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Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Tags: GST, Treasury

Ms O'CONNOR (Denison - Leader of the Greens) - Mr Deputy Speaker, we just had some illumination into the Treasurer's motivations and character in that contribution. He revealed to the House what inspired his conduct over the four years between 2010 to 2014 when every time he got to his feet in this place he ran down confidence in the economy and the efforts of the government. It was his greatest hope that there be economic pain because he thought that would be to his own and the Liberals' political advantage. We saw that. You can get up here and give us insights into your soul, but you know that is true. I sat here for four years on that side of the House and I watched you, Mr Gutwein, get up every single day and run this place down gleefully and your greatest hope was that there would be economic pain because you thought it would work for you. We see that.

Last week, in an ultimately extremely frustrating Estimates process, we had some very interesting repetitive non-answers from the Treasurer on this question of the GST. It came down to what the Treasurer's belief set is. At the Estimates table, where it is questions seeking answers and therefore it is either a fact or it is not a fact, we establish what the truth is, or we seek to, the Treasurer had formed the view after discussions with the Prime Minister and the federal Treasurer that we would not be a cent worse off. After repeated questions from the Leader of the Opposition we got the same answer out of the Treasurer - that he had formed a view and it was his belief that after conversations with his federal colleagues we would be no worse off. We are expected to believe that a conversation with two serial misleaders - the Prime Minister, who said climate change was the biggest challenge the world faces and now backs in the coal industry, and Scott Morrison, who has tripled the debt - two serial misleaders at a federal level give our serially misleading Treasurer an assurance that enables him to form the view and therefore assure all Tasmanians that we will be no worse off. Why should we believe any one of the three of them on their form?

I point out that I spent the weekend going through the Estimates uncorrecteds and there was a very small handful of ministers who sought to give something close to honest answers to questions, but the stand-out for deception, obfuscation and serial misleading was the Treasurer. On every question that was asked of him across the Estimates table he played the smart aleck, 'I don't have to answer this question', 'I formed the view', 'I believe this', 'I have answered that question', he said, after not answering the question half a dozen times.

Mr Gutwein - I answered that question half a dozen times.

Ms O'CONNOR - Mr Gutwein, if you really want to understand the depths of your contempt for democratic processes, go back and have a look at the uncorrecteds. You should be ashamed, Treasurer. It was a breathtakingly arrogant display at the table. Across all the outputs on which you were asked questions we did not get straight answers, not on the GST, not on the sweet deal to the Tasmanian Hospitality Association, not on the expressions-of-interest process that is being driven through the Office of the Coordinator-General, not on right to information requests, which you are still delegating so they cannot be internally reviewed. On every issue that came before the Treasurer in Estimates, he serially misled or did not answer. That is this Treasurer's form, so why should we believe a single word he says about Tasmania's future GST receipts? I

I do not believe we should, because this Treasurer has form and this Government has form. We saw it here in question time this morning in that extraordinary display of incompetence and innate dishonesty from the Minster for Primary Industries and Water, Ms Courtney, who is potentially going to win the prize for worst minister in the Hodgman Liberal Government. There is still some time to go yet but her performance last week at the Estimates table is widely acknowledged as being woeful and not across her portfolio. She was asked a straight question this morning within her portfolio and because she is so not across it she deflected it to the Minster for Environment, who politely lectured the House, but we really think she was lecturing Ms Courtney to remind her of her responsibilities. Then on another opportunity to give a straight answer to a question that people who work in the marine aquaculture industries and around those coastal communities are asking - has there been a massive outbreak of pilchard orthomyxovirus? - we still cannot get a straight answer. Have around 300 000 fish died? We cannot get a straight answer. Either the minister is dishonest, she is not across her brief or she is coming into question time with no preparation for the significant issues of the day.

They are dishonest at their core and that includes the Treasurer.