Media

In Their Own Words

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01.03.11 12:00 am

MEDIA RELEASES:GovernmentGreens TasmaniaAustralian Greens, Bob BrownAustralian Greens, Christine MilneTasmanian LiberalsTasmanian Liberals, Will HodgmanTasmanian Labor, David BartlettFederal LaborFederal LiberalAustralian DemocratsTasmanian Socialist AllianceAustralian Socialist AllianceEthics & Sustainability PartySenator Online - Australia’s first and only internet based political partySustainable Population Party

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Politics | Media

Harriss adds fuel to Forestry fire

Bryan Green MP Labor Leader
05.03.15 12:04 pm

This morning’s hysterical rant from Resources Minister Paul Harriss has only strengthened the argument that he plans to shut down Forestry Tasmania.

Labor Leader Byran Green said Mr Harriss went nowhere near the question asked and he is fuelling growing uncertainty over FT by refusing to guarantee its future.

“For the second day in a row, Paul Harriss refused to rule out shutting down Forestry Tasmania,” Mr Green said.

“And Mr Harriss failed to explain how Forestry Tasmania will remain solvent in the coming years.

“There is no money in the budget papers to keep Forestry Tasmania solvent.

“The previous government made transparent commitments in the forward estimates so Forestry Tasmania could meet its contractual obligations.

“Unlike the Liberals, we were upfront with Tasmanians.

“Everything now points towards a major change of direction from the Liberal Government when it comes to Forestry Tasmania.

“The Minister needs to explain exactly what is being considered by the current review.

“Clearly Mr Harriss is embarrassed that he is preparing to do what Kim Booth and the Greens have been trying to do for years – dismantle Forestry Tasmania.

“The hard working people at FT need immediate answers, not another angry rant from a minister out of control.”

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Right to Appeal legislation to be released for consultation in coming weeks

Vanessa Goodwin, Attorney-General
05.03.15 11:28 am

The drafting of Right to Appeal legislation announced by the Hodgman Liberal Government last year is almost complete, with a draft bill to be released for public consultation in the coming weeks.

The bill will provide for a new Right to Appeal in circumstances where there is fresh and compelling evidence. This appeal will be to the Supreme Court of Tasmania.

Currently, once a convicted person’s appeal rights before the courts have been exhausted, the only option that person has is to petition the Attorney-General and the Governor to exercise the royal prerogative of mercy.

It is my view, and that of many in the community, that this is not the right process. Appeal decisions should be made by the courts, not executive government.

The current system of petitioning for the exercise of the royal prerogative of mercy has been criticised by legal commentators on a number of grounds, including the lack of formal process and transparency, and a perception that political rather than legal matters may be determinative.

We anticipate that the Department of Justice will be able to commence a period of formal public consultation on the draft bill around the end of March 2015.

We have already discussed the proposal for this bill with interested parties, and we look forward to working with stakeholders, interested parties and the community on this important piece of legislation.

Given that the legislation we are preparing is similar to the model adopted by the South Australian Government, the Government reviewed with interest the decision of the South Australian Full Court in the Keogh case.

It was important to ensure that any issues presented in the South Australian legislation were dealt with. Given the outcome of the case, the Government feels confident in proceeding with this bill.
We are confident that the model is appropriate for the Tasmanian jurisdiction and that, above all, it is in the interests of justice.

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Spirits’ Strong Growth Supports Plan to Boost Passenger Numbers

Rene Hidding, Minister for Infrastructure
05.03.15 11:27 am

The Hodgman Liberal Government’s plan to boost passenger numbers on the Spirit of Tasmania ferries has been given its strongest endorsement yet, courtesy of TT-Line’s latest figures.

As at mid-February, passenger numbers were up 30,000 on the previous year, with forward bookings for the next three months at a very encouraging 19.8 per cent compared to the same time in 2014.

The 18.9 per cent jump in passengers on day sailings indicates that travellers will embrace our plan to significantly increase such voyages from next summer.

This strong growth also comes before this winter’s comprehensive refurbishment of the vessels, which underpins the Government’s plan to increase passenger numbers and put downward pressure on fares.

We look forward to providing an update on this exciting major project, which will include new furnishings, seating, décor, bars, restaurants, entertainment, and Wi-Fi, in the near future.

Our plan will deliver a new era for the Spirits, and it appears the excitement is catching with more Tasmanians and visitors alike wanting to get on-board.

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Teachers not paid because of payroll bungle

Michelle O’Byrne Shadow Education Minister
05.03.15 11:26 am

Tasmanian taxpayers could be forced to foot the bill to compensate unpaid teachers following a payroll bungle overseen by Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff.

“Many teachers were not paid for the first month of the school year and are entitled to compensation of 5 per cent for each day of missed pay,” Shadow Education Minister Michelle O’Byrne said today.

“Mr Rockliff is yet to confirm whether compensation will be paid and what it will cost the Government.

“Jeremy Rockliff has been so concerned with sacking teachers and cutting services to schools that he’s completely mismanaged the start of the school year.

“Because of the uncertainty inflicted on schools many teachers were not hired until the last minute and not been paid for the first two full pay periods.

“The Government has undermined the goodwill of teachers and they have every right to seek compensation under their award.

“We have seen an unprecedented attack on our public schools and those teachers lucky enough to have kept their jobs are the victims of the Government’s mismanagement.”

