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Brand Tasmania Bill 2018 - Second Reading

22 November 2018

Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Madam Speaker, it gives me 
great pleasure on behalf of the Greens tonight to support the Brand 
Tasmania Bill 2018. 

When we talk about Tasmania's brand it has so many elements to it. The 
foundational and geographical story of Tasmania's brand is the fact we are 
a chip off the old Gondwanan block. We have extraordinary flora here, 
King Billy pine, Huon, Nothofagus gunnii, our native species and you will 
not find them anywhere else in the world. You can travel around the 
island in a week or two and see half a dozen completely different 
landscapes, so stunningly beautiful. 

The human history of our brand goes back tens of thousands of years - 40 
000 years or more to the first people, the palawa pakana, who shaped this 
island. This beautiful island, the mosaic burns, the way they managed and 
cared for Tasmania, the island lutruwita, has been part of why Tasmania, 
lutruwita, captures the imagination of people from all over the world. 
From the Greens' point of view, the story of those foundational elements 
of our brand goes back to Lake Pedder, to the battle to save that 
beautiful quartz beach, that incredible place like nowhere else in the 
world. The civil society movement lost that battle, but we saved the 
mighty Franklin River which runs free and it runs free because hundreds of 
people, who over a long period of time got in there, defended that place, 
held off the bulldozers until the federal government stepped in and said 
we will save the Franklin River. That is part of wild Tasmania that is 
the foundation of our brand. 

Then you go to the battle to save Wesley Vale from the pulp mill way back 
in 1988-89, which gave birth politically to Christine Milne, a former 
Tasmanian Greens leader, a former Australian Greens leader and the first 
person as far as I know to coin the term 'clean, green and clever'. These 
are the foundational elements of the brand that we are discussing tonight, 
the brand that we celebrate, the brand that the Greens will always defend 
in this place. 

After Wesley Vale, a successful campaign, there was another threat to 
Tasmania's brand, to our forest, to our natural environment, to our 
reputation for clean air, and that was the proposed Gunns pulp mill in the 
Tamar Valley. Again, civil society stood up and defended this island and 
thus defended its brand. If the Tamar Valley pulp mill had gone ahead our 
brand would have been damaged. Our reputation as a clean and green island 
would have been damaged. Deforestation would have accelerated and 
visitors coming to this place would have seen far more clear-felled, 
burned and scarified landscapes than they see today.

I am in this place because there was a Sydney-based company that wanted to 
put 500 homes and a marina inside the Ralphs Bay conservation area. Again, 
civil society, an incredible group of people, stood up to defend their 
place, to protect the Ralphs Bay conservation area, to protect the 
beautiful pied oystercatchers, a tiny little red-necked stint which flies 
all the way to Siberia and back each year to the sand flats of Ralphs Bay. 
Civil society defended the Ralphs Bay conservation area. There are not 
Gold Coast style canal estates right there in the River Derwent and that 
is part of what has defined and defended our brands. 

All through these decades you had people who understood and respected the 
intrinsic value of all life, who looked at a forest and saw it for what it 
really was - a complete natural miracle. Over decades, Tasmanian civil 
society, conservationists, Greens members of parliament, our extraordinary 
author, Richard Flanagan, have stood up for Tasmania's forests over the 
decades and in many cases put their bodies in front of the bulldozers. 
Who can forget those iconic images of Bob Brown being carted away, putting 
his whole being in between Tasmania's forests and those who would destroy 
it. 

Even in the term of the Labor-Greens government, action was taken by the 
government of the day, working with the environment movement and the 
timber industry to protect Tasmania's forests. Those forests are integral 
to what people identify with Tasmania and they are part of the reason that 
people come to this beautiful island. Still now, as a result of the 
actions of that government, 356 000 hectares of beautiful, high 
conservation value forests, Styx, Florentine, Picton, Weld, the Bruny 
forests over to the Tasman Peninsula, Wielangta, the Blue Tiers, into the 
Great Western Tiers and the Tarkine, are those extraordinary forests which 
are a foundational element of the Tasmanian brand and which are still not 
safe.

