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Stadiums Tasmania Bill 2021

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 9 November 2021

Tags: Legislation

Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Mr Deputy Speaker, we are prepared to take a stronger position on this legislation than Labor, we do not support it. It is the bread and circuses bill. We have single parents who have had 48 rejections for an affordable home. We have people dying in our emergency department waiting rooms and we have a government that is prepared to put $65 million of public funding into equity support for this new body and a rolling operational budget that at the moment is somewhere in the vicinity of $9 million. This is bread and circuses.

It should not be a priority of government to set up a new bureaucracy. That is what is happening here. This is a bill that effectively establishes the Stadiums Tasmania bureaucracy to oversee two stadiums, at this stage, maybe more in the future. It is a complete waste of public funds. For example, if you cost an affordable home at about $300 000 to build, $65 million could build 220 homes for Tasmanians. It could certainly contribute towards facility upgrades at our major hospitals. It could be invested in the child safety system, which remains chronically underfunded. But no, we have bread and circuses. That is what we have with this legislation. We are not prepared to just roll over and say, 'This is all very nice. Let's talk about our Tassie AFL teams, men's and women's, that would be fantastic, tick. JackJumpers - wonderful, love them, tick'.

For good governance, invest in people so that we do not have families languishing on the public housing waiting list which is now at over 4000 people. It has doubled since I was not minister. It has doubled since 2014. We had it at just a bit over 2000 and now we have a public housing waiting list at more than 4000 and we know they are only the people who put their names on that list. Most people who are struggling to find a private rental do not even see the point in going on the public housing waiting list because they do not have a year or two to wait for a new home.

We think this is rubbish legislation. I thought it was interesting in the second reading speech from the Premier that he is: (TBC)

… grateful to the fine work that is being done by Infrastructure Tasmania and the drafting team to create a unique piece of legislation that gives this place the ability to establish a bespoke entity that draws on established legislation previously passed by this place, proven experience in other jurisdictions and a focus that puts the Tasmanian community at its heart.

Vomit, Mr Deputy Speaker. The week before last we went through the most appalling display in this place where the Tasmanian community was in no one's minds but the Greens and Ms Johnston. Spare us the claim that this is about the Tasmanian people at its heart. The Tasmanian people are a consideration when either of the major parties in here choose to make them so and when they are not corrupted, for example, by donations from the gambling industry.

We have a few questions. I am not going to talk on this bill for very long. The question I have is about the equity support injection which is in the budget papers for the Stadiums Authority Trust in the first year, this budget year, $20 million, next year $22.5 million, the year after that $22.5 million and then a blank spot in the fourth year. What exactly is that $65 million in public funding intended for? What does 'equity support' mean? This is a massive sum of public money to invest in bread and circuses.

Then we have the Stadiums Authority Trust operational funding which in the first year is $1.5 million, next year $3 million, the year after that $5 million and the year after that $5 million so we have a total of $14 million across the forward estimates, so it is $65 million plus $14 million. We have nearly $80 million of public funding wrapped up in this fanciful notion. What exactly is the 'equity support' money intended for?

It is interesting because the Liberals are the party of 'small government'. When we urge, for example, that there be some intervention so that people can have an affordable home, when we urge that there be some restraint on the explosion in short-stay accommodation, we have been told by the previous housing minister, Mr Jaensch, and other Liberal members, 'that is the housing market, let the market take care of that.' So we leave people who cannot afford a home to the mercy of a market which does not give a stuff about them but we can have Government draft legislation, and stick $80 million behind it, for stadium management. Heavens above, absolutely ridiculous.

We have raging inequality on this island. People cannot afford to pay the rent, their power, buy food, but no worries, we have a Stadiums Trust so you can go along and watch an AFL game or go along and watch the JackJumpers and forget all your worries for a few hours.

It is not unlike, is it, the legislation that went through here the week before last that basically says to people, 'Sit in front of a poker machine and forget your worries for a few hours while you lose every cent in your pocket.'

Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Mr Speaker, it is really an expression of the frustration over so many social, ecological and climate-related issues we have to confront as Tasmanians and as a parliament and then a bill like this comes up. At one level, there is a logic to it: to have a centralised approach to the management of our major sporting facilities. At the same time, it is something that could sit quite neatly within the Department of State Growth, for example. You could have a component of your highly skilled bureaucracy managing the stadiums and making sure they are fit for purpose, they stay contemporary, and there is coordination around events. Or you could put it in Sport and Recreation, in the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

It is a biggish idea but I cannot see a pressing need for a newly established authority with around $75 million allocated towards it in the first four years when there is so much out in our constituencies that requires government coordination and investment.

It is on that basis that we will stay true to our alternative budget, which defunded the Stadiums Tasmania Trust and allocated the $65 million in the Budget for Stadiums Tasmania towards a fairer statewide planning scheme; a chief engineer, state architect and state demographer; more investment in the Tasmanian Planning Commission so that we can have real clarity over its role and its capacity to be that independent and for so long highly regarded planning authority. Investing in mapping the level of our biodiversity and making sure that we have species recovery plans in a time of declining biodiversity. Investing in state policies. Having a chief scientist who can provide you with advice on how this beautiful island can be a beacon to the world of genuine sustainability, not the sort of garbage we hear about the approach to native forest logging, which is so unscientific.

When we hear from the Premier, who should know better, the Minister for Climate Change and the Minister for Resources the kind of unscientific garbage around logging, it is really dispiriting. We spend a lot of time talking to young people and they understand this. They understand that if a government is flattening a forest that is 300 to 400 years old, with all the carbon that has been stored in that forest, there is a massive loss of carbon. The science is very clear. It takes 200 or 300 years for the carbon that is in that coupe to be recovered. It is logic. It is the most basic carbon maths -

Mr Ellis - The lectern is carbon. It was in a Tasmanian forest and is now not in the atmosphere.

Ms O'CONNOR - I do not listen to you, Mr Ellis, because I have no respect for you. It is just basic mathematics. The frustration in here is that there seems to be this gaslighting, certainly of the Greens but gaslighting of Tasmanians about what sustainability means. The basic carbon maths of logging a forest is really simple if you think about it with a clear mind and you are being honest about it. You fell a coupe of giant old trees, you burn it so it is releasing huge volumes of carbon, you chip it, most of it ends up as paper which has a very short carbon life. You have lost a whole forest, you have felled it, you have burned it. Yes, you replant but it takes those trees at least 200 years to draw down the carbon that was lost in the logging operation.

But I digress. We would allocate some of the funding that has gone towards the Stadiums Authority Trust to a chief scientist who could advise government on making sure that we are not only looking after this island but that we are looking after its people, its infrastructure and its wild places.

We would also invest some of the money in 'ruggedising', if you like, our cities and towns, making them rugged and resilient to climate impacts, increased heat, the risk of bushfires in a place like nipaluna/Hobart. The Lord Mayor has described that risk as like living under a volcano, and it is true. If you talk to Professor David Bowman or read his writings, there is a real risk in this beautiful city of ours. We should be investing public monies in that kind of future building, making sure our infrastructure is 'ruggedised', making sure we are building homes that even for people who are not wealthy are homes that will keep them cool in the summer and warm in the winter, through relatively modest investment of good building materials and good design.

We are not going to support this legislation because we would rather see $75 million go into those other policy areas. I understand why the Premier has brought this forward and I say good luck to him.