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Serious questions to answer over senior appointments

Bryan Green MP Labor Leader
05.03.15 11:26 am

Yet again the Liberal Government is facing serious questions over the appointments of two highly-paid senior advisers.

Premier Will Hodgman today confirmed only one person was interviewed for the new Deputy Secretary role in the Department of Premier and Cabinet, but didn’t offer a defence of the recruitment process.

Labor Leader Bryan Green said it was highly unusual that only one person had been interviewed for the senior role, particularly when it is understood there were multiple internal applicants.

“The Premier should explain why not one of the unsuccessful applicants made it to the interview stage of the process,” Mr Green said.

The Premier was also asked about the process that led to the appointment of the new head of Infrastructure Tasmania, but quickly handballed to Minister Rene Hidding.

“Mr Hidding expects us to believe that an extensive and lengthy national search failed to turn up a single suitable candidate,” Mr Green said.

“The Minister failed to explain how many Tasmanian applicants were interviewed after the initial search was unsuccessful.

“Did the incoming CEO apply for the position or was he tapped on the shoulder?

“This is not the first time the Premier has had to answer questions around appointment processes.

“I would also question how extensive the Government’s recruitment process was. Are they serious that they could find no-one in the country with the qualifications needed for this highly paid position?

“Mr Hodgman and his government have form in not following the correct recruitment processes.

“The Premier was recently forced to back down and say he would not be again using the services of his $1000 a day Ministerial advisor after Labor exposed the shady nature of that appointment.”

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Further evidence of savage education cuts

Terry Polglase, AEU Tasmania Branch President
05.03.15 11:25 am

In response to information released today in Parliament by Greens MHA Nick McKim about State Government cuts to education Terry Polglase, AEU Tasmanian Branch President, said:

“Before the election Will Hodgman promised not to sack teachers and to invest in education.”

“Figures released by The Greens shine a light on the depth and savageness of Will Hodgman’s broken promises and cuts to our schools.”

“Sacking teachers and ripping out millions from school budgets make a mockery of Will Hodgman’s claim to value public education and to support Gonski.”

“Premier Hodgman must commit now to reverse the damaging cuts and deliver Gonski money into schools in an open and transparent way.”

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Three Strikes Policy to Protect Residents from Anti-Social Behaviour

Jacquie Petrusma, Minister for Human Services
05.03.15 11:25 am

The Hodgman Liberal Government is delivering on its promise of taking a strong stance against serious anti-social behaviour in public housing.

Under the previous Labor-Green government, the pleas of those forced to endure behaviour that left them feeling unsafe in their own homes were ignored.

This Government, however, will act to encourage good behaviour and help build more stable, peaceful communities by drawing a line to make clear what tenants’ responsibilities are as neighbours.

Our three strikes approach is not about punishment; it is about protecting residents’ rights to the private enjoyment of their homes, whether they are public housing tenants or those who live near public housing properties.

Over the past year, we have developed this approach in consultation with the community sector, including in particular Shelter Tasmania and the Tenants Union.

Housing Tasmania can now issue tenants with three strikes – or warnings – for behaviour that breaches their tenancy agreement. A third strike means the tenancy will end and that tenant will have to leave public housing.

Tenants may receive a strike for nuisance behaviour, substantially interfering with another person’s quiet enjoyment of their home, harassment, hoarding, excessive noise, unwanted intrusions on another’s property and unlawful offences.

Those who commit a serious offence, such as assault or criminal damage, will receive an immediate third strike.

Under the new approach, Housing Tasmania will continue to provide tenants with opportunities to improve their behaviour and avoid eviction, as the aim is to have no evictions.

A new rewards system will also be introduced to acknowledge the many public housing tenants who are good neighbours.

The Government makes no apology for acting to protect the majority of Tasmanians who have the right to enjoy their lives without the anti-social intrusions of others.

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Lambie welcomes small victory for Defence Families and asks important questions

Rob Messenger
04.03.15 3:56 pm

Independent Senator for Tasmania Jacqui Lambie has welcomed the small victory that Defence families have enjoyed with the announcement by the Abbott of an increased offer in Defence pay.

“ While I’m glad the our diggers have been awarded in total a 2% pay offer or an increase of .5% on Mr Abbott’s original offer - it still means that he is stealing money from our defence forces – it just means that with this announcement Mr Abbot is stealing less money.” said Senator Lambie.

“Mr Abbott still needs to answer a number of important questions before I decide how I’ll approach this matter while voting in the Senate.

1)  Will the ADF personnel receive back pay?
2)  Over what period of time will that back pay be calculated?
3)  Will Mr Abbott give with one hand and take with the other – i.e. what will happen to the costs of defence housing for single and married ADF members?

Some have asked if I deserve credit for today’s announcement. The people who deserve credit are all the Tasmanians who have contacted my office and encouraged me to fight for our Diggers.

And the other people who deserve praise are all the wives, husbands, relatives and friends of our ADF personnel who have also contacted me and urged that I continue to speak out for Australian patriots who remain voiceless.” said Senator Lambie.

“Tony Abbott may try and make political mileage out of this announcement for his Liberal members of parliament, but the Australian people are smart enough to make their own minds up about why he back flipped.

Unfortunately this decision was forced on Mr Abbott. He’s not made it out of genuine care for our ADF families and Diggers. Mr Abbott has made it in a desperate attempt to save his own political career.

