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Budget Cuts

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Tags: Extinction

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Madam Deputy Speaker, we have sat in this parliament - those of us who have been here for five-and-a-half years under this Liberal Government - and watched as the Treasurer has practiced his dark arts of sneakiness, deception and dishonesty, cruel cuts, and then overlaid with that, amazing spin. We had the argument for this Treasurer to go in hard and cut hundreds of teachers, cut hundreds of millions of dollars from the Health budget, gut the Threatened Species Unit, cut the guts out of the Parks staff and the expertise, and do untold damage to this state, to the basic foundation of everything that is good in this state and the clean, green image that we desperately need to maintain for this century and future centuries.

That was his argument for two cruel budgets in 2014 and 2015. Ever since then, he has been talking about the need to get the budget in balance and once it was in surplus, he has been crowing about being back in the black. But what has he done with that? He is using every opportunity to funnel money into private developers going into our parks and reserves, to put outrageous amounts of money into infrastructure instead of into the resources Tasmanians need and setting us up for the century ahead of us.

Now that we are so-called 'back in the black', this Premier -

Mrs Rylah - Premier?

Dr WOODRUFF - Treasurer - yes, he wants to be Premier in the way he is exerting control over the Cabinet and the Budget. Clearly, every single minister who spoke at budget Estimates was told not to answer where the cuts were going to come from in their portfolio areas, not to answer to Tasmanians about how this Treasurer is going to cut even further and deeper into Health, Education, Parks, Environment and Water. Every single important part of this state's functioning government public service has been cut thanks to this Treasurer, and the spin that we now hear is they are still crying poor and unable to act on the things that matter for this century.

This Treasurer is saying, 'We've got an upcoming global crisis so we have to be careful how we spend money.' We do have an upcoming global crisis - it is called the climate crisis. There was a UN Climate Action Summit on Monday and our Prime Minister refused to go. Our Liberal Prime Minister boycotted it, with the support of the Premier in his comments in parliament yesterday, who had the gall, the temerity, to call him a climate leader. Nothing could be further from the truth. He is leading us down the climate sceptic path, holding hands with the Prime Minister, who has a lump of coal whenever he can in his back pocket just as a little talisman to remind him of his donors, where he gets his money from, where this Liberal Party and the Labor Party get their money from, the fossil fuel industry - gas for Labor and coal for the Liberals.

Greta Thunberg spoke to all the children who were at the climate strike and made the incredibly important statement that entire ecosystems are collapsing. She said:

We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!

Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old activist, spoke to the hearts of all the children and people who were there. Last Friday in Tasmania tens of thousands of people turned out, but not one Liberal member attended.

Ms O'Connor - Shame on them.

Dr WOODRUFF - Shame on them. Not one Liberal member attended to listen and hear the stories. I am very concerned this Premier's legacy will be that he will be known as the climate criminal who held back Tasmania's survival. He will be known as 'Bolsonaro Will'. I certainly hope he will not be the Premier who is known for logging our carbon-rich forests and cutting down the security we need as a planet and as a state for this century and centuries to come. We do not have 356 000 hectares of forests that are spare to hold carbon. We need every single tree, every single regenerative agriculture technique and every single opportunity we can take to cut our emissions and to increase our carbon stores.

The Treasurer is yawning. It is tedious to hear yet again from the Greens about climate because we are the only people who hold them to account. I wonder how the Premier sleeps at night. I wonder what he really thinks about those children who are deeply concerned about their future. What is the legacy that this Government really wants to have? Budgets are about values. They are about what you prioritise and what we have to prioritise, whether we like it or not, whether it fits the economic education that you did when you were at high school or university. Did you do economic education? I do not know, but you have values education, Treasurer. You have a heart and so does every person in your Cabinet.

Like Greta Thunberg, I do not believe you are evil people. I believe you are ignorant, deaf, uneducated and fearful. I think you are fearful of assessing your own state of being. You want to think somehow everything is going to wander on into the future that you have in your mind of retirement but that is not the way it is. Every adult in this place should confront what children today are confronting, because they are clear-sighted and they listen to the science - the knowledge that things are changing fast. We have just a short time, as the UN Secretary-General told the whole planet the other today. Antonio Guterras made it very clear that we have just eight-and-a-half years. The Greens will be here to keep talking about this every day.