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Greens Motion - Glenorchy RSL Club Closure
Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Madam Speaker, I indicate that we will want a vote on this motion. I move -
That the House -
(1) Notes that during the 2018 state election campaign, Liberal MPs and candidates, including the Premier, Hon. Will Hodgman MP, and Treasurer, Hon. Peter Gutwein MP, stood outside the Glenorchy RSL and falsely claimed that without poker machines the venue would close, threatening Anzac Day celebrations.
(2) Further notes with sadness the unexpected closure of the Glenorchy RSL on Sunday, 21 July 2019, the loss of 11 local jobs and a service highly valued by Glenorchy veterans.
(3) Agrees the Tasmanian Liberal Party, the Premier, Treasurer, and Liberal candidates perpetrated a lie on the Tasmanian people in the lead-up to the state election on behalf of their gambling industry donors.
(4) Calls on the Premier, on behalf of the Liberal Party and its elected representatives, to apologise to -
(a) veterans and staff from the now closed Glenorchy RSL for shamelessly exploiting them for political gain; and
(b) Tasmanian voters for misleading them on the impact of removing poker machines from pubs and clubs.
(5) Further agrees that poker machines should be removed from pubs and clubs.
Madam Speaker, I rise to speak on the subject of the scourge of poker machines in pubs and clubs in Tasmania and to acknowledge upfront that there are 11 people who were employed at the Glenorchy RSL who are now unemployed, and to acknowledge that there are veterans who have long valued the service provided by the Glenorchy RSL who will no longer have the Glenorchy RSL as a place to gather and to be together as veterans who fought and served this country.
We have brought this matter on for debate in the wake of the closure of the Glenorchy RSL. For any member who has forgotten what a shameful episode the Glenorchy RSL was, I refer them to a story that was published on ABC Online on 9 January last year which has a serried array of Liberal ministers, sitting members and candidates. I can see in the background of this photo outside the Glenorchy RSL Mr Jaensch, Ms Archer, Ms Howlett, Mr Berakhis, and Mr Brooks. There is Mr Gutwein, the Treasurer, and there is the Premier. There in the background, I think, are some of the 11 staff who are no longer employed at the Glenorchy RSL.
The Tasmanian people in the last state election campaign were fed one of the most massive lies that has ever been perpetrated on the electorate. They were knowingly, wilfully misled by the Liberal Party about the economic and social impact of the removal of poker machines from pubs and clubs. All of that was done on behalf of the gambling industry on the mainland, who as we know poured millions of dollars into ensuring a Liberal election win. That will leave a stain forever on the collective soul of the Liberal Party of Tasmania and every member who was elected to this place off the back of that blood money. It is blood money. It comes out of the pockets of some of our poorest people.
Poker machine addiction leads to family violence and breakdown, child abuse and neglect, addiction, mental illness, homelessness, abject poverty. That is the social reality of having poker machines in pubs and clubs. It is even acknowledged in the Government's own social and economic impact statement on the impact of poker machines in Tasmania. Poker machine addiction, with a person losing everything they have on the poker machines, has led to suicide. You cannot get away from that fact.
The Premier and the Treasurer, if they were decent and honest, in the wake of the closure of the Glenorchy RSL, would apologise to the staff and to the veterans. They would apologise to the people of Tasmania. It was a massive lie and a shameless exploitation of our veterans. We were even led to believe that there would be a threat to Anzac Day celebrations if poker machines were removed from the Glenorchy RSL. Glenorchy RSL kept its poker machines and it closed anyway.
We want the people of Tasmania to receive an apology from the Premier. We want the people of Tasmania to see where each of the major parties stands on this issue. We know clearly where the Liberals stand. They have barely wavered from their socially and economically reckless and toxic policy which will embed the harm caused by poker machines to the year 2043 as a result of bending over to the gambling industry and instituting, as they will when their legislation comes before the Parliament next year, the individual licensing model. The very model that my colleague the member for Clark, Mr Bacon, raised during the campaign. He stood there with the former gaming commissioner, Peter Holt, who was very clear that the individual licensing model will only entrench harms. It is one thing for a parliament to strike down the deed or allow the deed to lapse, it is quite another for a parliament to enact a policy which means that every single one of the venues in Tasmania will be individually licensed to continue the harm caused by poker machines.
