Ms O'CONNOR question to TREASURER, Mr GUTWEIN
Last November you issued a heritage report and media statement on Hobart's iconic Treasury building and sought to convince Tasmanians that your Government would not be selling it off. Now, three months after the election, it is apparently a done deal. What gives you and your colleagues the right, off the back of some deception, to sell a heritage treasure that belongs to the people of Tasmania? Do you agree that as the owners they should have been asked whether there was another public use for their public asset?
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Denison, Ms O'Connor, for her question. Let us be clear: governments sell buildings and land all the time. In fact, even the Labor-Greens government sold buildings and land all the time. This is an opportunity for these beautiful buildings to provide a fantastic opportunity for new development, for new life, in that precinct and importantly, to ensure public access to areas of that building that are not currently seen. The site –
Ms O'Connor - What a load of garbage. It'll be for rich people. You lie.
Mr GUTWEIN - You should withdraw that.
Ms O'Connor - Do you think it's not a lie?
Mr GUTWEIN - That is unparliamentary. You should withdraw that.
Ms O'Connor - I withdraw it, but I'm glad it's on the Hansard.
Mr GUTWEIN - Madam Speaker, the Greens are all over the shop on this. At the weekend, I watched and listened and was incredulous when I saw some of the comments made about the investments we were making in this Budget. We have record spending to infrastructure, investment in roads and bridges, and also investments in hospitals and schools.
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker, on relevance. This is about the Treasury building. The question was whether the owners of this asset, the people of Tasmania, have been asked if there was another public use for the public asset
Madam SPEAKER - I have to rule against that because I am not certain where the minister is going with his answer.
Mr GUTWEIN - Madam Speaker, the point I was making is that we saw these inane comments from the Leader of the Greens on the weekend. We know they have taken a position against most things that Tasmanians enjoy. They do not like football; they do not like roads. I was appalled by the comments that were made on the weekend about a 'blokey' budget. My wife drives on those roads. Half the population drive on those roads, or use our health services, or go to our schools. Yet you took the view that you know better than anyone else. Roads and schools, roads used by the population –
Ms O'Connor - Point of order, Madam Speaker. The Treasurer has now completely digressed from the subject matter, which is the Treasury building.
Madam SPEAKER - I have waited for the Treasurer to explain what is in his mind.
Mr GUTWEIN - Madam Speaker, the point I was making is that we have heard some inane comments over time but what was said on the weekend was ridiculous. It completely took the view that 50 per cent of the population do not drive on our roads, over our bridges, do not use our hospitals, do not need affordable housing. That was the position the Leader of the Greens took.
Ms O'Connor - Could you explain yourself to Tasmanians about the Treasury building?
Madam SPEAKER - I ask the Leader of the Greens to calm down.
Mr GUTWEIN - Madam Speaker, regarding the Treasury building, we will go out to an EOI later this coming financial year. That EOI will be framed in such a way to ensure that Tasmanians get the opportunity to see parts of that building they do not get to see at the moment, so they get to share in the magnificent heritage that exists within that building, which is past its use-by date as contemporary office space for public servants. It will be given the opportunity for new life to be breathed in it, for new opportunities. At the same time –
Ms O'Connor - You are a cabinet of thieves.
Mr FERGUSON - Point of order, Madam Speaker. I do not want to repeat that offensive remark but it was highly unparliamentary. I ask you to instruct the member to withdraw.
Ms O'Connor - I withdraw my statement that this is a cabinet of thieves.
Mr FERGUSON - On the point of order, that is highly offensive. The member has in fact repeated the offensive remark. It should not be done. It is disorderly to defy your request in the manner that the member just did. Madam Speaker, I ask you to again ask the member to withdraw without qualification or repeating the offensive words.
Madam SPEAKER - Unfortunately I missed the offensive comments. I ask Ms O'Connor to retract them once more - formally and without qualification.
Ms O'CONNOR - On the point of order, Madam Speaker, I completely followed your instructions to withdraw the statement that they are a cabinet of thieves, but I withdraw it again now.
Madam SPEAKER - Order. We do have a little bit of latitude at this time of the day. You are testing my patience extraordinarily so I ask everyone to remember that they are professional parliamentarians and let us get on with the business of the House.
Mr GUTWEIN - The point I was making is that this is an opportunity to conserve, protect and re-imagine the uses of this special heritage precinct. It is an opportunity that should be grasped with both hands. I know that even the National Trust agrees. The National Trust is saying that adaptive re-use would keep Tasmania's heritage alive and well. That is exactly what we intend to do on this side of the House, but at the same time ensure that we breathe new life into this fantastic asset and give it a new purpose.