiday, pushed for by the Liberals, expires in September next year.
The Premier, however, refuses to support this initiative or match it.
Last week, Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan said it would be unacceptable for State Premiers to use the pension increase to put up housing Tasmania rents after September next year.
I wholeheartedly agree.
The fact of the matter is that while Mr Bartlett claims Tasmania is in an economic renaissance, out in the real world, people are doing it tough, especially our pensioners.
And they face further erosion of their hard won pension rise next year, when water and sewerage charges are levied to those that live in public and private rental accommodation. The government refuses to explain how these charges will be levied, or how it will ensure that people are charged only for the water they use.
The Labor Government proposes to hit pensioners on these two fronts after the next election.
It just reinforces that Labor is more interested with its own short-term political future, than the long-term interests of struggling Tasmanians, and that its rhetoric about supporting disadvantaged Tasmanians isn’t matched by its actions.
Tony Simmons, Managing Director
03.10.09 12:20 pm
Australian consumers and businesses are being billed for calls they should never have made,services they never ordered at prices they never agreed, results from August and September client analysis have shown.
According to Tony Simmons, Managing Director of The Full Circle Group, “We are still staggered by the level of billing errors being made by Telcos.
It is probably correct to say that if all errors were removed, it would have an impact on Gross Domestic Product (GDP).”
The findings for our clients, based on assessing each call and service against published rates and client contracts have shown errors in almost every single telecommunications bill.
“Not only is it very difficult for clients to identify all of these errors, it is near impossible to gain credits for these over payments. We believe that telecommunications companies need to
be held more accountable for the lack of transparency and accuracy around their billing.
Sadly, clients need to acknowledge that their billing is likely to contain many errors.”
A significant problem with billing is telecommunications systems that are not able to correctly handle charges that are non-standard. It is very easy for errors to creep into bills over time as services are added or changed.
Another key issue is human error. Whilst clients make many errors in respect of its services, Telecommunications companies do not appear to be diligent when making modifications to services, charges or account information.
Simmons says, “There is a myriad of billing problems which can occur. Once they first appear, and are not generally picked up, they will permeate the billing data fro the remainder
of the contract costing a client significant amounts of overcharges. The Telco’s themselves don’t check for accuracy, they just assume it, and therefore wont remove the errors.”
To look further at your telecommunications billing, please visit http://www.fullcirclegroup.com.au.
Bob McMahon, TAP Into A Better Tasmania
02.10.09 2:27 pm
The State Government is coming to Beaconsfield to “hear your ideas and listen to your views” about issues and concerns in the Tamar region.
“Having deliberately excluded the population of the Tamar Valley from all consideration during the corrupted pulp mill approval process this belated attempt by State Labor to engage with the community is a cynical attempt to gain some votes in the forthcoming state election,” stated Bob McMahon, TAP spokesperson.
“The Premier must be seriously deluded if he thinks we have forgotten his “line in the sand” statement of no more Government support for the pulp mill and Treasurer Aird’s trip to Europe at our expense to spruik the mill to potential financiers”.
“We intend to make Team Bartlett’s trip to Beaconsfield a memorable one but not for the reasons they may anticipate”, said McMahon.
“TAP Into A Better Tasmania has organized a real Community Forum outside the Beaconsfield Primary School in opposition to the sham Government one inside. Members of the public are invited to have a say on the soapbox of democracy to the assembled crowd outside and the politicians hiding inside.”
“Not only are people invited to speak for 2 minutes we have also requested that people bring their rage, their drums, bells, whistles, pots and pans because we intend to express our righteous anger and drum this failed government out of office. The gloves are off,” continued McMahon.
“We invite the community to voice their concerns over the biggest single threat to jobs, clean air, health, property values, investments, established businesses and lifestyles in the Tamar as well as to the damage done to our democracy by Labor (and Liberal) politicians who are not interested in protecting the public.”
“State Labor is brazenly working for Gunns and is actively working against the best interests of the people.”
“Our message for the upcoming state election is PUT LABOR LAST. This is a message we will drum throughout the state in the months to come,” concluded McMahon.
The TAP Day of Action kicks off at 11am in Grubb St outside the Beaconsfield Primary School.
02.10.09 2:12 pm
In the lead up to this Sunday’s community forum at Beaconsfield, locals gathered outside the Launceston office of Environment Minister Michelle O’Byrne and handed over 1600 signed letters for delivery to Premier David Bartlett.
Fed up with the shifting sands in which the Premier has drawn his pulp mill line, residents poured sand outside Ms O’Byrne’s office and asked her to choose whether she stands on the drifting sands of shaky ALP promises or on solid ground with her constituents.
“Launceston residents are taking this action because they want the Government to know that if they give their word then Tasmanians expect them to keep it,” said Vica Bayley, spokesperson for the Wilderness Society.
A year ago, Premier Bartlett repeatedly said that the state government would not provide any more support for the mill. But despite this, Treasurer Michael Aird has recently returned from spruiking the pulp mill in Europe on a taxpayer-funded trip and Mr Bartlett has offered unequivocal support for the project to any potential financier who will listen.
“Gunns pulp mill does not have a social licence and its business operations that logs and woodchips native forests, poisons native wildlife and sues vocal opponents are seen as environmentally destructive and socially divisive.”
“Tasmanians do not support the pulp mill proposal, and neither should our government or any international investor”, said Mr Bayley. “Tasmania needs to move on from environmentally destructive activities that create conflict in the community.”
