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Sale of Public-Owned Assets

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 22 November 2018

Tags: Public Assets, Privatisation, Treasury Building


On coming to office in April 2014 you said, 'Let me be clear, we will not be selling any government or public-owned assets'. Five years later you have flogged 29 000 hectares of public plantation forest for substantially less than it cost taxpayers to establish them; introduced special enabling legislation to hand over the pinnacle of kunanyi to the Mt Wellington Cableway Company; announced plans to sell the historic Treasury building; entered into a secret, long-term lease to privatise Halls Island at Lake Malbena in the World Heritage Area; privatised vast tracks of public waterways for fish farm companies, and now Elizabeth Street Pier is to be sold off.

At no point were the true owners of these assets, the Tasmanian people, consulted. How can you justify misleading the Tasmanian people in 2014 about your Government's rampant privatisation agenda?



Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Clark for her question. I am just getting a list of assets that were sold under the former Labor-Greens government, which I am happy to refer to as well. I make the point that all good governments sell assets that are no longer fit for purpose or that can be better utilised by others, and buy new ones that better serve the Government or the community. That is what drives this Government to repurpose properties, assets, that are no longer serving the best possible fit for purpose to our community.

The particular matter referred to involves the Government divesting itself from the Elizabeth Street Pier. In our view, it is simply not core business for the Government to own 56 serviced apartments, a conference centre and hospitality venues in the middle of Hobart. In our view, government should not conduct business of this type or provide services at the site. It is considered by this Government that its capital would be better invested in the Macquarie Point precinct renewal, which we all want to see progressing; the decommissioning of the wastewater treatment plant, which has long been a thorn in having that occur at Macquarie Point, but we now have a positive way forward thanks to the excellent work of the Treasurer and Minister for State Growth; and in commencing the development of the arts and cultural precinct in line with the MONA vision at Macquarie Point. They are laudable objectives and a far better use of the property in question but also the asset that will be realised to ensure that Tasmania continues to progress as it is under this Government.

All governments sell assets from time to time that are not core business. Again, I am happy, as the Treasurer has done previously, to read through the list of assets that were disposed of by the former government of which the member who asked the question was a member, and to point again to the fact that it is hypocritical of members opposite to be so critical of this Government in seeking to repurpose -

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker, on relevance. This is about a promise the Premier made to the people of Tasmania. The question is, how can you justify misleading the Tasmanian people?

Madam SPEAKER - It is not a point of order, unfortunately, until we fix standing order 45.

Mr HODGMAN - Madam Speaker, I have made very clear that the justification for us doing these things, and certainly in the instance the member has referred to, is for the benefit of our community and that is what will occur here. If the Greens are seriously making an argument for the state to continue to own a property that contains 56 serviced apartments, a conference centre and hospitality venues, I do not think anyone would believe it given the recent attacks the member for Clark has made on Tasmania's strong tourism industry, but it shows how out of touch they are with what we are doing to better provide for Tasmanians and to better advance important agendas such as the redevelopment of Macquarie Point.