We will hear, and have heard, from the Labor leader statements about sovereign risk, about the fact that Labor did not win the election, therefore they have walked away from their pokies policy. Here are some of the things the Leader of the Labor Party said about poker machines and Labor's principled position in the lead-up to the last state election. Rebecca White said Mr Hodgman had 'rolled over' to the pro-pokies lobby group. That is exactly what Ms White has done since. In the story dated 9 January last year, the infamous Glenorchy RSL conga line of Liberal MPs and candidates, she said -
Today Premier Will Hodgman has shown he is nothing more than a coward, can't stand up to the pro-pokies lobby group.
What he is proposing to do is burden the Tasmanian community with poker machines until 2043.
The Labor Leader went on to say -
I will be 60 years old before we can have this debate again about removing poker machines from our pubs and clubs, if we do not take the chance right now to do what is right.
Parliament is sovereign and parliament will be given an opportunity to do what is right when the Treasurer brings legislation into this place to give effect to the Liberal's socially and economically destructive policy. We know what happened to Ms White. We know that Rebecca White got rolled by the O'Byrnes, the federal Labor Party and the gambling industry, which underwrites it through poker machines in clubs. In fact, Ms White, it was a mortal blow to your leadership. It is only a matter of time. You cannot take a policy of that substance to the state election, make the statements that you have and then in only a little over a year after that election result, crab-walk away from it. You cannot. It is terminal to your leadership. I am quite sad about that because having David O'Byrne as Opposition Leader gives me no joy at all.
Ms White, the day after the state election, said -
I know that the Labor's position is not going to change on this. We remain firm on our view that poker machines should be restricted to casinos.
That is good policy. It is socially and economically responsible policy because if even a fraction of the $200 million or so that Tasmanians lose each year in the poker machines went into small businesses, it would give them a substantial economic lift. That was a point that was made by Ms White and other Labor members in the lead-up to the state election.
On 20 June last year, Ms White said -
The Tasmanian Labor Party remains firmly committed to the policy position we took to the last election.
On 8 September last year, Labor recognises that -
Poker machines are the source of so much pain and poverty in our community. Quite simply, it was and still is the right thing to do.
I could not agree more. It is a tragedy for the socially and economically disadvantaged people of Tasmania and those who are at risk of gambling addiction, that Ms White got rolled. It is a tragedy, because we have an opportunity in this very finely balanced parliament to do the right thing when the legislation comes before this place next year. On 8 February this year, not even a full year after the state election, on the ABC Leon Compton morning program, Ms White said -
We didn't win the election. It has taken me a while to reconcile that fact as well, Leon, but the fact of the matter is that we cannot give effect to our policy because it was a point in time.
I remember listening to that on the radio and my heart sinking, so cowardly. She goes on to say -
Which was the point I was making about the campaign that we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity here to remove poker machines from pubs and clubs if we alter the deed and give effect to that. We didn't win, we cannot do that.
That is not true. The Labor Party took a policy and a position of principle to the election. People voted for them on the basis of that policy. Less than a year after the election, Labor has dumped its policy. The O'Byrnes won and Ms White lost. That is really sad for the people of Tasmania.
We want to hear from other members in this place what their position is. We want to remind Tasmanians where each party stands on this issue. We never want to see another election campaign like the last one where powerful, dark vested interests bought an election. We never want to see Tasmanian voters misled to the extent they were, ever again. The only way you can guarantee that is to have electoral reform and donations reform in Tasmania. We await with great interest the Attorney-General's delivery of some form of electoral reform.