I’ve placed a request with officials from the Treasury for a briefing where they will detail the exact cost and benefits of this new offer. I look forward to consulting with Tasmanians and receiving advise on how they would like me to vote on legislation in the future.” said Senator Lambie.

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ROADS TO RECOVERY FUNDING FLOWS IN LYONS

Lyons MHR Eric Hutchinson.
04.03.15 3:38 pm

COUNCILS in Tasmania’s electorate of Lyons will today receive their latest share of the Federal Government’s $2.2 billion Roads to Recovery funding to help with road construction and maintenance.

Federal Lyons MP Eric Hutchinson said that the Government was paying $117 million to 297 local government authorities nation-wide including $2.3 million in Lyons.

``Quarterly payments through the Roads to Recovery Program allow councils across Australia to direct local road funding to where it is needed most,’’ Mr Hutchinson said.

``The Roads to recovery payments made today are in addition to the $575 million our local governments shared last month through the Federal Government Financial Assistance Grants program.

``Fourteen councils in Lyons received more than $7.7 million for service delivery from the latest round of the Financial Assistance Grant Program announced late last month.

‘’Councils are free to spend Financial Assistance money according to local priorities including infrastructure, health, education, recreation, employment and roads projects.’’

Councils in Lyons to receive top-up Roads to Recovery payments announced today include:
Break O’Day, $441,016; Brighton Council, $159,387; Central Highlands Council, $397,466; Glamorgan Spring Bay, $2,363; Latrobe Council, $221,967; Meander Valley Council, $150,355; Northern Midlands Council, $753,617; Southern Midlands Council, $16,000; West Tamar Council, $114, 508.

More information on these programs and others like Bridges Renewal and Black Spot is available at http://www.infrastructure.gov.au

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Local Communities to Benefit from Community Support Levy Grants

Jacquie Petrusma, Minister for Human Services
04.03.15 3:37 pm

The Hodgman Liberal Government will be injecting more than $175 000 into Tasmanian communities through grants to grassroots community organisations.

Eighteen community organisations have been awarded grants through the latest round of the Community Support Levy Charitable Organisations Grants Program for community projects or equipment purchase.

These grants will fund projects that build on the strengths of Tasmanian communities and help to improve outcomes for vulnerable Tasmanians. They will provide Tasmanians with opportunities for greater social inclusion, improved physical and mental health, and stronger communities, all of which are key factors in reducing gambling harms.

The focus of the grants round was building capacity in individuals, families and communities. Funded projects include healthy eating and exercise packages, youth development programs, health literacy initiatives and employability skills projects.

More details on the Community Support Levy and a list of the most recent grant recipients can be found at http://www.dhhs.tas.gov.au/gambling/grants

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CEO of Infrastructure Tasmania Appointed

Rene Hidding, Minister for Infrastructure
04.03.15 3:22 pm

The Hodgman Liberal Government is getting on with its Plan to make Tasmania attractive for investment and to create jobs with the appointment of a Chief Executive Officer for the newly created Infrastructure Tasmania (ITas).

Mr Allan Garcia, currently the CEO of the Local Government Association of Tasmania, will bring valuable skills in leadership, intergovernmental relations, negotiation and policy implementation to the new role.

The establishment of ITas delivers on a key election commitment that will enable more efficient infrastructure development and drive productivity, economic growth and community amenity.

ITas is a new body which will provide independent advice to the Minister for Infrastructure and Treasurer. It was established to ensure the effective coordination, planning and assessment of major infrastructure proposals in Tasmania, with an initial focus on transport infrastructure.

As CEO, Mr Garcia will establish develop strong and influential relationships with key stakeholders including local infrastructure providers, Infrastructure Australia and the Australian Government.

He will lead strategic thinking and planning to support the implementation of the Government’s long-term future directions including the identification of current and future infrastructure needs.

A priority task of ITas is the development of an Integrated Freight Strategy to address system bottlenecks and barriers to efficiency and productivity. ITas will work closely with relevant State Government agencies, local government, the business community and infrastructure interest groups in this work.

The appointment of Mr Garcia is another demonstration that the Government is heading in the right direction and I look forward to working with him on the important infrastructure priorities before us.

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BirdLife Tasmania Annual General Meeting

Trish McKeown, TCT
04.03.15 3:06 pm

Thursday 12 March 7:30pm

Guest Speaker

Professor Pat Kennedy, Oregon State University

Can cows and raptors co-exist on a Northeast Oregon grassland?

Pat is a Professor of Wildlife Ecology and Management at Oregon State University. She is
stationed at an off-campus Agricultural Research Experiment Station in northeast Oregon
and is the only vertebrate ecologist serving in this capacity (OSU has 12 off-campus
research stations designed to provide technical support for agricultural production).

Her position was requested by agricultural producers who wanted research conducted that
would assist with identifying ecological sustainability of their agricultural practices. In this
position (which she began in 2002), Pat and her colleagues have developed an integrated
research, education and outreach program for the state of Oregon on sustainable,
rangeland-based beef production. The focus of this research is to identify how
conservation value can be added to agricultural lands without economic hardship.

All welcome.

Meeting venue Life Sciences Lecture Theatre 1, Life Sciences Building, University of
Tasmania, Sandy Bay. Access and parking are from College Road or from the parking
area outside the University Centre via the pedestrian bridge over Churchill Avenue.

