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Broken Promises

Vica Bayley MP

Vica Bayley MP  -  Thursday, 16 November 2023

Tags: Container Deposit Scheme, Reserve Activity Assessments, Stadium

Mr BAYLEY (Clark) - Mr Speaker, I am glad that the Greens have been able to prompt such a spirited debate here. It is also good to be able to agree with the Attorney-General for perhaps his last 45 seconds of commentary. But I do wonder how far back he is going to go to dredge dirt on the Labor Party and dig up policies. Perhaps the Great Depression or something like that.

We do have a crisis in this state. We have a climate crisis, a cost of-living crisis, a health crisis, a housing crisis, and, of course, a biodiversity crisis. We also have a crisis in trust in politics and politicians. That is largely anchored in the fact that the people in government in this place cannot keep their promises. The Leader of the Greens has outlined very well a number of significant broken promises when it comes to the commitments of this Government. I will build on that.

The Government has committed to a number of different reforms at the federal level in National Cabinet, particularly on housing, including rent controls and evictions. But they consistently, together with the Labor Party, vote against the Greens' bills to introduce protections for renters.

Broken promises to date are one thing but I think we are likely to see many broken promises into the future as well. We have just had another housing strategy released. We can put that alongside the Keeping Hobart Moving transport strategy and the ferry strategy. I bet my bottom dollar that in another five years' time we will pointing to the many glossy promises in these strategies that have not been delivered, even if this Government is in government again after the next election, which I hope is not the case.

In my portfolio areas, there are issues like the container deposit scheme, a critical reform for Tasmania to help clean up our streets, give charities a means of income and manage the level of waste that goes into landfill. It was first promised in the first half of 2023 but now we have delays that are entirely avoidable. We could not even get a firm new date for implementation from the Government - promises around what needs to happen in terms of tendering and the like, but no set new date.

Same with single-use plastics. Again, a strong commitment about phasing out and banning single-use plastics but now it seems that it is not going to happen until November 2025. How hard is this business?

The State of the Environment report: this is not just a promise of this Government; it is a legislated requirement, a legislated commitment that every five years there would be a State of the Environment report that would help this state understand exactly what condition our environment is in. This Government has missed two successive reporting periods and has only just commenced the next round of reporting, which is not due until next year. So, even the statutory requirements of this Government go begging.

The environment is so critical as well. We anchor our brand to the environment and that is largely to our reserve network. The Government has made strong commitments about improving the Reserve Activity Assessment (RAA), improving the process by which we assess major developments in parks and reserves, making it a statutory process. In September 2021, the then minister, Mr Jaensch, made strong commitments around mandating elements of the RAA process for major uses for development; for establishment of an independent assessment panel to assess and review significant proposals against the relevant management plan; provision of third-party appeals and cost recovery; and the publication of leases and licences. That has still not happened. We are still waiting for those kinds of reforms.

In the native forest logging sector, one of the key promises this Government made when it tore up the Tasmanian Forest Agreement, when it rejected that consensus-based agreement, was no more subsidies to prop up native forest logging in this state. That promise has gone begging as well. The Government had barely been in the Chair a year when it siphoned $30 million off TasNetworks - $30 million off a government business, to put directly into the coffers of Forestry Tasmania because every log that you produce out of native forest is a loss making log. That $30 million in 2014 did not last very long. By 2017, you had to flog 29 000 hectares of Forestry Tasmania's plantations to subsidise ongoing logging, along with the swift parrot habitat, masked owl habitat and the like. That was sold at a $40 million loss. Those plantations cost the taxpayer over $100 million to establish but you flogged them for $60 million to prop up native forest logging.

An issue that is very heartfelt for many of my constituents is the stadium at Macquarie Point. This Government went through a long, tedious and quite extensive process to consult with the community about what kind of development we wanted at Macquarie Point but then chucked that out the door simply because the AFL insisted on a stadium at Macquarie Point. This is despite the fact that little more than a year ago, the Premier was still trying to make the case that a stadium was not part of Tasmania's AFL bid. Obviously, that was not the case.

While we are on the stadium, it is a fabulous segue to the other side of the House and the Labor Party. I heard the minister say that he does not know where they stand. Certainly, there are a lot of people who are deeply concerned about Labor's stance on the stadium. They said they would do everything they could to oppose it, produced stickers, produced a petition that is still harvesting names and signatures online today, yet they waved it into the assessment process.

Trust is broken on both sides of the House. Broken promises abound and it is time that we do better in this place.