The gambling industry won an election and they won over the Opposition. The gambling industry won twice. What a great return on investment. They were able to buy an election and, not long after the election, the Tasmanian Hospitality Association received an extra $4.8 million in funding; return on investment, thank you for a favour done, says the Treasurer. By any definition that is institutional corruption. It is. You had a vested interest buying an election, the money was not disclosed, the vast majority of it, and much of it was in-kind. After the election they further corrupted the democratic process by destroying an Opposition Leader and undermining her policy position, which was sound, and ensuring a tame Labor Party in this place when the Treasurer brings the legislation before the House.
I do not know if anyone has been watching federal politics lately but it is equally depressing. You have a federal Liberal Government, LNP Government, that basically took no policy to the election except for massive tax cuts that will benefit the rich. You have a federal Labor Opposition under Anthony Albanese, who has told his caucus to brace itself to vote for more Government legislation, who came in on the first week back and cut the guts out of Australia's progressive taxation system. I come from an old Labor family. My dad was dyed-in-the-wool. He worked for Gough Whitlam. He was so proud to be Labor. My late father would not recognise the Labor Party of today. Regrettably, inside the group think of federal Labor is that they have decided that rather than be brave and take good policy and put it before the people at election time they will be quislings, small targets, fly under the radar -
Dr Woodruff - Utter revisionism.
Ms O'CONNOR - Absolutely. At some level, a decision has been made by the faceless men within the Labor Party and Anthony Albanese that, if they vote with the Government, they will let them hang themselves.
Dr Woodruff - It never worked for them before.
Ms O'CONNOR - No, it has never worked for them before and there is a hunger in the electorate for real leadership right now. There is an almost desperate need among many Australians to have their faith in politics and democracy restored by being certain that when you vote for a party they will stand by the policies they put before you when they went to an election.
I feel very sad for civil society. I feel really sad for the kids who gathered outside parliament twice to strike for climate that you have the two major parties in Australia that are almost indistinguishable these days. The Labor Party of today has turned into a neoliberal party. The light on the hill has been snuffed out and Labor should be held to account for that. What happened here is a betrayal of people who, following their disbelief that Labor had taken a position of principle on poker machines, entrusted their vote with Labor members on the basis of that position of principle.
They were desperate for some decency in politics and, for that brief moment, we had an opportunity. The fact is the Treasurer, if he has the courage to talk on this, and the Leader of the Opposition are members of the Tasmanian Parliament and should appreciate that parliament is sovereign.
We have legal advice from Mr Michael Stokes about the deed, which is very clear. This is legal advice that was provided to the former Greens leader, Peg Putt, following the 2003 institutionally corrupt extension of the Federal Group's monopoly deed. The question Ms Putt put to him was, could you please provide an opinion on the power of the parliament to amend the deed between the Government of Tasmania and Federal Hotels and others of the 25 October 1993 incorporated in the Gaming Control Act in schedule 1? Schedule 1 of the Gaming Control Act is the deed itself. A summary of Mr Stokes' advice is -
(1) There is no limit to the power of the Tasmanian Parliament to amend or repeal the deed to enact legislation which is in consistent with it.
(2) The Government will not be liable in damages or in any other remedy to Federal Hotels or the parties to the deed if the parliament amends or repeals the deed.
That is because parliament is sovereign, the deed was an agreement between the Tasmanian Government, the executive, and the Federal Group. The deed was not an agreement between the Parliament of Tasmania and the Farrell family. Parliament has always the power and no previous parliament can fetter the powers of any future parliament.
If Labor would stick to its policy and vote the way it told Tasmanians it would at the last state election there would be absolutely zero sovereign risk argument on the part of Federal Hotels. That policy intent would have been flagged by Labor that, should they win the next election, they will give effect to their policy. The sovereign risk argument is rubbish and it undermines the supremacy of this parliament. We make the laws. We drive policy development in the House of Assembly. It is parliament that has the power to deal with the deed and to save who knows how many Tasmanians now and in future from a life of misery, poverty and heartache. We have the power to do that and it is an abrogation of Labor's responsibility to hold to a policy that was sound and would have saved lives. The stain will forever be on the souls of the Liberal party but the Labor party has stained itself as well. It is very quiet over there. You should be hanging you heads in shame.
