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Stadiums Tasmania Amendment (Transfers) Bill 2022

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 8 November 2022

Tags: Stadium, Legislation

Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Mr Speaker, I could not determine from the Leader of the Opposition's speech whether Labor will be supporting the bill.

Ms White - I'd like to hear some answers on some of those questions.

Ms O'CONNOR - Okay. We do not support this legislation. We do not support the establishment of Stadiums Tasmania. We think this is bread and circuses on the part of Government. We do not support the imposition on our beautiful city, nipaluna/Hobart, of a massive stadium on our waterfront. We think Stadiums Tasmania is something of a make work scheme for the former chief of staff to the former premier, Andrew Finch, and as an extension of that, I will not be at all surprised if Tasmania gets an AFL team and its first president is the former premier, Peter Gutwein. I think he is just waiting there for the job.

Ms White - We may all have that suspicion.

Mr Street - He has already taken on chairmanship of the Migrant Resource Centre, which is commendable.

Ms O'CONNOR - Yes, which is really good. Mr Gutwein obviously had a strong community spirit and that work he is doing for the Migrant Resource Centre not only is very important work but it suits his character well.

We do not support this bill and it is consistent with our position on the previous bill, which established Stadiums Tasmania. I thought the Leader of the Opposition asked a number of important questions. I look forward to hearing the answers to them but it will not change our position.

It is an unnecessary, expensive change that is significantly administrative in nature. You are bringing stadium assets under the one statutory entity for very modest potential tangible benefit to the Tasmanian people, far too many of whom are languishing on the elective surgery waiting list, some of whom have died waiting for elective surgery or an ambulance, and far too many of whom cannot afford the rent.

In fact, just today after the apology I was talking to a victim/survivor who is homeless. When we come into this place and have a bill like this put on the table in the middle of a housing crisis, when we know the health system needs more resourcing and we certainly know child safety needs more resourcing, I believe it confuses and annoys Tasmanians that a government would prioritise the establishment of a stadium authority and, while they are at it, make a promise for a $750 million stadium while there is so much unmet social need on this island.

I will be curious to hear what the Opposition's response to this bill is ultimately, because I think you have to be consistent about these things. If you recognise that there is enormous unmet need and areas of government policy and portfolios that need significantly more investment and if you do not support a brand-new stadium on our waterfront a kilometre away as the crow flies from Bellerive, then you should be consistent and not support this bill.

This bill is really just tinkering in a way - 'We already have these stadium assets but we're going to bring them under the one statutory umbrella and, while we're at it, we're going to transfer any staff who were state servants who want to go onto the Fair Work Act.' I do not really understand why the Government has been veering down this path. The same thing happened with the TasTAFE corporatisation where staff at TasTAFE were put on the Fair Work Act, and it is happening here. Maybe there has been clarity from the Government on why they do that but I certainly do not remember anything cogent being said about why you would take people off the State Service Act and put them on the Fair Work Act, other than that their employment is a bit less secure under federal law.

I have a couple of questions for the minister on top of the ones I will be listening to very carefully from Ms White. Can the minister confirm that all the assets transferred to the new Stadiums Tasmania will still be owned by the State of Tasmania? These are public assets that were paid for with public funds on public land and we believe they belong to the people of Tasmania. There was also the question about why staff are being moved onto the Fair Work Act.

I listened with interest to what Ms White said about this not being parochial - it is a dud deal for the north. Can you remind me, Ms White, were you quoting from a former premier then, 'It is not parochial, it is a dud deal for the north'?

Ms White - Yes, Robin Gray.


Opposition members interjecting.


Ms O'CONNOR - Well, Ms Finlay, I think it is a dud deal for the whole state when the Government -

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Through the Chair, please, Ms O'Connor.

Ms O'CONNOR - Actually, Mr Deputy Speaker, I am able to refer to members, but through you, I say to Ms Finlay, it is a dud deal for the whole state. In the north of the state you have York Park. In the south of the state we have Bellerive. There is a measure of equilibrium there with regard to sporting facilities that are available to the local people. However, should the State of Tasmania pour in the vicinity of $400 million into a brand-new stadium, which they never asked anyone about but themselves, it will be a terrible deal for the State of Tasmania.

