The fiddlers at the sideshows play on, as the economy burns, says veteran journalist Bruce Montgomery in Crikey.
Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings seeks to offer some insights today into the island’s future in her annual State of the State address.
She gets to her feet amid an increasing air of despondency about the state economy. There is low business confidence, the high Australian dollar and low demand threaten an already struggling tourism industry and two major power users, BHP’s Temco and Rio Tinto’s Alcan. As significantly, there is Tasmania’s structural dysfunction—too many public sector jobs, too few sustainable private enterprise jobs and too many of the population on welfare, as much as one-third.
All this confronts Giddings, a committed and competent politician who leads a minority government that includes two Green ministers who march to the beat of their own drum and not the government’s.
One of them, Nick McKim, undermines international confidence in Tasmania’s ability to provide sustainably produced forest products at the same time as his Labor colleagues seek to save those markets; his colleague and life partner, Cassy O’Connor, the Tasmanian Aboriginal Affairs Minister, deeply offended local Aborigines by referring to them as “a vulnerable community” after it appeared they might get their hands on some of the forests she and McKim want locked up in national parks.
Veteran activist Michael Mansell bagged O’Connor’s ill-thought commentary as “patronising” and “condescending”, which bodes ill for future relations between that minister and her indigenous constituency.
As a former correspondent for The Australian here, I know how incomprehensible and therefore tiresome Tasmanian forest politics can be for the rest of the nation. We argue incessantly about forest policy and environmental outcomes; one villainous forest company disappears off the hit list to be replaced by another; stunts aimed at the media become more risible yet still the cameras turn up; meanwhile, Tasmania falls further and further behind other states economically.
Those states are again asking why, through GST revenue distribution, they should be made to subsidise a mendicant poor cousin whose major growth industry seems to be left-of-centre pressure groups who want not only to stop the clock but to wind it back to deliver a form of Tasmanian prehistory; this at a time when Western Australians get back 70 cents of each GST dollar they pay to the Australian Taxation Office while Tasmanians get back $1.60.
The challenge of painting a long-term economic vision for Tasmania eludes MPs. Far easier, it seems, to engage in tragic-comic sideshows, such as the doomed intergovernmental forest agreement with the Gillard government. The Upper House, the Legislative Council, will scupper it or an incoming Liberal government will shred it. It has no future.
Then there is the extravaganza spun by Forestry Tasmania, the Forest Industries Association of Tasmania and Michael Mansell’s Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC). The TAC is courting the forest industry to give Aborigines the forests that the environmental groups covet for national parks under the IGA, the attraction being that Forestry Tasmania would manage the forests for the TAC for conservation (and a suggestion of some logging access) while the rest of us can engage in hunting, shooting and fishing the local fauna. It is a deliberate “up yours” to the Greens but it has no future.
There is a flaw in the IGA concept and the land hand-back to the Aboriginal community. The use of Tasmanian public forests is not for environmental groups or the forest industry to determine.
That environmental groups have been able to nominate another half a million hectares or so of public forest to investigate for lock-up is fundamentally undemocratic. That the forest industry can barter public forests with the Aboriginal community is delusional.
The industry does not own the forests. Forest use is rightly the preserve of Parliament and, in the end, the Legislative Council is where the action will be.
But the fiddlers at the sideshows play on, as the economy burns.
• Read for yourself: Premier Lara Giddings on the state of the state
Lara Giddings, MP
Tuesday, 6 March 2012
Premier’s Address - complete speech
Premier’s Address, 6 March 2012
Mr Speaker, we are at risk of a national gloom descending upon Australia, and Tasmania is not immune from this malaise.
This concern is reflected in the recent comments of the head of the Federal Treasury, Dr Martin Parkinson, who told a Senate hearing in Canberra that Australian consumers were too pessimistic about the future.
Dr Parkinson pointed out that “there is an overwhelming negative sense about much of the national discussion and debate”.
He went on to say:
“It’s almost as if most Australians seem to think we live in Greece – we don’t. I mean we actually have an incredibly bright future ahead of us.”
In many ways it is easy to understand why people are worried.
Every day in the news we see reports of turmoil in Europe.
Australians are worried about what the future holds…for their jobs and their families.
The high dollar is putting enormous pressure on Australia’s export and manufacturing industries.
We’ve seen the continuing decline of our traditional manufacturing industries as our markets are eroded by cheaper labour and production in Asia.