We will be calling for a vote. I reflect on the previous debate we had on the health system in Tasmania, remind all members that gambling addiction is a health issue. Mental illness caused by gambling addiction is a health issue. Children who experience neglect and or abuse as a result of their parents' addiction will become a health issue. Poverty is a health issue because if people are so poor they cannot go to the doctor when they need to or get their teeth fixed they will end up in our health system. It places a burden on our health system. All this lip service about health being Labor's number one priority - spare me.
I look forward to the contributions from whichever Government member is going to get up. Is that right, Mr Barnett, you are going to get up? I do not think I saw you in that photo at the Glenorchy RSL but I bet London to a brick you were there, weren't you? A loyal Liberal cheerleader standing outside.
Mr Shelton - I was there.
Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you for confirming that, Mr Shelton. All of you standing outside the Glenorchy RSL cheering on the gambling industry, lying to the people of Tasmania, lying to the staff at the Glenorchy RSL.
Mr Shelton - Listening to the staff.
Ms O'CONNOR - By interjection, Mr Shelton says that when the Liberal leadership team and candidates stood outside the Glenorchy RSL and falsely claimed that the removal of poker machines would lead to the closure of the Glenorchy RSL, they were listening to staff. They were not listening to staff. Staff cannot donate tens of millions of dollars to a reelection campaign. You were listening to your gambling industry donors. There are 11 people now in the northern suburbs who until two weeks ago were employed at the Glenorchy RSL. We have not heard a single expression of sorrow or condolence towards those 11 staff who were mercilessly exploited and used in the lead-up to the state election, to the enduring shame of the Premier, the Treasurer and the Liberal colleagues, and now that shame sits squarely on Labor's shoulders.
We are going to hear some stuff about harm minimisation soon. We are going to hear some weasel words about why if they did not win the election they cannot give effect to their policy, but it will just be that. It will just be weasel words because the facts are the facts are the facts. Labor misled the electorate and then rolled over to the gambling industry.
Mr BARNETT (Lyons - Minister for Veterans' Affairs) - Madam Speaker, as Minister for Veterans' Affairs, and on behalf of the Government, we will be opposing this motion. But there are many parts of the Greens member for Clark's contribution that I would agree with, particularly with respect to reflections on the Labor Party. I will have a few comments to say about that as well.
I make clear my deep disappointment with the Greens leader's attempt to besmirch the reputation of the RSL and to bring into -
Ms O'CONNOR - I beg your pardon? Point of order, Madam Speaker. I take personal offence at that. I am a huge supporter of the RSL. I made no reflection on the RSL; in fact I expressed my sympathy for the veterans who have lost their RSL.
Madam SPEAKER - That is not a point of order, Ms O'Connor.
Mr BARNETT - Thank you. This is a disgraceful attempt by the Greens to drag into debate one of our finest institutions, the RSL, into a partisan political debate. That is what you have done. This is not motivated by a high and mighty motive within the heart of the Greens. It is motivated by the fact that the Greens continue to hold a grudge that they were so comprehensively defeated at the last state election.
Let us make it very clear that this attempt by the Greens is misdirected and misguided. What they could have done is put forward a submission and a motion to this House criticising the Labor Party for its position on the pokies, and then we would have had some views very much in common with the Greens. The Greens have been using this to talk about their pokies policy, so why would you not bring in a motion on the pokies policy, talk about pokies, up hill and down dale? You have been consistent and I give you credit for that. The Greens have been entirely consistent, unlike the Labor Party, which has done a total backflip. So I say congratulations, I accept the Greens' position is consistent, but for whatever reason you have brought in the disappointing outcomes with respect to the Glenorchy RSL and that is not necessary.