Enquiries Dr Eric Woehler 0438 204 565

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Identifying future trends for Australian agriculture

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Senator Richard Colbeck
04.03.15 3:05 pm

Speaking at the ABARES Outlook conference in Canberra today, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture Senator Richard Colbeck highlighted the importance of recognising future trends facing Australia’s agricultural industries.

Senator Colbeck was part a panel discussion about ‘megatrends’ identified by CSIRO: a hungrier world; a wealthier world; choosey customers; transformative technologies; and critical changes in the global economy, climate and environment.

He said a priority of the Government is looking forwards and identifying future trends that might impact agricultural industries.

“We are committed to reinstating agriculture as one of the five pillars of the economy and ensuring the agricultural industries are well placed to meet future demand,” he said.

“That is why we are creating an Agricultural White Paper which will provide a strong and enduring foundation for implementing policy to meet future demands.

“This is also a priority for the Government’s Forestry Advisory Council, which is looking at new opportunities and future demand for forest and wood fibre based products. It’s important that we spend less time looking in the rear-view mirror and spend more time focussed on the future.”

Senator Colbeck said Australia had an important role to play in global food task and a number of opportunities were on the horizon,

“Australia as a lot to offer in the agrifood service sector, for example we could take our food safety expertise to China and form a collaborative approach which would be beneficial to the global food task,” he said.

“I believe there are many opportunities ahead for Australian agriculture and conversation like these will help ensure we are in a position to take advantage of them. This is an important discussion and one that I am determined to continue.”

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Association CEO Moving On

LGAT CEO, Allan Garcia
04.03.15 2:59 pm

The President of the Local Government Association of Tasmania, Mayor Barry Jarvis,
announced today the departure of long-serving CEO, Allan Garcia, who is leaving the
organisation to take up the role of CEO of Infrastructure Tasmania with the State
Government.

“Allan has provided dedicated and strong leadership to the Tasmanian Local Government
sector, leading the review of financial reform between State and Local Government,
establishing a framework for councils to progress with financial sustainability, managing
the several iterations of water and sewerage reform, and progressing planning reform,”
Mayor Jarvis said.

“Allan has provided a strong advocacy voice for Local Government and is respected by
his peers within Local Government, as well as those he deals with in State Government,
the business community and the public.”

“I would take this opportunity to wish Allan well in his new endeavours and advise that the
Board of the Association will be meeting in the near future to consider the process for the
appointment of his replacement,” he said.

Mr Garcia commences in his new role on 4 May 2015

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Innovative Energy Project for Flinders Island

Peter Gutwein, Treasurer
04.03.15 2:58 pm

Hydro Tasmania will soon start work on developing a “Hybrid Energy Hub” on Flinders Island that will significantly increase renewable energy use on the island and reduce the use and importation of diesel.

The project involves the development of a portable hybrid renewable energy solution that has the potential to drive down the cost of delivering electricity in remote locations.

Hydro Tasmania will work closely with various Tasmanian manufacturers to develop and test this technology.

If commercialised the technology has the potential to be exported around the world for use in other remote areas such as in the mining sector or in disaster relief situations. This could result in more manufacturing jobs in Tasmania.

The Flinders Island Hub project is due for completion in November 2016.

The $12.8 million project has received support from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) with a grant of up to $5.5 million.

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EPA Must Investigate Macquarie Harbour Health Concerns

Kim Booth MP | Greens Leader
04.03.15 2:53 pm

The State’s environmental watchdog, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) must be given the go-ahead by the government to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the current health of Macquarie harbour, Greens Leader and Primary Industries spokesperson Kim booth Mp said today.

“There are serious concerns that the EPA is being sidelined from investigating the situation at Macquarie Harbour,” Mr Booth said.

“The leaked industry email which I tabled in the Assembly yesterday included the following, ‘we have spoken with the Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),..., recently who has indicated that he is very concerned about the environmental health of Macquarie Harbour and he is waiting for the Secretary’s decision to determine if he is required to act…’.”

“The Minister refused to clarify whether the EPA was involved when he asserts the government acted on the industry concerns as detailed in the email, a silence which only raises further questions.”

“Minister Rockliff also failed to take the opportunity to reassure the community that should the statutory environmental watchdog feel the need to intervene in Macquarie Harbour, it was welcome to do so.”

“Macquarie Harbour is an enormous cultural and natural public asset, and Tasmanians deserve to know that the environmental watchdog is on the case.”

“The Greens are calling for a guarantee from the Minister that there are no obstacles in the path of the EPA undertaking any assessment, monitoring and investigation into the condition of Macquarie Harbour that the watchdog deems necessary,” Mr Booth said.

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Strong Leadership a Must on Death Penalty

Kim Booth MP | Greens Leader
04.03.15 2:44 pm

Greens Leader Kim Booth MP today called on leaders in Australia and overseas to remain steadfast in their opposition to the death penalty, in light of the news this morning that convicted Bali 9 members, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were transported to execution island.

“Unfortunately Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran appear to have lost their fight to have their death sentences for drug trafficking commuted,” Mr Booth said.

“It is without a doubt a horrific crime that these men were charged and found guilty of committing, but State sanctioned murder is absolutely abhorrent and must never be condoned, and certainly not reintroduced in Australia.”

“We must never lose sight of our common humanity, and now more than ever we need our political and community leaders to stand united.”

