Rebecca White MP 
Tasmanian Labor Leader
Labor Member for Lyons

Shadow Minister for Federal State Relations

Shadow Minister for Trade and Investment

Shadow Minister for Tourism, Hospitality and Events

Shadow Minister for Aboriginal Affairs

Regional communities are the heart and soul of Tasmania.

Whether you live in Sheffield or Sorell, Bridgewater or Bicheno, the wide open spaces, safe streets and friendly neighbours you find in small towns and local communities make them great places to raise families.

I want regional communities to thrive. I have the energy and vigour to drive growth for regional Tasmania.

Now more than ever, people throughout Lyons need job security, better transport – more buses and better roads – and better access to services.

I want parents to raise their children secure in the knowledge there is a future for their community.

We must work harder to support our towns’ small businesses and our farmers who are the lifeblood of regional Tasmania.

It is important that Tasmania continues with improvements to water infrastructure with the aim of making Tasmania Australia’s food bowl.

This is a program I fully support. It offers great opportunity for communities throughout Lyons.

The rollout of the NBN will help connect us to the world and provide new ways for communities to engage with Government, private enterprise and each other.

As someone born in Lyons and raised on my parents’ farm ‘Redbanks’ in Nugent I know the issues that confront regional Tasmania.

I have built my own home in the electorate and have a personal stake in ensuring the concerns of country people are heard, listened to and acted upon down in Hobart.

Rebecca White

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Labor's Plan for Jobs - Working for Tasmania

Here’s what you need to know about Labor’s fully costed Jobs Plan.

Labor’s Plan for Jobs will

  • 🛠 Provide free TAFE courses 
  • 📈 Support small business
  • 👷‍♀️ Create more jobs and apprenticeships 
  • 🎉 Build a better and fairer Tasmania

Labors Plan for Jobs twitter

Budget Reply Speech 2020

Budget reply 2020

“Working for Tasmania” Labor’s plan for jobs

*Check against delivery*

Madam Speaker, Memories are powerful.

I vividly recall the mix of fear, apprehension, frustration and concern in this Chamber in March as a global pandemic approached our little island at the edge of the world.

At first we watched with concern from afar as China imposed what seemed like unbelievably strict lockdowns to contain a strange and deadly virus in Wuhan. The scale of the emergency and construction of massive hospitals almost overnight were almost impossible to comprehend.

Then we saw COVID-19 sweep across Europe, overwhelming hospitals and crippling economies.

We witnessed the consequences of mixed messaging in the United States about the importance of social distancing and staying at home.

We saw the benefits for those countries that acted early and decisively to contain the virus - counted not only in lives saved, but livelihoods protected.

Madam Speaker,

Back in March, none of us knew which of these fates lay in front of us.

From fear and confusion we saw the best of our community and our political system emerge.

With the goodwill of bipartisanship, Tasmania closed its borders, businesses went into hibernation and we were told to stay home to save lives.

We will not forget the hundreds of health workers on the North West Coast that contracted the virus while caring for the sick, or those businesses that were closed during the lockdown.

We will never forget the 13 Tasmanians whose lives were lost to COVID-19. We grieve with the families of those who lost loved ones.

But we also acknowledge that we fared far better than most countries across the world.

Those early decisions undoubtedly saved lives.

Border restrictions brought relief for many, but the impact of lockdowns brought a different fear of the unknown.

For employers, how could they keep their staff when no money was coming in the door?

For workers, what would happen if they lost their job?

But again, from that fear, we saw the best from our political system emerge.

The introduction of JobKeeper saved jobs, it saved businesses and it very likely saved lives.

Similarly the increase in JobSeeker succeeded in lifting thousands of people out of poverty and proved to be an incredibly potent economic stimulus.

Madam Speaker, We should never forget what that period felt like. And we should never forget what was possible.

We need to remember that it is possible for Governments to move quickly. That it is possible to challenge the old ways of doing things.

That it is possible to identify problems and implement creative solutions to make people’s lives better.

We should not relegate these lessons to history in a rush to return everything to the way it was.

In the early stages of this crisis the Premier said no one should be homeless in the middle of a pandemic.

We should strive to ensure that no one is homeless after the pandemic either. It took a global pandemic for this government to reverse its cuts to health.