Over 1600 letters signed by people all over Australia were presented to Ms O’Byrne’s office for delivery to the Premier at the upcoming community forum. The letters focus on the need to protect native forests as an urgent step in the global fight against climate change and the special deals the Labor government has done for Gunns. Being heavily dependent on logging native forests, Gunns’ pulp mill would be massive contributor of greenhouse pollution.
“Logging native forests to feed Gunns’ pulp mill would emit carbon pollution equivalent to adding an extra 2.3 million cars on the road each year.”
The Tasmanian community will protest outside the Bartlett Government’s community forum at Beaconsfield Primary School this Sunday with TAP into a Better Tasmania organising an event beginning at 11am.
Kim Booth MP Greens Member for Bass
02.10.09 2:08 pm
Focus On Restoring Shipping Service Not Saving Incompetent Minister
The Tasmanian Greens today called for Premier Bartlett to cut incompetent Minister Sturges adrift and focus on restoring a decent shipping service to the Bass Strait Islands rather than saving his incompetents Minister’s political hide.
Greens Member for Bass Kim Booth MP said that Premier David Bartlett must step in today and guarantee that a decent transport service will be provided to Flinders and King Island communities, no ifs or buts, following TasPorts decision to bar Southern Shipping vessels from their port facilities until outstanding berthing fees are paid.
“The Greens have been raising ongoing and serious concerns about the Southern Shipping contract with the government for over a year, but instead of heeding the warning then, matters have been allowed to deteriorate to crisis point,” Mr Booth said.
“My motion for a parliamentary enquiry into both the level of service and compliance with contract in regard to Flinders Island shipping services was defeated by the government and now 12 months later the inevitable has occurred.”
“Transport Minister Sturges has been dogged by controversy and charges of incompetence in all of his portfolio areas and the termination of Southern Shippings license to use any Tasports port has brought to crisis point the whole matter of shipping access to the Bass Strait islands.”
“As Premier, David Bartlett needs to get out of his thought bubble and guarantee the restoration of a modern world shipping service to the Island Communities.”
“Mr Sturges has just achieved a gold medal in incompetence by the extraordinary feat of having the company that he is shareholder minister for (Tasports) terminate port access for the shipping service, that he as Minister is responsible for the contract that require it to perform in the first place.”
“Premier Bartlett must now do his Minister’s job and explain how his government will fix this sorry mess that his serially incompetent Minister has created.”
Senator Richard Colbeck
02.10.09 1:46 pm
Prince Frederick asked Princess Mary
And Princess Mary asked the dairy maid
Can I have some butter for the
Royal slice of bread?
The dairy maid said Sorry Ma’am
We’ve subsidised it so heavily
Its all been sent Down Under
For Qantas to use instead!
With apologies to The King’s Breakfast, by A.A. Milne
“It was with great disappointment that I discovered this week that Australia’s national carrier is using heavily subsidised butter from Denmark on its domestic flights,” Senator Richard Colbeck said.
“It flies in the face of our national carrier’s own corporate intent that Qantas sees fit to use heavily subsidised dairy products from the EU at a time when our Australian dairy farmers are doing it so tough.
“Qantas should strongly consider the plight of Australia’s dairy farmers, and indeed all other Australian farm sectors, as part of its purchasing policy.
“Dairy farmers are already flying by the seat of their pants thanks to multi-national companies like National Foods. Some support from the Flying Kangaroo would be great.”
Statement from Qantas’s Q-catering website:
Our commitment is to embrace the challenges of large-scale catering to consistently deliver meals of delicious freshness and flavour, made from the finest of ingredients and produce that Australia has to offer.
Peter Gutwein MP Tasmanian Liberal Member for Bass
02.10.09 1:44 pm
Problems with shipping to and from Flinders Island need to be resolved quickly.
Flinders Island cannot afford to lose access to shipping services. It’s economy will suffer and the community will suffer.
This is a problem that the Infrastructure Minister, Graeme Sturges, needs to resolve quickly. Regardless of the other problems that Mr Sturges is currently dealing with, he cannot ignore this issue.
Mr Sturges needs to tell the Flinders Island community what he is doing to fix the current problem that has Tasports not allowing Southern Shipping to berth on the Island.
Flinders Island residents and businesses need an explanation about what has occurred to create the situation that exists and importantly they need to know what the future holds.
This hapless Minister must explain how he is he going to solve this impasse and the immediate problem that exists.
Furthermore does Mr Sturges have a contingency plan in case the shipping services that he is responsible for are disrupted a lengthy period of time? If he does, what is it?
At the end of the day, the Minister has to step up, take charge of the situation and sort out yet another infrastructure mess that has occurred on his watch.
Senator Stephen Parry Chief Opposition Whip in the Senate Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate
02.10.09 1:40 pm
THE community campaign for an alternative crossing of the Cam River has won the support of Tasmanian Liberal Senator Stephen Parry, who has called on state Infrastructure Minister Graeme Sturges to stop dismissing concerns.
Senator Parry and colleagues visited the Cam River Bridge this morning at the end of a two-day West and North-West Tasmanian Liberal Senate Team tour, speaking with passionate local campaigner Victor Chesnik.
Deputy State Liberal Leader Jeremy Rockliff and Burnie Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) president Andrew Barry, both supportive of the Cam bridge campaign, also attended.
A former president of the BCCI, Senator Parry said he had long held the view that the Bass Hwy west of Burnie is a critical transport corridor and should – in the longer term – be considered for a major upgrade.