“Proudly, Australia is a Party to the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty, however countries such as Indonesia and the United States are not.”
“We must continue to lead by example on this issue.”

“The Greens are in unequivocal agreement with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that the death penalty has no place in the 21st Century.”

“The Greens’ thoughts are with the family and friends of Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran during this very difficult time,” Mr Booth said.

Text of Notice of Motion tabled today by Greens Leader Kim Booth MP:

That this House:

1. Notes that the impending executions of Australian citizens Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran in Indonesia has raised the issue of the death penalty in Australia;
2. Notes that in September 2014 a Morgan poll found that 52.5% favoured the death penalty, a significant increase from a 2009 poll that found only 23% supported the death penalty.
3. Notes that the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that the abolition of the death penalty ‘contributes to enhancement of human dignity and progressive development of human rights’;
4. Notes that the death penalty is the most premeditated of murders and that State sanctioned murder, carried out in the name of its citizens, is particularly brutal;
5. Notes that the death penalty has been found to have no deterrent effect, does not rehabilitate and removes the chance for an individual to change their attitudes towards crime over time;
6. Agrees it is incumbent upon elected representatives to be steadfast in opposition to the use of the death penalty both in Australia and other countries; and
7. Agrees that the death penalty is an archaic remnant of justice systems past that has no place in modern society.

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Greens Outline Alternative Vision in State of the State Speech

Kim Booth MP | Greens Leader
04.03.15 2:37 pm

Greens Leader Kim Booth MP used his formal State of the State Address in reply to outline the Greens’ legislative and campaign agenda for the year, which includes moving to establish a Commission of Inquiry into Forestry Tasmania.

“The Greens have a strong and progressive policy platform we will be pursuing in the Parliament this year,” Mr Booth said.

“Unlike the Premier, the Greens have a clear vision for Tasmania’s future, one that is inspired by the natural and cultural strengths of this beautiful island and its amazing people.”

“We are also prepared to tackle certain areas which have been left in the too hard basket by successive governments for far too long, such as the ongoing viability of Forestry Tasmania.”

“Despite the Liberal’s broken promise to end any further taxpayer subsidies to Forestry Tasmania, they have further entrenched the corporation’s reliance on the public purse, and voted down attempts to require it move to a full cost recovery business model.”

“Forestry Tasmania is losing more money for every tree it cuts down, while other government businesses are bled dry to keep propping it up.”

“This must stop, and there must be an objective and independent assessment of Forestry Tasmania’s current financial situation, its operational structure and its future within the context of a viable and modern timber products industry and good management of Tasmania’s forest estate.”

“Tasmanians have lost confidence in more behind-closed-door reviews, and given the ongoing drain upon the public pursue, the only way to break through this impasse is to hold a Commission of Inquiry.”

Key legislative and parliamentary initiatives outlined by Greens Leader Kim Booth MP include:

• Introducing gun law reform legislation, tackling hand guns, and tightening licence and storage requirements.
• Introducing Chemical Trespass legislation to tackle ongoing contamination of waterways.
• Introducing legislation to implement a permanent ban on fracking.
• Introducing legislation to make permanent Tasmania’s GE free status.
• Introducing legislation to restore the MPs numbers in the House of Assembly, consistent with the previous tri-partite agreement.
• Moving to establish a Commission of Inquiry, under the Commission of Inquiry Act 1995, into Forestry Tasmania, its financial situation, and future.
The Greens will also pursue the following priorities:
• A negotiated State treaty with the Tasmanian Aboriginal community, and formal State support for the date of Australia Day celebrations to be moved from Invasion Day.
• Boosting the state’s Invasive Species focus, and investing in protecting our biodiversity.
• Delivering their Strengthening Democracy package, including the introduction of a state-based political donations disclosure scheme, to be in place before the next state election.
• The abolishment of the State Housing Debt by the Commonwealth, freeing up an estimated $16 million per annum.
• Tasmania being a pilot trial of a health single-funder model, to cut through the buck-passing between the commonwealth and the State and provide certainty to the community over accessible and affordable health services.
• A roots and branch review of the State Public sector in conjunction with comprehensive consultation with the community to identify the services necessary to develop a modern service delivery model that is appropriately resourced.
• The establishment of an independent State Taxation and Revenue review to kick-start the long overdue long-term economic structural reform, and which would also address the state’s unfunded superannuation issue.

“The Greens’ vision for a compassionate, safe and inclusive Tasmania, where community services, health, housing and education are accessible and affordable, is achievable.”

“We have a proud track record spanning decades where we have been at the forefront of progressive policies and game-changers for the state from pioneering our clean, green and GE-free status, through to driving more recent campaigns including medicinal cannabis, industrial hemp, and animal welfare reforms.”

“We will not shirk from the hard work required to turn our vision into reality, as our legislative and reform agenda demonstrates,” Mr Booth said.

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SMART MAP REVEALS AUSTRALIAN FOOD IMPORTS

Matt Mullens
04.03.15 2:36 pm

Thailand, China and Vietnam dominate the importation of frozen and processed seafood to Australia, an interactive smart map has revealed.

Cutting-edge technology from smart mapping giant Esri Australia has clearly visualised on a world map where Australia is sourcing its food from and how much the country is spending on foreign agriculture.

The interactive map displays the top five countries from which Australia imports processed and unprocessed fruit and vegetables, meat, seafood, cereal, diary and sugar.