I have made that point and I want to make it clear that in terms of our veteran community there is no government in Tasmanian history that has been more supportive of our veterans and their families. It is not just because of the $750 000 record spend in support for our veterans and their families and the ex-service organisations all across Tasmania. It is because they know we have their backs. It is because our veterans and their families know that we support them.
They know that and you know that; you talk to our veterans. It is things like the Remembrance Bridge, it is the support we have given for the eternal flame and for the Soldiers Memorial Walk. It is for the Legacy Park opening just a few weeks ago. That is how committed we are, working with our federal colleagues and likewise, with the Hobart City Council, to make a difference. I have made very clear, publicly and privately, my serious and deep disappointment with the Glenorchy RSL sub-branch that it has entered into voluntary administration and subsequently closed its doors. There is no doubt about that. Do not go besmirching or trying to show some sort of disrespect to the Government's motives with respect to the Glenorchy RSL. This is absolute nonsense. It is a red herring, that is what it is. You have used that as a red herring in the debate. I understand the administrators have been engaged to assist the Glenorchy RSL to review its business model; it has been a matter for the RSL. I have met with the state RSL president and had discussions with him, and my department continues to have liaison with the RSL at both state level and through the Glenorchy RSL. An administrator has been appointed and it is disappointing, of course, for all those involved.
The skills response unit of the Department of State Growth is also available to assist as required. Decisions regarding the future of the Glenorchy RSL are primarily matters now for the administrator. There was a special meeting of the Glenorchy RSL held on 7 July 2019 when the Glenorchy RSL entered voluntary administration. I anticipate this process will take some time working with RSL Tasmania, the sub-branch's management committee and the creditors in relation to the future of the organisation.
What is important, and the Government has made its position very clear, is that we want to ensure the community can continue to have access to Anzac Day and Remembrance Day commemorative services, and I have been assured by the state president of the RSL that those services will continue and the community will receive that support. We have the Vietnam Veterans Day coming up on 18 August, and next week I will be hosting Vietnam veterans from around the state here in Parliament House, and I am looking forward to that. It is very important.
Regarding the future of the club's poker machines or the club more broadly, that is a matter for the administrator.
Mr Bacon - So there will be no help at all for the club?
Mr BARNETT - In terms of the interjection from the member for Clark, he knows that the matter is now in the hands of the administrator. Investigations are under way. Of course we want to support and help wherever possible and appropriate. My department has been in liaison and I have met with the state RSL. You have to be very careful - and you would know, Mr Bacon. I am aware of your inquiries, and I appreciate your interest and inquiry. I am glad you have made those inquiries.
Mr Bacon - So there is still an opportunity for the Government to assist, if it is appropriate?
Mr BARNETT - We will always be available to talk, to assist, to get feedback. I have had feedback through my office and directly. That will continue.
Regarding the views put by the Leader of the Greens, gambling is a lawful form of entertainment for many Tasmanians. This was the position that we took to the last election. It remains our position. The Tasmanian gaming industry is well regulated, with one of the highest standards of probity and harm minimisation. As part of the election policy, after 2023 the current exclusive arrangements should come to an end and the industry should move to an individual licence model. Our policy ensures a fairer distribution of returns from poker machines in pubs and clubs, with venues and the Government capturing a greater share of those returns. This means that venues will be in a lot better position to invest more and operate more.
The position of the Labor Party and the Greens before the last election would have cost jobs. It would have cost businesses, particularly in rural and regional Tasmania. Part of our policy was the doubling of the community support levy and extending its coverage to include poker machines in casinos. All of this was set out on the public record in The Future of Gaming in Tasmania. That was the position before the election and that is the position after the election.
