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Tasmania's Economy

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 25 May 2023

Tags: Economy, Environment

Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Mr Speaker, I do not often agree with Dr Broad but on that last point I could not possibly disagree. We live fundamentally in a society and that is what is lost on our colleagues in Government, with this constant talk of money and always money. Without a healthy environment it will all fall apart, it will collapse. Civilisation will collapse if we do not look after the environment that sustains all life on Earth.

I have heard some really lousy speeches in here but I think that is the first time the House has been presented with a speech that was written by ChatGPT. It was absolute drivel, full of dishonesty, riven with clichés and completely out of touch with reality and the lived experience of Tasmanians who cannot find a home, cannot afford the rent, die waiting hours for an ambulance, cannot get in for urgent surgery and wait years to see a specialist. The detachment from the reality of the lives of the people we represent is breathtaking. To say that the plan for Tasmania is working when all around us is evidence that it is failing is hubris of the next level. I understand Mr Wood did not write that speech himself, a robot probably did.

What drives our economic strength? If members in this place were being clear and honest with themselves and others, they would understand that our strength in the visitor economy, our strength in fine food and wine and in the agriculture sectors is built on a cool climate and our brand. The reason that we have such strong results in agricultural primary industry sectors and tourism is because people come here from interstate and overseas to experience those things they will not find anywhere else in the world. We have tall trees, the likes of which you will not see in any other place except perhaps California with its redwoods. We are the big tree state, with wilderness unspoiled, unlike anywhere else in the country or on Earth.

Still clean and clear marine waters are being degraded and traded off under this Government. People come here to see our unique extraordinary species like the swift parrot, the masked owl and the Tasmanian devil. Those are the elements that make up our brand strength and that brand is being threatened in fact by both the major parties in here, because it is a race to the pits on things like native forest logging when evolved governments are getting out of it, heavily publicly subsidised and unjustifiable from an economic and an environmental point of view.

Our brand is being threatened by a government that has rolled over to the likes of the Batista brothers and is prepared to rewrite our environmental rules and unleash them on more in-shore marine rorters. Our brand is being degraded by a government that would allow commercial tourism operators to get a piece of the last free real estate in our public protected areas and build hard commercial development from which they profit for a peppercorn.

There is not much wilderness left in the world. On the mainland, there are very few places where you will see the big trees. Partly in Victoria, where they do have some regnans or swamp gums, but this island has the biggest trees, the most beautiful forests and the most important carbon banks in the country, and we need to understand that if we do not protect those elements of our brand our economy will suffer.

If your major concern is the economy then you will do everything you can as a government to protect those elements of it that give it its robustness and strength. We Greens in here cop it - allegedly anti-everything - but it is the Greens as part of the conservation movement and civil society who first defined and have always defended the brand. I have said this to Luke Martin before, that he cannot contain his hatred of the Greens. I am very glad for the TICT that he has now gone from there, but honestly, some of our tourism operators and Mr Martin himself should be on their knees thanking the conservation movement for all that work over decades to make sure places that people come from all over the world to see are protected and that forests like nowhere else on Earth are protected.

We have a moral responsibility to look after these places as part of our moral responsibility to look after Tasmania and its people. It is sheer recklessness to continue with economic policies that corrode the integrity of the brand, but that is what we get every day in here. The likes of Felix Ellis, the Minister for Resources, and Dr Broad try to outdo each other constantly, while Ms Finlay thinks she has a role as a shill for JBS. She did not pay $4400 for an exclusive dinner with the Premier like the Batista brothers did. They do not need her. They have this Premier and this Government in their back pocket.

We need to protect the brand in order to protect our economy. That is what gives us strength. Dr Woodruff and I in here live in constant hope. What inspires us every day is that there will be the necessary shift in thinking from our colleagues to better look after this place, look after its wilderness, forests and climate so that our children and grandchildren have the future that they deserve.