``The bridge across the Cam River is a vulnerable point on what is the only effective route for traffic to and from the Circular Head and Waratah-Wynyard municipalities, which are two of the most economically productive in our state,’’ he said.
``Given a detour would add considerable time to travel across the river, an accident closing that bridge for any length of time could inflict a serious blow on local industry.
``The thousands of signatures Mr Chesnik gained in a petition on the issue demonstrate the depth of concern in the local community over the possible effects if the bridge were to be closed.
``One can imagine the possible flow-on effects of even a temporary closure.
``For example, passengers departing from the Burnie Airport at Wynyard would find themselves missing flights.
``More seriously, it would cut off emergency services on the western side of the river from their regional headquarters and from the North West Regional Hospital on the east, dramatically increasing the time for support to arrive and for patients to be treated.
``Unfortunately, these concerns have been all but dismissed by Mr Sturges, who denies the lack of an alternative crossing is even an issue.’’
Senator Parry said the issue demanded serious consideration, keeping in mind how critical the Bass Hwy is to the communities west of the river.
``It should not be up to the local community to find the answer, but I note there have been ideas put forward that may have merit,’’ he said.
``A second bridge alongside the first may be a long-term solution, while converting the disused railway bridge into a dual use bridge for emergencies – if feasible – may be a short-term answer.
``In either case, the point is the State Government – which is responsible for this road – should stop dismissing concerns, start listening to the community and consider options.’’
Will Hodgman MP Leader of the State Opposition
02.10.09 1:36 pm
The decision to cease the funding of the Tasmanian Theatre Company, which develops, supports and showcases some of the State’s most talented artists, is further evidence of the Labor Government’s lack of support for Tasmania’s Arts community.
It has been almost two months since Cabinet finalised the decision to axe the Department of Environment, Parks, Heritage and the Arts and promised that it would save millions of dollars, and it would seem that the consequences of this hasty decision are still being felt.
The decision to stop funding the TTC comes after hundreds of thousands of dollars has been spent on new premises for Arts Tasmania whilst cuts to the Arts budget reduced grants and services for the artistic community.
This State Government, however, has spent a decade wasting opportunities to build a more vibrant and exciting Tasmania that will make this island a magnet for young and old. And the priorities of this Government must be questioned when it will spend more on office space for Arts Tasmania while cutting into the budget of programs and services for Tasmanian artists.
Last year, I attended the national ‘2020 summit’, where I participated in the Creative Australia stream, and pushed the potential for Tasmania to be the home of a national centre for the arts in Tasmania to foster innovation and creativity.
By cutting funding and preventing the TTC from continuing to operate, interaction with professional performances will be limited to those who have access to the major capital cities and could potentially discourage others from a career in the Arts.
Will Hodgman MP Leader of the State Opposition
02.10.09 1:32 pm
Late last year, Lara Giddings said her government would fall over if it lost another Minister.
Is that why the Premier refuses to take action against Graeme Sturges?
The Premier’s response to Mr Sturges’ threats against a security guard for doing his job has been totally unsatisfactory.
It reflects the lack of leadership from Labor that is taking Tasmania in the wrong direction.
Yet, the Premier has also avoided declaring his full confidence in Mr Sturges, who has a pattern of unacceptable behaviour and also gross incompetence.
Mr Sturges is reported as saying that David Bartlett has full confidence in him – but what does Mr Bartlett have to say about that?
If he has full confidence, why won’t he say it? And if he doesn’t, then he has to sack this Minister.
What we are seeing is a weak Premier and a tired 11 year old government that has no sense of acceptable standards of behaviour for Ministers.
In that sense it’s ironic that the Premier keeps talking up “Team Bartlett” when the senior members of that team have brought such shame to this government and this State.
Tim Morris MP Greens Member for Lyons
02.10.09 1:31 pm
DIER Must Assist in Medical Bus Service Provision
The Tasmanian Greens today said that the announced closure of the Westbury Medical Practice will come as a shock to the local community.
Greens Member for Lyons, Tim Morris MP, said that the announced closure date of the 16th of October is a very tight timetable for the Westbury Practice clients to identify and access alternative medical services.
“The announcement that the Westbury Medical Practice will be shutting its doors on the 16th of October will come as a shock to many of its clients, and the Greens will endeavour to work with the community to find solutions to this issue, especially as people will now need to seek alternative medical services,” Mr Morris said.
“I will also be seeking an urgent briefing from the Department of Infrastructure regarding claims that the Practise has sought assistance to run a free medical bus service for its Westbury patients so that they can access the Deloraine Practice but that this has proposal has become stalled.”
Matt Stevenson, Liberal Candidate for Denison
02.10.09 10:09 am
I have today written to both Hon Lara Giddings as Minister for Health and Hon Jim Cox as Minister for Police and Emergency Management to lobby for their support in tackling street violence in Tasmania. I challenge both Minister Giddings and Minister Cox to show some real leadership to help reduce this problem within our community.
Over the past few months I have been championing the benefits of campaigns such as the “One Punch Can Kill” campaign that started in Queensland and the “Step Back. Think” campaign that started in Victoria. These campaigns show the way forward in dealing with the problem that we face here in Tasmania.
Tasmania last year suffered nearly 90% more street assaults than Victoria and nearly 65% more street assaults than Queensland on a per capita basis, yet these two states are prepared to support pro-active campaigns targeting the culture of violence, and the Tasmanian Labor Government is seemingly not.