We get to the Labor Party, the Opposition. This was a signature policy before the last election. The Greens and I have a similar view. The community believed it was a signature policy of the Leader of the Opposition. It was a heartfelt policy. It was the raison d'etre of being for the Labor Party. The Leader of the Opposition made it clear and the voters had their say. There was a resounding endorsement of our policy. The voters said, yes, majority Liberal Government. We want to keep our jobs, grow the economy and provide opportunities for young and old alike. What has happened? We knew prior to the election Labor and the Greens were fused together -
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker, standing order 144. I ask the minister to withdraw that statement. It is a terrible slur. We were not joined at the hip. There is a vast ocean of difference between the Greens and the Labor Party. I ask you to withdraw that statement.
Madam SPEAKER - Thank you.
Mr BARNETT - I withdraw the word 'fused' and use the word 'coalition' instead.
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker, standing order 144. That is manifestly a lie. There is no coalition and there is very little similarity on policy, particularly when it comes to pokies. I ask the minister to withdraw that immediately.
Madam SPEAKER - I do have to ask the minister to withdraw it without qualification.
Mr BARNETT - Thank you, Madam Speaker, the word 'fused' and the word 'coalition'. Labor and the Greens were - on the record let us make it very clear and I am on my feet -
Ms O'Connor - Did you withdraw that?
Mr BARNETT - I have.
Ms O'Connor - Thank you.
Mr BARNETT - I make it very clear they were in government together, a Labor-Greens coalition - in government,10 000 jobs were lost, economic recession and the list goes on. Do not let the facts get in the way of a good argument for the Greens, the Labor Party or the Opposition. They were joined at the hip in terms of pokies policy before the last election. You were joined at the hip. You had the exact same policy, you know you were.
Ms O'Connor - No, we were not. Our policy was way better.
Ms White - It was not exactly the same. That is a lie.
Madam SPEAKER - Order, please.
Mr BARNETT - The public knew and they voted accordingly. What did we learn? In 2015, Labor voted with the Greens 62.5 per cent of the time. In 2018 they voted together more than 80 per cent of the time. Nine out of 10 times Labor vote with the Greens and the Greens vote with Labor. We know their record. We have this turncoat, the Leader of the Opposition. You turned big time, you did a massive backflip. What happened? Tasmanian Labor abandoned its hard-line gambling policy 11 months after the election loss. Normally after an election you listen and you learn. You committed again, straight after the election, to your signature policy. It took less than 12 months, then you did the most massive backflip of all time. At least the Greens member has acknowledged that. The ABC report said -
Tasmanian Labor has ditched its policy to remove poker machines from pubs and clubs, almost a year since the party was defeated at the state election.
Premier Will Hodgman said it was now clear Labor Leader Rebecca White's anti-pokies stance was all about politics and not beliefs.
Where do you stand, Ms White? Tell us your position, tell us why you did the backflip and where you stand now because people do not know? You have no policies, no platforms. People do not know what you believe. That is the problem for the Tasmanian people. They do not know what Labor believe anymore. They know what we believe. There are arguments for and against, there are criticisms, but Labor has no idea.
Why would you have a press conference? You had a press conference in front of a private home. You said it was a vacant Housing Tasmania property. It was not. It was privately owned. The owner came out and we could all see that. The big mistake was trying to cover it up and saying you did it in front of vacant land. Clearly you are in big strife. Changing your story and trying to cover up does not work. This is a big problem for the Leader of the Opposition. The sharks are circling. David O'Byrne is working with the union movement and those behind the scenes. I agree with the Leader of the Greens that your leadership is under stress.
It is not only Harry Quick saying you are out of touch, not talking to or listening to people, so are people like Dr Julian Amos, a former Labor cabinet minister. What about former Labor Senator Margaret Reynolds? Labor luminaries are concerned about your character and your performance. We do not know where you stand and what you think.
Ms O'Connor - Hopefully you will give them an opportunity to present that, Mr Barnett.
Mr BARNETT - I will. That is why I will wrap up now. I want to hear the Labor Leader express her views on pokies and how she took a signature policy and within 12 months had done a backflip. It will be a fascinating part of the debate, prior to 6 p.m., to hear from the Opposition Leader.
