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Address in Reply

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Tags: Federal Group, Big Business

Dr WOODRUFF - Madam Speaker, the 2018 Tasmanian election was watched around Australia and has become known for all the wrong reasons. It was an incredibly bruising election. It was bruising for democracy in Tasmania. It was an election that was bought with money flowing into the state from the Federal Group to secure its investment in this state for the next 20 years or more. It was an election that was bought and the people of Tasmania were sold a pup.

Rivers of money flowed into the Liberal Party, staining the Hodgman Liberal Government and the governance and democracy of Tasmania. The fact that an election could be bought in the 21st century in Australia, galled and appalled so many mainlanders and Tasmanians.

The good news, is it reinvigorated me. It reinvigorated Cassy O'Connor, the Leader of the Tasmanian Greens, and it reinvigorated all the Greens members and the people who voted Green.

It also bought an awareness to the Tasmanian community that was not there before. We have taken for granted systems of governance, fair play and age-old traditions that have stood Australians and the United Kingdom, to which we owe our Westminster system of government, in good stead for centuries. It has helped us have difficult conversations and to negotiate conflict and extreme differences of opinion.

When a company comes to Tasmania and puts in millions and millions of dollars - we still do not know the amount - to buy an election, to make sure they can secure their gambling interests, then we know we are in real trouble.

When I came to Tasmania 11 years ago climate change was something I was concerned about. I came to Tasmania from my career as an epidemiologist to become more active on that issue. It was at that time very much a far off concern. Two and a half years ago, when I came into the Tasmanian Parliament, it was something that was coming fast, and we were seeing early evidence of the impact of climate change. Today, greenhouse gases are on track to double from the pre-industrial levels in 30 years time. It does not look like there is much we can do to prevent that on the current trajectory. These are levels we have not seen since humans evolved 3 million years ago. At that time temperatures were two degrees higher than they are today and sea levels were 25 metres higher than they are today.

The industries that have supported our way of life for the past 200 years are in decline. We are moving out of the second industrial revolution and into a new era which some people call the third industrial revolution. But the impact of the second industrial revolution, our dependence on carbon, our dependence on fossil fuels that were laid down under the Earth's crust millions of years ago, is spawning a change in the climate that is only just starting. We are living in real-time climate change. We are still spewing massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. We have dug up those carbon deposits from another period and we are paying the price for using those fossil fuels.
Climate change is no longer a theory or a model. It is right here, right now. It is in our house, it is on our island. It is happening to the climate around us. It changes the water cycles of earth. Our ecosystem developed over millions of years based on water cycles and cloud covers that move across the planet, on cloud covers that govern the hydrosphere and the eco-spheres. They govern everything.

We need to not only manage the changing climate, we need a new economic system. It needs to be a compelling vision. We need a game plan for the future and we need it quickly. We need to be off the carbon deposits we have been relying on for the past couple of hundred years in the next three to four decades if we are to have any chance of avoiding a massive and difficult-to-survive climate change.

So what to do? The economist, Jeremy Rifkin, is very eloquent about this and he has been providing economic advice to Angela Merkle in the German government for more than a decade. He was recently invited to China by the Communist Party of China to provide them with high level advice about how to respond to climate change and how to change industry in response to that. He says -

We're not reversing the situation. Humans are leaving the Holocene of nice, predictable cycles of climate. We're moving into the Anthropocene of totally unpredictable water cycles - every day, unpredictability. We're moving into the age of resilience. We're not in the slightest bit prepared for how we have to live and how we have to think.

He has clear suggestions for the paradigm shift we need to make. We need new ways to manage power, to make our economic activity renewable, efficiently managed and to have new ways of moving around economic activity.

These are the bases of the new future we have to choose. We can choose. We can continue with business as usual and we will have more fires, such as the 2016 fires that devastated the TWWHA. We will have more droughts, such as the longest ever recorded marine heatwave off the east coast of Tasmania in 2016. We can have more floods, such as last week, and we can have more extreme wind events and droughts, or we can have a future where we accept the reality of what is happening in the global economic system and in the global climatic system. We can grasp this reality. We can take it with us and we can act to shift us toward the paradigm we must adopt if we are to flourish and survive as an island community and as people who inhabit this planet together.

The Treasurer spoke about the confident economy that is Tasmania. That confidence is wafer thin. This Liberal Government has no climate change future planning in place, nor do they have a vision for such. There is nothing in the vision the Liberals have presented to give, as the Treasurer says, children confidence. What I hear is a desperate lack of confidence, a real concern about the future, in so many young children I am exposed to, my own included. It is not because I go home and talk about this at night. I try to avoid it. It is also the responsibility of parents to speak the truth. We cannot avoid children having these conversations. They are on their phones. They pick up The Guardian, they pick up CNN, they pick up World News and they pick up social media. They know what is happening.