The recent outbreak of Hepatitis A from contaminated frozen berries imported from China and Chile has renewed public debate about the safety of imported food and the impact it has on local growers.

During the past five years, New Zealand remains the major source of food brought into Australia, while, processed food imported from China, particularly fruit and vegetables, has increased.

Esri Australia industry experts compiled data from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) relating to the trade statistics for primary products during and used Geographic Information System (GIS) technology to develop the smart map.

The smart map can be accessed at:
http://arcg.is/1K6ieJz

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Labor’s State of the State reply

Bryan Green MP Labor Leader
04.03.15 2:34 pm

Labor Leader Bryan Green has used his State of the State reply speech to expand on Labor’s vision for education, reveal plans for greater community consultation on policy development and call for improved budget transparency.

“Labor will be introducing an online policy development portal,” Mr Green said.

“Tasmanians will be able to log on to make submissions, leave comments and submit their ideas.

“We’ll use the portal to consult with the community on key issues and policy proposals.”

On education, Mr Green stressed the need for a fresh, non-political approach to policy development.

“Labor is calling for an expansion of the partnership agreement between the Tasmanian Government and the University of Tasmania to enshrine closer collaboration with key industry sectors,” Mr Green said.

“Labor’s firm view is that employers have a vital role to play in identifying the skills our kids will need to take advantage of the jobs of the future.

“A greater focus on ‘business-led research and development’ will further strengthen Tasmania’s competitive advantage in agriculture, aquaculture and tourism and a more collaborative approach will help meet the needs of students and our economy.”

And the Opposition Leader used today’s speech to call for greater transparency through the budget process.

“Labor has written to the Auditor General, detailing our concerns about the Government’s handling of the budget process and making a number of suggestions,” Mr Green said.

“Labor is proposing amendments to give the office of the Auditor General the power to review the budget papers prior to their release.

“Pleasingly Auditor General Mike Blake has confirmed his office is capable and willing to provide this service.

“If this government has any interest in transparency then it should adopt this reform before the release of the next budget.”

Mr Green said Labor’s proud to compare its record over 16 years in government to the fluff and one line slogans currently being put forward by the Liberals.

“Tasmanians deserve better than the Premier patting himself on the back after a year of broken promises.”

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Where’s Peter’s path to surplus?

Scott Bacon MP Shadow Treasurer
04.03.15 2:32 pm

Shadow Treasurer Scott Bacon has put pressure on Treasurer Peter Gutwein to provide detail around his mythical path back to budget surplus.

“Six months into his first budget, Mr Gutwein has already over-spent by $86 million,” Mr Bacon said.

“And the Revised Estimates Report (RER) shows he set to deliver a $300 million deficit.

“The Treasurer refuses to provide any evidence to justify his claims of a surplus in 2020.

“This is why Labor believes there needs to be greater transparency through the budget process.

“Today Labor used the State of the State reply speech to push for the Auditor General to be able to review the budget papers prior to their release.

“Similar measures in Victoria have achieved genuine improvements.”

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86 per cent drop in ambulance ramping at the RHH

Michael Ferguson, Minister for Health
04.03.15 2:31 pm

The Liberal Government is committed to putting patients back at the forefront of decision-making in health – where they belong.

Ambulance ramping at the Royal Hobart Hospital had become an increasing problem after the shambolic state in which the Labor-Green Government left the hospital, and indeed the entire health system.

In September last year I directed THO-South to reopen the four-bed Ambulance Offload Unit in the Emergency Department at the RHH as part of our commitment to significantly reduce ambulance ramping.

I am very pleased to report that this has resulted in an 86 per cent drop in total ramping at the Royal Hobart Hospital compared to September 2014.

This means that this Government has overseen the greatest sustained reduction in ramping since statistics began being gathered.

The direction to open the four additional beds, establishing the first handover area in the RHH, is allowing our paramedics to get back to the road and our community as quickly as possible.

This stands in stark contrast to the former Labor-Green Government, which closed the former Nell Williams Unit, putting increased pressure on the ED and preventing paramedics from getting back on the road to attend other patients in need.

It’s important to note that while this takes place, Health Services Innovation Tasmania continues to undertake its important work to improve patient flow at the state’s major hospitals.

While we must continue to work on this issue and acknowledge that nobody expects ramping can be completely eliminated, this is an example of how listening to the expert advice of our clinical workforce has helped to deliver greatly improved outcomes for the community.

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A Stronger Firearms Act to Deter Gun Theft

Rene Hidding, Minister for Police and Emergency Management
04.03.15 2:30 pm

The Hodgman Liberal Government is moving to strengthen the State’s Firearms Act, particularly to deter firearm thefts and the proliferation of stolen firearms in criminal activity.

Our amendments, tabled in Parliament today, are the result of a joint approach where we listened to and worked with law-abiding firearm owners to respond to the threat of stolen firearms in our community.

A two-pronged attack on firearm thefts will see the introduction of a tougher storage regime and tougher penalties for the possession of stolen firearms.

Where the previous Labor-Green government failed to act for five years after commencing a review of the Firearms Act in 2009, this Government has consulted with firearm owners and those who have expressed concerns about firearms policy.

We make no apology for taking a strong stand to deter gun thefts, including the introduction of a three-month minimum mandatory sentence for those who possess stolen firearms.

