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Bruny Lighthouse - Privatisation
Parliamentary Activity - Tuesday, 26 November 2019
Ms O'CONNOR question to MINISTER for ENVIRONMENT, PARKS and HERITAGE, Mr GUTWEIN
At 5 p.m. last Friday by media release you announced another privatisation of a public asset through your highly secretive stage 2 EOIs, this time of Bruny Lighthouse. No bells and whistles like in days gone by, just a Friday afternoon news dump. It has since been revealed that at the same time that the EOI proposal for Bruny Lighthouse was on the Office of the Coordinator-General's table, Parks and Wildlife spent at least $327 000 upgrading the site, as well as an undisclosed sum upgrading the road and carpark - public moneys blatantly being used to enable a private development on public land. How is that not corruption?
Madam SPEAKER - Order, we have the minister on his feet.
Madam Speaker, Bruny Island is one of Tasmania's most loved destinations for locals and visitors alike. The Government recognises the contribution that our national parks make to our visitor economy and we have made an unprecedented investment to ensure that we have the right facilities supporting our natural assets.
Let me be clear in terms of this. Planning for the $330 000 upgrade that Parks have made began back in 2017.
Ms O'Connor - Irrelevant: the works were done in June.
Mr GUTWEIN - That is about improving the public infrastructure, including toilets and disability access.
Ms O'Connor - So you can privatise it.
Madam SPEAKER - Order, Ms O'Connor.
Mr GUTWEIN - This public infrastructure will remain public infrastructure. It will be available for the public ongoing, and I think you know that, member for Clark.
Ms O'Connor - I know that you're dodgy.
Mr GUTWEIN - Madam Speaker, I am also advised that the EOI was released publicly, I think, on the Thursday. The press release went out on the Friday - I am not sure of the time it was released -
Ms O'Connor - It was 5 o'clock. on a Friday afternoon.
Mr GUTWEIN - I am not shy of the press, so there was no timing issue here. If it went out a little late, then I am disappointed that it went out a bit late.
The proposal that has come through the EOI is to use three existing heritage buildings in the precinct that have not been updated as a result of the recent investment by the state.
I make the point and go to the hypocrisy of the Leader of the Greens, the member for Clark, and the moral self-righteousness that she brings to this place. She has been caught out. It is a statement of fact that when you were a cabinet minister in the former Labor-Greens government, back in 2012, that you went out for an EOI, not on selected parts of the asset on Bruny, but to lease the entire site. And an operator was signed up. If I could just make the point, she shakes her head and says, 'No, this is different'. I do not think many people in this place would be aware of that.
Ms O'Connor - I do not even know what you are talking about.
Mr GUTWEIN - That is the point. That is the improvement that we have brought to the table through the transparent EOI process.
When the member for Clark was a minister in the previous government they signed up a deal with a private operator.
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker, on relevance, standing order 45. That is nothing I know anything about. It is ancient history. You have been asked to explain why it is not corrupt to spend public monies enabling a private development on Bruny.
Madam SPEAKER - Thank you, Ms O'Connor. That is not a point of order.
Mr GUTWEIN - Of course it is not a point of order. What the member is trying to do is to cover up the fact that when she was in government, they went to the market for a lease of the entire site on Bruny.
Ms O'Connor - You are a total crook.
Mr FERGUSON - Point of order, Madam Speaker. The Treasurer will not have heard that interjection, but I ask that that offensive remark from the Leader of the Greens be withdrawn.
Madam SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, I ask you to stand and withdraw that offensive comment.
Ms O'CONNOR - I will do so because you have asked, Madam Speaker. I withdraw it.
Mr Ferguson - Yes, fair enough. No more questions for you today.
Ms O'Connor - I do not take my orders from you.
Mr GUTWEIN - When the member of the Greens starts to behave in this fashion you know she has been caught out. I am going to state very clearly again what I said when I began this answer.
The works were planned on Bruny Island around 2017; $330 000 has been spent to improve toilets, including improved disability access, car parking that all will be available to the public. The proponent has brought forward a proposal to use three heritage-listed buildings on the island in which their own money will be invested to do them up. The public will not lose access to any part of the site they currently have. In fact, the public will get a better outcome because the facilities have been upgraded.
To make the point again, in terms of the EOI process and the transparency that we have brought to the table, I make this point that member sat in Cabinet -
Ms O'Connor - You are just lying now.
Madam SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, we do not call people liars in this place. I expect you to withdraw that.
Ms O'CONNOR - On the point of order, I said he was lying. I did not call him a liar. If you would like me to withdraw the statement, I will.
Madam SPEAKER - I am sorry. That is semantics. It is the same thing.
Ms O'Connor - It is not.
Madam SPEAKER - You have had five minutes, Treasurer.
Mr GUTWEIN - I will wind up by saying very clearly and very firmly, once again, the moral self-righteousness that they bring to this Chamber and the hypocrisy, which knows no bounds when they think that they can get on to a political issue, and the point that I make is that the EOI process adds an additional layer of transparency.
We have just heard that a cabinet member of the former government had no idea that they had gone to the market; that they had signed up a lease with a private operator. Whereas under our EOI process, before we entered lease and licence negotiations, we made public who we are dealing with. That is the increase in transparency.
To be frank, it is no wonder you are whinging and complaining because you have been caught out. You were a poor and lazy minister and one that did not pay attention to what was going on -
Madam SPEAKER - Okay, thank you.