The ecologists and the scientists are not modelling what is happening in the future - the loss of biodiversity, the 50 per cent loss of major species on the planet that is predicted in the next seven decades - they are chronicling it as it happens. They are observing it happening around us.

We have a challenge ahead of us. The plan for the Greens is to spend the next four years in parliament identifying the actions we need to be taking as a state, talking about how we must continue to reduce our emissions. Everything we do must be focused on that.

We need to be thinking and actively preparing how we respond to the new industrial paradigm we have to establish and to the challenges of climate change. The Greens' vision is for Tasmania to be a resilient society and for us to have the security of supply. We have an immense amount of insecurity in basic things such as liquid fuels. Fifty per cent of all of our greenhouse gas emissions in the energy sector comes from liquid fuel use. All that liquid, every little bit of it, comes from outside Tasmania. Our cars, our whole transport system, our manufacturing sector, our industrial sector is all powered on liquid fuels that come from outside this state. That is not a secure supply chain. Should there be a global influenza pandemic, the federal government's approach to managing that is to lock down every single state. What happens to Tasmania? What is our response to a global influenza pandemic when the federal government locks down every single state and we have no supply chains between Tasmania and the mainland? What does that mean for hospitals? What does that mean for food supplies?

We need confidence in how we manage water between droughts and extreme rainfall events in infrastructure, the management of water for agriculture and for living purposes.

The Greens also have a vision to value the ecosystems we rely on for food, for survival, for spiritual sustenance and for their integral beauty. We are responsible for the wilderness we have, for the state, not only to make money from for tourists, for the planet, for every other human being on earth who will come to enjoy and wonder at the beauty of the Southwest Wilderness area or the Tarkine National Park. We will achieve that one day and we will do everything we can to make that day come sooner rather than later.

The Greens have a vision for a just and inclusive society that puts communities first, gives people a real voice about the changes in their local area, about the special wild places they love and the sorts of industries we need for the future.

I will give a little more detail about some of the areas we will be focusing our attention on, and in the portfolios I have responsibility for. It would be no surprise to people in this place that we will continue our strong focus on the marine environment and on the disaster the expansion into Storm Bay being proposed would be for that marine environment if it occurs in the way this Government is proposing. That is, the Liberals are proposing to allow three companies to massively expand into Storm Bay without a baseline scientific assessment, without an assessment of the impact on the Derwent Estuary and on the people of Hobart from the potential for algal blooms, heavy metals being suspended from the upper reaches of the Derwent Estuary, and without an assessment of the impact on other commercial fishing businesses. It is also being undertaken without consultation with communities. The consultation done by the three companies is a joke and was described as such by all the people who spoke at the Storm Bay hearings held in the last couple of weeks by the Marine Farming Planning Review Panel.

There has been no real consultation about the impact on communities around Storm Bay of this major change. Some of the things that came up in the Storm Bay hearings were, for example, where is the water coming from? How is Tassal going to find water for its west of Wedge Island development when they have run the creek running down into the existing development dry? How is this going to be managed when there is such limited water supply on Tasman Peninsula? Where are all the trucks going to go on the state roads and who is going to be affected by them? When are people going to be consulted about things such as truck movements in Tasmania? All these things are things communities are expected to suck up without any discussion about the impact on their tourism businesses, their school buses, or their driving to work and home in the rain on narrow winding roads. Who is paying to upgrade the roads for these massive increases in trucks?

In addition to the focus on Storm Bay, we will continue to speak for the people in the north-west of Tasmania because the Labor Party and the Liberal Party do not speak for them. No-one else is speaking for them about the proposal for 100 Petuna pens to go under Three Hummock Island. Unbelievable. It is the most incredibly beautiful area which is a nursery for fish around that Circular Head area. Petuna is proposing to put 100 pens in that area. Fisherman have squid licences up there. It is a nursery for juvenile fish populations which are trying to re-establish after they have been overfished in Bass Strait.

This government is supporting Tassal's bid to put fish farms on the eastern side of King Island. Unbelievable. The community is outraged. They have already submitted a petition on this. Sixty per cent of King Islanders are on the record of opposing Tassal trying to establish fish farms off the incredibly beautiful reef there that has world-class surfing, an amazing reef which runs along the eastern side of King Island, as well as all the other commercial fishing operations which are undertaken around King Island. Locals believe them to be utterly threatened by the level of excrement the fish farms would produce which, because of the tides, would wash onto their beaches and into their rock lobster fishing areas.

This has never been a government which has regulated the industry for jobs for the long term or for the interests of the community. This has been a government which has had a completely hands-off approach to big business and they have said, 'If you want to come here, we will open the door, do whatever you want'.

