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Priorities of Government

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Tags: Anti-Protest Laws, Protest, Democracy, Climate Change

Priorities of the Government: Rosalie Woodruff, 27 November, 2019


Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Madam Speaker, we have spent the best part of this evening wasting parliament's time on a divisive, fearmongering bill that was designed to waste our time.

Madam SPEAKER - Sorry, you are not allowed to reflect on the bill.

Dr WOODRUFF - I am reflecting on the time that we have been spending. I will not reflect on the detail of the bill. This week in parliament with the Liberals shows where their priorities really are. We have spent days and days debating bills that have been presented not once, not twice, but three times to this place when it is clear that reintroducing them again will not pass this place and it will not pass the other place.

Here we are, with the Government, making decisions that demonstrate where the priorities are and the priorities are not with the needs of Tasmanians . They are with the needs of the Liberal Party to deflect from their gross failures of Government in five and a half years, such as the disastrous state of the health system, although Mr Ferguson has now removed himself from that stench and passed the buck on to somebody else, and the problems remain. They might change the minister, but their method of approach to gouging money out of the public health system and diverting resources from the state to the private sector is tried and tested and we can see where it is heading us in Tasmania. It is heading us into dark and dangerous waters.

It is not surprising that we are debating one of the most vindictive and grossest attacks on human rights and our right to freedom of assembly, freedom of communication and freedom of protest. Instead, what should the Government be doing? They should at least be doing what they have put in their own agenda for this year. Building Your Future, according to the Liberals, had a number of things they were absolutely going to do, come hell or high water. What I want to talk about, the most important thing that should be the first priority for this Government, is taking action on climate change. Where is the state climate act?

The Climate Change (State Action) Act 2008 was due to come back here by September, at the latest. I asked the minister about this in budget Estimates and she promised it would be here in the spring session of parliament. It was not and it is not here today. There is one more chance for the Liberals to table the Climate Change (State Action) Act, tomorrow, but that leaves no time for us to debate it. It means there will be no action on the already pathetically weak stance that this Government takes on action to reduce omissions and prepare us to adapt for the realities of the climate heating that is occurring.

They have left it no time because it is not the priority of this Government. They would rather spend our time in here talking about pointless bills that are designed to whip up fear and peddle false truths that mandatory minimum sentences, for example, will have any effect on the impact of assaults on frontline workers or on the reality of abuse of children by paedophiles. We have wasted time in here when what we should have been doing is looking at the amendments that must be made to the Climate Change (State Action) Act.

This is an abrogation of their responsibilities to the young people who are looking for leadership and guidance, it is also an incredibly bad form of governance. It is really scary when this Liberal Government so consciously refuses to talk about the things that people most want to have action on. Along with the failure to deliver on their promise of the Climate Change (State Action) Act, they have also failed to provide any legislation on major projects.

This is a funny football that the Liberals have been kicking around since 2014. They went to the 2014 election with the promise to introduce major projects legislation and they introduced a draft bill in October 2017. The community went ballistic. It was a disaster, a total attack on community right to have a say and a total removal of powers of investigation and assessment by the appropriate authorities, instead handing all of those powers to the minister. In response to the outrage before the state election last year, the minister released a second version of that in January, which was somewhat improved, with a promise. The minister, Peter Gutwein, promised that the bill would be redrafted to allow very high buildings being able to be declared major projects. Well, you know what happens with the promises of Peter Gutwein; they are not worth the paper they are written on. In this case, it may not even have been written on paper.

We still have the axe hanging over the head of residents who were seriously concerned about the Fragrance Group's super-high skyscraper buildings that are proposed for Hobart and Launceston, and the fast- tracking potential of major projects legislation. Mr Gutwein promised that building heights would not exceed what planning schemes currently have listed and that they could not be called in as major projects. We want to know, we want to see that legislation and it is another thing that has not been done.