Madam Speaker, that brings me to what is a potential risk every day in 
this place to Tasmania's brand. A brand is a fragile and precious thing. 
It only takes one bad policy, one careless act on the part of an industry 
or government, and your brand is tainted. A brand must have integrity. 
Without integrity the brand is meaningless. To protect this remarkable 
brand which is like no other brand on earth, brand Tasmania, we must be 
committed to upholding the integrity of that brand and that means we have 
to nurture the foundational assets, for want of a better word, of that 
brand.

When you talk to visitors to Tasmania, whether they come from mainland 
Australia or overseas, and you ask them why they have come to this place, 
it is because Tasmania captures in people's imagination something of a 
lost world, a place where there is still wilderness. People talk about 
wilderness as a major drawcard for coming to Tasmania. Visitor surveys 
have been done and visitors have been asked, 'What brought you here?' and 
the number one consideration that drives visitation to Tasmania is the 
wilderness. It is a perception of purity and pristineness, which is in 
part true. For visitors who come here because Tasmania captures this 
place in their imagination, they do not necessarily need to go in to see 
the wilderness, they just need to know it is there. People all over the 
world just need to know that there is a place like Tasmania. It gives 
people hope.

I remember before I was elected, I was tramping around the flats of Ralphs 
Bay. I was on the phone to my late father-in-law, and he said, 'What are 
you up to, Cassy?' and I said, 'Oh, you know, working', and I told him a 
little story of Ralphs Bay and he goes, 'You fight hard, girl'. He was 
living in Sydney. 'You fight hard, girl, we up here need to know there is 
a place like Tasmania on Earth'. We need to remember that we are, in the 
parliament right now, the custodians of something extraordinary. A little 
green heart shaped island at the bottom of the world that has wilderness, 
that has extraordinary forests, incredible coast lines; that has the most 
extraordinary European and Aboriginal cultural heritage, that draws 
artists from all over the world, partly because of the light here. We are 
at the same latitude in the southern hemisphere as Tuscany in the northern 
hemisphere and that is why we get that incredible golden light here. It 
draws artists and story tellers to this island. That light, that quality, 
that something magic about this island that you will not find in other 
parts of the world. They are those intrinsic underlying assets of our 
brand. People from all over the world look at this island and they regard 
it as a jewel.

I recognise that, in establishing an authority, we are actually 
strengthening the protective capacity, if you like, of government, 
parliament, businesses, trading entities, our primary producers and civil 
society to nurture our brand. I was stoked to hear the Premier use the 
word 'nurture'. Our role here in establishing this authority is to set up 
something which has a protective role, a nurturing role in making sure 
that our brand stays in good shape. 

I also echo the comments of the Leader of the Opposition in acknowledging 
the work of Robert Hazelwood, after all these years. I was just talking 
to Robert in the foyer and he told me 17 years ago, when he got the job 
with Brand Tasmania, he was told that he had to work in a home office, buy 
his own car, run his own show. Robert, we have not always agreed on some 
of these brand issues but I acknowledge that you have stayed on, you have 
worked hard, you have done your best to be part of building up Brand 
Tasmania and we owe you a debt of gratitude. Thank you. 

Members - Hear, hear.

Ms O'CONNOR - We need to acknowledge that the Brand Tasmania Authority 
will, as a result of this legislation, have the capacity to identify risks 
to the brand and also opportunities to strengthen the brand. The risks to 
brand, right now, and I have only thought about it for a few days, are the 
loss of wilderness. That is happening under this Government through the 
expressions of interest process. 

I urge the Premier to again have a look at the definition of 'wilderness'. 
Wilderness is not wilderness when you are putting luxury lodges inside 
wilderness, allowing helicopter flights to ferry wealthy tourists in and 
out of places that have been enjoyed by fly fishermen and walkers freely 
for decades with the lightest touch. The lightest human touch on the 
wilderness - building luxury lodges, helicopters, that is not a light 
touch. By UN definition that degrades wilderness. If we degrade our 
wilderness, if we turn our wild places into a theme park like Canada has 
and is now frantically back pedalling from, we will put the brand at risk. 
Just as if we allow the loggers into the 356 000 hectares of incredible, 
miraculous high conservation value forest around this state we will put 
the brand at risk.