To the Premier and people who believe a stadium on the waterfront is a good idea, I take them back to this morning. The strongest reaction from the people who came to hear the apology today was when the stadium was mentioned, because across the community - and I am sure northern and north-west members know this too - across demographics, professions and I would say voting inclination, there is resentment about this stadium. People are scratching their heads that a government could cook up something like this while we have the health and housing systems in the state they are in, and while we know the child safety system needs much more resourcing. The stadium that is proposed for Hobart's waterfront is deeply unpopular.

That might not worry members from the north or north-east of the state but it should certainly worry Liberal members in the south of the state. People in and around this town are resentful that this was plonked on the table. First the previous Premier said it and then it went away for a while after he went away. Now it is back and despite what the Premier says, it has come back because of, I believe, bullying by the AFL. They want a bright, shiny new toy on this beautiful city's waterfront and the Premier has not been able to resist.

I will make it really clear again for anyone who did not hear it the first 10 times that we said it: our support for a Tasmanian AFL and AFLW team is not contingent on a stadium. We do not support a stadium on Hobart's waterfront. We want to see this island take its place in the national league for men and women, as it should. We want to see kids in rural and regional Tasmania have an opportunity to play for Tasmania in the national league. We do not support this stadium and we believe that is the majority view of the Tasmanian community, complex and varied as it is.

I certainly hope there is still time to avert this disastrous decision. When we get a chance, we will be telling the AFL that too. We do not support this stadium. Labor certainly has made some of the right noises about not supporting this stadium, although to date, I am pretty sure that the Leader of the Opposition has not picked the up phone to the Prime Minister to beg him to save us from this folly.

In closing, I note that in Tasmania, as always, everything old is new again, and Tas Inc has many faces. I was interested to read that the former - or probably still one of the most ardent backers of the cable car on kunanyi is now a new board member for the Macquarie Point Development Corporation. I certainly hope that Mr Oldfield is now fully occupied with the corporation and lets go of the folly, the desecration and the insult that is a cable car up kunanyi. There is still legislation on the books that was introduced by the Liberals, supported by Labor, which facilitates that cable car for a single project, effectively for a single proponent. Should that project have received approval, either by the Hobart City Council or the tribunal, then the Pinnacle, as a result of that legislation supported by the Liberal and Labor parties, would have been handed over to a private developer - the pinnacle of kunanyi/Mt Wellington - for somewhere between 13 or 14 structures, an encrustment on the top of the mountain that is of deepest spiritual significance to the Tasmanian Aboriginal people and beloved by many Tasmanians and people who live in and around nipaluna/Hobart.

That legislation should be repealed, the cable car facilitation deal, and we will certainly be giving parliament an opportunity to do that. I hope Mr Oldfield and the rest of that group of people who have spent a lot of time and money trying to get this development up, trying to get the law changed so they could, trying to win hearts and minds and failing abysmally, get the message. It was rejected on 18 of 26 grounds, rejected by the Aboriginal people, rejected by the Hobart City Council, rejected by the planning tribunal and rejected by the people of Hobart in majority.

We will not be supporting this bill. We do not support bread and circuses for the population when what the population need is to have their cost-of-living pressures addressed, their health system properly funded, and homes built for them and their families. Imagine if we spent $350 million rolling out better public transport systems in our major centres statewide. What a difference that would make. We have the worst public transport, mass transit infrastructure, of any capital city in Australia. Imagine what you could do with $750 million.

I watched a man the other day coming down Bathurst Street on his bike. He had a helmet on and Hawaiian shirt, a middle-aged fellow. I thought, good on you for getting onto this quite busy road and making your way from wherever you have come from to wherever you are going. Within 30 seconds, a car just in front of us pulled into his lane, did not even see him, and this poor guy on his bike had to kick out his leg to kick the car to save himself from being flattened because, as a state, we do not prioritise the greatest good for the greatest number of people, which is the job of a good government. We will stick a stadium that will probably cost more than $1 billion on Hobart's waterfront but we cannot get the cycle infrastructure right. We cannot get the public transport right. Pedestrian infrastructure is failing and the good work that has been done has been primarily been done local government. In this city, it is done by the City of Hobart, the council, and thank you for that.

We will never support pouring hundreds of millions of dollars of public money into bread and circuses when, with a bit of imagination and a bit more heart, you could do a whole lot more with that public money.