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Broken Promises

Vica Bayley MP

Vica Bayley MP  -  Wednesday, 16 August 2023

Tags: Integrity, Transparency

Mr BAYLEY (Clark) - Mr Speaker, I thank the member for bringing this on as a matter of public importance. There is nothing more important than integrity and credibility in government. If our government cannot be believable, if it cannot be reliable, then what are the people of Tasmania to expect? People are making decisions based on the promises, the pledges, the commitments that this Government makes. When it fails to deliver they are left hanging.

I will make one additional point before I go into the specifics. It starts in this Chamber. Visitors coming to the Chamber - particularly school groups coming up into the public gallery - see credible, well-formed, well-articulated questions being put to members of the Government, but all they see is bickering, obfuscation, and deflection, so what are we leading those kids to believe when it comes to the integrity of this place and our ability to make constructive decisions that are going to benefit their future?

I heard the contributions of the members for Braddon and I do not want to go through or repeat any of their lists of infrastructure, health and other commitments that have been broken. I want to touch on a couple of key points on commitments in my portfolio areas and others that have been neglected and failed to be delivered.

In the Arts portfolio, for example, during COVID 19, the arts community stepped up and continued to inspire and deliver for the people of Tasmania with their creativity.

Ms Archer - And we provided $9 million.

Mr BAYLEY - That is right, they were provided for, but they were promised ongoing support after the COVID 19 pandemic. They were told they would be looked after like small businesses and others. We feel, and they feel, that they have simply been cut adrift. Artists kept their contract with the people; they continued to be creative. Unfortunately, the Government has failed to live up to their expectations.

When it comes to even statutory requirements, for example, in the Environment portfolio there were critically important things like the promised and the statutorily-required state of the environment report. It was promised in 2014 and we are still waiting on it. The environment community is having to mount a campaign to put pressure on the Government to deliver on its own statutory obligations to deliver that report. What does that say about any promise that they make in the environmental space - things like a ban on single-use plastics and container deposit schemes? We have a government that seems content and committed to prioritising the interests of industry at the expense of the environment. We do not even have a transparent, clear and delivered state of the environment report so that people can see how their commitments are being matched up against the reality.

In the Education space, promises of increased staffing and funding for public schools consistently fall short of what is needed and literacy rates are stagnating. Pay rises for teachers are fought against tooth and nail and are an ideological battleground with unions, while inflation soars out of control.

These are some specific issues in relation to promises but I also want to touch on more motherhood statements and some of the strategies that the Government publishes and ultimately never follows through on.

I want to touch on the Tasmanian Housing Strategy. Treasurer, it is great that you are here because we commend the Housing Strategy, the commitment for Housing First and the commitment for 10 000 houses by 2032. However, we look at the Budget and we see that those commitments are completely underfunded. To deliver on those kinds of commitments we need $150 million a year to deliver those 10 000 houses by 2032. A total $1.5 billion has been earmarked by Government as being required but we are seeing $87 million in the Budget in the last year and that only goes up to $98 million in the forward Estimates, so we are a good $50 million-plus short to deliver on those commitments. Need I remind the House that meanwhile, real people are suffering? There is an 80-week wait for public housing and 4598 applications on the Housing Register. We really need to do better.

When it comes to tourism, the strategy is called Tourism 2030 and it makes a whole bunch of really fantastic commitments around the tourism sector, its commitment to Aboriginal people and its commitment to being champions of the environment, but we simply do not see the follow-through. Does that strategy represent a new approach to tourism from this Government and the sector or is it just more of the same? If that document simply represents more of the same then people are going to continue to be cynical about the commitments this Government makes?

As well as failed commitments and broken promises, I want to finish up on the inability to pick up on constructive, good ideas that have been put on the table across the Chamber, which is profoundly disappointing and in many ways for the Tasmania people, can be seen in a similar light to broken promises. When good ideas are being put on the table, when constructive contributions are being articulated in this place, and from a policy perspective the Government rules them out simply because of ideological or deep political reasons, that is not only short-changing Tasmanians but it is an entirely disappointing way for government to engage in this place and to take Tasmania forward.

I thank the member for bringing this on and we look forward, I hope, to an improved attitude from government towards trust, towards integrity and delivering on its commitments.