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Referendum on New Stadium at Macquarie Point

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Wednesday, 26 October 2022

Tags: Stadium

Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Mr Deputy Speaker, of course the Greens will not be supporting this ridiculous, shallow and self serving motion put forward by the Leader of the Opposition. Either Labor does not support the stadium or it does.

Mr Rockliff - It does not.

Ms O'CONNOR - It does not? Is that right? It is interesting, because for the last month or so in this place we have had question after question from Labor on the stadium because it sees a political weak point here for the Government. It most certainly is a political weak point for the Government. Then something happened in a Labor Caucus meeting late last week where some political genius - I do not know if Dr Broad is driving strategy or who is - in there said, 'We are going to take this one step further. We are under a bit of heat. I know, let us have a referendum'. This is the day after Prime Minister Albanese was in Tasmania. There is a picture on Ms White's Facebook page of her having a nice cuppa with the PM.

Dr Broad - You are drawing a long bow here, whatever you are doing.

Ms O'CONNOR - Whatever. A nice cuppa with the Prime Minister. It was on that same day, from memory, that the Prime Minister said in response to a question from journalists about whether or not the Commonwealth would fund the stadium, 'We have not seen a business case'. Not a word came out of the very savvy politician Anthony Albanese's mouth about, 'We would rather see $375 million invested in homes for Tasmanians or a better public health system, a fair wage for public servants'. Not a word of caution about the stadium came out of the Prime Minister's mouth. All he said was, 'We haven't seen a business case'. This means that the door is still open to federal funding for this unnecessary stadium.

Ms White, I can almost guarantee, since this stadium was first announced has not picked up the phone to the Prime Minister's office or written to the Prime Minister's office to say, 'Please, we are imploring you on behalf of Tasmanians who cannot find a home or who are languishing on the elective surgery waiting list, to rule out the Commonwealth funding this extra stadium for Tasmania'.

It did not happen. Last week we gave the Labor Opposition an opportunity to be honest with Tasmanians about its position on this stadium. We were open to amendment on our motion. We did not get an amendment. Labor voted against a motion which expressed opposition to the stadium and called on Labor to write to the Prime Minister to rule out funding for this stadium. We put it forward because Tasmanians have a right to know whether this Labor Party stands for anything. It stands for very little. Every day it waxes and wanes. With Labor it is always about the politics first. What is the politics here? The question the Greens ask ourselves on every big issue is, 'What is the right thing to do?'

Dr Broad - You play politics as hard as anyone in here.

Ms O'CONNOR - We do. That is our test. I am not saying we do not get political because we do because we are operating in a political space. I am not stupid.

The first question we ask ourselves is, 'What is the right thing to do here?' I do not know when was the last time Labor asked itself that question. Was it before the 2018 election when it had a principled position on getting poker machines out of pubs and clubs? Was that the last time it put what is the right thing to do first? No Tasmanian will forget that within political milliseconds of losing the 2018 state election Labor did a triple reverse somersault on the policy.

This is your motion, Dr Broad. This is your ridiculous motion, which is a desperate attempt to provide cover for yourself when you flip on the stadium. There was a story in the paper the other day, with Mr Winter standing down at Macquarie Point looking concerned, doing something that Labor is very good at, and that is hand-wringing. Mr Winter was at Macquarie Point saying, 'We are concerned about this development, we do not think it is feasible'. Not, 'We are concerned about this development because Tasmania already has stadiums that can do the job'.

Dr Broad - What did you say about the floating stadium? Did you point out it was not feasible? We did and we were right.

Ms O'CONNOR - You either support this stadium or you do not. It is a black and white question.

Dr Broad - We do not.

Ms O'CONNOR - If you do not, what are you doing putting forward motions like this?

Dr Broad - Trying to stop it.

Ms O'CONNOR - Right, okay.

Dr Broad - If you get a referendum it would be a resounding victory and the end of the stadium. That is why. It is fairly simple.

Ms O'CONNOR - So this is your strategy?

Dr Broad - I did not say that.

Ms O'CONNOR - I am just checking.

Dr Broad - This is what a referendum does. It would be a convincing win. You talk to Tasmanians, what do you think they would say?

Ms O'CONNOR - Of all the emails that come into my inbox on the issue of the stadium, I have so far received one in support. It was a very thoughtful email and I responded to it as reasonably as possible. The mood of the people who I read of or talk with or who write to me is of strong opposition to this stadium. There is a level of resentment. The resentment is multilayered.

In and around nipaluna/Hobart the resentment is about basically being told, 'We know this is your city but you are going to have a stadium at Macquarie Point'. There is resentment about a development of such magnitude and expense on Macquarie Point without any conversation with the people who live here. The other resentment is about a very reasonable perception of waste. There is a recognition that we have a number of stadiums in Tasmania but in terms of stadiums fit for purpose for AFL or AFLW we have Bellerive and York Park. Bellerive as the crow flies is a kilometre over the river.

The next layer of resentment and bafflement is that a government could prioritise constructing a stadium when we have close to 5000 people on the public housing waiting list and we have people who are dying waiting for an ambulance or for elective surgery. The resentment and opposition to this stadium is multilayered. I do not think you need an expensive referendum to establish that.

Come next April or May we will be halfway through a term. By the time funding is secured, contracts are signed, even the first sod is turned we will be on the cusp of another state election. Then it will be an issue in the south of the state. The Greens will make sure of it. I believe the timing of this proposal is very bad for the Government.

We do not support this motion because our position is firm. Tasmania does not need another massive stadium. Tasmania needs housing. Tasmania needs to invest in its people who are the fabric of our State Service. Tasmania needs to refurbish if necessary Bellerive, which is a beautiful stadium. Many Tasmanians are so proud when the cricket is on and you see those pictures of Bellerive and the river. It is the most beautiful location for a stadium anywhere in the country. Arguably, why would not we invest in that?

What will happen to Bellerive is that it will turn into a massive white elephant - and that is sad. That was another investment of public funds in another time by another government for the purpose of making sure we had a venue that was appropriate for national standard football and cricket games.

So, we do not support this ridiculous motion. Labor: make the argument and stick with the argument for why we do not need the stadium. You know people are with you. You know people in all corners at all points of the compass on this island have rejected this stadium proposal. I do not know what a referendum would cost, but it certainly would be expensive. We are not going to support this motion. We do not support the stadium, but we also do not support ridiculous political stunts.