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COVID-19 Emergency

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Tags: COVID-19, Housing, Economy

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Madam Speaker, I am happy and proud to be able to speak today about the Greens' interim submission to the Economic Recovery Advisory Council because it builds on the work we have brought to this place for decades and provides a real opportunity for this state to pick up and run with the priority, our focus, and what we need for the next 50 to 100 years. We have an amazing opportunity now on the back of a tragic and incredibly hard period for Tasmania. We have an opening in front of us and we have to walk through that door to the future, understanding that as we move into this economic recovery phase we can also deal with legacy issues we have continued to dismiss and ignore for decades. They have left us as a state, as a country and as a whole planet in a very hard place, but there are things that we can do in Tasmania.

Our preliminary submission to the Economic Recovery Advisory Council points to those which would deliver maximum public health benefit. It is our view that all decisions should be looked at by the recovery council in that light. The question they should ask is what delivers the maximum public health benefit? That is entirely appropriate as we move from the coronavirus pandemic. It actually should be the most important question at every point because what is good for our mental health, our physical and spiritual wellbeing is to look after communities and look after the nature that surrounds us, that supports us, this beautiful island lutruwita/Tasmania. This is our future, this is the ship we are on sailing into the future and we can direct the passage of that ship.

What we have proposed are things the Greens have talked about for decades and increasingly and loudly in the last few years. We will make every effort to focus the economy towards the socially and environmentally as well as the economically pressing issues to make sure that Tasmanians no longer live in fear of losing a house or not being able to get one in the first place. We must have a housing-led recovery. Our plan is for 2000 social and affordable houses to be built that are energy efficient, houses that provide rent to buy opportunities and that we build facilities that are purpose built for young people. They are so desperately in need and there are brilliant models available, models that we can pick up and work with.

This would be $600 million incredibly well invested with direct benefit to some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the state. A housing-led recovery is an incredibly important part of it. The other part is green skills development with measures to rewild and restore the degraded Tasmanian landscape. Greening the economy is what we must be doing as we move into a future which is dominated by the twin crises of climate heating and species extinction.

As Professor Boyer said so eloquently and concerningly in the Mercury this week when he wrote his column, he made the incredibly, I felt tragic, comment at the end of his piece which was about the grave threat of species extinction and the loss of species every day. He said we are seeing the evidence of the climate heating, we are seeing it every day across the world in our news feeds. We experienced it in the horrific bushfires last summer in Australia and in Tasmania the summer before, but what we do not see is the loss of species every day because they do not speak, they do sing, they do not bleep, they do not move, they do not flap their feathers and they do not swim past us. We just stop hearing about them, they are just not there anymore. It is because they are dead and they are not speaking any longer but we have to speak for the animals, the plants and the insects which we need to be with us because of their intrinsic beauty but essentially because they form part of a web and ecosystem that we depend on.

Of course the minister has jumped at the important and central pillar of this which is to end the native logging industry. He sees it as a loss of jobs but we see it as sustainable jobs for those workers who are doomed to an impoverished future at the moment because this Government and the Labor Party do not support them into the long term, because if they were they would be understanding that to secure their jobs, to use their skills, to give their communities meaningful work, is to redirect those people into protecting those forests, locking up the carbon and keeping it there, building the carbon.

These people have the skills we need to be using for our future and for the future of our children. When those forests are logged and burned, we are seeing more and more evidence coming out in scientific papers from Australia and other countries about how this increases the risk of wildfires and the health effects of that. All the doctors in the north-west who wrote to the Premier can attest that we have to end native forest logging because it is bad for the environment, it is bad financially for the state, and it is devastating to human health. We can 're-wild' our landscapes. We can fix degraded landscapes. They can become functioning ecosystems that will support us. We can help primary producers by providing grants for on-farm renewables and to allow energy sharing and trading between individual projects. This is such an important activity. Electrifying our transport.

This is a huge cost to Tasmanians, paying liquid fuels. We have to be supporting people to transfer to electronic public and private transport as soon as possible. We have to be doing this within a decade. Other countries have plans for this. Other states have plans for this. Where are we in Tasmania? Nothing clear about ending the use of liquid fuels in this state. They produce about 50 per cent of our carbon emissions for the minister's interest. He must be concerned at reducing the carbon emissions, not only from other areas but from liquid fuels. There is no strategy that he has delivered on this. I put it to you minister, that would a good use of your time to do that.