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Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 5 September 2023

Tags: Transparency

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin - Leader of the Greens) - Mr Speaker, what we saw from the minister's statement this morning was an attempt to present a narrative to Tasmanians of the Liberals being in control and being open and transparent about the processes. However, what we actually had from this minister, and why I do not have confidence in many of the things he said in his statement today, is that he is known for readjusting the narrative to suit the moment. Today felt like it was all about politics. Given his recent performance where he has no respect for parliamentary process, I do not have a lot of confidence in the material in his ministerial statement. There are many questions and there are a lot of circularities within it.

Coming back to the fact that this was about covering his defiance of an order of the House just a couple of weeks ago, at the time when he was ordered by the House to provide all the documents in relation to decisions and financial estimates of Marinus Link, he said that it was not possible to provide any advice, even a cost estimate boundary, because legal advice had directed him that it would breach non-disclosure principles and it would be an issue of confidentiality. He also tabled a letter fromTasNetwork chairman Roger Gill, presenting Mr Gill's letter on the north west transmission costs as though Mr Gill had said that documents could not be tabled because they were commercially in-confidence. However, Mr Gill did not say that the minister could not provide parliament with an updated cost. So he used and abused Mr Gill's letter and misrepresented it to us as suggesting that he could not provide a cost estimate.

The problem the Greens have is that the state Budget papers referenced $6.4 billion for Marinus, for Battery of the Nation and related projects and the minister told me in Estimates that the cost for two cables, 1500 megawatts of power across two cables, would be $3.8 billion for Marinus. We know it takes more than eight weeks to undergo a commercial procurement process. We know because it was discussed.

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin - Leader of the Greens) - Mr Speaker, if the minister seriously expects Tasmanians to believe that eight weeks ago when the Budget Estimates process and committee scrutiny was under way that there was not a procurement process in train that he referred to as his stated reason for not providing the House with the documents that we ordered him to just recently, that is not credible in any plausible business scenario when you are talking about billions of dollars of cable procurement, negotiations around the construction of converters, and all the other associated arrangements between the Victorian, federal and Tasmanian governments.

We do not believe him when he says that he can provide information two months ago but he could not provide it two weeks ago. We do not believe the minister on that matter and we also want to understand, and the minister has never been clear about this, why in the letter that he tabled to parliament two weeks that he redacted the figure about the original cost estimate from when the deal was signed in the first place.

In the letter it had a publicly known cost of $3.1 billion to $3.8 billion, which was in line with the Jacobs Report estimates of 2021. We do not understand why he redacted the original cost figure from the letter he tabled for us last parliamentary sitting. Perhaps it was because the Government knew that the cost had increased at that point and that the redacted figure was actually higher than the $3.8 billion that was in all likelihood in the letter. If that was the case then the Budget papers were incorrect and did not reflect the increased cost that the Government knew at the time was the updated estimate. The only reason he could have done that is to hide that information from Tasmanians. Therefore, we are now calling on the minister to provide the entirely unredacted copy of that letter to parliament.

We have a minister who for 10 years has refused to answer the questions that have been asked along the way including the increasing scrutiny that he has been under as minister for years at the Estimates table, in the last three years in particular calling for the costs of the Marinus Link, the North West Transmission Line and Battery of the Nation. We have been trying to understand how much Tasmanians will be stumping up in the original equity payment and what proportion we will pay of the 80 per cent total debt for this cost.

We know we have not had answers and if he thinks Tasmanians are going to be satisfied with a ministerial statement after he has had a media circus on the weekend and that is it after 10 years, he has another think coming. We want to know how much the long term debt will be for Tasmanians. People will be paying for this in their power bills for decades to come.