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Motion of No Confidence in the Premier

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 23 May 2023

Tags: AFL, Stadium, No Confidence Motion

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Speaker, we are here today because we have no confidence in Jeremy Rockliff as premier.

Mr Jaensch - Speak for yourself.

Dr WOODRUFF - Interesting that you should say that, Mr Jaensch. I have heard three Liberal ministers speak now, and not a word of support for the Premier. The Treasurer said nothing about the Premier. Ms Archer also said nothing about the Premier. Nor Mr Barnett. They all talked about the Government. They all talked about the history of the Government. They said nothing about the Premier. They cannot support their own Premier.

Mr FERGUSON - Point of order, Mr Speaker. That is clearly misleading. I was speaking about the Premier as were other ministers, and the member knows it.

Dr WOODRUFF - Thank you, Mr Speaker. Hansard will speak for itself.

It was abundantly clear that the person who spends a lot of time destabilising Cabinet, the Treasurer, had not a word to say for the Premier; that he should be supported. We cannot disagree with them because we also have no confidence in the Premier. It is pretty clear that it is widespread across this parliament. The result of his failure to be transparent with Tasmanians, even to be transparent with members of his own backbench, has led us to this situation where the Government is allowing us speak on a debate of no confidence. It is the first time since I have been in parliament that they have allowed for a no-confidence vote in the Premier.

The reason is that they know it is pretty important that they can demonstrate they have control of the numbers in the House. They have two members who, last week, were sitting on the other side of parliament on the backbench. Mr Tucker and Mrs Alexander are now sitting on the crossbench. History will tell the extent to which they are independent and vote for themselves. We will have to wait to find that out.

It is clear that the Liberals understand that unless they can demonstrate they have control of this House, then they are continuing to govern in minority, not just by the numbers in the House, but with an unstable minority.

We think the situation is all of their own making. It is all of Jeremy Rockliff's own making. He said earlier that a leader needs courage, conviction and the support of people behind him. We are here because he has none of that. That is the point. We have no confidence because he is weak. He has been bullied by the AFL. He has done a terrible deal for Tasmania. He is so spineless that he has folded at every step of the way and given more to the AFL. The deal that we have in front of us that we can see so far - he still has not released schedule 6, which is where it is likely we will find out that we have sold ourselves into even more debt and we call on him to do that.

It shows his secrecy and dishonesty with us at every level. He trades as a man with a heart. He puts his heart on his sleeve as though it is enough and I think we Tasmanians have been taken in by that. We want to believe the best of people. It is important to do that but our responsibility is to the people who vote for us to speak for them in this place. We have ended up with a Premier who might be a kind man as a father and as a potato farmer but that does not cut it when you are trading away a billion-dollar debt, an albatross around our neck for decades to come, to some mainland blokes in suits.

He has given every single term to the AFL and nothing to Tasmanians. It shows his warped priorities. Not only has he given us a dud deal that is going to cost us a fortune, it is an opportunity cost. It is money that we should be spending in a housing crisis on houses. We should be spending in a health crisis on new hospitals. We should be using some of that $750 million debt to look at purchasing St Helens Private Hospital and bringing it into the public health system. We should be using it ruggedise our infrastructure against climate extremes. What is coming down the line is that before this stadium would notionally ever be built - and no one out there in the street believes it could possibly be built by October 2027 let alone by 2028. It is not possible.

Let us go with the fiction, the dream that it could happen. By that point, the globe will have reached an average of 1.5 degrees above the long-term average. We know what that tipping point the climate scientists have been telling us will bring. It will bring more extreme climate events.

While we are in this 'La La Land' pretending we have spare cash to build a stadium that we do not need and we never should have allowed ourselves to give in to the AFL bullies and put the money that we do not have into building, we are not spending that money on protecting our infrastructure and making it stronger for climate extremes. We are not making sure our buildings, roads, bridges and beaches are being protected against climate extremes. We have nothing in the bank for the next big bushfire if comes roaring down the Derwent Valley and into Hobart. We have nothing for those extreme events because we will have used up everything.

