Ms O'CONNOR question to PREMIER, Mr HODGMAN
One of Tasmania's most respected Aboriginal Heritage experts and community leaders, Rocky Sainty, this morning sent out a blistering statement condemning your decision to seek Commonwealth approval to reopen tracks in the Tarkine without any consultation with the Aboriginal community.
Do you know who Rocky Sainty is, Mrs Rylah?
Madam SPEAKER - Order.
Ms O'CONNOR - Rocky Sainty has accused you of playing underhanded politics of showing outright contempt for the Tasmanian Aboriginal community and treating people with whom you promised to reset the relationship with arrogance and disrespect.
Mr Sainty said six of the eight Aboriginal people on your Aboriginal Heritage Council have resigned in protest less than a month after you announced its establishment. How can you claim to be resetting the relationship when six highly regarded members of your newly established Aboriginal Heritage Council have resigned in disgust at your Government's actions?
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for the question. In respect of our commitment to reopen recreational access to the Arthur-Pieman Conservation area it should hardly come as a surprise to anyone that it is our intention to deliver on that commitment because we took it to the 2014 state election.
Ms Dawkins - At the expense of the Aboriginal community.
Mr HODGMAN - We were elected to deliver on our commitments, that was one of them and we intend to deliver on that. Any suggestion we have not consulted is ludicrous given that we took that policy to the state election. There could be no better consultation with the community about the Government that stands for something, intends to do if elected and a party in government delivering on that election commitment and delivering on our promise. It does beg the obvious contrast. We stand for improved access for recreational users; we stand by that commitment. We are delivering.
Opposition members interjecting.
Madam SPEAKER - Order, I remind the members opposite it is not a time for debate.
Mr HODGMAN - Who would know what the Opposition thinks about this issue?
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. This has nothing to do with the Labor Party. The Premier needs to address the fact.
Madam SPEAKER - Order, the member will sit down. I am not going to take the point on relevance because it was a very lengthy question. Members know if that latitude is given. I draw your attention to standing orders 43 and 44 in that regard. A lot of latitude is given. Questions are not specific so you cannot expect a minister, or in this case the Premier, to specifically answer the question in that regard.
Ms O'CONNOR - On the point of order, briefly, I raised with you that the question contained one question at the end of it. How does the Premier respond to six resignations from his council?
Madam SPEAKER - Order. Consistent with my previous rulings when members do not just ask a question, I remind members that this is question time and not a time for debate. When members give a very long description, a story, which technically breaches the standing orders, we have a convention that we allow latitude. Once that latitude has been granted the same applies to the member answering the question. I could not be clearer.
Mr HODGMAN - I was making the point that our position is well understood. It is not a position that is supported by everyone, but it is a position that is clearly understood. We took it to the election and we intend to deliver it. I was making the point that, heaven forbid, if anyone was wondering what the Labor Party's position is on this issue. If you look at their public statements once again, they are having a bob each way. At least Tasmanians know what we stand for, what our plan is, and that it is not only to provide recreational access to ensure that there are additional protections in place for these very special areas -
Ms Dawkins - How are you going to do that? Are you going to patrol them and put guards out?
Mr HODGMAN - as our referral contains.
Ms Dawkins - You know you cannot.
Madam SPEAKER - Order. I warn the member for Bass, Ms Dawkins.
Mr HODGMAN - It is entirely untrue for the opposition parties to assert that this policy has not been consulted and nor indeed is it supported. I quote from the Circular Head Aboriginal Corporation which supports our decision -
Ms O'Connor - Divide, divide, divide.
Mr HODGMAN - Their spokesperson, Peter Benson, has clearly stated that they, the Government, have a policy of inclusion, not exclusion, for us and the wider community. We believe that those tracks should be accessible.
Ms O'Connor - You are supposed to not divide.
Madam SPEAKER - Order. I do not want to have to cut the Premier short but I will do that. If members are going to keep goading each other across the Chamber you can go outside to do it.
Mr HODGMAN - The Circular Head Aboriginal Corporation clearly stated that this is a policy of inclusion not exclusion. We, as a Government, took a very brave decision to open up eligibility for all Aboriginal Tasmanians to recognise all Tasmanian Aboriginal organisations and to include them, including on the Heritage Council and to have a voice in these matters.
It is the Greens who are selective in who they listen to. Our policy, as the Circular Head Aboriginal Corporation says, is about inclusion and providing more Tasmanian Aboriginal people with an opportunity to contribute and that is what they have done in this space. We have taken a brave position on Aboriginal affairs.
Ms O'Connor - Gutless.
Mr HODGMAN - We had the guts to take this decision. It was ignored by Labor and the Greens in government when they tried to have a bob each way.
Madam SPEAKER - Order.
Mr HODGMAN - They are still trying to do it in Opposition -
Madam SPEAKER - Order. I call on the next question.