Ms O'CONNOR question to MINISTER for PLANNING, Mr FERGUSON
Tasmania is the most savage, unaffordable rental market in the nation and we have the fastest growing rate of homelessness. Councils across the state acknowledge the harm whole-of-home short stay accommodation is causing to the communities and they want to act. As shown by a recent Planning Commission ruling, they cannot unless you let them, which you have so far refused to do.
Minister, in the middle of the state's rental crisis you operate your own Airbnb so perhaps it is no surprise then that you have made your dogged opposition of limits on short stay rentals abundantly clear. Given your clear vested pecuniary interest you really should not be the minister responsible for short stay, but at the very least you should not be voting in this place on this issue.
Will you, today, explain why you refuse to act on short stay to ease the rental crisis and commit to abstaining from any votes in parliament related to short stay rentals?
Mr Speaker, I thank the member for Clark for her question. I will deal with a false claim on a conflict of interest from the outset. That is a ridiculous accusation from the member. She has made the same accusation against the Premier. She obviously does not know what a conflict of interest is.
Allow me to explain: a conflict of interest is a situation in which a person is in a position to derive personal benefit from actions or decisions made in their official capacity. Ms O'Connor has failed to make out any case whatsoever as to how that would apply here. Under the planning system all current short stay operators would have existing use rights and be able to continue to legitimately operate even if the planning rules were changed. I understand that to be your position. I understand that to be the Labor Party's position on this matter about new applications going forward. Changing the rules to ban new short stay operations, as you, Ms O'Connor and the Labor Party have suggested, would not affect the Premier or me in the slightest. You are playing grubby politics yet again here today. You are skilled at it but you have been exposed for your hypocrisy, and you are wrong. We have nothing at stake and therefore no conflict of interest.
To this serious matter of accommodation options here in Tasmania. The reason we have pressure on our housing in Tasmania is because you are not in power anymore. People were leaving the state in droves. Here is the point of order, Mr Speaker. Triggered.
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Mr Speaker, Standing Order 45 on relevance. That is ridiculous. We built more homes than you in four years.
Mr SPEAKER - Order, Ms O'Connor. Thank you. I will remind the minister of that. I thought it was very relevant. The first 30 seconds he talked about one issue, and then he spent about 10 seconds on the next one when you raised the point of order. I will allow the minister the appropriate amount of time to answer the question.
Ms O'CONNOR - Briefly on the point of order, Standing Order 45 to relevance. The minister made a false statement. I ask him to draw his attention to the question.
Mr SPEAKER - I will allow the minister to answer the question.
Mr FERGUSON - Sounds like a guilty conscience to me.
Under Labor and the Greens, there was no future for young Tasmanians in the state. They were leaving the state in droves. You put 10 000 people out of work and the unemployment rate peaked at eight per cent.
Ms O'Connor - We built more than 2500 homes. We built more homes in four years than you have in nine. Honestly.
Mr SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, order.
Mr FERGUSON - You look at the change that has occurred in the nine years since. We have actually created 56 000 more jobs in Tasmania. Our population has grown to 570 000 people. The old idea -
Ms O'Connor - We are asking you to talk about rents and short stay. Do you want to be relevant?
Mr SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, order. You have asked the question. Please show some respect to the Planning minister and listen to the answer.
Mr FERGUSON - I get very passionate about the future for our people in our community because people are now coming here for work because there is work available. Businesses are telling us the biggest stress is they need more workers. Another big stress is housing. When people move to our state, they pack up their gear and they bring their family. They do not bring a house. We have to provide more opportunities for public and private housing in our state. That is exactly what we are doing.
That is a puerile question from the member for Clark and I reject the premise of the question.
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Mr Speaker, that was offensive behaviour. The minister did not answer any part of the question about short stay and walks away when I take a point of order.
Mr SPEAKER - The minister has sat down.