Rebecca White MP | Labor Member for Lyons
Cassy O’Connor is allowing renewable energy jobs to be put at risk by failing to stand up to Bob Brown.
The Tasmanian Greens’ silence in response to Bob Brown’s attack on the Robbins Island wind farm has been deafening.
“Yesterday the Greens had a chance to stand up for renewable energy jobs – they failed,” Labor Leader Rebecca White said.
“The Greens have a pathological aversion to development, even when it is in sectors that they claim to support.
“Cassy O’Connor can’t have it both ways – she can’t declare a climate emergency and then fail to support projects that will actually reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.
“Labor is a strong supporter of the renewable energy sector and we want to see the Robbins Island project progress through the rigorous approvals process.”
Bob Brown should be ashamed of his breathtaking hypocrisy in opposing the Robbins Island wind farm.
Labor Leader Rebecca White said Mr Brown’s campaign against the renewable energy project highlighted everything that was wrong with the Greens.
“Bob Brown has been traipsing across Australia campaigning against the coal industry, claiming that the future is renewable energy,” Ms White said.
“Meanwhile in Tasmania, the former Greens leader is actively campaigning against a project that would create hundreds of jobs.
“Labor is a strong supporter of jobs in the renewable energy industry. These jobs are sorely needed at a time when Tasmania’s unemployment rate is the worst in the country.
“The Robbins Island wind farm should be allowed to go through the normal planning processes without being attacked by Bob Brown.
“If the Tasmanian Greens truly support renewable energy they should condemn their former Leader’s extreme views about the Robbins Island project.”
Premier Will Hodgman’s leadership has been irreparably weakened by his desperate and ultimately futile attempts to stave off minority government.
Sue Hickey remains a member of Liberal Party in name alone and cannot guarantee that she will not walk next week, next month, or next year.
“Tasmanians talk about wanting a government that has a clear agenda that speaks with one voice, that is not compromised and dependent on political backroom deals for its survival, but that is what they have and what is typically wrong with minority governments. They are compromised governments that say one thing and do another. Their political survival depends upon backroom deals and horse-trading, bringing with it uncertainty and confusion.”
Will Hodgman – House of Assembly Hansard – 6 March 2013
Labor Leader Rebecca White said Will Hodgman’s Government was inherently unstable and bitterly divided.
“Tasmanians are not getting the stable majority government they were promised,” Ms White said.
“We’ve had a fortnight of complete chaos, with crisis meetings on health and housing, an embarrassing Cabinet reshuffle and over the last week the Government have been on edge waiting for Ms Hickey’s decision.
“Today’s announcement changes nothing because Sue Hickey still won’t give the Government her unconditional support and has said she will assess her feeling about the Government fortnight to fortnight.
“The question Tasmanians are rightly asking today is who is leading the State – Ms Hickey is calling the shots while the Premier begs for her support behind closed doors.”
After half a decade of inept management of the health portfolio, Michael Ferguson has finally been sacked.
Labor Leader Rebecca White said today’s announcement was welcome but said the Premier shouldn’t have to have been dragged kicking and screaming to this obvious decision.
“The Premier has spent the last year as Michael Ferguson’s number one cheerleader, as recently as last week celebrating the job he had done in the portfolio,” Ms White said.
“The Premier fought against Labor’s No Confidence and Censure motions in Parliament, he ridiculed more than 3200 Tasmanians who signed our petition calling for Mr Ferguson to go and he failed to listen to doctors, nurses, paramedics and health professionals who said people were dying needlessly in our hospitals.
“But today the Premier finally declared no confidence in Michael Ferguson.
“Today’s humiliating reshuffle presents an opportunity for the chaotic Minority Liberal Government.
“Sarah Courtney must show more courage in the Cabinet than Mr Ferguson did by demanding that it addresses the $100 million health funding black hole.
“Labor wrote to the Premier last year with a list of policy solutions to the health crisis. Parliament supported Labor’s motions to hold roundtables with all sides of politics and health professionals to turn this terrible state of affairs around. The Premier and Michael Ferguson did nothing.
