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Ministerial Responsibility for Crown Lands

5 April 2017

Ms O'CONNOR question to PREMIER, Mr HODGMAN

[10.14 a.m.]
Yesterday you announced a temporary portfolio reallocation and a highly unusual hiving off of responsibility was noted. For the first time that we know of Crown Land Services has been taken away from the Minister for Environment and Parks. Was the decision to relieve the Minister, Mr Groom, of his responsibility for Crown Lands -

Government members laughing.

Madam SPEAKER - Order. Members on my right will come to order immediately.

Ms O'CONNOR - Was the decision to relieve Mr Groom of his responsibility for crown lands an admission that the whiff around this minister's dealings over public land assets is getting a bit pungent?

Government members interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order. I have already warned members on my right.

Ms O'CONNOR - Was it an attempt to create a public perception that there is nothing to see here, despite growing community concern over Mr Groom's connections to proponents who have benefited under this Government such as the developers of the South Arm Golf Course on public land, Bernacchi Lodge in the world heritage area - both of which involved a member of the minister's family - and the cable car proponent, a friend of the minister?

Premier, was the removal of Crown Land Services from this minister also an attempt to shield him from further public stink so that he will not have to take the cable car enabling bill through this place? Premier, why did you take crown lands away from Mr Groom?


ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Denison for her question and totally repudiate the shameless smear. That is all that was. It was a string of smearing with a question mark at the end of it and entirely inappropriately done. It was absolutely and entirely untrue.

Government members interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order. The member has asked a question.

Mr HODGMAN - I will explain to the member who asked the question and this House why exactly these changes were made. That is because we have a colleague who, sadly, tragically, has fallen seriously ill. That has required a change to not only her portfolio responsibilities but also has had a consequential impact on other members of the Government who are assuming those responsibilities albeit, and we hope and pray, temporarily and for as short a time as possible. That has required a reallocation of portfolios as I outlined yesterday.

In the case of Mr Groom that has meant a significant increase in his responsibilities, taking on Attorney-General and Justice. It would be appropriate for him to be relieved of some of his responsibilities while he takes on this additional load. Why I am taking on Heritage for example -

Members interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order. I am not going to continue to put up with this. The member asked a very lengthy question, containing a lot of allegations and a lot of other questions within the one allocated question. The Premier should be given an opportunity and be given the equal latitude that the member asking the question had. Constant yelling at the Premier makes it very difficult for me and other members to hear the answer, let alone the public.

Mr HODGMAN - I am apportioning responsibility for the Attorney-General's portfolios - Mr Barnett, for example, to take on Corrections, and Mr Groom to take on Attorney-General and Justice. As I say, I think quite reasonably so. Where we can relieve some of the existing workload in a way that is seamless and sensible we will do that. That is why I am taking on the Heritage portfolio. That is why the Crown Lands Services portfolio has also been appropriately delegated to the Deputy Premier who will no doubt manage those affairs as well as Mr Groom has done.

To completely repudiate the silly suggestions that the member for Denison contained within her question, I point to the fact that he remains the Minister for State Growth. He is the minister responsible for supporting the sorts of developments you have just criticised and smeared; that are keeping Tasmania at the top of the tree when it comes to our tourism industry; and that are supporting jobs and regional development. He is remaining the minister for those areas and the minister who is principally responsible, with the support of all his colleagues, for seeing our economy continue to grow as it does. Our unemployment is now at the national average and the second lowest in the country and we have the highest rate of growth in state final demand and economic growth in exports for any state in the country.

Rather than, as the member suggests, take Mr Groom away from responsibilities which are indeed important, he will continue as the Minister for State Growth to keep Tasmania growing as it is doing.