Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise to raise concerns Bruny Island residents have about the ferry service change proposed for the island and their right to have a say in the conditions and the contractual arrangements being negotiated between the state Government and SeaLink. The state Government awarded the new ferry contract to SeaLink Travel Group on 28 June. The Premier promised Bruny Islanders that their ferry service would be equal to or better than the ferry service that they are currently receiving.
It is clear to many island residents that what SeaLink disclosed at a public meeting on 8 July shows that the ferry service it will run will be substantially inferior to the one that is currently being operated by Graeme Phillips. About 200 people were present at the meeting. There are real concerns that during peak season residents will not be able to travel to and from the island on a regular basis, but especially to spontaneously move to and from their home to receive services or to undertake activities on the main island of Tasmania.
The public meeting was facilitated by Mr Simon Boughey, who I understand has a residence on Bruny Island but is not living there. He was an independent chair and residents of the island who attended the meeting said he facilitated a fair meeting. Subsequently the Department of State Growth has proposed a ferry island reference group to investigate the issue of permanent ferry access and access when required by residents. The terms of reference for that group were set by SeaLink and State Growth. It was to have an independent chair and to have a representative group of nominated reps from each of the four major organisations on Bruny Island.
However, there are allegations of Mr Boughey being pressured. There is another person, Mr Trevor Adams, who is now being put in as the chair of the Bruny Island ferry reference group. There are concerns about links between SeaLink and Mr Adams. There are also changes to the terms of reference for the committee, which means people have been appointed to that group as individual community members but not as representatives of those four groups. That is a different matter. People who are appointed to the ferry reference group who are not representing other people in the community but their own view of how they think the community feels, have far less accountability for the community groups. The concern at this point is the people who are appointed by State Growth can out vote others. There is an undue weighting towards people from the tourism industry and an undue weighting towards people who have one view about what should happen with the ferry service.
Potentially what we have here is a highly volatile situation where people who are extremely vulnerable are being locked out of the conversation about how they maintain access to their home.
I bring the attention of the House to the street corner meetings proposed by SeaLink as their consultation process. They were announced with six days' notice and they were only posted on Bruny Notices Facebook page which means any member of the Bruny community who does not have access to the web or who is not a member of Facebook or is not a member of that Facebook page has no other mechanism of finding out when these meetings are to be held.
The meetings are to be held at 9 a.m. in Kettering, 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. in Alonnah and 10 a.m. at Adventure Bay. Clearly, it will not be possible for people who travel off the island to work to attend any of these meetings. This has been brought to the attention of the meeting organiser, Rubina Carlson, who is working for SeaLink. There seems to be no movement at all in this space.
There is a real concern here that this is stitched-up reference group which is designed to give the Government a box to tick that will say, 'Yes, we have done that, we have talked to the residents'. This is a life and death as well as a lifestyle issue for people who live on Bruny Island. It has to be resolved.
We cannot have a situation where people in Tasmania are no longer able to catch a ferry from their home to a service on the main island without booking a week in advance. That is what is being proposed. But that is okay, we will sort it. Just put your booking in a week in advance. How do you know if you are going to visit your aunt in a week's time?
We will be following this up on behalf of residents and they need to have their say about what happens.