The challenge for the Opposition Leader, who says Labor wants to “stand on their own two feet”, is will he support our efforts to reduce firearm thefts and keep our community safe?

Or will Bryan Green once again join with the Greens and vote against these responsible, sensible amendments to the Firearms Act?

The Government recognises that while most firearm owners go to great lengths to secure their firearms and protect them from theft, the minimum standards need to be increased to afford a further level of protection to the community.

Our amendments will particularly strengthen storage regulations for handguns, with an additional measure of electronic security required. This will also apply to those who own 10 or more firearms at the one address.

We are also committed to encouraging safe firearm practices and that’s why we are proposing a minor adjustment to the minimum age at which a younger person can be trained in the field under supervision.

The minimum age would be reduced from 16 to 15 years to provide more opportunities for supervision, while introducing a new measure requiring that a supervising adult must have held a firearms licence for a continuous period of at least five years.

In a move that will please many Tasmanians, this Bill provides for the introduction of the sporting activity of paintball.

Paintball will be permitted at approved venues by licensed operators, with a range of provisions in the legislation to regulate the activity, as occurs in other states.

The Government’s proposed amendments will provide a comprehensive and long overdue update of the Firearms Act.

We are committed to reducing firearm thefts and we believe our reforms will help make our community safer.

Will Bryan Green support these amendments to protect law-abiding firearm owners, their families and the broader community or will he once again side with the Greens and capitulate to the urban Left in his own party?

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Heading in the Right Direction

Will Hodgman, Premier
04.03.15 12:37 pm

Tasmania is heading in the right direction under the Liberal Government.

Since the election almost a year ago, more than 7,000 new jobs have been created, business confidence has risen to the highest in the country and we now have the narrowest gap between the state and national unemployment rate since 2011.

While it is early days and there is still a long way to go, we have momentum.

Retail trade has had its strongest year, housing approvals have increased 26 per cent compared to the previous 12 months and construction is booming. These are the signs of a strong, growing economy.

While we recognise the best way to guarantee growth is with the whole community working together, there’s no doubt our policy decisions have had an impact.

In December last year a Sensis Business Index found: “Confidence is growing faster in Tasmania than anywhere else, moving from equal lowest under Labor and the Greens at the start of 2014, to equal second highest under the Liberals at the end of 2014.”

That same report said: “Support from Tasmanian businesses for the Tasmanian Government has also gone from the worst in the country under Labor and the Greens to the second best in the nation.”

On coming into Government we swiftly abolished headworks charges, which had hamstrung development. This has played a central role in the doubling of development and building assessments in its first six months of operation.

As Tasmanian developer Michael Vos said at the launch of the Macquarie No. 1 Shed development in May last year:  “I also want to acknowledge the support we have received from our Liberal Government. As promised they have waived the headworks charges for new developments for two years which has made a huge difference in helping to make this project viable.  In fact, that has given us the confidence to commit to two more new developments in Tasmania, which I will talk more about over the coming months.” 

Our ‘local benefits test’ policy is also proving a success, in its first eight months there have been over 203 contracts awarded to Tasmanian businesses compared with 131 in the eight months prior.
As economist Saul Eslake told the Mercury last month: “There clearly has been a very significant lift in confidence since the change of government and it has been sustained.”

We are more than happy to be judged on our record, and we are continuing this practice with the Government’s second year Plan, which outlines our policy objectives for the coming year and when we plan to deliver them.

There is still more to be done, but Tasmania is heading in the right direction.

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Liberals refuse to guarantee Forestry Tasmania’s future

Bryan Green MP Labor Leader
04.03.15 12:33 pm

A dark cloud hangs over Forestry Tasmania’s future after senior Liberal Ministers today refused to rule out shutting it down.

“Both the Treasurer and the Resources Minister today dodged questions over whether Forestry Tasmania will continue as a stand-alone Government business,” Labor Leader Bryan Green said today.

“Peter Gutwein and Paul Harriss have added to uncertainty over Forestry Tasmania by refusing to speculate on its future while reviewing the operation of the business.

“This is a massive shift from the Liberals pre-election promise to allow Forestry Tasmania to trade its way out of financial trouble.

“Are the Liberals planning to wind up Forestry Tasmania or transfer the business into a government department?

“The Liberals have done nothing to turn around the decline in the forest industry despite their promises, so how do they expect Forestry Tasmania to survive without a subsidy?

“Labor remains strongly committed to Forestry Tasmania as it was in Government by providing contingency funding over the forward estimates.”

“If the Government is committed to keeping Forestry Tasmania solvent where will the money come?

“We have already seen the Government break its promise not to subsidise Forestry Tasmania by a devious $30 million transfer from TasNetworks to the business.

“Will the Government rule out stripping more cash from State-owned companies to keep Forestry Tasmania solvent or is it planning to dissolve the business?”

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MARRIAGE EQUALITY REACHES FMR EASTERN BLOC FURTHER ISOLATING AUSTRALIA

Australian Marriage Equality national director, Rodney Croome
04.03.15 10:55 am

SLOVENIA CROSS-PARTY VOTE SHOWS WAY FORWARD FOR AUS’T

Advocates have welcomed a vote in favour of marriage equality in Slovenia saying it is embarrassing for Australia to fall behind a former eastern bloc country on the issue.

Last night the Slovenian Parliament voted 51 to 28 across party lines to support legislation allowing same-sex couples to marry and adopt.