“Labor is prepared to work with the new Health Minister if she is truly willing to listen.”
Today is a day of shame for Housing Minister Roger Jaensch and Premier Will Hodgman.
In 2014-15 the Liberals promised to build 900 new homes* by 30 June 2019.
Labor Leader Rebecca White said that the Government’s own data showed the Liberals had built only 316 new social housing dwellings.
“The Housing Minister needs to come out today and say exactly how many of the promised 900 homes had been built,” Ms White said.
“On any given night 1,600 Tasmanians are homeless and many other families are couch surfing, relying on their friends and families or living in sheds, cars or tents
“The Liberals have broken their promise to Tasmanians to deliver 900 homes they need.
“Tasmanians don’t want more talking or excuses from the Government, they want action before people suffer further during a freezing winter.”
Shadow Housing Minister Alison Standen said Tasmanians had heard very little from the Minister since his housing and homelessness crisis talks.
“Roger Jaensch needs to show more urgency,” Ms Standen said.
“Minister Jaensch promised a work plan but we are still waiting.
“We need investments that deliver value for money as well as outcomes. And now that we are in the depths of winter, we need them now.”
The Minority Liberal Government has gagged debate in the Parliament to protect its embattled Health Minister from a vote of no confidence.
Liberal Member for Clark Sue Hickey has declared her position that the Minister should be removed, joining Labor, health professionals and more than 3000 Tasmanians who signed a petition this year for his removal.
“If I was Premier, I would say it’s time to give Michael … I would give him something else to do.”
“I think it’s time for Michael to consider his position. He’s lost the faith of the doctors. He’s lost the faith of the nurses. There’s not a lot of faith in the Parliament. He just stands up every day and says thanks for this report… He can’t keep glossing over this. This is a serious issue. And it probably just needs fresh blood.”
– Sue Hickey, Mornings with Leon Compton, 12 June 2019
Labor Leader Rebecca White said this meant Mr Ferguson would be unlikely to survive a no confidence motion.
“The Liberals will do anything to avoid a vote in the Parliament, because they know that they will lose and Minister Ferguson will have to go,” Ms White said.
“If the Liberals had confidence in Michael Ferguson they would allow a proper debate and vote.
“Tasmanians have lost confidence in Michael Ferguson, health professionals and patients have lost confidence in Michael Ferguson and it is only a desperate and divided minority Liberal Government which is preventing the Parliament from formally declaring it too has no confidence in Michael Ferguson.
“Michael Ferguson can’t run from scrutiny forever.”
Health Minister Michael Ferguson is failing vulnerable young people by blatantly misleading Tasmanians about the development of so called ‘dedicated’ adolescent mental health units in Launceston and Hobart.
In a Media Release dated 30 May, the Health Minister stated:
“To be clear - the K block facility is designed and built as a dedicated Adolescent Mental Health Unit, and the Ward 4K Redevelopment will provide a new 36-bed contemporary facility, which will include Tasmania’s first dedicated Adolescent Mental Health Unit.”
However, the Minister has now admitted that not all of the beds in these ‘dedicated’ adolescent mental health units would be exclusively for mental health patients.
Labor Leader Rebecca White said it was clear the Minister would say anything in order to save his political skin.
“The truth is that Launceston and Hobart will not have dedicated adolescent mental health units and MinisterFerguson has been caught out deliberately misleading Tasmanians,” Ms White said.
“The Minister now needs to set the record straight and be honest to those young people in urgent need of mental health care.
“We are calling on the Minister to reveal exactly how many of the 16 adolescent beds at the RHH and eight at the LGH will be available for mental health and when they will be open.”
The Hodgman Liberal Government and Education and Training Minister Jeremy Rockliff are failing on a key election promise to deliver desperately needed infrastructure to train future generations of Tasmanian tourism and hospitality workers.
Labor Leader Rebecca White said at the same time less than half of the students who enrolled in hospitality at TasTAFE last year completed their courses, Mr Rockliff must explain why a promised commitment to extend the Drysdale training facility into Claremont College this year had not yet started.