Our justice system deals with perpetrators after an act of violence has happened, but this is simply a reactive policy. We can’t expect the entire burden to lay on our Police force and Justice System. We need people to take responsibility for their own actions; and to achieve this we need a campaign aimed directly at impacting the culture of our community.
I ask both Minister Giddings and Minister Cox to read some of the stories that have been posted on my ‘Tassie for a One Punch Can Kill campaign’ facebook site or those that are on other websites such as Tasmanian Times. These are real people who have suffered or are suffering the real effects of violence in our community.
I have no doubt that a campaign, similar to the ‘One Punch Can Kill’ or ‘Step Back. Think’ campaigns, would have a real and sustained impact here in Tasmania. I call on Minister Giddings and Minister Cox to join me in turning this idea in to a reality – especially before the festive and summer silly season begins.
I have no doubt that a campaign, similar to the ‘One Punch Can Kill’ or ‘Step Back. Think’ campaigns, would have a real and sustained impact here in Tasmania. I call on Minister Giddings and Minister Cox to join me in turning this idea in to a reality.
Greens Alderman Jeremy Ball Candidate for Deputy Mayor (LCC)
02.10.09 9:56 am
Greens Alderman and Deputy Mayoral candidate, Jeremy Ball, today marked ‘Walk To Work Day’ by announcing he has listed a Notice of Motion to be debated at Launceston City Council (LCC) this coming Monday, October 5, calling for LCC to produce a scoping report on the development of a Launceston Pedestrian Network Strategy.
Alderman Ball, who took part in Active Launceston’s ‘Walk To Work Day’ event this morning, said that making Launceston a more walkable city was a pathway to healthier outcomes for residents, easier navigation for tourists and an economic boost to businesses.
“This motion on Monday is asking Council to start formally investigating the development of a Pedestrian Network Strategy for Launceston which is going to be of benefit to locals, tourists and businesses.” Alderman Ball said.
“When Danish urban design expert Jan Gehl recently visited Launceston he said that making any city more walkable had huge advantages.
“His work in Melbourne saw pedestrian friendly infrastructure boost daytime foot traffic by 40% and night time foot traffic by 100%.
“In Launceston we are beginning to develop recreational trails and heritage trails, and more and more tourists can be seen wandering around our historic city, so now is the time for proper strategic planning and the development of an interlinked pedestrian network.” Ald Ball said.
“There are also those who walk out of necessity, so this strategy could identify the easiest and safest routes to the CBD and back and provide shade, shelter and perhaps drinking fountains or other infrastructure on those routes to make it more comfortable for pedestrians.
“You could even have small signs that gave a rough estimate in minutes or hours of a one way or return trip, so people could plan their time accordingly.
“I hope other Aldermen support this proposal, as making Launceston a more walkable city makes good social, economic and environmental sense.”
Below is the text of Alderman Ball’s motion to LCC to be debated on Monday October 5 2009 which can also be found Here and is agenda item 11.1
That Council drafts a report scoping the development of a Launceston Pedestrian Network Strategy, with a view to providing a strategic framework to inform the development of any planned pedestrian routes, including, but not limited to; tourist trails, urban and suburban routes, recreational walks, historic walks and routes between key local destinations.
02.10.09 9:35 am
WHAT: Action outside Michelle O’Byrne’s office,
WHEN: 12.30 pm, Friday 2 October (TOMORROW),
WHERE: 52 St John St, Launceston.
Opponents to Gunns’ native-forest based pulp mill will gather outside the Launceston office of Michelle O’Byrne and demand that the Labor MP declare which side of the line she stands on: for or against the ALP pulp mill. Participants will hand over to Ms O’Byrne over 1600 signed letters for delivery to Premier David Bartlett at the upcoming community forum at Beaconsfield.
Fed up with the shifting sands in which Premier Bartlett has drawn his line, residents will also pour sand outside Minister O’Byrne’s office and ask her to choose whether she stands on the drifting sands of shaky ALP promises or on solid ground with her constituents.
Film and photographs from the day’s event will be shown to international companies considering investing in the Gunns Ltd pulp mill.
Kim Booth MP Greens Gaming spokesperson
02.10.09 9:29 am
The Tasmanian Greens today said that the decision to drop charges against four Florentine protesters is the direct result of a leadership failure by the Premier, David Bartlett.
Greens Forestry spokesperson Kim Booth MP said that Premier Bartlett’s cynical and timid refusal to engage with conservationists about the forests issue had dumped the debate in the laps of the police.
The charges were dropped in the Hobart Magistrates Court after the police said that there was insufficient evidence or reason to sustain a prosecution.
“Mr Bartlett has cynically allowed the forests issue to become a skirmish between conservationists, forestry workers and the police, and by doing so he has given the police a massive headache when it comes to sustaining prosecutions against peaceful protesters,” Mr Booth said.
“Premier Bartlett should demonstrate genuine leadership, meet with the conservation movement, and move to resolve this issue, rather than expecting the police to sort it all out.”
“Mr Bartlett has deliberately used the forests debate as a wedge to divide the community by deliberating targeting iconic high conservation forests to send the chainsaws into.”
“Forest workers are also being used as pawns in David Bartlett’s game by forcing them into contentious areas at the same time there is a massive glut in woodfibre and Forestry Tasmania is chipping sawlogs and minor species.”
