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Liberal Matter of Public Importance - Strong Economic Management

5 September 2019

Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Madam Deputy Speaker, apart from being completely boring, that contribution from Mr Tucker failed to mention human beings. Failed to acknowledge that there are people right now sleeping on the Domain, sleeping in the rivulet, who are living in insecure housing, who cannot afford to pay their rent.

Under this Liberal Government and, apparently, we have entered the Golden Age, there are 3300 people on the public housing waiting list. They are just the people who have put their name on the list. As was reported in today's media, the hidden homelessness, or the hidden housing stress, applies to nearly 20 000 Tasmanians. The Greens are not going to cop having this sort of debate, where all you talk about is the money, which has only affected a small part of Tasmania, and not talk about human beings. We need to talk about people.

When you talk about the Golden Age in the northern suburbs of Hobart, or in Brighton or regional Tasmania, they just shake their heads in disbelief. It is completely unacceptable for the Government to come in here and crow about the economy without acknowledging the fact that there are people in acute economic distress in this state right now as we speak and as Liberal members play silly political games and run self-congratulatory matter of public importance debates while there are people out there suffering. We are not going to cop it.

Let us be really clear about some of the jobs claims that have been made. The Liberals have said they have created 13 000 jobs. The data is very clear, but about half of those jobs were imported. The Treasurer said when the last state Budget was handed down that in this term of the parliament the Government would create 10 000 new jobs, but when you go into the State Growth section of the budget papers it is very clear that 6000 of those 10 000 new jobs will be imported workers. That is the truth and the foundation of the economic circumstances we are in and the Government should be honest about those jobs figures. When they talk about creating 10 000 new jobs for Tasmanians they are lying, because in the budget papers themselves it is clear that two-thirds of those jobs will come from overseas, which denies our young people an opportunity to skill up and go into the jobs of the future where there is increasing employment and security and increasing automation.

Let us be really honest also about what has happened to the state's economy. All of the economic indicators started turning around not long after Chinese Chairman, Xi Jinping, visited Tasmania in November 2014. That is a fact, and what we saw then was vast sums of investment coming in from mainland China into Tasmania. That is just the truth of it. When you sit on the housing inquiry and listen to the testimony of people who understand what has happened to housing, it is very clear that the acute distress in the housing market came about after November 2014. They are the facts. I am laying it on the table because what the Greens do in this place is tell the truth.

You cannot have a debate about the state of the economy without talking about the circumstances of people's lives who are suffering. You cannot cop claims that we are in a golden age when you know there are people who cannot find a house, a home, or who cannot afford to pay their rent. We have a Residential Tenancy Act in Tasmania that enables landlords to increase the rent every 12 months, and that is exactly what has happened.

My brother is on a disability support payment. His rent until a month ago was $220 a week - a significant proportion of his income. Then a couple of weeks ago his landlord said, 'We're hiking your rent up another $20 a week'. There you have a person on a disability support payment paying $240 a week out of their income for their rent and, as we know, Commonwealth Rent Assistance is capped. This is happening all over Tasmania. Rents are soaring. We have had testimony to the parliamentary inquiry of families being given a rent increase in one fell swoop of $70 a week. What does that do? It drives them into homelessness.

This Government is under the illusion that you can keep blowing up a balloon. You cannot. You cannot have a continual growth model. It does not work. It is a finite planet. With 7 billion people on a finite planet you cannot have a continued growth model. We are going to have to adjust the way we think about money and opportunities because we are in the middle of a climate crisis. Everything is changing and changing fast, and yet we have these kind of debates in this place which are so deeply frustrating and insulting to the intelligence of everyday people. None of the substantive issues that are facing Tasmania have been dealt with in this parliament this week other than when the Greens bring it on. We have had politicking from Labor, we have had back-slapping, self-congratulatory debate contributions from the Liberals, while out there in the real world, people are suffering.

I am really disappointed that we have to spend 35 minutes debating the Government talking about how terrific it is, but as ever, the Greens in this place will tell the truth. The truth is that the social fabric of our society is being undermined as a result of Liberal Government policy, there has been a grotesque under-investment in social and affordable housing and no new money into the portfolio until 2017. A pox on both your houses.