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Labor Matter of Public Importance - State Budget

22 May 2019

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Madam Speaker, I am pleased to talk about the state budget because, arguably, there has never been a state budget that will be more important than the one that we have before us. The next three years, the next 10 years, we know are so critical for the trajectory of Tasmania and for the planet.

We all exist on this one planet together and we all play our part. The future we need to move away from is an economic trajectory that is polarising Tasmanians, widening the wealth and opportunities gap so that we have the increasingly less educated, less literate, less job secure, less housing secure, less social welfare secure, less health and fitness secure, and we have those who are doing really well. They are people who are comfortable, looking at their retirement with a rosy glow, enjoying trips overseas and all the good things in life they have worked for. Would we not like it to be the case that every Tasmanian has that future to look forward to? We all would. I am sure everyone in this parliament would.

What we need to do in the next three years is look at the structural things we need to change in order to close the gap in wealth and close the gap in opportunities.

There has been a surge in property demand. We have been reading it on the front pages of the Mercury for years. It is hard to comprehend. I did not grow up in Tasmania but for someone who did I am sure they would still find it hard to comprehend when they read the stories in the Mercury about prices in Hobart, southern Tasmania, but also in Launceston and Devonport. It is hard to comprehend that we are now pegging with Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra, with the richest cities in one of the richest countries in the world. That means there are many people who cannot access those properties.

There has been a surge in the unregulated short-stay sector. That has been a great boom for the property class who, as I have said before, are looking forward to a rosy retirement.

There has been increasing homelessness, increasing housing insecurity, and tightening of household budgets. 'Tightening' is a euphemism. People often simply do not have money.

The increase in tourism is increasing employment in hospitality and tourism industries. It is contributing to the housing crisis, it is straining our infrastructure, and it is putting the protection of all of our natural resources at risk.

While 'balance' is the slogan that has been deployed by the Liberals, the only thing that is truly balanced is the impact of their decisions on their electoral chances. Did we not see that more than ever playing out in the north of this state in the last election? Shame on the Liberal Party for playing the people of the north and trading away the things that really matter for their long-term wealth and opportunities.

Under the Liberals we have seen industry wishes go unchecked. The result has been a massive increase in homelessness and housing insecurity, a degradation of our parks and the marine environment that will ultimately result in a further downturn in the industries that rely on them and that are already significantly impacting on the health, wellbeing and lifestyles of Tasmanians. Even the Liberal's approach to housing was to provide cash payments to landlords that would allow them to benefit from evicting existing tenants in favour of new tenants.

Labor might be huffing and puffing about this, but they are not offering any alternatives, so this motion is a bit rich coming from the Labor Party who, I understand - correct me if I am wrong, Mr Deputy Speaker - will not produce an alternative budget. They are not offering alternatives and therefore they are not telling Tasmanians how to do it differently.

That is what the Greens are doing. We have a vision based on looking to the future and understanding where we are now. We cannot just keep arguing down in the weeds about stuff. These are the big issues, but Labor does not appear to have any interest in dealing with the difficult choices.

This is a state of climate and environmental emergency we are currently in. When the Liberals came into office in 2014 - take note, the two members who are in the Chamber - your Government axed the climate change portfolio. You disbanded the Tasmanian Climate Action Council and you cut funding to the Tasmanian Climate Office. This at a time when more than ever we need to focus on those areas. The Liberals want to open up old-growth forests for logging, diminishing carbon stores and removing the survival of the habitat of species. We have just heard from the United Nations that there is one million species on the planet at risk of extinction in the very near future. Many hundreds of these are in Tasmania.

We have seen the Liberals' mismanagement of the Energy portfolio in the past with a lack of planning around the energy crisis. The decisions that have been taken today will increase emissions in this state and leave us unprepared for a climate emergency. We expect to see that the Liberals have listened and understand the science and the evidence, understand the truth of where we are as a planet, and will respond in the Budget in a meaningful way that will provide absolute clarity about reducing our emissions, targets with effective measures so that adaptation is not just about changing the situation but is really about making substantial change. We expect to hear they have been listening to those firefighters, the 20 chiefs who got together who have been pleading with us to make these changes and to look at supporting agriculture and protecting the east coast rocky reefs.