JUSTICE ACTION http://www.justiceaction.org.au
02.10.09 9:29 am
“The latest moves by Premier Rees for new laws and state-wide watch teams make him an object of ridicule. It involves nine government departments in eight regions to combat elusive figures like blind pensioner Dennis Ferguson. Clearly nobody has mentioned to him that 95% of sex offenders aren’t known to police” said Justice Action spokesperson Brett Collins.
The Premier talked tough politics: “I want the community, I want the children in our community to be as safe as possible. If that means watching these convicted criminals then that’s precisely what we’ll do.”
“He can’t realise that frightening children with that power will prevent them complaining, as they know it will destroy their family where almost all of it happens” said Mr Collins.
“Unfortunately community problems where 1:4 women and 1:8 men are sexually abused need real solutions not political posturing. A consultative group put proposals based on international best practice to him last week in the wake of the vigilante actions at Ryde, but were ignored. Mr Ferguson’s counsellor approached him but was ignored” said Mr Collins.
“Premier Rees especially needs to look tough. Rees was Chief of Staff to Minister Milton Orkopoulos, now serving 14 years in prison for child sex offences while Rees was working for him. After Rees became Premier, his prisons commissioner granted special permission for the media to ask Orkopoulos whether Rees knew of Orkopoulos’ sex and drug abuse of young boys. http://tinyurl.com/ydnumw7
“Why would a Premier rely on the word of a convicted child sex offender to clear him? Why was the whistleblower, secretary Gillian Sneddon sacked from her job instead of acclaimed for protecting children. http://tinyurl.com/nkqdr7 http://tinyurl.com/y8m7n2y
“Rees breeding hatred and kowtowing to vigilantism is the worst kind of response. Driven by ignorance and fear, it gives the illusion of protecting children while insidiously putting them at further risk. If you discovered that your adolescent son was abusing your friend’s daughter, where would you turn? After what we’ve seen happening to Dennis Ferguson, and the response we’ve seen from our politicians, certainly not to the police.
Politicians like Rees need to stop acting from their own self-interest and seek expert help in how the state can act in the best interests of children” said child protection campaigner Barbara Biggs.
Nick McKim MP Greens Leader
02.10.09 9:27 am
The Tasmanian Greens today said that the belligerent and abusive behaviour of Infrastructure Minister Graeme Sturges is symptomatic of a government that has been in absolute power for too long, and is out of touch with community expectations.
Greens Leader Nick McKim MP said that Minister Sturges has form in this area having allegedly abused a hotelier in front of his wife at an RSL Christmas function last year, and the Premier must disclose how many more times this Minister will be allowed to abuse and threaten other people before the Premier demands his resignation.
“This is just the kind of arrogant behaviour that we would expect from a government that has grown far too used to the unfettered and absolute power of majority government.”
“I reckon three strikes and you’re out, so if there have been any other belligerent abuses of power from this Minister then Mr Bartlett will have no option but to sack him.”
“The Premier’s failure to take strong action means that it is his leadership that is under question as well as Mr Sturges’ behaviour,” Mr McKim said.
Dr Vanessa Goodwin MLC Shadow Attorney General
02.10.09 9:25 am
· DPP reveals he urged government action on suspended sentence breaches in 2007
· Recent reports have highlighted the unacceptably low rate of breaches of suspended sentences being acted upon
· Labor’s failure to act more evidence of its mismanagement and incompetence
The Director of Public Prosecutions has revealed gross government mismanagement and incompetence when it comes to dealing with suspended sentences, in his annual report tabled in Parliament today.
Various reports in recent years have raised concerns about the treatment of breaches of suspended sentences in Tasmania, including a recent Australian Institute of Criminology report that found 41% of offenders on a wholly suspended sentence breached their sentence by committing one or more offences punishable by imprisonment. Yet action was taken in just of 6% of cases.
In its report on Sentencing last year, the Law Reform Institute also said:
Only five per cent of breached suspended sentences result in proceedings. The Institute’s view is that this is unacceptable.
Failure to initiate breach proceedings is not an inherent flaw of the suspended sentence, such a failure merely fuels the public perception that such sentences are an ineffectual slap on the wrist and contributes to a lack of confidence in sentencing.
In his annual report, the DPP says he first raised concerns about the issue in 2007.
He said that he advised that the protocols for referring such breaches to his office was not working and wrote to police suggesting that an electronic capturing system ought to be investigated.
I wrote again in May 2007, having received no reply, and attempted to follow it up in 2008, where I discovered that in September 2007, the then Commissioner had prepared a Cabinet Minute for the Attorney General’s signature seeking to make judges and magistrates responsible for identifying breaches. I am presently uncertain where matters stand.
The Attorney General needs to explain what the government is doing to ensure that breaches of suspended sentences are acted upon and she needs to explain why there has apparently been no progress on this matter for some two and a half years.
This is just more evidence of Labor Government incompetence, and of this government being more focused on its own scandals than on running Tasmania properly.
Peter Gutwein MP Shadow Treasurer
02.10.09 9:23 am
Liberals back public servant jobs in questioning excess by some senior bureaucrats
Giddings and Aird support catching a cab from Hobart to Burnie as a legitimate expense
Explanation needed for other excessive costs and information sought on other senior executives
The State Labor Government may not be forced to cut so many public service jobs if it reined in spending by senior bureaucrats.
Many Tasmanians could not afford to catch a taxi from Hobart to Burnie, and would see this as a total waste of their money.
Yet the Health Minister and Treasurer have condoned this behaviour and the expenditure of taxpayers’ money in this way as acceptable. Furthermore, the Treasurer today refused to release the details of the travel claims of the other department heads and senior bureaucrats in the State.