This has been seen in job losses nationally in the banking, automotive and airline industries.
Here in Tasmania we have seen BHP Temco temporarily suspend production and there is concern around the future of Rio Tinto’s aluminium smelter.
The Government has already announced that the Minister for Economic Development, David O’Byrne, and I will lead a delegation to Canberra to discuss the pressures on our manufacturing industries with the Prime Minister.
Change is often confronting and threatening and it is little wonder that many Tasmanians are feeling uneasy.
Nowhere are the changes that are taking place in Tasmania more starkly illustrated than in forestry.
The transition the industry is undergoing is particularly hard for the workers and families whose livelihoods are being threatened.
Since 2006 half the jobs and a quarter of the businesses in our forest industry have disappeared.
The reasons for this change are complex.
They’re to do with markets, global finances, exchange rates, changing demand and environmental campaigns around the world.
Tasmania has a choice.
We can bury our heads in the sand.
We can long for the good old days.
We can allow the conflicts and divisions of the past to keep festering and holding us back.
Or we can make strong decisions and take firm action to create a better future.
That’s what my Government has chosen to do in cooperation with the Australian Government through the Tasmanian Forest Agreement.
We’re supporting the workers and communities affected.
We’re working to put the industry on a sustainable footing while achieving better conservation outcomes.
We’re creating new jobs to diversify the economies of regional communities.
But while governments can and have shown leadership, it’s been proven time and time again over the years that governments alone cannot resolve this debate.
The only way to end the conflict is for the industry, the forestry union and the environmental groups to reach a negotiated settlement.
Without compromise and agreement from all sides there will be no winners, only losers.
The environmental movement will lose the possibility of protecting more forest and industry will lose resource certainty and the possibility of ending the undermining of its markets.
I again call on both sides of the debate to work together in good faith to grasp the historic opportunity that is available to us.
Mr Speaker, across Australia, low consumer confidence is having consequences that were not foreseen when the Howard Government introduced the GST.
What was meant to be a growth tax has fallen away as consumers slow their spending, leaving less GST revenue for State and Territory governments to spend on key services.
Following the latest further reduction of Tasmania’s share of GST, our total loss in GST and State tax revenue since the start of the GFC has now reached $1.9 billion.
As a State Government we have taken responsible action and reduced our expenditure accordingly.
Nobody wants to see cuts in key services like health and education.
But the alternative is for us to abrogate our responsibility and burden our children with our debt.
The next generation would then have to deal with the threat of even harsher cuts because we would not make the hard decisions needed today.
That is not a path my Government is prepared to take.
Out of these challenges we have great opportunities to create new industries and new jobs, and to build stronger communities.
We live in one of the most beautiful places on earth, noted for its clean air, pure water and stunning wilderness.
We have a lifestyle that is the envy of the world.
We have supportive and strong communities, with people who are caring and resilient.
We have an economy that is fundamentally sound and we are seeing infrastructure being built across the State that will take us to an even stronger future in the new global economy.
That’s why the current investment in the National Broadband Network is so important.
The NBN has the potential to reduce some of the economic disadvantages Tasmania suffers because of our geographical isolation.
At times like these, it is the responsibility of government to show strong leadership and set a firm direction through the challenges we face.
That’s what I have been doing since I became Premier.
That’s what Labor governments always do.
We’re reining in our spending to put our Budget back on a sustainable footing, but in tough times we are still getting things done.
We’re continuing to support and encourage the development of new businesses across the State through regional development initiatives, planning reform and our Economic Development Plan.
Along with the Australian Government, we are continuing our massive investment in infrastructure such as irrigation, transport and the NBN that will lay the groundwork for new jobs and a better future for Tasmania.
Along with the Australian Government we are investing half a billion dollars in a new Royal Hobart Hospital.
We have almost completed the $120 million transformation of the Launceston General Hospital.
We are building new cancer centres around the State as part of a $48 million program to provide better care for cancer patients.
We are reducing bureaucracy and empowering local communities by creating the new Tasmanian Health Organisations.
We are making our health and education systems more efficient and sustainable so they can continue to provide Tasmanians with the high quality services they deserve.
The more efficient hospitals become, the greater the level of services they are able to deliver.
That means more elective surgery, more up-skilling of our health professionals, and more capacity to detect potentially acute conditions earlier.