Ms WHITE (Lyons - Leader of the Opposition) - Madam Speaker, I am stunned because nowhere in the motion we are debating is my name mentioned. It does not mention my name or the Labor Party, yet most of this debate, for 45 minutes, has been about me and the Labor Party.
It is shameful. Eleven people have lost their jobs at the Glenorchy RSL. The minister hardly mentioned them. So many members used that club. Hundreds of people who went to the Glenorchy RSL now have no venue to attend. You said you have spoken to the President of the RSL, as have I, as have members of my team. Have you spoken to the Glenorchy RSL? Have you spoken to the many community groups who use that RSL, who are not members of the RSL but use that venue as a place to meet, a place to conduct meetings? As a community group who might not have anywhere else to go right now because the doors are shut. Have you met with them? I am disgusted at the debate in this place. It is in your own electorate. There is an RSL club that has closed its doors. The member for Clark, Ms O'Connor, has conflated the misfortune of that club with poker machines.
Ms O'Connor - It is absolutely connected.
Ms WHITE - You have, in this motion. If you want to debate poker machines, bring a motion into the House and let us have the debate.
Ms O'Connor - 9 January last year.
Ms WHITE - You did it under the guise of pretending to care about the Glenorchy RSL, the 11 people who lost their jobs there and all of the members who rely on that club to stay open.
Ms O'Connor - We were the only party who said anything.
Ms WHITE - Who knows what is going to happen to that club?
Ms O'Connor - Ms White disappeared from the media the day after the RSL closed.
Ms WHITE - Are they going to have to sell that club to pay off the debt?
Madam SPEAKER - Order. I remind everyone why we have a Speaker in this House. It is so that the debate is conducted through the Chair and not at will. Thank you.
Ms WHITE - The members and staff of that club do not know whether the doors are going to open again. I understand discussions are occurring between the Government and the administrators and I hope the Government is able to provide some support to the members and staff. I am very concerned about the fate of the Glenorchy RSL if that club does not reopen its doors,. Will they have a home, will they have a place to meet? Where will the members go? If the member for Clark, who is the local member for that community, wanted to talk about that issue she should have done that in isolation and not conflated it with the matter of poker machines. The motion clearly conflates the misfortune of the closure of the Glenorchy RSL with poker machines. You have done that deliberately and you have done it for political reasons. You accuse the Liberal Party of using the Glenorchy RSL as a political pawn during the election campaign and then you use them for your own political purposes in this place for this debate. Shame on you. If you gave a thought to the motion before this place, you would see that.
I am happy to have a debate about gaming legislation, gaming policies or gaming reform in this state but not at the expense of members of Glenorchy RSL. If you want to talk about this, do it in a different way because 11 people have lost their jobs. They are in your electorate. There are many community clubs with -
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of Order, Madam Speaker. The Leader of the Opposition implied that we are using the Glenorchy RSL for political purposes, which is what the Liberal Party did last year. I ask the Leader of the Opposition if she could table her response, following the closure of the RSL, to the loss of 11 jobs and a service that veterans love.
Madam SPEAKER - I do not believe that is a point of order.
Ms WHITE - Our members have been in close conversation. I would like to know what the member has done. Have you been out to speak with the club? Have you spoken to the state president of the RSL? Have you met with the 11 members of that club who lost their jobs? It is hypocritical of you to argue we should be doing those things when you have not said if you have. We have been in close contact with the members of Glenorchy RSL. We care very deeply about what is happening to them, their club and the community that relies on that club. I take great offence that the member has conflated the misfortune of the closure of the Glenorchy RSL with another issue and politicised it in this place. I will not indulge it a moment further. You cannot speak again.
Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - I can speak again and I am going to exercise my right to do so.
Madam Speaker, we did not hear a single word about Labor's position on poker machines during that contribution from the Leader of the Opposition, not one. We did not hear it.