More importantly, today we have people who cannot get into beds in a hospital and who cannot get a house. We have all had people who ring us in desperation but we have had Jeremy Rockliff as a part-time Health minister for the past year. His whole energy, all of his resources, all of his mental power has been focused on getting a stadium up. He has been spending all his spare time doing deals and cooking up ludicrous strategic business cases. How many people put this together? How many well-paid public servants put this together.

I heard what Dr Broad said about it being done on the back of a beer coaster and despite the fact that this is a 78-page strategic business case, he is right: there is nothing credible in here. There are no details that matter. What it tells us is that it is a terrible business case. It makes it clear that the cost benefit ratio is 0.5. In other words, the costs at this point would be $618 million but the benefits would be $306 million, so that is a negative. That is a loss of over $300 million by their heroic estimates that they put into the costs for the project and the benefits from tourism and community benefits. They do not detail the jobs. The Liberals love talking about how many jobs will be created but this strategic business case does not say how many and it does not say where they will come from. It is just tourism jobs, community benefit jobs, entertainment jobs. It is not persuasive and it is the lack of attention to that sort of detail from a government that pretends to be the best financial manager for Tasmania that really brings them undone.

We have a promise of large-scale public infrastructure that can be a landmark and a symbol of pride for the whole community. I do not know if other members are but I am getting photoshopped examples of what people in the community have put together of what this is actually going to look like. None of the advertising that the Liberals have put out about the stadium has given a side on view because if you did it would be horrifying. What it shows is a building that is going to be at least 40 metres high and 240 metres long. That is about the size of the Hotel Grand Chancellor. You can imagine on the skyline not just the Hotel Grand Chancellor, which comes up in a kind of a cascading layer-cake effect which has a pinnacle at the top then it drops away to the side.

This would be equivalent of having the Coral Princess parked permanently behind our landmark Henry Jones Hotel and the other beautiful old hotels and buildings, the art school, that are the backdrop for the Wooden Boat Festival. They are the backdrop for the Sydney to Hobart. They are the backdrop for the arts and entertainment that comes to the Constitution area and the harbour. They would be dwarfed. It would be like a child's toy and behind that would be an enormous white toilet seat that would be just sitting there, looming over the whole of our beautiful Hobart. All the years that people have spent trying to protect the skyline from skyscrapers. Well, look at what the replacement is that the Liberals are giving us. This is their idea of protecting heritage Hobart. This is their idea of advancing tourism. This is their idea of showcasing Tasmania as special, unique and diverse.

They will plonk a massive stadium right in the middle of the most important part of the public area in Hobart, the place that should have a reconciliation park. It should have the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative (ACE) precinct. It could have the State Library; it could have a lot of beautiful public space surrounded by entertainment. It could have intensive housing and apartments. It could have all of those things.

Most importantly, it could have respect for the Cenotaph but there will be none of that. The whole RSL congress met and had a close look at the plan and the updated information that they were given about the stadium. After a night of thinking about it so that they could properly consider their views, we are not surprised that 80 per cent of the members voted their no confidence in the stadium and its position to the Cenotaph. That is because it is a sacred place. It is because people have died and it is a sacred place that we go to revere and honour the lives they have given. We would not do that in Canberra. We would not do that in Melbourne. How can we do that in Hobart?

I heard one person call in on the radio from the north. He said that his father and uncles, who all died in earlier wars, would have turned in their graves at the idea. He was expecting that, like 1941, he said, when there was a march to protect the Cenotaph, that there would again be a march if there was any attempt to try to build that stadium next to that beautiful and sacred place.

