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Trust in Government

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 15 August 2023

Tags: Governance, Political Leadership

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin - Leader of the Greens) - Mr Speaker, I have recently been thinking about when the erosion of trust first started. When did the light go on in Tasmanians' minds that the Liberal Government was one that has no concern for regulatory processes? It sees them as play things that can be distorted and work-arounds can be achieved to get what they want.

Looking back, there have been sudden shocks to the Tasmanian community since they came to government in 2014 and there have been gradual erosions in different areas. The sudden shocks started very early on with the announced changes to the Tasmanian Planning Scheme. Anyone who has been around for a while would remember the former head of the Property Council making it very clear that their wish was to have one planning scheme. Their wish was to have a planning scheme that would be fantastic for developers. And, boy, do they have that.

They have an expensive, cumbersome scheme that is terrible for everyone, including the developers in the time it takes but it does get great outcomes for them in the end. What the Liberals have done is at every opportunity for the community to have a say about planning - both at the local council level for their elected representatives - counsellors have an opportunity to make changes that are specific to their area are not a cookie-cutter decision, that is, one for the whole state, but one that only suits closed residential developments in the middle of Hobart. Decisions that councils would make in regional areas of Tasmania about completely different character towns, about completely different rural environments, have no chance of being heard under the way that the planning laws are being written.

The appeal process has been even further eroded and more changes are in train, I understand from what the minister was saying. So, the opportunities for people to speak and have a fair go on planning have been disappearing over time, but the sudden shock that happened was the secret expressions of interest process. Private developers can go quietly behind closed doors, plying their trade with the Liberal Government to exploit public wilderness areas - publicly owned lands. There are still over 100, I understand, of these secret expressions of interest processes sitting there.

We all collectively wait for the decision on Wednesday from the federal Minister for the Environment, Tanya Plibersek. It is a very important decision for Tasmania. She will make an announcement about the EPB process for the beautiful Halls Island, Lake Malbena area, which is the genuine beating heart of Tasmanian wilderness. The decision that she makes will have ramifications for us as a state for years to come. It is no small statement to say that people around this state are waiting, they are braced and they are ready. They are ready to celebrate if the outcome is that the place will be seen for what it is - wilderness that is authentic and real and cannot be tampered with by helicopters, by private profit-making businesses who can set up there. If they can set up there, they will set up everywhere. Of course they will. This is why this Government has done everything it possibly can to support the one-man show who is trying to exploit Tasmanian wilderness. If he is successful then they have hundreds of other interests sitting there, waiting to have a go in our wilderness area.

So the people of Tasmania are poised. If the answer is not in their favour, that is not going to stop them in the slightest; it will only strengthen the resolve of people who are absolutely determined. Fishers, walkers and all Tasmanians who love our wild places and who care about protecting them. We will be there. We will be there every single day to resist the privatisation of public spaces.

That was a shock but it woke us up to the Liberal Party's agenda and made us faster and smarter at finding out what was going on. The Office of the Coordinator General had other secret plans for Crown land including Kangaroo Bay on the eastern shore of Hobart. They helped secure the petrochemical company from Binzhou in China, the CCP-backed Shandong Chambroad. They are at it again today, even though the Clarence community has unanimously voted to get rid of that blight on the landscape and to buy back the land. They are in a legal process to do that at the moment. The Minister for Planning would love to do what he can behind closed doors to help that company stay there regardless. We want to know what secret conversations this Minister for Planning has been having with the Shandong company. We want to know where he has been meeting and what dates he has been talking to them.

It is pretty clear that the Liberals see this as an opportunity to keep advancing the sale of Crown land to private developers. Rosny Hill, Cambria Green on the east coast, these are all places. The cable car on Kunanyi, what a joke. The whole of Tasmania. The Aboriginal community has knocked it off. The Hobart City Council comprehensibly rejected and still they go. The people will resist.