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Government Priorities

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 11 May 2023

Tags: Stadium, Macquarie Point, AFL

Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Mr Speaker, when the Prime Minister Anthony Albanese arrived here a couple of Saturdays ago, there was a welcoming party for him at Macquarie Point, which I was very pleased to see. On the placards of those members of the nipaluna/Hobart community were signs that pointed to the contradiction in government priorities and how twisted, some people at least, feel this Government's priorities are.

The five placards in a row in an image taken by AAP said:

I love footy and being able to afford life.

The next one:

Yes, to a team, no to a stadium.


We can't eat stadiums or submarines.


We need homes, not a stadium.


No stadium until no housing crisis.

Across the community, the reason that there is such anger about this proposed new $1 billion stadium is because Tasmanians in this small community that we share, see and feel the disadvantage and the suffering in our community. Everybody knows somebody who is struggling to find an affordable rental. Everybody knows somebody who has come into contact with the health system, and been let down. This place is too small for people not to see and feel that government priorities have been misplaced.

If the average Tasmanian watched Question Time, and saw how frequently and readily the Premier and other government ministers reach back into the ancient past of a Labor-Greens government of nine years ago, they would see that for the cynical farce that it is.

This Government has had nine years. This tired Government has had nine years to fix the health system and fix the housing crisis. The Premier was talking this morning about the police service and caught himself kind of reaching back into ancient history to say that Felix Ellis is fixing the police service. Minister Ellis has been in the job for not much more than a year.

This Government's priorities are all wrong. They want to spend $1 billion when Anglicare's annual Rental Affordability Snapshot, which was released late last month, shows that Tasmania is the least affordable place in the country to rent. We have the most savage rental market in the country. Rent in Tasmania has been rising up to 10 times faster than income support payments. There are zero affordable rentals in the state for the lowest income Tasmanians, like those who are on JobSeeker or Youth Allowance. The miserly extra allocation to JobSeeker by the Albanese Government of $40 a fortnight will do nothing to help these Tasmanians find an affordable home.

The Anglicare Rental Affordability Snapshot called for a ban on no cause evictions, called for the restriction of unjustified or punitive rent increases. The Anglicare report also recommended these protections should be actively policed and lease conditions should be actively monitored rather than putting the onus on tenants to take action against their landlords.

If you look at the data from the 2021 census, the ABS shows a huge increase in homelessness between 2016 and 2021 on this Government's watch. You can criticise the Labor-Greens government all you like over there on the Government benches but we had the housing waitlist at its lowest level in a decade. Over four years, we built 2200 new, affordable, energy efficient homes for low income Tasmanians. For all the troubles that it faced, including the global financial crisis, it was a government that genuinely took seriously its responsibility to help people and lift them out of disadvantage and provide some sort of security in their lives.

In the 2016 census, there were 1622 homeless people in Tasmania, but by 2021, the number was 2350. That is 728 more people who do not have a place to call home. That 45 per cent increase was the largest of any state in the country. Compare and contrast that to the spin we hear about the CommSec report on the state of Tasmania's economy.

In 2021, 569 children were homeless, on census night, 325 of whom were under 12 years old. The number of people living in severely overcrowded conditions over that period also increased by 165 per cent. That tells us a lot about this Government's misplaced priorities. Median rental costs have increased by 60 per cent.

This Government, with $3 billion in net debt, a forecast shortfall in GST revenue of close to $1 billion, wants to spend more than $1 billion, which is what it will end up being, on a stadium on Macquarie Point while we have the most savage rental market in the country, an incredible shortage of affordable homes, more people who are homeless, a health system that is on its knees, and people who are dying waiting for an ambulance. Teachers in classrooms are crying out for extra support and resourcing. Across every area of community services, public services that are meant to deliver to people, this island has gone backwards in the last nine years because we are being governed by people who mistakenly believe that we live in an economy and not in a society that is underpinned by a healthy environment.

We do not believe that the stadium has community support. We do not believe that it will be built such is the strength of opposition to this stadium.