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Spirits of Tasmania

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Wednesday, 4 March 2020

Tags: TT-Line

Spirits of Tasmania: Rosalie Woodruff, 4 March, 2020


Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Madam Deputy Speaker, the issues that were raised in question time this morning beg some real openness and transparency on the part of the Government. If it is true that the docking point in Victoria is to be moved from its current position in Port Melbourne to Geelong that would have far reaching consequences for all Tasmanians who seek to travel on the Spirit to avoid flying because they cannot fly or they want to take their vehicles and not fly for that reason. It would also affect businesses. It really has far reaching impacts for Tasmania.

The Spirit of Tasmania is a lifeline. It is an essential part of the highway to connect Tasmania with the mainland. It is the basis of our ability to export goods. It is the font from which our export productivity floods. It is a critical piece of infrastructure in Tasmania. As such, it is very concerning that we only hear about it through the Opposition in parliamentary question time, instead of having heard from the Government. From what the Premier said this morning, it sounded like that these conversations with the Port of Melbourne Authority have been ongoing for some time. If that is true that is a very concerning matter. Why haven't other parties also been communicated with? Have industry leaders, tourism businesses, the RACT and other bodies been involved in these conversations? These are not just conversations purely about economics. These are conversations about the functioning of the state that goes to far greater questions than simply the efficiencies. As the Premier said, the first thing is to make sure that they are cost effective. That is one of the things that we have to secure, but it is not the only thing.

The first and more important thing, if I were premier of Tasmania, I would be wanting to ensure that the docking position was functional for its purpose. Cost is one thing, but that is subordinate to its being functional and able to fulfil its purpose. From his Premier's Address yesterday, I have no confidence that the Minister for Climate Change is putting the issue of climate change first and foremost on the agenda for him as premier. If he was, he would understand that we have to shift from our historic focus on renewables in the energy generation sector. We have done this very well and can continue to do well but we must move to other sectors. That means we must electrify transport, we must electrify agriculture and we must make carbon stores expand exponentially across the state both in soil and in forest reserves. That has implications for the electrification of all vehicles and the proximity to the heart of Melbourne.

You cannot have people getting off the Spirit of Tasmania from Geelong and having an extra hour's drive just to get into Melbourne. That just will not work. That is nonsense. That is really relegating us to the smallest backwater state. I cannot believe that would seriously be countenanced because it would have profound implications on travel times and on electric charging times for electric vehicles, not to mention freight and the timeliness of getting exports from Tasmania right into the heart of Melbourne to those markets which are so precious.

It is the restaurants of Melbourne within which Tasmanian produce shines and is top of the menu and it is because of what we offer that we have to get to a market. Not only does it have to sit on the boat overnight but it cannot be stuck in traffic and not roll off in the Port of Melbourne where all the other shipping containers are being unloaded. That is the spot where so much of that activity occurs so we need to be located there as a state.

This really is again an issue of transparency and this Government yet again is incapable, it appears, of simply telling people what is going on. We have the ludicrous situation where we still do not have an end date for K Block and every single time there is a conversation about the Royal Hobart Hospital it is mired in secrecy and obfuscation. We had the potential lead contamination and we had denial and dismissal, and yet a month later we get reports that these things are being attended to. In fact, it turns out it is one of the list of reasons why K Block's opening has been put back yet again. The Greens raised this and the unions raised this but we were dismissed at the time and later it came out that of course it was a reason. Transparency in all matters would help this Government so much.