The Healthy Tasmania Advisory Council, which met for the first time last week, will provide independent advice to Government about the best ways to keep Tasmanians well and out of hospital, and drive change by empowering local communities so that we can all make healthier choices.
We are also building stronger communities and supporting vulnerable Tasmanians by investing in Child and Family Centres, Neighbourhood Houses, emergency food relief, energy efficiency and more affordable housing.
But there’s more to do to build on our economic and social resilience in Tasmania.
JOBS AND THE ECONOMY
Mr Speaker, I have already spoken about how the high Australian dollar and difficult global markets are making times tough for Tasmanian businesses.
But now is not the time to go into our shells and be negative.
Now is the time to roll up our sleeves and look for new opportunities.
Now is the time for business to invest and create new jobs.
Now is the time for governments to strive even harder to create conditions that are conducive to that investment.
That’s why I have said jobs will be my top priority this year.
Of course, that does not mean I can guarantee no jobs will be lost in 2012.
I cannot stop businesses closing because the dollar is too high, or because demand for our products has fallen due to the GFC.
What my Government can do is support existing jobs and help businesses to create new ones.
Where jobs are lost, we can help retrain and reskill workers so they can move into new industries.
For example, in the North East former forest workers are now working with Hazell Bros and Haywards on the Musselroe Wind Farm project.
In the North West they have found work in the growing dairy industry.
In fact, just recently I was in the far North West with Federal Regional Development Minister Simon Crean.
Here was a community that only 18-months ago was severely hit by the GFC and had been written off by many.
But through the hard work and vision of the local community, towns like Smithton again have a bright future.
We stood on the site of an old Gunns sawmill which is now being transformed into a dried milk processing plant thanks to the entrepreneurship of Bradley Watson and the investment of Murray Goulburn in Tasmanian Dairy Products.
Labor Governments, both Federal and State, were able to support them by investing in new skills and infrastructure.
Smithton will now have a first class agricultural trade school, and 27 farms will convert from low value beef to high value dairy production.
Yes, there are threats to Tasmanian jobs, but there are is also the promise of new ones.
It is precisely because jobs are at risk that I believe strong leadership is needed in this area.
That’s why I am making jobs such a priority
That’s why the Deputy Premier recently went on his trade mission to Asia.
That’s why we are working with the Commonwealth to identify regional development opportunities.
That’s why we are investing in infrastructure and reforming our planning system.
That’s why Labor supports the pulp mill.
Mr Speaker, we have seen a number of economic reports in recent months which show Tasmania is one of the States in the wrong lane of the two‑speed national economy.
Tasmania does not have the mineral wealth of Western Australia or Queensland.
But that does not mean we must miss out on the rewards of the mining boom.
Enterprising Tasmanian businesses are already tapping into the opportunities the mining boom presents.
We already have companies like GHD - which employs 140 staff statewide providing engineering, environmental, water and transport services to miners across Australia from Tasmania.
And there is Caterpillar Underground Mining in Burnie - which employs 400 people and exports sophisticated underground mining machinery around the world.
It is by exploiting these kinds of opportunities and investments that we can create jobs and build a stronger and more diverse Tasmanian economy.
Mr Speaker, one of the biggest opportunities we have is in Asia.
The 21st Century has been described as the Asian Century, with good reason.
Since 1980, China and India’s combined share of the world economy has more than quadrupled.
By 2030 that figure is forecast to almost double again.
The value of Australia’s exports to China has increased five-fold over the last decade, up from 5.7 per cent to more than 26 per cent of our exports.
China, Japan and Korea combined now account for more than half of Australia’s exports.
The vision of Australia’s role in Asia that Paul Keating spoke about 20 years ago is now a reality.
The Asian Century is here and Tasmania can and must do more to take advantage of it.
It is true to say we already have strong trading ties with China.
China is already the largest consumer of Tasmanian wines, for example, and Chinese students are a significant market for our educational institutions.
However, as Asia becomes more prosperous, the potential trade benefits and markets for Tasmania will grow dramatically.
The Asian middle class is predicted to grow from around 500 million people today to more than three billion over the next 20 years.
These are the future consumers for Tasmanian wines, dairy, tourism, education and other high quality services and products.
As Saul Eslake recently told The Mercury newspaper:
“Tasmania’s future lies in the production of highly differentiated goods or services with a high intellectual content for which people can be persuaded to pay premium prices.”