The local palawa people and the palawa-pakana of Tasmania understand why they have no confidence in the Premier, because he takes no action for ministers and their appalling behaviour. It was Mr Jaensch's comments in parliament that so outraged people who were listening when he made insulting and damaging comments, and failed to acknowledge Tasmanian Aboriginal people in parliament. Mr Jaensch could not bring himself, as the Aboriginal Affairs minister, to say the words 'Tasmanian Aboriginal people' because of fear of upsetting his Braddon constituency, the group that continues to make the racist claim that there is no such thing as a Tasmanian Aboriginal person. Mr Jaensch was not pulled up by the Premier for that shameful comment. We have no confidence in the Premier when he should be progressing treaty. We have no confidence that he does not check his minister and bring him to heel because it sends a terrible message. That was backed up by the truth-telling and treaty group, tuylupa tunapri, who themselves expressed no confidence in Mr Jaensch. But nothing happens under this Premier.

Also with the Minister for Racing, Ms Ogilvie, when he failed to sack her for her behaviour, which was appalling to animal welfare activists and advocates. It was appalling for the industry, for the whistleblowers, who have put their reputation, their mental health, on the line by making successive complaints which she has refused to act on. Corrupted processes. Contemptuous processes. Instead of having an independent investigation, she gets the Office of Racing Integrity, against whom the complaints were made, to investigate themselves. That is her idea of being strong and protecting the industry, its reputation and the animals who are so badly abused, against whom complaints are made. That is her idea of taking appropriate action.

Ms Ogilvie - We know you do not like the racing industry. We know you want to shut it down. Keep going on about it if you want to. Just not going to succeed.

Mr SPEAKER - Order.

Dr WOODRUFF - It was after two days of national embarrassment that she was forced to do something and announce an independent investigation which, of course, we know is not independent at all. David Killick made a fantastic comment about this in the Mercury in March. He said: 'It points to the rot at the heart of this Liberal Government.' It is a rot that goes to Will Hodgman and then to Peter Gutwein, and it has now been inherited and fostered by Jeremy Rockliff. Many Tasmanians had high hopes for Jeremy Rockliff as Premier. I was one of them. I do not mind saying that. Our hopes have been completely dashed. Not just by this sucky deal on the stadium. Not just by his failure to intervene and do the work he needs to do as a Health minister, but by his inability to stand up to conservatives in his own Cabinet. Why do we not have legislation to ban conversion practices? Why has he delayed that? Why is he continuing to delay it? Why is now talking about not bringing it on until next year? It is because he is weak. He is spineless.

It is doing us all bad. It is costing the state a fortune. It means there is no action on health. There is no action on the fact that people cannot get into the emergency department. There is no action on the fact that there are not enough paramedics. There is no action on the fact that doctors are leaving the Royal Hobart Hospital and the LGH in droves because they are getting underpaid, there is no cheap housing like there used to be, cost of living is expensive, but worse they are working in a situation which is affecting their mental health. Why would they stay when they can get paid $40 000 to $50 000 more from hospitals on the mainland that are doing active recruitment campaigns?

We now have not only a desperately overburdened hospital system, but we have staff walking out. It is a crisis. It is going to get worse before it gets better, and it will only get better if he stops being a part-time Health minister and focuses on that as his key priority. That is what Tasmanians want.

We want information on the deals that have been done that are costing us so much. Under Jeremy Rockliff, despite all of his promises, Right to Information is getting worse, and Tasmania is being transformed into a secret state. The Right to Information Act was meant to mean that there was a culture of active disclosure. That is what it promised and that is what it should enable. When a minister or a department gets a Right to Information request, the attitude should be to release the information as soon as possible. The culture under Jeremy Rockliff, continued under Jeremy Rockliff and getting worse, is to hide information, to waste as much time so people give up and go away. Jeremy Rockliff promised nine months ago that he was going to fix up this mess and upskill RTI officers. It clearly has not happened, because there is no change.

I want to make some comments about the St Helens Private Hospital. It is owned by a private health company, Healthscope, which has been a major Liberal donor in the past. It was taken over by Brookfield and run down. It is now on the market, because it is not a 'viable investment', according to Healthscope. Real people's lives are affected by the imminent closure of St Helens. There was a rally this morning outside the Executive Building. A substantial number of people turned up, including health workers, psychiatrists, psychologists, patients, and unions, all calling on the Premier to intervene and make sure that the essential services provided through the 31 beds in the psychiatric hospital and the eight mothers and baby beds are continued after 23 June.