Another threat to our brand - and I believe that in a reflective moment 
outside this Chamber it is entirely possible that the Premier and the 
Leader of the Opposition would agree with me - is the potential damage to 
the marine environment caused by rampant fish farm expansion. People who 
come here from interstate and overseas have an idea of purity and 
pristineness when they think about Tasmania. If they get here and they go 
for a swim off Bruny, down in Frederick Henry Bay and they can see that 
the water is full of something slimy and grimy and fishy, which is fish 
poo, that places our brand at risk and it creates a perception in the 
visitors' mind that our brand is not as pristine as it should be.

Did you want to, by way of interjection, contribute to the debate, Mr 
Hidding?

Mr Hidding - No, no. I do not want to speak while you are interrupting.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you, Mr Barnett.

Mr Hidding - Mr Barnett often says he worries about your croaky voice.

Ms O'CONNOR - Another threat to our brand is inappropriate, ill thought 
out development. Whether it be pulp mills or canal estates or skyscrapers 
in our beautiful medium-rise city of Hobart. We need to be very careful 
about the development decisions we make, about the land use planning 
decisions we make and about making sure we talk to Tasmanians about what 
they want from their built fabric and are part of the decision making 
about the future of our fantastic city. 

Another risk to the brand is a risk that comes about potentially as a 
result of our own success. The fact that people want to come here from 
every corner of the globe to see one the of the last truly wild and 
civilised places on the planet. I know they sound like a contradiction 
but this is a wild island and it is a civilised and safe democracy. We 
need to be careful to not race too far ahead in the visitor economy and 
think that we can constantly blow up that balloon and constantly go for 
quantity of numbers over quality of experience. People who travel to this 
island should know that it is a privilege to be here. That is why we have 
argued for a visitor levy. We should be making some money out of visitors 
and reinvesting that money into our national parks, World Heritage areas 
and visitor infrastructure. We need a plan to deal with the growth in 
tourism numbers. We need to make sure that in our regions, in particular - 
I know the Premier agrees with this - we are distributing the visitors and 
we are also sharing the wealth.

The week before last we were up in Deloraine and I was talking to a local 
bed and breakfast operator. We started talking about all the visitors who 
are coming to the south and this lady said, 'Well, we don't see much of 
that up here. We have no problem with numbers up here'. In the south of 
the state in and around Hobart people are becoming increasingly aware of 
the rapid growth in numbers, yet up in beautiful Deloraine it has barely 
even begun to make an impact on their perception of visitor numbers.

Ms White mentioned biosecurity as threat to the brand. We have a 
reputation nationally and internationally for our clean and green produce, 
and for the quality of our produce. We need to invest in biosecurity so 
we can protect our reputation for cleanliness and purity. I call on the 
Premier to make sure there is increased investment in Biosecurity Tasmania 
in future budgets, because it is a critical part of protecting our brand. 

Another threat to the brand is not so much about the environment or our 
cultural landscape, but governance and democracy. If you have good 
governance you have a much better capacity to protect the brand. If your 
governance framework is such that rapacious developers can come in and 
persuade the government of the day to allow them to build something, or 
log something or mine something in a manner that threatens the brand that 
is not good governance. It does put the brand at threat when you have too 
close a relationship between private business and the government of the 
day coupled with the lack of a settlement strategy for Tasmania, the lack 
of a long-term vision for what we want for this remarkable, beautiful 
island.

At a social level we have a reputation among not-for-profit organisations, 
advocates, for example, for humanitarian entrants, we have a reputation 
for the most remarkable culture of community. We give more per capita 
than any other Australian state or territory and we are the poorest. 
Tasmanians have big hearts. Our culture of community, our friendliness is 
integral to our brand and it is integral to people's perceptions when they 
come here.

I remember 30 years ago coming down from Queensland, where people get hot 
and they get a bit uncomfortable and they get grumpy and everyone is sour 
so often, and coming here and walking into a shop and the lady behind the 
counter going, 'Hello lovey, how are you today, are you having a good day?'
I remember ringing my mum up one night after that saying, 'Mum, everyone 
down here is so friendly'. That has not changed. We have a culture of 
generosity of spirit, of acceptance, inclusion and kindness, and we need 
to protect that. Associated with that is social inequality. We must do 
more as a state and as a parliament to tackle the causes of social 
inequality to make sure that those positive economic benefits that come 
from the strength of our brand are shared.

