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Liberal Matter of Public Importance – Jobs and the Economy

20 September 2018

Ms O'CONNOR (Denison - Leader of the Greens) - Mr Deputy Speaker, here we are again: another Liberal matter of public importance debate, another puerile short-termism contribution from Liberal backbenchers. Every time we have an MPI debate on government members' day, it is some puerile garbage that does not go to the long-term issues facing Tasmania. It does not deal with the big public policy challenges this parliament will have to deal with. We hear the most banal contributions. The two previous contributions from Liberal backbenchers were banal, puerile, and short-sighted and did not go to the evidence. They contributed nothing to the public debate. Even on jobs in the economy, they contributed nothing to the public debate. It was not about making a substantial contribution that deals with some of the big employment challenges Tasmania faces.

For example, Mr Deputy Speaker, a report I hope you read, as the member for Lyons, which came out of the Regional Australia Institute two weeks ago, said in Tasmania 60 per cent of all jobs are at moderate to high risk of automation. In rural and regional Tasmania, the picture is even more challenging. Three-quarters of all jobs in rural and regional Tasmania, according to the Regional Australia Institute, are at moderate to high risk of automation.

What is this Government doing to modernise our skills, our training to make sure that young people today are not being given false hope, false promises or qualifications that will not hold them in very good stead at all? Nothing.

What the Regional Australia Institute report says very clearly is that the vulnerabilities, those sectors of the economy that are at greatest risk of being taken over by robots, are the areas of hospitality, retail, administration and manufacturing. What are the areas the Liberals in government are focusing on? Hospitality, resource extraction, retail and aquaculture, an industry that is rapidly automating. The report points to areas of employment that are at low risk of automation. They are education, health and health services - jobs that you need a strong public service for - construction, personal care, information and event management. We heard nothing from the previous two speakers from the government benches about what the Government is doing to make sure we are genuinely equipping young people for the jobs of the future.

Jobs in the economy, again, we had this debate in here. Where was the discussion about a plan for climate change? These people take their cue from people like the federal minister, Angus Taylor MP, who proudly proclaimed in federal parliament that the government that sits in Canberra with the narrowest of majorities on the floor of the House of Representatives, will not take a climate plan to the next federal election. Why? Because they do not believe in it. We have a federal minister of the Crown who is a climate denier, who proudly stands on the green carpet in the House of Representatives and basically said, 'Climate change - we do not care.' That is what we have to put up with in our parliaments.

Ms Haddad - That is right, does not believe it is real.

Ms O'CONNOR - Ms Haddad, you are right. You cannot quite believe it is real, can you? It is like something out of a terrible, tragi-comedy. This is the government we have in Canberra; not for very much longer, I suspect because our Prime Minister loves coal. If there is one image that will endure in the public mind in the years to come and among future generations, it is the then treasurer, now Prime Minister of Australia, standing with a lump of dirty black coal in his hand as a prop in question time. His sneering contempt for young people, future generations, biodiversity, for people living along the coastline who will be subject to sea level rise and his sneering contempt for people who live in Lauderdale who have already lost their backyards on Roches Beach. It is disgraceful that we are subject to these sorts of puerile debates that do not go anywhere near the real issues. It is disgraceful that our Prime Minister loves coal more than he does the people of Australia and our children. That is the only message you can take from that image.

Mr Ferguson - That is rubbish.

Ms O'CONNOR - It is not rubbish, Mr Ferguson. If we had a prime minister who cared about the people of this country, who cared about our children and our grandchildren, one of the first things he would have done is round up his Cabinet and say, 'We're going to tackle climate change'. He cannot and he will not because he is captive to the fossil fuel industry. He is consigning future generations to hardship and misery. The people of Australia are now taking climate change very seriously.

Climate change and energy policy have toppled prime ministers in this country. This next federal election, Australians who think and care and understand what the future holds will be looking to every political party to chart a path forward for this country to make sure we have a strong climate change policy in place and to make sure we are bringing down emissions. Under the Liberals, since they started going down when we had a price on carbon, emissions have soared. What does that mean? It means the air our children and our grandchildren will breathe will have the filth in it from the policies of today, and that is on the heads of the Liberals in Canberra and the Liberals here.