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Veterans’ Affairs – Proposed Macquarie Point Stadium

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 6 June 2023

Tags: Stadium, Veterans, State Budget

Ms O'CONNOR - As you know, our veterans can have a whole range of challenges, including depression and anxiety, homelessness or insecure housing - a whole suite of wellbeing issues specifically for veterans as a cohort. Secure housing is one of them. One of the proposals the RSL was quite excited about before the stadium arrived was for there to be an RSL Tasmania-specific building with a range of supports and services in it on the Macquarie Point site. Obviously, their hopes have been dashed there. Is there any planning for tangible investment for wellbeing for veterans?

Mr BARNETT - Yes. In terms of tangible help for veterans, we have the health and wellbeing vouchers, as I've indicated. It's also set out in the Budget. It has been progressing and there's more work to do to roll that out.

In terms of mental health and wellbeing, you are correct. It's a very important matter. We have secured funding from the federal government of some $5 million to roll out the mental health and wellbeing services at the various hubs around Tasmania. I'm pleased about that. I've met with my federal counterpart on a number of occasions to progress that and I'm pleased with that progress.

In addition to that, you've mentioned housing. The housing strategy released today, an hour or two ago, specifically calls out veterans and developing a strategy for our veterans and you also see in the final Housing Strategy there will be more work identified in the lead up to the release of it so they will absolutely be identified in that strategy in terms of addressing their concerns and needs. In addition, to the point you make about Macquarie Point, I would just like to reflect on that. I don't agree with your assertion but I did want to draw your attention to the Premier's remarks around housing at Regatta Point and that would include housing support as part of the vision there for both health workers and veterans.

Ms O'CONNOR - Veterans now have been included in that cohort for housing - is that the first time that's -

Mr BARNETT - No, it's not the first time the Premier's outlined that. You may have missed it but that's okay.

Ms O'CONNOR - I did, I missed that.

Mr BARNETT - That's all right.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you, minister.

Is it difficult for you - on hand you are Minister for State Development who's pursuing a stadium right next to the Cenotaph and on the other hand you've got this responsibility to veterans and presumably the need for a healthy working relationship with the RSL. How have you responded to the RSL's real and, I'd argue, deepening issues with the stadium in your dual roles? How do you deal with that?

Mr BARNETT - Thank you very much for the question. I take part both roles very seriously and I think you know I take my veterans' responsibility very seriously. I have ongoing discussions and communication - not just with RSL Tasmania but with veterans. I meet with them all across the state from time to time and I respect them and honour them. In terms of RSL Tasmania and indeed Vietnam veterans and others they've expressed views about the Cenotaph and their concerns around that. I've engaged with them on that; I've listened to them; I respect them. The Premier and I met with them some months ago specifically at the Cenotaph and we want that information, that feedback that they provide to the Government, and we have ongoing consultation which you heard earlier today from Kim Evans and his team with the RSL Tasmania and we want to be informed by that view with respect to the design and plans for what is to be built at Macquarie Point.

We’ve indicated to you and to others, as the Premier has, that it's very early days. There's a precinct plan to be presented by 1 October. Those early concept plans and drawings will be worked through. I absolutely hope and expect those plans to take into account the RSL's views and other veterans' views and to incorporate that into those designs. So there's more work to do and I look forward to progressing and supporting that further work.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you. Can you confirm that some veteran organisations have told you or told State Growth, Mr Evans, that they feel that it's not a process of consultation but information? There's a feeling amongst some that there could be more respect in the engagement and there could have been more genuine consultation whereas what they're getting now is just a bundle of information?

Mr BARNETT - I note and acknowledge there is a range of views with respect to the stadium from veterans. I also acknowledge that with respect to consultation and engagement, it needs to be meaningful; it needs to be real; it needs to be relevant to take on board that feedback -

Ms O'CONNOR - That's my point.

Mr BARNETT - so that those plans, those designs, can incorporate those views. I would hope that over time the experience in and around the Cenotaph could not only be taken into account but can actually be enhanced so that the experience for our veterans and their families and anybody who is up there. As a matter of interest, I was there this morning well before daybreak. I love that area; it's one of the most beautiful and iconic Cenotaphs in Australia.

Ms O'CONNOR - That's right.

Mr BARNETT - I had a beautiful time there this morning; it was very special and I treat it very seriously.