At the moment, there are people who are suffering, people who are living 
below the poverty line, people who are wholly dependent on income support, 
who have no chance of getting meaningful employment, people who are 
missing out on a quality education, on access to transport and services. 
As we embark on this journey of nurturing and strengthening the brand that 
will strengthen our economic future, we must make sure that we are looking 
after people as well. The brand relies on us being regarded not only as a 
place that looks after its natural treasures but as a place that looks 
after its people.

I pay tribute to some other champions of Tasmania's brand. I pay tribute 
to the photographer Olegas Truchanas. Olegas Truchanas was one of the 
first great photographers who went into Tasmania's wilderness and captured 
the essence of something you will not find anywhere else on Earth and 
shared it with the world. For many Tasmanians who had not had the 
opportunity to experience the wilderness, Olegas Truchanas gave them the 
first window into this remarkable place on our doorstep.

Bob Brown, the Franklin River campaign; Christine Milne, the Wesley Vale 
campaign; Peg Putt, defending always Tasmania's forests; Geoff Law, one of 
the earliest founders of the Wilderness Society and a relentless champion 
for wild Tasmania.

Richard Flanagan, who was reviled and derided for his passion, is an 
incredibly articulate advocate for Tasmania's forests and for its 
wilderness, who we can all embrace as a Man Booker Prize winner. He is 
one of the great authors of the world and has contributed so much to the 
brand but also to that reputation that we have for creativity and 
innovation for remarkable artists, story tellers, theatre. The arts and 
culture environment in Tasmania again contributes to our brand.

I pay tribute to Tasmania's Aboriginal people who not only looked after 
this place for tens of thousands of years, but have stood alongside the 
conservation movement to protect the Tasmanian forests and the wilderness.

To Vica Bayley, to the Environmental Defenders Office, the Tasmanian 
Conservation Trust. So many people over such a long time who have 
recognised the need for Tasmanians to stand up when it is necessary to 
defend what sets this island apart from every other place on the planet.

The evolution of the bill has been pretty special. We got hold of the 
bill -

Mr Hodgman - 17 October.

Ms O'CONNOR - Tabled on 17 October. We went through it and identified 
areas in which it could be strengthened. We recognised that it was 
fundamentally good legislation but it could be strengthened. Staff from 
the Department of Premier and Cabinet have done so much work in delivering 
the building Tasmania's brand audit, which was delivered on 27 January and 
working up this legislation, which will take Tasmania's brand forward.

I thank everyone from your agency, Premier, who contributed to making this 
bill the best that it can be. It is really important that there is 
tripartisan support for the law that establishes the Brand Tasmania 
Authority. It is really important that the Greens in this place stand by 
the Brand Tasmania legislation. It has been great to have the Department 
of Premier and Cabinet work with us on some amendments that we believe 
will improve the bill. 

I will not go through all the amendments because they have been 
foreshadowed. The first important amendment for which we hope to have the 
support of both parties relates to the functions of the authority, to make 
sure the authority advocates for the protection of the attributes on which 
the Tasmanian brand relies.

We were annoyed and disappointed when we read clause 10 of the Brand 
Tasmania Act to see that, under the Board of Brand Tasmania, the 
qualifications and experience of those who would sit on the board did not 
include people who were part of the movement that had defended the 
attributes that underpin Tasmania's brand. That is, the environment 
movement, heritage specialists and people who understand natural resource 
management. We have a proposed amendment that would ensure, at least in 
part, those skills are on the board authority and it will make the 
authority do better work. 

There are a number of other amendments we can go through in the Committee 
stage. We have had the assistance of the Office of Parliamentary Counsel 
to prepare these amendments and it has been excellent. The last amendment 
is very important and goes to the content of the annual report issued by 
the Brand Authority. We have an amendment we believe the Premier and the 
Government agree with, that the board must include the following 
information and documents in the annual report, including a statement on 
any developments the board considers may pose a significant risk to the 
reputation of the Tasmanian brand or may strengthen the appeal of the 
Tasmanian brand. 

Mr Hidding - Let us go to Committee and do that.

Ms O'CONNOR - I know you are tired, you want to go nigh-nighs. 

Mr Hidding - No, I don't. You are running all your Committee arguments 
now.

Ms O'CONNOR - I thought we could run the Committee arguments quickly. 
Surely, you did not think a Greens MP was going speak on a brand bill and 
it be over in five minutes. Everyone here needed a little history lesson 
on some of the attributes that underpin the strength of our brand.