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Treasury Building - Proposed Sale

Parliamentary Activity - Tuesday, 19 June 2018, Cassy O'Connor MP


Ms O'CONNOR question to PREMIER, Mr HODGMAN

Here is a policy you did not take to the election. When you were first elected, you said your Government would not be privatising public assets. You keep telling Tasmanians everything is rosy, budget-wise. Your Treasurer crows about a surplus that does not exist in reality. Why is the Government committed to flogging off one of Tasmania's most significant heritage treasures, the Treasury building, in Hobart? Was it just a grab for cash? Last November the Treasurer all but ruled it out, meaning Tasmanian voters, the owners of this heritage treasure, went to an election without knowing that the plan was to sell the Treasury building. Premier, do you agree your Government has no mandate to sell the Treasury building?

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, the Treasury building and precinct is a magnificent site, with extraordinary heritage and history. However, it is not suited to modern and efficient office accommodation. We believe that beautiful buildings such as this can add to the strong growth in our visitor economy, much of which is supported by a great interest in heritage assets. This is an opportunity to provide accommodation in a precinct that will not only enhance the characteristics of the area but also allow us to promote our state as a progressive, attractive -

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker, relevance. I asked the Premier whether he agreed that there is no mandate to sell the Treasury building.

Madam SPEAKER - Premier, please resume. I assume you will get to the point.

Mr HODGMAN - Thank you, Madam Speaker. We have a mandate to continue the strong growth in Tasmania's visitor economy, to make decisions that support that growth. It supports more investment, more jobs and more prosperity which allows us to make the record investments we now are into schools, hospitals and in supporting the most vulnerable. This is what our party stands for, as opposed to the fiscal wreckers and vandals of those members opposite, and the Labor-Greens government they used to represent. Strong finances in a strong economy are essential.

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. The Premier has digressed from the subject matter, which is the sale of the Treasury building for which his Government has no mandate.

Madam SPEAKER - You all know the strange rules that apply in this place. We have a lot of latitude for questions and answers. Unfortunately I do not know what is in the Premier's head so I do not know what he is going to say next.

Mr HODGMAN - Thank you, Madam Speaker. We will take decisions that are in the best interest of the state. We will stand firm and defend them. That is what I was doing. The members opposite will have different positions on this issue. The Labor Party has suggested that we look at alternative options for the use of the Treasury building and we should have an open process. When we considered doing this, Labor accused us of selling our heritage. When we decided not to proceed with the sale they attacked us for retaining the site. It was classic Labor. Scott Bacon said, 'Let us put everything on the table and have a discussion about whether there is another use for the Treasury building that would allow more people to enjoy it while maintaining its heritage value and integrity'. That is what we are now proposing and the serial complainer, the member for Denison, whinges about it. It is a classic example of an Opposition under a leader who stands for nothing and is willing to change policy positions when it suits. That is why people voted for you to serve another term in Opposition. We are going to see today that they do not stand for an alternative budget, they do not stand for -

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker, continued irrelevance and tedious repetition. The Premier has significantly digressed from the subject matter.

Madam SPEAKER - Premier, you have one minute, so please wind up.

Mr HODGMAN - The Labor-Greens coalition has displayed its hypocrisy not only with this issue, but also with the sale of significant properties during their term of government. We will not be lectured to by the Labor-Greens opposition after they flogged off 1 Franklin Wharf; 7-9 Franklin Wharf; Highfield House; 9 Barrack St, Deloraine; the cottages in Wellington St, Launceston; and 32 Church St in North Hobart. I am happy to table the list. They also sold off Tasmanian business assets, including the Hobart International Airport, Printing Authority, Southern Regional Cemetery Trust and the TAFE. This is just an example of properties and businesses that have been sold off by a Labor Party that is entirely hypocritical, alongside their colleagues, the Greens. They stand for nothing. It is an important test. I know you do not take it seriously, but if you were to be considered for once as a serious alternative government, then surely you would release an alternative budget.