I agree with him, and I believe the markets where this will happen are predominantly in Asia, particularly in China.
Now is the time to take strong action to ensure Tasmania is in the best position possible to take advantage of these opportunities.
Mr Speaker, to that end my Government has begun working on a series of measures to strengthen our trade position in China and the wider Asian region.
We must grow our share of imports and exports and Asian investment in Tasmania.
Recognising this imperative, in September this year I will lead an Asian trade mission, with China as the central focus.
This will build on the positive relationships developed by the Deputy Premier on his recent visit as well as exploring new trade and investment possibilities.
One of the most significant areas for potential expansion is international education, Australia’s largest services export industry.
Last year international education contributed $16.3 billion in export income to the Australian economy, with almost half a million students coming to study.
Tasmania’s share of this was $128 million, which is not insignificant but still less than one per cent of the national pie.
Tasmania currently also has more than 300 full fee paying international students in our government schools.
There is significant potential to expand this market and the Government is pursuing representation in Shanghai to put Tasmania’s education services more firmly on the map in China.
That means there is a substantial foundation for Tasmania to build upon.
And that is where the University of Tasmania is critical.
We have an institution of international standing, committed to quality teaching and first class learning for international students.
Tasmania provides many competitive advantages as an education destination in a safe and welcoming environment, with excellent courses in a wide range of fields.
So I am pleased that the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Peter Rathjen, will be part of my delegation to Asia as we work together to grow this important market.
Tasmania’s international education reputation stands to be further enhanced with the $900 million ParanVille integrated village by Korean developer Paul Kim.
This development has the potential to attract hundreds of Korean and other Asian students to the language school and could welcome some 2000 Asian residents who see Tasmania’s positive future and want to part of it.
This innovative project was approved under the new Southern Tasmania Regional Land Use Strategy, which is part of the State Government’s $2.3 million Regional Planning Initiative.
This is a very practical example of how our planning reforms are delivering tangible results for the Tasmanian economy.
Mr Speaker, our unique tourism assets also provide an entrée into the Asian market and the growing Chinese middle class.
Over the 2010‑11 year Tasmania experienced a 13 per cent increase in Chinese visitors at a time when many segments of the tourism market have been flat.
Tasmania has particular qualities as a destination for Asian visitors.
We offer outstanding food, wine, walking and nature-based tours and experiences specific to Asian tastes and interests.
In recognition of the growing importance and potential for more visitors from China, the Government has appointed a new Tourism Tasmania representative based in Shanghai to focus on markets in Northern and Eastern China.
This new role comes in addition to Tourism Tasmania’s Asian team based in Hong Kong.
I congratulate those Tasmanian tourism operators who are taking their own initiatives to cater for the Asian market.
We need to prepare for these visitors so we can offer them the best services and experiences possible when they arrive.
If we want to be the best of hosts our guests need to be able to read a menu in their own language, or have signage and tourism information in Chinese or Japanese to help them find their way around.
I applaud the Mercure Hobart, which has become the first hotel in Tasmania to gain the Optimum Service Standards accreditation for Chinese Visitation.
The Hotel achieved this by catering for the specific cultural needs of our Chinese visitors by providing, for example, Chinese snacks for breakfast, room service menus in Mandarin, and Chinese channels on TV.
Bridestowe Lavender Farm at Lilydale and Tas Live Abalone at Mornington have also tailored their business operations and on-site tours to the needs of the Chinese visitor market.
Tasmania’s $670 million hospitality industry also stands to gain from this visitor growth.
But success is not guaranteed.
Providing first class hospitality skills will be essential if we are to get repeat business.
Further skills development in our cafes, restaurants and bars will be needed to ensure Tasmania’s hospitality industry is up there with the best in the world.
That’s why in the last Budget my Government committed $100 000 to the Hospitality Industry Skills Development initiative.
The initiative focussed on attracting and retaining staff, and improving employee knowledge of local products and produce, particularly new, innovative, high-value products.
I congratulate the Tasmanian Hospitality Association for its achievement in delivering this valuable service.
In recognition of this success, the Government will extend its commitment to this initiative as a fully funded program for a further two years, with a particular focus on preparing for Asian tourists.
Mr Speaker, as I have highlighted, Tasmania has made significant steps into the Asian market through the work of both government and industry.
Now is the time to take stock and renew our efforts to ensure we are coordinated and well positioned for Tasmania to aggressively pursue the Asian market.