Madison Cutler spoke about her mental illness. She described it as being like a wild animal. Without the treatment she is getting, she said, she is deeply afraid that the beast is going to attack her again. She fears for her life. The only hope she has is one person. Her plea was to Jeremy Rockliff because he is that person. He could be that person. He could intervene and he could ensure that those services are continued. He could enter into an arrangement with Healthscope to continue the services. He could investigate taking over that hospital and bringing it into the public health system, because there is nowhere else for those health services to be delivered in Tasmania. They are currently irreplaceable. It will take years to replace them.

Jeremy Rockliff has done is nothing. He has accepted the first response from the THS senior staff who have obviously said do not buy it, it is old, it is heritage listed, it is not fit for purpose. Well, people are calling that out for what it is. It is not an investigation, it is not due diligence, it is not looking at the real needs of the patients and staff who work there. They know it is fit for purpose. It needs maintenance. It needs TLC. It needs to be fixed up and cleaned up but it does not need to be replaced.

I have had no response from the Premier, except that it is simply not fit for purpose. At the same time, he says that to close the hospital is disappointing. It is deeply ironic that he can recognise that it is disappointing, because he is the one who can do something about it. While all his energies are focused on the stadium, he is not paying any attention to it. It is a life-saving hospital. It is about to close and there is nowhere for those hundreds, perhaps thousands, of patients to go.

He has his priorities all wrong. When he talks about vision, his vision is incredibly small. His vision is like successive Liberal and Labor premiers in the past, they have a very narrow vision for Tasmania because they do not understand what we have. They do not understand how beautiful it is and how special it is. They do not appreciate that. They do not understand the value of takayna. They do not understand the value of diversity. They do not believe in our art sector. They do not believe in people's innovation and creativity.

They are always looking for one big thing - the big thing on the hill that will save them. When you have no ideas about what to do, then hand over your vision to the AFL because they will tell you what to do. They have, and they have made sure that we will pay for all the costs. We will pay for all the cost overruns. We will pay if the AFL does not get its match revenue, we will make it up for them. We will make sure they get any extra in case we do make it. They will make sure that if they do not like what we have done after 12 years, they will walk away. They will leave us with the white elephant that will be sitting looming over our beautiful Hobart Constitution Dock.

It is a terrible deal and the Liberals are utterly incapable anyway of building it. We heard today that $30 million of funding from the Commonwealth Government for the Cradle Mountain cableway has been pulled. It has been pulled because they were told six months ago that they had to raise a contract for the cable car because they were well overdue doing that. They did not meet the deadline. The Liberals have been on notice for six months to raise the contract to build the Cradle Mountain cableway. They have not done it so they have lost the money. That is a project that is meant to be built by 2026. You cannot build a $60 million cable car by 2026. By the way, we are pretty happy about that because that area is so beautiful.

Ms Ogilvie - You do not like football. You do not want the team.

Mr SPEAKER - Order.

Dr WOODRUFF - That area is so beautiful. It is so special we do not need a cable car. People come in droves. We do not need a cable car to understand it is a beautiful piece of wilderness and it is fantastic to leave it that way.

It proves the point that if the Liberals cannot manage $60 million or raise a contract for a $30 million build, how could they possibly build a stadium in four years' time? How could they possibly do that and not suck every single tradie in Tasmania completely out of the housing market. Good luck if you want to build a house because it will not get built between now and 2030 because everyone will be working on the stadium. No one will be coming from the mainland as they may have done in the past because there is nowhere for them to live. We are not going to be getting tradies from the mainland. We will be trying to get them from here. We will be pinching them from everywhere while we are trying to finish off the Bridgewater bridge. It is a mess.

We have not even talked about Marinus yet which is $7 billion to $10 billion. We have not seen the work for that. We have no confidence in what Jeremy Rockliff is doing.