Therefore, today the Liberals have lodged an FOI seeking intrastate, interstate and the overseas travel expenditure, including airfares, accommodation, transfer costs, including taxi fares, of all departmental heads and senior bureaucrats.
Tasmanians need to be assured that the Government’s rhetoric about cost-cutting is matched by reality.
Public servants need to be assured their job is not put at jeopardy because someone at the top of the tree has not tightened their belt.
Sue Napier MP Liberal Member for Bass
02.10.09 9:21 am
The Royal Flying Doctor Service provides a vital role for patient carrier services in rural and regional Tasmania
The State Government must guarantee full consultation with the RFDS as they move towards renewing their contract in 2011
There is a role for both fixed-wing and helicopter medical retrieval
The State Labor Government must recognise the vital role that the Royal Flying Doctor Service provides for patient carrier services in rural and regional Tasmania, including the Bass Strait islands.
I raised the issue in a Notice of Motion in Parliament today, and called on the Government to ensure that there is full consultation with the RFDS as they move towards renewing their new contract in 2011.
The RFDS has made a significant investment in remote health services in Tasmania, not only including medical retrieval, but improving dental services on Flinders Island, through its own fundraising efforts, and building airport facilities.
It has recently won a million-dollar project from the Commonwealth to install a state of the art aero-medical training simulator at Western Junction, near Launceston, which could be at risk if they lose the contract in 2011.
The 2007 Sharley report re-opened the decade-long debate of fixed wing vs. rotor wing aircraft (helicopter) for medical retrieval, and recommended increased use of the existing Police helicopter as a “cheaper” option than buying a second fixed-wing plane to be based in Hobart, or a second helicopter to be based in Launceston.
The Liberals recognise the need for the use of both fixed wing and helicopter services and that both aircraft have their benefits and limitations. Together, all bases can be covered.
The issue is about more than instances where a helicopter may be more appropriate than a fixed wing aircraft. There are indeed other times when a helicopter may be more appropriate than an ambulance.
We are extremely concerned at the lack of commitment to the RFDS and its base in Launceston after 2010 as publicly expressed by the Minister for Health, noting that this will be just after the next State Election.
The Government must ensure that there is full consultation with the RFDS as they move towards renewing the new contract in 2011.
Due weight must also be given to the importance of maintaining fixed wing services, levels of investment and the quality service provided by the RFDS as part of the essential mix of options available for patient retrieval services in this State.
Nick McKim MP Greens Leader
02.10.09 9:18 am
Independent Audit the Only Way to Get Truth
The Tasmanian Greens today accused Premier David Bartlett of being in denial over the impacts of Tasmania Tomorrow on staff, students and educational outcomes.
Greens Leader Nick McKim MP said that the Premier’s claims on retention rates are unbelievable, and demanded that attendance records at the Academy and the Polytechnic be released.
“Teachers are telling me that many students who have not showed up to classes for months are still enrolled despite attempts to remove them from the system. This would represent a deliberate skewing of the retention figures in order to allow the Premier to claim things are going well when actually his reforms are crumbling around him,” Mr McKim said.
“The Premier must know that his claims of 95% retention into third term are absolute rubbish. It’s time for an independent audit to get to the bottom of how bad things actually are.”
“All that the Premier has to fear from an independent audit is the truth.”
“The first step to fixing a problem is to admit that it exists, and while Mr Bartlett remains in denial it is clear that things will not improve.”
Mr McKim repeated his demand that the Premier not force more campuses into Tasmania Tomorrow next year until an independent review of the impacts of the whole system, as well as an independent audit of retention and attendance levels, have been completed.
“There is no way that campuses like Rosny College should be forced into Tasmania Tomorrow next year while massive problems remain for students and staff, and nothing meaningful is being done to fix them.”
Sue Napier MP Shadow Minister for Education
02.10.09 9:12 am
· Academy chief’s comments bring into doubt the Premier’s claim that there was a 95 per cent retention rate in Term 3 of the new PY10 system
· Premier refuses to release the evidence to support his claims, which are at odds with what teachers are telling us
· What has the Premier got to hide?
There are fresh doubts today over the truth of the Premier’s claims that there has been a retention rate of 95% into Term Three in the new Polytechnic and Academy.
Academy chief Mike Brakey is quoted today as saying that that 95 per cent of students who attended in March this year were still there on July 25.
That does not equate to a retention rate of 95% into Term 3 – which clearly begins well after July.
Did Mr Bartlett mislead Parliament in a desperate attempt to show that the new system was a success?
In Parliament today, the Premier again failed to release the evidence on which he bases his claims that there is 95 per cent retention into Term 3, which is totally at odds with what teachers and staff are telling us. Rather than a 95 per cent retention rate, I am hearing from many teachers that some Polytechnic classes are running at only 30 per cent capacity.
He also again refused to guarantee that the figures he was using were current active enrolments.
Why won’t he just release the raw data and definitions of what it does and does not include? What is he trying to hide?
The Premier also again refused to initiate a full independent audit of current active (i.e. attending) enrolments, so that we can have full confidence in the data before anyone even considers transferring remaining Colleges to the new system.
This is simply not good enough. The Tasmania Tomorrow system is in crisis and it is well and truly time that the Premier demonstrated some genuine leadership to get the system back on track as soon as possible.
Instead, for three days of Parliament, he has ducked answering questions.