The Government will therefore commission a White Paper on ‘Tasmania’s Place in the Asian Century’.
The timing of this work is perfectly positioned to be conducted alongside the Australian Government’s own Asian White Paper led by Dr Ken Henry.
In parallel with the national project, our own White Paper will lay the foundations for Tasmania to navigate its way through the most transformative economic shift of power in generations.
Through our Economic Development Plan we are laying the foundations for a stronger Tasmanian economy.
The White Paper will take the next step of detailing what opportunities that economy can exploit.
But while we can rightly get excited about the vast and growing prospects in Asia, we must not lose sight of those communities that are feeling economic pain right now.
My Government is already playing a strong role in supporting local community economic growth and fostering social inclusion.
Tasmania’s Enterprise Centres play a key role in facilitating new enterprise and ideas in local communities.
The Government will strengthen this approach with a new initiative in partnership with internationally acclaimed community development pioneer Dr Ernesto Sirolli.
Dr Sirolli established his unique approach to community development in 1985 in Esperance, a small rural community in Western Australia which had been suffering from major economic restructuring similar to regional communities across Tasmania.
By harnessing the passion, determination, intelligence, and resourcefulness of the local people he produced remarkable results providing hope and a real future for a once depressed community.
More than 250 communities across the world have since engaged Dr Sirolli to help them harness the embedded skills and talent of their population.
My Parliamentary Secretary for the North West Economy, Brenton Best, has been instrumental in linking Dr Sirolli to communities across Tasmania where his program could make a significant difference.
As a result, we will commit $950,000 over two years to bring the Sirolli Enterprise Facilitation model to the towns of Scottsdale, George Town and Smithton.
These communities are suffering due to the downturn in the forest industry and the pressure on our major manufacturing operations arising from the high exchange rate.
But they still have so much to offer, and nobody should ever write them off.
I know the people in these communities.
They are hard-working and resilient.
And with the help of Dr Sirolli they can make a great economic contribution to Tasmania for years to come.
Mr Speaker, I want to see a Tasmania where everyone has the opportunity to realise their full potential.
I want all Tasmanians to be able to access the services and education which will enable them to take advantage of, and contribute to, the changing economy around them.
In Australia over the past decade we have certainly seen improvements in people’s quality of life.
A majority of people are better off, with greater prosperity and wellbeing.
But there is still a widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ and it is holding us all back.
When I think about Tasmania’s future, I see a place where everyone has the chance to lift themselves up - to be who they want to be.
I see a compassionate Tasmania where people feel safe, where they are healthy, confident and happy and where they can be productive members of their communities.
We know there are barriers that stop some Tasmanians realising their potential.
We know that one-third of Tasmanian households are reliant on government pensions and allowances as their main source of income, and another 10-15 per cent are the ‘working poor’.
There are still too many Tasmanians struggling to get through life.
Somehow we’ve come to accept that this is just the way it is, that this is the way our society has always been.
Well I don’t accept it.
I don’t accept that there will always have to be people in our communities who struggle in life, who live with poor health and who can’t get work.
I believe that by working together we can lift people up so that they can contribute in a meaningful way to our society and to our economy.
In Government, we have worked hard to find out what is holding people back, what is stopping them realising their full potential.
Thanks to the ground-breaking work of our Social Inclusion Commissioner, Professor David Adams, we now know what the challenges are, and we also know more about the strengths of our communities.
We have established a Parliamentary Committee for the Cost of Living to examine and report on some of those issues in more detail.
We have also taken immediate action to provide assistance to those people in our communities who are really doing it tough.
Over the last two Budgets we have helped Tasmanians in need by providing $3 million in emergency relief funding to give them access to the basics.
We have also made available 195 additional places of accommodation for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and we have met the Government’s target to halve the number of people sleeping rough.
Mr Speaker, to give this work a boost I announce that in the next Budget, there will be a further $5 million to help people most in need deal with the rising costs of food and electricity.
This funding is available because we took the decision to sell TOTE Tasmania.
My Parliamentary Secretary for the Cost of Living, Rebecca White, and I have been working with our passionate community sector representatives over the past few months on a range of initiatives for the State Budget.
Along with the Minister for Human Services, Cassy O’Connor, we will meet with them again later this month at a Cost of Living Round Table where we will identify those things that will make the biggest difference to the lives of those Tasmanians who are struggling to make ends meet.