Our reliance on the advice of previously unsung public health officials also exposed the lie that there is such a thing as “frontline” and “backline” health workers.

Properly funded health care should not be reserved for a pandemic.

We should buy local, holiday at home and support local jobs, not just when the borders are closed, but because it is good for the economy and helps to build a stronger community.

Newstart wasn’t enough to live on before the pandemic, it was not enough to live on during the pandemic, and it won’t be enough to live on after the pandemic.

These policies worked to support our economy and help people, not just because there was a public health emergency, but because they work.

Secure jobs work. Money in people’s pockets works. Access to good quality, well funded public services works.

The lesson from COVID-19 is we all do better when government recognises its responsibility to govern for all.

Madam Speaker, COVID-19 forced us to reflect on the things that are most important in life: health, family, a secure job and our freedom.

And it has challenged us to think about how we can use the upheaval of this catastrophic global event as a positive force for change.

I have said before that we should not rush to return to “normal” after the pandemic.

There is a natural instinct to regain what we had, to retreat to what feels familiar.

But “normal” wasn’t great for far too many Tasmanians before this virus, with one in four people living in poverty.

Since the Liberals came to power in 2014, elective surgery waiting lists have blown out by 49 per cent, outpatient waiting lists by 64 per cent, public housing waiting lists by 55 per cent, and the number of school leavers engaged in work, training and further study has dropped by 31 per cent.

And Tasmania continues to compare poorly to the rest of Australia on indicators of life expectancy, disposable incomes, smoking and obesity rates, Year 12 completion and good health measures.

As the Shadow Treasurer, David O’Byrne, has rightly said: we must commit to improve these statistics because, behind every statistic, is a Tasmanian who deserves better.

If we think a “return to normal” is the best we can aspire to upon recovery, then we are selling ourselves short.

After bushfires we don’t rebuild houses the same as they were.

We seek to understand what made them vulnerable and how to make sure they are more resilient in the future.

That’s exactly how we need to think about our economy.

Tasmania’s biggest economic challenge before COVID-19 was job creation. The pandemic has only compounded the problem.

Over 20,000 Tasmanians lost their jobs at the height of the pandemic.

For a while it looked like those jobs were returning but there are worrying signs that Tasmania’s jobs recovery has stalled.

6100 payroll jobs were lost over a fortnight in mid- October – a decline of 2.0% - and a bigger loss than the national average of 1.6%.

The state’s unemployment rate has now jumped from 6.4% to 7.6%, which is particularly shocking considering even Victoria recorded an unemployment rate of 6.7% after months of lockdowns.

Tasmania’s youth unemployment rate is by far the worst in the country, and underemployment continues to wreak havoc for Tasmanian households.

There’s bad news for those who continue to hold onto a job too, with wages falling 5.4% since March.

And we cannot forget that many Tasmanian businesses are still relying on JobKeeper to keep their heads above water.

The State Liberal Government should be lobbying the Federal Government to extend JobKeeper beyond March.

For as long as there are government imposed restrictions on the ability of businesses to trade, there should be some level of government support.

COVID-19 exposed the weaknesses in our economy: an overreliance on certain industries, high rates of casualisation and underemployment.

We need to address these issues in our recovery or we will remain exposed to repeating the mistakes of the past.

Creating jobs and getting more people into secure and stable jobs is Labor’s number one priority.

Madam Speaker, Today I am launching “Working for Tasmania” – Labor’s fully costed jobs plan.

Our plan builds on the COVID-19 Recovery Package released in June, which formed the basis of our submission to the Premier’s Economic and Social Recovery Advisory Council.

A Labor Government will deliver a Jobs Plan that connects education, skills and training, private sector investment, government spending and infrastructure development to achieve a common goal of getting more Tasmanians into work.

Our plan contains four key elements:

  1. Getting Tasmanians working
  2. Putting government spending to work for Tasmania
  3. Creating the workforce for the future
  4. Building a better and fairer Tasmania

Labor’s plan will create and support 35,000 jobs - 10,000 more jobs than announced in the budget. Importantly, it is geared towards creating high quality, secure, full time jobs.

Our plan is fully costed, it includes achievable savings and redirected government spending and, critically, it will work.

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Rebecca White

Authorised by Lindsay White, 276 Masons Road, Nugent, 7172