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Premier Hodgman Dodges Questioning Over Pay Rise

26 April 2016

Tuesday 26 April 2016

Ms O'CONNOR question to PREMIER, Mr HODGMAN

[10.08 a.m.]

Having failed to avoid the debate on MPs' pay by fleeing to China, will you now tell Tasmanians -

Members interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order.  I point out to the member, and I am sure she is aware, that we have not completed that debate, so I ask her to get to a relevant question that does not touch on an order of the day.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you, Madam Speaker.  I have explicitly not mentioned the order of the day. 

Will you now tell Tasmanians what you will do when the 10.5 per cent pay rise, awarded by the Tasmanian Industrial Commission, inevitably flows through?  Will you, as the Greens have pledged to do, donate any salary increase to organisations that need extra funding, or will you pocket the money?  How do you and your Liberal colleagues plan to respond to -  

Mr BARNETT - Point of order, Madam Speaker.  The Notice paper is very clear.  Number (2) refers to the disallowance of parliamentary salaries and allowances and -

Madam SPEAKER - Order.  The member will resume his seat.  I do not need the assistance of the House.  I have already drawn the member's attention to an order of the day.  The member is referring to the issue generally, but if she was not then the Premier would be encouraged to only answer the question generally, if I allow it, once I have heard it.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you, Madam Speaker.  Premier, how do you and your Liberal colleagues plan to respond to the mess you have created for yourselves on MPs' pay?  Will you be taking the money when the pay rise takes effect this year?

Madam SPEAKER - The Premier knows this is pre-empting a debate we have not yet completed, so I ask the Premier to answer the question as generally as he pleases.

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question.  I welcome the opportunity later today to make another contribution to this debate.  I have put my position very clearly on the record.  Whilst I know that some members would rather the Government spend its time in here debating our pay, I thought it very important to get to China, our largest trading partner, and support Tasmanian businesses in getting a foothold and seeing massive growth in exports and massive growth in tourists coming from China to our state.  This is driving our economy and creating jobs.

Notwithstanding, the debate will take place later today and I welcome the opportunity to add very clearly the Government's position.  We do not believe a 10.5 per cent pay rise is appropriate, in line with community expectations, nor is it anywhere near affordable given very serious budgetary circumstances we are now facing.

The answer to the member's question is obvious.  We have moved to disallow, as the legislation passed through this Parliament allowed us to do.  We have moved to disallow, so the Liberal position is very clear.  What troubles me, though, is that there is so much interest from members opposite about this matter.  It seems they are unhappy we are moving to disallow a 10.5 per cent increase, because when I was away they spent some time arguing over this matter.  They are now raising it as their number one priority in question time today.  There will be additional time allocated for the debate later.

Ms O'Connor interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order, I have been very generous in allowing this question.  The member will cease her constant interjections.

Mr HODGMAN - We have moved disallowance, as the legislation provides.  It is a matter for the Legislative Council as to how they proceed with this.  Needless to say, in very difficult budget circumstances and given that it is certainly my view, and I believe that of the broader community, that a 10.5 per cent increase is out of step, we have moved to disallow.  That is very clearly the Liberal Party position.

Ms O'Connor interjecting.

Mr HODGMAN - As much as you would like to keep debating our pay, we want to get on with the most important issues Tasmanians are concerned about - growing economy, jobs, capitalising on our competitive strengths, and making sure that Tasmania remains open for business under a majority Liberal government.