To help more Tasmanian families get through the long winter ahead, I am also pleased to announce that through a statewide partnership between Foodbank and our Neighbourhood houses, from June to September we will provide an additional 4000 food boxes to help ensure families don’t go hungry.
I acknowledge that rising energy prices are having an impact on everyone and we will also use this $5 million to help those people in our community deal with those changes in a sustainable way.
It will complement the $6 million that will be spent over the next three years to help low income tenants in both public and private rental reduce their energy consumption and power bills, through programs like Power Savings for Tenants.
We are also taking action to ensure Tasmanians who are struggling have the housing they need, enough food to eat, and the chance to participate in education and training.
In housing, joint Commonwealth and State funding has resulted in 900 new affordable properties being built across Tasmania since 2009.
We expect to exceed our ambitious target of 1400 new affordable homes by June this year, with a further 800 properties expected to be delivered by June 2016 through the National Rental Affordability Scheme.
We established the Tasmanian Food Security Council to provide the Government with a new Food Security Strategy that I expect to receive soon.
We have also established a Food Security Fund that is providing communities with the skills necessary to grow and prepare their own food.
These are the sorts of things that really make a difference in the long term.
Mr Speaker, we are also making life changing differences to people in education.
We’re spending $5.9 million per annum on Launching into Learning, a program offered through government schools that supports parents to be their child’s first and most influential teacher.
We’ve implemented the Raising the Bar, Closing the Gap Program, which gives literacy and numeracy support to those students who need it most.
We’ve provided $11 million over four years to implement the Adult Literacy Action Plan, which helps Tasmanians who struggle to read and write.
All of these investments are helping to make our communities stronger.
They are preparing young Tasmanians for the jobs and opportunities of the future.
Mr Speaker, the Member for Lyons Ms White and I recently visited the Jordan River Learning campuses in Bridgewater, Gagebrook and Herdsmans Cove.
Like many other schools and settings, such as Queenstown and Geeveston, provision is being made to ensure birth-to-adult learning, and connections to the new LINCs and Child and Family Centres.
Students are supported in their education, from birth through to high school and have access to further training options, along with a clear academic pathway to university or Vocational Education and Training.
What it means in practice is that a young mother-to-be can receive parenting advice through the Child and Family Centre.
Once the child is born, the mother can continue to access health services and day care while taking part in adult literacy programs at the LINC.
As the child moves through kindergarten, primary school and then high school, parenting support is provided at every step of the way through things like Breakfast Clubs to ensure that children get a healthy start to the day.
There is a clear pathway into Year 11 and 12, or skills training through the Trades Training Centre.
During part of my visit I met some senior secondary students who struck me as great examples of what we are trying to achieve in communities such as this.
From the group of four students I spoke to, two told me they intended to undertake post Year 10 qualifications in trades, while the other two planned to go on to University to study marine biology and business management.
All of them have fantastic job prospects, underpinned by a solid education.
What is exciting is that these sorts of opportunities are being replicated across the State through our investment in Child and Family Centres and LINCs from St Helens to Queenstown and from Beaconsfield to Clarence Plains.
These ground breaking Centres bring together a range of government and non-government services to provide children with the very best start in life.
They are an example of government working together and working smarter.
The end result will be safer, more inclusive and stronger communities.
In the coming months I will work with agencies across Government to identify communities and services where we can take this approach further.
We need to keep looking for more ways in which we can break down the silos that separate government services, as we are doing through the LINCs and Child and Family Centres.
I believe we can do more, we can set the bar higher and we can dedicate the energy of government to reducing inequality in our society.
I want to put people firmly at the centre of our service delivery.
It is my priority to build on the nation-leading social inclusion work that has been done in Tasmania to deliver more practical action to build thriving communities.
I want change that is driven by local communities, and I want change that lasts.
I acknowledge that in tough economic times we can’t do everything, but sometimes it’s not just about more money, it’s about thinking creatively and working together to get things done.
Mr Speaker, the Government’s role should be to create the right environment and provide the right support to ensure the visions of Tasmanians can become reality.
Tasmania has a culture of innovation, creativity and excellence.
We have seen in recent times many visions turned into reality thanks to the creativity and energy of Tasmanians.
That’s what David Walsh did at MONA.