“Work on this critical project was to have started last year and be completed by 2020,” Ms White said.
“But with no progress made whatsoever so far on the $3.5m commitment, Mr Rockliff needs to explain when work will start and if it will be completed on time.
“It’s unacceptable that work has not commenced at the same time this Minister has overseen a shocking decline in the numbers of students enrolling and completing courses by failing to invest in training a workforce to help the state’s tourism and hospitality industry grow.
“Data released just last month showed that while 434 students were enrolled in hospitality courses in 2018, only 202 successfully completed the course.
“Mr Rockliff cannot explain this dramatic decline at the same time the Hodgman Government has set its own target to increase training capacity to reach 50,000 tourism and hospitality jobs by 2020.
“Tasmania needs to be offering training in Hobart’s northern suburbs to allow opportunities for people to get the qualifications to get work in the industry.
“Labor is actively talking to industry and business and our Industry Advisory Councils - including the Tourism, Hospitality, Festivals, Heritage and the Arts IAC – are focused on the long-term challenges and opportunities facing Tasmania’s economy and our people, including education and training.”
Labor will launch a grants program to assist businesses upgrade their trade waste infrastructure and prevent them closing down.
Labor Leader Rebecca White said the $5 million grants program would prevent businesses and jobs throughout Tasmanian going down the drain.
“Small businesses employ tens of thousands of Tasmanians but many of them are facing up-front costs of up to $30,000 to comply with new trade waste requirements,” Ms White said.
“At the same time community groups and sports clubs, most of which are staffed by volunteers, have no idea where they will source money for the compulsory installation of grease traps.
“This is simply unaffordable for too many of them.
“A number of small business owners are so concerned they say they are considering walking away rather than taking out loans to pay for new equipment.
“The effect on mum and dad businesses is so serious the Chair of TasWater recently wrote to Labor asking for our help to find an urgent solution.”
“It is important to note that the expense of complying with environmental regulations also jeopardises the viability of many smaller commercial operations like local bakeries, cafes or hairdressers who, though small, collectively employ just as many people in Tasmania, especially in our regions.”
Letter from TasWater Chair Dr Stephen Gumley
“It’s been two years since the Treasurer Peter Gutwein promised to fix the issue when the State Government took over TasWater but nothing has been done,” Ms White said.
“Two years ago the Treasurer said the trade waste issue was having a ‘devastating impact’ and forcing small businesses to close but since then there has been no action.”
Ms White said any registered business in Tasmania, including those connected to community groups and sports clubs, would be eligible for grants.
The grants will be competitive and the funding provided based on greatest need and will cover up to half the cost of meeting a business’s trade waste requirements.
Labor’s Free TAFE Policy will mean more jobs for Tasmanians, where we need them.
It is a disgraceful fact that under the Liberals 2000 apprenticeships have been lost.
Labor’s $10 million free TAFE policy will provide 5000 students the qualifications they need to find jobs in our fastest growing industries.
Labor Leader Rebecca White said Tasmania’s TAFE system should be the training engine room of the economy, driving qualifications and employment.
“Labor will rebuild TAFE,” Ms White said.
“TAFE training has the capacity to be delivered in our regions as well as our cities and should be working seamlessly with industry to identify skills gaps and tailor training to meet the need.
“When Tasmanians hear stories about tradies flying in from the mainland or overseas to work at the Royal Hobart Hospital they ask why they couldn’t get that job.”
Labor will provide free TAFE courses across the building and construction, hospitality, aged care and disability services sectors.
“This means jobs for Tasmanians and a boost for our businesses,” Ms White said.
Labor will also mandate that apprentices and trainees undertake at least 20 per cent of labour on government building and construction contracts.
This policy will also apply to the civil construction industry.
Ms White said we should maximise the return on government projects for all Tasmanians.
“Tasmanians looking for work should get the first chance at an apprenticeship or traineeship,” Ms White said.