We are seeing exactly the same thing happening in the south at Dover. What we have is a back-door way for the state government to get through a southern port. The southern woodchip port which is being proposed to be pushed through as a development application to the Huon Valley Council is nothing that should go to the Huon Valley Council. This is a state issue and it is being dealt with with no openness or transparency. This should be done with full rigour through the Huon Valley Council. It clearly cannot be undertaken in a democratic way when there is one person, an administrator, sitting on a council that does not have elected members around the table.

This is a major issue and the community is gathering a huge campaign against it. There are so many unanswered questions. Again, they are the same questions because this Government does not deal openly with communities, it does everything behind closed doors. We have secret deals that appear to be operating with companies from overseas. The company that has put in the development application, James Neville-Smith, SmartFibre, is part of a global forest products firm which is massive and based in the United States. It also has connections to a company that is registered for $1 in the Cayman Islands. There are links to Malaysia and there are links to Chinese companies as well.

There are so many questions about this proposal, but we can be sure that under this Liberal Government, the only way the community will get answers is to have to go through a protest, a community campaign, where they spend their time and money getting legal advice and expert opinions so they can fight their case for their community, because what is at stake for them is 427 Tassal jobs to a community that exists now for a proposal that has two to three permanent jobs, which is what the CEO Danny Peet [TBC] said on the record to a public meeting last November. It will provide two to three permanent jobs with this sort of foggy 145 other jobs somewhere off to the side maybe.

This Government is prepared to balance supporting an international company which will provide two to three permanent jobs but it will support the forestry logging narrative that the Liberals must have. Mr Barnett must continue with the politics of division, the politics of focusing on an old industry which we must move on from because of the reality of the world we live in today because we cannot cut down native forests and release carbon dioxide into the air, threaten the biodiversity of those forests out the back of Geeveston and all the other forests that will be used.

There is still no ban on logging on Bruny Island which has swift parrot habitat, masked owl habitat, and wedge-tail habitat. These are the forests which are threatened by this proposal. It is a massive restarting of the native forest industry and it is about securing the commitment to the old boys of restarting the logging industry. We know that people in the south are kitting up, they are buying B-doubles, and there are more log trucks on the road now even though it has not even got formally to a development application process with the Huon Valley Council. It has all started and it is behind closed doors, which is the way this Government does business.

In the next period of time we will defend our strong, consistent and proud record of tough gun laws in Tasmania. It was a shameful, sneaky and perfidious move of the Liberals to hide a policy they had to buy votes from the gun lobby. The only reason it came out before the election was because the Greens put it on the public record. Not only did these Liberals do something so sneaky and shameful as that, but they would not even be upfront enough and have the courage of their convictions to defend it to the public before the election. That shows you how wrong their policy is. The only reason it is going to the upper House sham of a committee is so they can weasel out of it and maybe they will just sort of drop it off the back burner quietly after they have already bought the votes they needed.

We will continue to stand up for strong, tough laws in this state. We are very glad to have heard the words of Ms O'Byrne about the fact that we must have tough gun laws which sometimes means that people do not get every little convenience they want. But when you are in a state which has had 2000 guns stolen from Tasmanian residences in the last 10 years and the Liberals want to weaken the storage laws, it is total madness. It seems like every fortnight there is another mass shooting in the United States. The only reason Australia has not been in this situation is because of the National Firearms Agreement which Tasmania was a major part of pushing for after Port Arthur in 1996. We need to make sure our gun laws remain what they are. In fact we have already been weakening them over the last 20 years and they cannot be weakened any more. We will be strongly defending them.
We will be pushing for an Integrity Commission that has teeth. The job of the Integrity Commission is important. The state election was bought by a gambling industry with millions of dollars. We cannot afford for our democracy to be weakened. We have so many challenges in front of us as a community, as a state and as a world. We have to have strong systems of governance and we have to respect the rule of law. We need processes that involve communities that give them appeals, that make everything transparent. We will be pushing for a crime of misconduct in public office. Everybody should be open, everybody should be responsible, and everybody in a position of authority should answer to charges of misconduct if they are brought against them. No-one should be immune from that.

We will look at plastics in Tasmania. We are in a dire situation worldwide with the amount of plastics being produced. We can do something about that. We can have a zero waste strategy in Tasmania. Hobart City Council is the Australian leader in this area. The work of Hobart City Council has put Hobart on the map. I believe The Project has been here to laud the work of Hobart City Council. We can be leaders and have great opportunities in Tasmania. Recycling is not the answer. Recycling is a transition approach but we must reuse so we do not waste resources.

I am looking forward to the next four years of working with Cassie O'Connor, with the rest of our mighty team, Alice, Tom, Will, Joe and Sue, and with the other members of the Greens who are very active supporters.

I pay respect to work of Andrea Dawkins. She gave everything to a role that she would never have felt herself to be born for. She was a person who took the job that was given to her and she did an excellent job. She was well loved and respected. I know she would have felt very positive, Jennifer Houston, about what you bring to this place, your experience and your passion as a palawa woman. She would have felt pleased to have heard your inaugural speech today.