It’s what Greg Ramsay and Richard Sattler did with Barnbougle, and what Robert Pennicott did with his award winning Wilderness Journeys.
Innovative Tasmanians are already working on delivering the next projects for the future.
That’s what we are doing by working with the University to progress the new IMAS building on the waterfront.
This will help consolidate Tasmania’s role as the world leader in Antarctic research.
With the Conservatorium, the Arts School and the Menzies Centre, this will help to realise the vision of Hobart as a University town, with students and academics bringing new life to the city centre and the waterfront.
Our massive investment in irrigation will enable farmers to achieve their vision of Tasmania as Australia’s foodbowl.
Mr Speaker, the young people leaving school in 20 years’ time will take up jobs we can’t even imagine today.
But what we do know is that those jobs will most likely be part of Tasmania in the Asian Century.
Whether it’s providing financial or educational services to China via virtual technology powered by the NBN, direct connections bringing tourists from Beijing or Shanghai, or encouraging their investment in our industries, we need to build a bridge to our Asian neighbours.
We are small but we can make a big impact.
We export premium wines to Europe and our biggest market by volume is already China, where the greatest opportunities for market growth lie in the future.
We have the opportunity to double our dairy production, double our aquaculture, and quadruple our wine production within a decade.
Our current investment in irrigation will help to realise these goals, creating new jobs and requiring new skills from young Tasmanians.
We are already exporting Japanese cherries and Fuji apples to Japan after working with Japanese markets to identify their needs.
The challenge now is to replicate that success by producing high quality Tasmanian produce for China, India and Korea.
Our renewable energy expertise is already being exported by Hydro to Malaysia, and Chinese investors have already bought in to our Woolnorth wind farm.
The challenge now is to make our advantage in renewable energy a cornerstone of the Tasmanian economy.
Our sustainable energy advantage and large forest reserves will become even more significant as we realise the benefits of a global economy moving away from carbon emissions.
There is still a place in Tasmania’s future for traditional industries like mining, fishing and a sustainable forest industry based on value-adding and downstream processing.
The opportunities I have referred to will require a skilled, adaptable and resourceful workforce.
They will create rewarding and interesting jobs for young Tasmanians.
Socially, Tasmania is a more tolerant, inclusive and diverse community than it was a generation ago.
I believe we will take further great strides in the coming years as we welcome a closer relationship with our near neighbours.
Our role in the booming Asian economy will enable us to invest in our priorities - better health and education services, new businesses and industries, new cultural and artistic pursuits.
We can create a more compassionate and equitable society where all Tasmanians can make the most of our unique lifestyle.
We want people to have security and prosperity so they can enjoy our arts and culture, our restaurants and wonderful produce, our sporting events and the recreational opportunities offered by our beaches, our forests, our mountains and our oceans.
Tasmanians are already justifiably proud of our great State.
We have every reason to believe the future will be even better.
If we work together to realise our visions, our potential is limitless.
Mr Speaker, now is not the time for the negativity and knocking of Tasmania that we hear so much of at the moment.
To the contrary, we have much to be positive about.
We have no net debt.
Unemployment remains comparatively low in historical terms.
We have growing exports and private investment.
We have the lowest taxation burden in the country.
Our economy is still growing and we are infinitely better off than much of the rest of the world.
Tasmanians are tough and independent.
We will get through the challenges we face because we always do.
Times of change like this provide a platform for reform, innovation and investment that will set-up our economy to provide new jobs and a positive future for the next generation.
If we can lift ourselves up and think beyond the moment, Tasmania stands poised to benefit from its great natural advantages.
We are in the right part of the world, at the right time, with all the ingredients for success.
As I travel around Tasmania I have met remarkable people doing remarkable things, whether it is in business, sport or helping their communities.
The common thread among the people I meet is pride in Tasmania and a can-do attitude despite the challenges we face.
We’re a proud State with much to be proud about.
I believe in Tasmania and I believe in our future.
My Government, like Labor governments before us, will continue to support the workers and ordinary Tasmanians who are most vulnerable during difficult times.
But most of all, my Government will continue to provide the strong leadership needed to help achieve the better future that Tasmanians deserve.
• Nick McKim, Greens Leader:
RESILIENT COMMUNITIES AND A DIVERSIFED ROBUST ECONOMY
Address-in-Reply to Premier’s Speech
Nick McKim MP
The Tasmanian Greens today said that the economic transition currently underway positions Tasmania to enjoy a prosperous and successful and economically strong future, should the right decision be made now.