Australian Marriage Equality national director, Rodney Croome, said,

“While we welcome marriage equality in Slovenia, many Australians will feel embarrassed that our country is not only falling behind comparable countries like New Zealand and the UK, but now also countries in the former Eastern bloc.”

“The silver lining is that Slovenia has moved forward on marriage equality thanks to cross-party support for the reform.”

“Cross-party support is also the key to achieving marriage equality in Australia but depends on Tony Abbott allowing a Coalition free vote on the issue.”

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Groom Refuses to Rule Out Public Subsidies for Wilderness Development

Nick McKim MP | Greens Parks spokesperson
04.03.15 10:43 am

In Question Time today Minister for State Growth Matthew Groom refused to rule out public subsidies or peppercorn lease arrangements for developers in Tasmania’s wilderness.

“Not content with attempting to shrink the WHA, then rewriting its management plan to allow for logging, mining, jet skis, and rampant development, the Minister has now refused to rule out public subsidies or peppercorn lease arrangements,” Greens Parks spokesperson Nick McKim MP said today

“It looks like we should brace ourselves for yet another bout of crony capitalism from the Liberals, which ultimately discourages private sector investment by increasing sovereign risk.”

“I have spoken to many existing tourism operators who are worried about the unfair competitive advantage their competitors look like getting just because they happened to submit to an ad hoc process established by the government,” Mr McKim said.

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INVEST IN ALLIED HEALTH TO HEAL HOSPITAL BUDGETS

Andrew Wilkie, Independent Member for Denison
04.03.15 10:42 am

The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, has joined in the launch of research demonstrating how allied health providers can free up hospital beds, speed patient recovery and save taxpayers money.

The research looks at a broad range of health issues including stroke, diabetes and osteoarthritis, as well as surgery including hip and knee replacement and diabetic limb amputations.

The findings are in one of two reports released today that were conducted for Services for Australian Rural and Remote Allied Health (SARRAH) as part of an Australian National University research project.

The other report shows a serious shortage of early intervention providers, especially psychologists, mean children with autism and disabilities in rural areas are accessing up to 60 per cent less government funding than children living in urban areas.

Mr Wilkie used the findings to urge the Tasmanian Government to reverse cuts to allied health services.

At the Royal Hobart Hospital, the Health and Community Services Union estimates that most Allied Health departments have lost between 8 and 25 per cent of their full-time equivalent positions. 

``At a time when hospital budgets and staff are stretched to the limit, to sack these vital frontline workers who can get people home from hospital sooner and prevent elective surgery is complete madness,’’ Mr Wilkie said.

``These workers are worth their weight in gold because they save hospitals money.’’

Allied health professionals include speech pathologists, physiotherapists and psychologists who provide vital frontline services.

Mr Wilkie is the co-chair of the Parliamentary rural and remote allied health group.

The SARRAH reports can be viewed here.

https://sarrah.org.au/sites/default/files/docs/investigating_the_efficacy_of_allied_health_reducing_costs_and_improving_outcomes_-_final_report.pdf

https://sarrah.org.au/sites/default/files/docs/mapping_rural_remote_early_childhood_intervention_therapy_services_20_10_14.pdf

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‘Enough’s enough’ of Conservationists’ Fear Campaign

Luke Martin Chief Executive Officer Tourism Industry Council Tasmania
04.03.15 9:53 am

Tasmania’s peak tourism body has urged Tasmanians concerned about what new tourism activities may or may not be proposed for the State’s protected areas to inform themselves with the facts rather than fall for the rhetorical flourish and hyperbole of Bob Brown and Vica Bayley.

Tourism Industry Council Tasmania CEO, Luke Martin, said he was increasingly alarmed at the tactics being adopted by conservationists to denigrate tourism operators working within Tasmania’s protected areas, and mislead Tasmanians about what new tourism activities will mean for these areas.

“Unfortunately is seems tourism is now the target for the same tried and true tactics adopted by environmentalists towards other Tasmanian industries of presenting emotive rhetoric and mistruths as fact to alarm Tasmanians and create division in the community.

“There are no ‘resorts’ proposed for the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.

“Nor are there any ‘$500 a night’ lodges proposed that will in anyway impede upon Tasmanians capacity to continue to enjoy these areas as we do now.

“What is proposed for the wold heritage areas are simply more of what we already offer in these areas now - small-scale, low impact, walkers accommodation.

“For Bob Brown to make the comparison between a walkers hut in the south-west and a casino being developed at Westminster Abbey says more about his uncompromising, ideological outlook on these matters than what is really going on.

Mr Martin also accused the conservationist groups rallying against the tourism industry of hypocrisy pointing to these groups own desire to see tourism grow and expanded across the Tasmanian reserve system.

“The Wilderness Society and many of the same groups today bemoaning the low-impact proposals put forward by industry were in 2004 advocating for $40 million in new and upgraded public roads within the TWWHA to encourage greater tourism activity in these areas as the answer to forestry.

“If these groups want to debate inappropriate development and visitor activity within the TWWHA, let’s start with the impact more roads will have on these areas.

“The tourism industry appreciates the passion many Tasmanians share for our wild places and the opportunity to have a sensible debate over the future of tourism in these areas.

“But the industry will not stand for being misrepresented by those driven by ideology and personal grievances rather than practical outcomes.”

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