Dr Broad - Play the wedge. Don't worry about the people.
Ms O'CONNOR - Nice try, Dr Broad, we just had five minutes of confected outrage and now we have you deflecting again.
No, this motion is an opportunity for real clarity about the positions of all parties in this place on this very significant social and economic area of public policy. There are people who still contact us who feel betrayed as a result of the Labor Party's backflip. They are uncertain about what Labor's position is now. This is an opportunity to clear the air on that question. It is not only governments that must open themselves up to public scrutiny and judgment. We all have to do it in here. We are elected to represent our communities, we are elected to act in the public interest and to always act in the best interests of the people of Tasmania. That is what we swear to do when we come to this place.
I have absolute conviction in saying that Dr Woodruff and I come to this place, concerned to make sure we vote in the best interests of the people of Tasmania on this beautiful island every single day. We are unflinching in our values and that is what makes us such a conundrum to the Liberal and Labor parties because they think politically all the time. They have told stakeholders, for example, that if any legislation or policy that comes through this place has the Greens name on it, they will not support it, no matter how good it is. What a fantastic message to send to your stakeholders. What are you elected for?
Every day, it is a privilege to be in here, an honour, a privilege and a massive responsibility. Every day should be a fresh start on policy, on legislation, and on making sure we speak and act and vote in the best interests of the people of Tasmania. You do not get to spend four years on holiday while you are in Opposition. You do not, because the people who vote for us are at the last election are putting their trust in us.
They will vote for the Liberal Party because they have values that go to allegedly individual freedoms but it has become more these days about the making of money. They used to vote for the Labor Party because they thought the Labor Party was at least a bit better than the Liberals on some of those social justice issues. They vote for us because they know we come into this place every day and do our absolute best to try to look at legislation, policy and motions on their merits and vote accordingly. You do not get to take a holiday when you go into Opposition. You just do not, and especially not in a parliament that is this finely balanced.
We are seeing it federally and we are seeing it down here. Labor, having lost the election, spits the dummy, goes into the corner, eats its young for a bit and comes out more diminished than it was before. That is what we have. We have two Labor oppositions, one in Canberra, one in Hobart, who think that the four years in Opposition are a bit of a holiday from acting in the interests of the people they are elected to serve. It does not work like that.
That is why we brought this motion on today. We want everyone to be really clear about where everyone in this place stands on this central, significant area of public policy. The decisions this parliament makes in relation to the legislation the Liberals will bring forward will impact on generations of Tasmanians to 2043.
You have to live with yourself. You have to wake up in the morning and think you are an okay person, you have been elected to serve and you will try to do the right thing in this place. That is the way we feel, anyway. It is a quaint notion, I know, just trying to do the right thing, but you do not spend four years on holiday when you are in Opposition. You do not get to tell stakeholders you will not support anything the Greens bring forward and not expect it to come back to us and we will say it in this place because that is something that should be on the public record.
Tasmanians should know that if good policy, for example, pill testing, is brought into this place, Labor will still to its policy and vote accordingly, not look at who is bringing it forward, see that they have green hearts and decide they cannot support it, no matter how good the policy is. That is not the way politics works and that is not why people voted for any member of the Labor Party in March last year. They put their faith in the Labor Party because they wanted the Labor Party to do the right thing. We all do, Madam Speaker. I commend the motion to the House. The Premier should apologise on behalf of the Liberal Party and his colleagues to the Glenorchy RSL, its staff, veterans and the people of Tasmania. Of course we know that poker machines should be removed from pubs and clubs in Tasmania because sitting in this place there 12 members who went to the last state election with a firm conviction and an evidence-based policy that said poker machines need to be removed from pubs and clubs in Tasmania in order to save lives.
The House divided -
AYES 2 NOES 22
Ms O'Connor Ms Archer
Dr Woodruff (Teller) Mr Bacon
Mr D. O'Byrne
Mrs Rylah (Teller)