Greens Leader Nick McKim MP outlined new policy initiatives to help position Tasmania to maximise the opportunities presented by an economic transition, and also outlined priority social and democratic reforms.
“We hear lots of doom and gloom about Tasmania and no doubt Tasmania is facing its fair share of challenges but the Greens are very excited and very confident about this State’s future, as long as we get some key decisions right,” Mr McKim said.
“ Tasmania’s economic transition has been under way for a decade. By choosing to participate in the transition enables us to shape the transition, rather than just allow it to happen to us.”
“One thing that will assist us in maximising opportunities is the great Green dividend, the financial windfall, that will flow to Tasmania via Hydro Tasmania from a cost on carbon applied at a national level.”
“This cost on carbon is a great green dividend for Tasmania and negotiated through the Federal Parliament by the Greens, delivered by the Greens and Labor federally and it will benefit Tasmania as we move forward.”
“At the state level, we Greens are also working hard to deliver both significant public social reforms and economic diversification strategies.”
“On behalf of the Greens I am proud to announce new policy initiatives we believe would position Tasmania to meet the long-term economic trends. We will boost our agricultural sector, retail sector and move to assist manufacturers and producers.”
Greens’ Proposal: Freight Equalisation Scheme Reform
The Tasmanian Greens will be stepping up our campaign to investigate issues surrounding the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme, in order to provide a level playing field and equitable connection of Tasmania with the rest of the nation.
We are proposing a joint Federal-State program to address the export/import inequities, as well as develop innovative alternatives to maximize shipping services. For example establishing a shipping coordinating program, which may involve consolidating and co-ordinating freight movements to provide full containers could boost Tasmanian business needs to secure regular and reliable shipping services. It seeks to seeks to address concerns of inbuilt inequalities within the freight subsidization scheme, which impact upon some imports and exports.
This proposal is consistent with the principle of positioning for the long-term economic trend – in this case high Australian dollar creating challenges for the manufacturing and business sector.
Greens Proposal: Tasmanian Retail Sector E-Connect Program
Another long-term trend is the decline in local retail. To assist positioning Tasmania, the Greens are proposing a Tasmanian Retail Sector E-Connect Program.
Features of our proposed Retail Sector E-Connect Program would be consistent with those proven to be effective in the Tourism Tasmania’s Digital Coach Program and would include:
• New and/or updated, fully optimized websites
• Online sales and purchasing capability
• Improved online interaction with customers
• Development of online ‘loyalty’ schemes
• Improved Search Engine Optimization and website listings – to be in the top 5-10 places in Google searches
• Business names claimed on Google Places
• Integration and use of social media
E-connectivity can open, or keep open, many of our small business doors.
Greens Proposal: Create Expanded Feral Species Unit and proclaim the Cat Management Act of 2009
Another identified long-term trend is one that presents a massive opportunity for Tasmania is the predicted growth in demand for high quality agricultural products.
The Greens are proposing that the current Fox Taskforce is expanded into a Feral Species Unit, along with the proclamation of the Cat Management Act of 2009.
“While the expanded Feral Species Unit would cover a range of introduced species, while maintaining its vigilance against foxes becoming established, the Greens see an urgent and rising need to combat the problem of feral cats - both on our ecology and on our primary industries sector.”
Social and Democratic Reform Agenda
The Greens will also pursue a progressive policy agenda that invests in Tasmania as a compassionate and resilient community, including:
Cost of Living: It has been said that the test of a society is how it treats the most vulnerable during the tough times. This Strategy is a national first, and the reason Tasmania has this ground-breaking work is due to the Greens taking the proposal into our 2010 State Budget negotiations with Labor. While we are proud of that legacy, we are also determined that where possible its implementation is prioritized.
Marriage equality for all Tasmanians
Introduce a state-based $1 Bet Limit on Pokies
State Based political donations disclosure system in place by teh next state election
Restore MPs Numbers
Protection of high conservation value forests
“Investing in maintaining our social fabric is fundamental, and the Greens refute the lazy line that social and democratic reform can only be afforded in good economic times. That is defeatist and irresponsible, we can look after our community and diversify our economy at the same time,” Mr McKim said.
Download the full address-in-reply:
• Liberal Leader Will Hodgman’s address-in-reply was not sent to TT and it’s not available on their website, here