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Matter of Public Importance - Sale of Public Assets
Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Madam Speaker, I move -
That the House take note of the following matter: sale of public assets.
In April 2014, the Premier, newly elected, said to the people of Tasmania -
Let me be clear: we will not be selling any government or public owned
We won't be selling any government or public owned assets, other than the
Aurora retail book which the former government put up for sale, and which
The Premier said, 'Other than that we will not be selling anything, and
that is part of the commitment we took to the last election'. Five years
later, it has been confirmed that this was a lie to the Tasmanian people.
Pure and simple. The premier of the day says we will not be selling
anything and, five years later, the for-sale list is long and it is
growing. In the last term of parliament, we witnessed the then resources
minister oversee the sale of 29 000 hectares of public plantation forest
for substantially less than it cost taxpayers to establish them. Of
course, given this Government's absolute commitment to secrecy and lack of
transparency, the details of that sale, the rationale for the 99-year
lease, which is as good as a sale, was not made to the people of Tasmania.
The sale of this asset for substantially less than it cost taxpayers to
establish them was not justified by the minister of the day.
We also had in the last term of parliament special enabling legislation
come through this House that would privatise the pinnacle of kunanyi/Mt
Wellington should the planning authority approve the construction of a
cable car up the mountain which, as we know, would break people's hearts
and desecrate the mountain. Again, it is government using its levers, its
agencies, to introduce legislation that favours a single private operator
at the expense of the public good. There was no justification - again -
for handing over the pinnacle of kunanyi/Mt Wellington, the people's
mountain, to the Mount Wellington Cableway Company, but the resources of
the Government and the time of the parliament was put into doing just that.
We also had just after the state election an announcement by the Treasurer
that the Treasury building would be put on the market, again with no
mandate or conversation with the people of Tasmania. It was interesting
that at the open day a couple of weekends ago on Remembrance Day people
were streaming into the Treasury building to have a look at their property
that this Government has announced, without a mandate, that it wants to
The letters page of the Mercury in the days afterwards confirms that this
Government has no mandate to sell the Treasury building and the owners of
the Treasury building have not given permission to the Government of the
day to sell it. Even the Mercury editorial condemned the decision to put
the Treasury building on the market. Who would buy the Treasury building?
What is the justification for selling the Treasury building when the
Treasurer of the day tells us we are in a golden age? There is no
shortage of funds, apparently. There is no justification for selling a
symbol of our history, of governance and democracy in Tasmania, to the
We know where that began. That began in the last term of parliament when
some private individual, company, or foreign government came forward with
an unsolicited bid to buy the Treasury building. That is where the idea
came from - the private sector approaching a government, the Premier of
which had said he would not be selling public assets. At the time it was
not convenient, but straight after the state election it was announced the
Treasury building would go on the market. No mandate, no justification,
no social licence from the people who own the Treasury building, the
people of Tasmania.
Just recently it has been revealed that the Liberal Government and, indeed,
the Premier and Parks minister, Mr Hodgman, had entered into a secret,
long-term lease to privatise Halls Island at Lake Malbena in the Walls of
Jerusalem National Park in the World Heritage Area. It was not revealed
at the time by the Government that not only was there going to be a lease
extended on Reg Hall's hut, but a second lease would be entered into with
a private operator over the whole island. This is unprecedented in
Tasmania's history, where part of a public protected area is being given
over to a private operator for exclusive use.
No wonder fly fishermen and walkers are ropeable and threatening a
blockade. There will be a blockade at Halls Island in Lake Malbena, I
have no doubt about that whatsoever, and the people who participate in
that blockade will come from all walks of life and all parts of the
political spectrum in Tasmania. You do not have to be a 'greenie' to love
the wilderness, you do not have to be a 'greenie' to recognise that this
Government is stealing from the people of Tasmania for private developers
and commercial interests.
Handing over Hall's Island is an act of theft. Again, it was a secret
process, behind closed doors, a corrupted process where the people of
Tasmania were not given a say, where a World Heritage Area management plan
was changed after public consultation to excise Lake Malbena from the
wilderness zone and put it into the self-reliant recreation zone. No
consultation: it just appeared in the final World Heritage Area
management plan, and the stitch-up went on from there. For three years
that private developer was negotiating through the Office of the
Coordinator-General to get their hands on a public island inside the World
Heritage Area that is a wilderness place, whatever dodgy zoning this
Government puts on it in order to facilitate a private development.
Here is our prediction. That development will not go ahead. The reason
it will not go ahead is because there are hundreds of Tasmanians right now
who are gearing up for a blockade. They are gearing up to stand by the
wilderness, Hall's Island and Lake Malbena, a place that is beloved by
anglers and bushwalkers alike and owned by and on behalf of the people of
Tasmania, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Tasmanians. It is a privatisation
of a public island wilderness inside the World Heritage Area. No punter
under the Liberal's plan will be allowed onto Hall's Island.
There has also been the plan to privatise public waterways for fish farm
expansion and the Elizabeth Street Pier, with no mandate, no justification
and no social licence.