And if the Premier has used unreliable data to save his own political skin and misled Parliament - and the Tasmanian community - he must apologise and take the first opportunity to correct the record.
This is not the type of leadership that Tasmania needs or deserves.
Ed Hill, Still Wild, Still Threatened
02.10.09 9:10 am
Police question credibility of FT staff
Charges of assault and public nuisance against forest protestors in the Upper Florentine have been dropped in Hobart magistrate’s court today. Natalie Keene, 31 of Hobart, Ali Alishah, 25 of Hobart and Lee Sargent 29 of Kaoota had charges of assault and public nuisance dropped and Lauren Platzer, 23 of Kaoota, had her public nuisance charge dropped.
Principal legal officer Mark Miller made a statement in court that questioned the credibility of Forestry Tasmania employees involved in the incident as they used their cars to block a road preventing peaceful protesters from leaving the area. Mr Miller also made it clear that no peaceful protester was committing a nuisance or assault as Forestry Tasmania staff claimed.
“Once again we’re seeing Forestry Tasmania leading the police down the garden path to once again make wrongful arrests of peaceful forest defenders. Premier Bartlett must resolve this issue and engage with forest campaigners rather than leaving it up to Tasmania police who have repeatedly had to drop charges due to FT’s incompetence and misleading claims that have led to dozens of wrongful arrests. Forestry Tasmania is a government enterprise out of control; Premier Bartlett must pull them into line and resolve the continual cycle of his police force being misled and making wrongful arrests.” Said spokesperson Ed Hill.
“This situation exemplifies Forestry Tasmania’s approach to dealing with the public, lie, intimidate and misuse the law. Premier Bartlett must insist FT change the way they do business and resolve the ongoing conflict by giving ancient forests the protection the deserve whilst ensuring a sustainable future for the timber industry by making use of existing plantations.” Said spokesperson Ed Hill.
“When this incident occurred in May this year Still Wild Still Threatened consistently stated that these charges were blatantly wrongful and would be thrown out in court. Peaceful forest defenders have been presumed guilty until proven innocent when they’ve been innocent all along. FT and the State government have vilified forest defenders for their supposed illegal actions and once again they’ve been found to be legal. Premier Bartlett needs to recognise community concern over the destruction of the Upper Florentine rather than accepting the advice of incompetent and untruthful employees of FT.” Said Mr Hill.
“Mr Miller’s comments about this incident make it clear that FT staff were the only people committing a nuisance by illegally detaining forest protesters using a government vehicle to block an access road. Still Wild Still Threatened is currently seeking legal advice over the potential for police to charge FT staff with public nuisance.” Said Mr Hill.
“Today’s decision by the police to not proceed with the charges vindicates the right of our community to peacefully stand up for Tasmania’s ancient forests.” Concluded Mr. Hill.
Kim Booth MP Greens Gaming Spokesperson
02.10.09 9:06 am
But Bartlett Shirks Responsibility
The Tasmanian Greens today accused the Premier, David Bartlett, of endorsing as a virtual government policy position that it is acceptable for Tasmanians to continue to lose anything in the vicinity of $19 million on pokies each month, for the life of the Federal Hotels Deed, due to his refusal to take immediate action to stem the negative impact of pokies upon the community.
Greens Gaming spokesperson Kim Booth MP said that since January this year Tasmanians have lost a devastating $147, 909, 399 on pokies, money which is now lost to families and local businesses who desperately need it, but the Labor government is happy for this to continue as they get a considerable cut of these losses.
“By refusing to take immediate action to reduce the number or the impact of pokies in the community, David Bartlett is shirking his responsibility, and tacitly endorsing as a form of government policy that it is acceptable for the Tasmanian community to incur anywhere between $16 million to $19 million dollars losses on pokies each month,” Mr Booth said.
“The latest monthly in arrears figures released by the Tasmanian Gaming Commission reveal that once again Tasmanians lost over $19 million dollars, which takes the accumulated total since January this year to an unacceptable and devastating $147, 909, 399.”
“Tasmanian families, and local economies cannot afford for this pattern to continue indefinitely.”
“If Premier Bartlett is genuine about being clever, kind and connected, then he will direct the Treasurer to immediately implement the positive policy changes suggested in the TGC’s Response to the SACES Gaming Social and Economic Impact Study, which identified the need to reverse the placement of pokies in socially and economically vulnerable areas, as well as to investigate the removal of them from pubs and clubs.”
“It is clear that the government is the biggest addict itself, and one which cannot forgo the approximate $50 million it would have raked in as a cut of those losses bled from the community over these eight months, under the terms of the Deed with Federal Hotels.”
Tasmanian Gaming Commission website link: Here
Download: Graphs detailing pokies expenditure losses, January to August 2009 (2 pgs):
Senator Richard Colbeck
02.10.09 8:39 am
The Rudd Labor Government’s failure to connect with community was plain for all to see when the Tasmanian Liberal Senate Team visited Strahan today.
Liberal Senators Richard Colbeck, Eric Abetz, Stephen Parry, Guy Barnett and David Bushby met with Strahan Primary School and West Coast Council representatives this morning.
“The case outlined to us was that Strahan Primary desperately needs a full size gymnasium – the current space used for indoor sports doubles as the school bus garage,” Senator Colbeck said.
“The current community space is tiny and utilises a second-hand former Hydro ablutions block as a change room.
“The school had hoped to access funds from Labor’s Building the Education Revolution (BER) program to get the project underway but the guidelines of this slap-dash program were so inflexible that Strahan Primary was deemed two children short of the number of pupils required for a project of that size.
“The flaws in Labor’s BER program mean that Strahan Primary will get the same amount of funding as a Queensland school with just one pupil, and as a result Strahan Primary has had to settle for a smaller, lesser priority project.
“Rudd Labor, and Braddon MP Sid Sidebottom, are really out of touch with the Strahan community on this matter.
“The Rudd Government has twice rejected a Strahan Recreation Centre project for funding now – once under the Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Program and once under the Jobs Fund – despite the glaring need for such a centre and the strong case that has been presented.
“Mr Sidebottom was a member of the West Coast Development Group which came up with a very well-planned recreation centre proposal so it is very disappointing that he has failed to secure any positive outcomes for this community.
“This case demonstrates that Rudd Labor’s BER program was never designed with the best interests of the schools and their communities in mind, and also that Rudd Labor is failing to connect with the real needs of regional communities,” Senator Colbeck said.
Will Hodgman MP Leader of the State Opposition
01.10.09 1:02 pm
· Serial breaches of the Code of Conduct by Minister Sturges
· An apology for the latest transgression is not good enough
· Premier must explain whether this embattled Minister retains his confidence
The Premier must explain whether he has full confidence in his Infrastructure Minister, Graeme Sturges – after he abused and threatened a security guard at a TT Line function who was just doing his job.
And if Mr Bartlett doesn’t have confidence in the Minister, then he should sack him.
Mr Sturges is a serial offender when it comes to breaching the Ministerial Code of Conduct – a code the Premier promised 14 months ago that he would strengthen.
Mr Sturges also proven to be an ineffective and incompetent Minister. Just like others on the front bench, he is only there because after years of scandal, there is no one left to chose from.
This sort of behaviour is totally unacceptable. An apology isn’t enough.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd at least forced his NSW MP, Belinda Neal, to undergo anger management treatment when she abused workers at a nightclub last year.
This incident has also just shown what a hypocrite Mr Sturges is. He claims to be the worker’s friend, but in reality he is clearly anything but. He not only abused a person who was simply doing their job, but threatened that person with their job.
Jeremy Rockliff MP Deputy Leader of the State Opposition
01.10.09 1:00 pm
· Massively increased power bills add to dairy farmers’ pain
· Many will not be able to pay these huge bills
· Government still withholding practical assistance for farmers that was needed weeks ago
· Has the State Government even applied for natural disaster relief assistance from Canberra?
Embattled dairy farmers have started receiving power bills that have increased 15% since July this year, following a 20% rise in 2008.
This is just compounding the financial stress of a 45% drop in the price they receive for their milk, reduced production because of atrocious seasonal conditions, and now on top of it all, power outages that have left many unable to milk their cows.
Dairying is an energy intensive business. The bills these farmers are receiving are huge. Many quite simply will not be able to pay.
I have today again pressed the State Government to act swiftly to provide the urgent practical assistance that dairy farmers needed weeks ago. It would be unconscionable for the Premier to hold off on the provision of support until next Tuesday’s rally in Devonport, where the timing might better suit him.
Farmers need direct financial help, such as subsidies or loans to help feed their stock, and other assistance, such as for animal welfare and counselling.
The State Government must also seek natural disaster relief funding for farmers. I got no answer to my question in Parliament today about whether the government had even applied for such assistance.
Massively increased power bills are just going to increase the pain for dairy farmers. I again call on the government to move immediately to provide assistance to these people who are in huge distress.
The broader problem is the milk price, of that there can be no doubt. But a helping hand from government to get farmers through this difficult time was needed weeks ago and it is deeply concerning that it still hasn’t materialised.
Some farmers will simply not survive in business for the medium to long term if direct financial assistance in the short term is not addressed.
SENATOR THE HON RICHARD COLBECK Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
01.10.09 12:57 pm
Multi-national milk processing company, National Foods, has decided to avoid looking in the eye of dairy farmers who will rally in Devonport on Tuesday as part of the Senate’s milk pricing inquiry.
Instead, National Foods representatives will appear before the Senate committee in the more comfortable confines of Parliament House in Canberra the following day.
Senator for Tasmania and Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry Richard Colbeck said National Foods’ decision to scamper off to Canberra will be seen as another slap in the face to dairy farmers.
“National Foods is running scared from Tasmania’s dairy farmers,” Senator Colbeck said.
“It is disgraceful this multi-national company does not have the fortitude to front the inquiry in Devonport and face those dairy farmers who will rally on the same day.
“National Foods is happy lecturing farmers from fancy multi-million dollar corporate offices in Melbourne, but when will they front the farmers, their families and communities who will suffer as a result of National Foods’ boardroom decisions?
“National Foods’ senior executives clearly don’t want to understand the awful situation facing the local dairy industry.
“They don’t want to hear about the crippling effects of the low prices they are offering dairy farmers.
“They don’t want to see how farmers have faced torrential weather conditions over recent weeks. And they don’t want to see what a week of power outages can do to an already struggling dairy business.”
Senator Colbeck said despite National Foods’ decision to avoid the dairy farmers’ rally, he would ensure tough questions were asked when they appeared before the Senate Committee in Canberra on Wednesday.
“They might think they can avoid the dairy farmers and supporters rally in Devonport, but National Foods can’t avoid answering the questions dairy farmers wish to ask when they appear before the inquiry in Canberra.
“And National Foods can be assured this will be under the glare of Canberra’s national press gallery including the national rural media.”