Media Releases

Rebecca White MP | Labor Member for Lyons

  • Tasmania’s international trade goes backwards
  • Figures show we’re the worst in the nation
  • Will Hodgman fails to take Tasmania to the ‘next level’

Figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that Tasmania’s international trade is down over the year to November 2019.

Shadow Minister for Trade and Investment Rebecca White said the result was the worst in the country, with international trade falling by 4.5%.

“The national average for international trade was 14.6% growth.

“At a time when the strength of the dollar is favourable for exports, it’s alarming that Tasmania is doing so poorly.”

Ms White said South Australia was the only other state to go backwards, falling 3.1%.

“Tasmania is renowned overseas for our high-quality products, including dairy products, meat, wine, seafood, minerals and timber products.

“We have quality products to market overseas but thanks to Will Hodgman’s inaction, figures have gone backwards putting Tasmanian jobs and businesses at risk.

“The Liberals came into Parliament and said the Premier was taking personal responsibility for taking trade to the next level. He has failed.”

  • More than 3,300 Tasmanian families on the housing waiting list
  • Massive rental stress, with affordability the worst in the nation
  • Why is overdue housing data being kept hidden?

Will Hodgman must keep Tasmanians informed about what progress is being made to deal with the state’s housing crisis.

Labor Leader Rebecca White has called on the Government to stop hiding the details of the quarterly update. 

“Since the Liberals came to government public housing waiting lists have increased by more than 50 per cent, wait times for priority applicants have increased from 21 to 67 weeks, and rental affordability is the worst in the country.

“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.”

Ms White said the Liberals should provide updated information on their Human Services dashboard every quarter, but it has not been updated since September and only includes information to last June.

“In June last year, more than 3,300 families were on the waiting list. Our fear is that this number has blown out and that’s why Will Hodgman and Roger Jaensch have not released the updated data due in December.

“If that’s the case, Roger Jaensch should be upfront, release the data, and explain to Tasmanians what the Liberals are doing to reduce rental stress, and get people off waiting lists and into homes.

“To date, Will Hodgman’s government has failed to build the number of homes that he promised, leaving more people without a safe place to call home.

“It’s another example of Will Hodgman failing to look after the most vulnerable people in our community who are being left behind.”

  • 2020 needs to be a year of change for Tasmania
  • Too many people are being left behind
  • Government needs to turn things around

There is no time to waste in 2020 to address the major challenges facing Tasmania.

Labor Leader, Rebecca White, said her focus in 2020 would be on job creation and helping the people who have been left behind by Will Hodgman.

“Too many Tasmanians are being left behind and the Liberal Government is not doing enough to capitalise on good economic conditions.

“2100 jobs have been lost since the last election and we need to be doing more to support the creation of secure, full time jobs.

“Last year the number of Tasmanians waiting for surgery increased to nearly 11,000 – the longest list on record.

“Parts of our state are now the most expensive place to rent in the country.

“And education levels have fallen below the OECD average for the first time.

“Labor is striving for a better, fairer Tasmania and an economy that works for all Tasmanians.

“There’s a huge amount of work to be done, and I’m fired up to make a difference for the community.

“I have a lot of energy and passion for making change in Tasmania.

“Only Labor is focused on growing full time jobs, investing in roads and public transport, and ensuring that Tasmanians have access to better schools and a world-class health system.”

  • Will Hodman must get on with the job of delivering on his commitments
  • Government failing Tasmanians in health, housing and infrastructure
  • Tasmanians suffer while Will Hodgman pats himself on the back

 

Will Hodgman must stop patting himself on the back and get on with the job of delivering on his commitments to Tasmanians.

Labor Leader, Rebecca White, said 2019 saw the Hodgman Liberal Government fail Tasmanians on a number of fronts.

“While Will Hodgman desperately tries to justify his Government’s performance over the past year, Tasmanians are still struggling as a result of the health crisis and a chronic shortage of affordable housing,” Ms White said.

“Emergency department waiting times are a national shame, almost 10,500 people are waiting for much-needed surgeries and paramedics are begging the government to increase investment to take pressure off the system.

“The Government has repeatedly missed its deadlines for the Royal Hobart Hospital with the opening of the new K Block now one full year past its original completion date.

“Thousands of Tasmanians are homeless or are struggling to put a roof over their heads and the Government is well short of the 900 new social housing homes promised.

“Under Will Hodgman, 2,100 full time jobs have been lost since the election and Tasmania has the highest underemployment rate in the nation which means people aren’t getting enough work to make ends meet.

“The Government has also failed to provide Tasmanians with confidence that the new Spirit of Tasmania vessels will be delivered on time by March 2021, meaning they will join the list of failures including the stalled Bridgewater Bridge.

“Things are only set to get worse as Will Hodgman forges ahead with his $450 million in budget cuts.

“I urge Will Hodgman to put these crucial issues on his new year’s resolution list and get on with the job of looking after Tasmanians.”

  • Tickets being sold in Tasmania for up to double their face value
  • Time to stop scalpers ripping off Tasmanian festival goers
  • Laws needed to protect fans and homegrown talent

Tasmanians should be able to enjoy festivals and concerts without forking out huge amounts for tickets sold by scalpers.

Labor Leader Rebecca White said as Tasmanians head into the festival season the issue is top of mind.

“Nobody wins from ticket scalping other than the person or business on-selling the tickets. Fans face huge mark-ups, and no benefits flow to the artist.

“That’s why all other Australian states have acted to crack down on ticket scalping. We think it’s time Tasmania followed their lead to stamp out practices that rip off Tasmanians.”

Examples in Tasmania of where ticket scalpers are cashing in include:

  • A two day pass for the Falls Festival marked up by 35%
  • A 72% mark up for the Hunters and Collectors
  • A shocking 102% mark up on The Wiggles

Tasmanian band Luca Brasi is part of the line up at this year’s Falls Festival. Front man Tyler Richardson said ticket scalping is hurting the music industry.

“Touring and live shows is where bands make their livelihood. Ticket scalping cuts the throats of bands, because someone else is getting the benefit of massively inflated ticket prices.

“And scalping hurts the fans. We've had instances of fans buying fake tickets, or buying re-sold tickets for huge markups, but not being able to get into the show. Watching fans get ripped off is so disheartening.

“Whether the scalping is happening online or in the real world, we want to see laws that protect both fans and artists.”

Ms White said the kinds of restrictions that should be implemented include:

  • banning the sale of tickets for more than 10% of their original price
  • banning ‘ticket bots’, which scalpers use to harvest tickets as soon as they become available online
  • making it an offence to host advertisements for ticket sales that contravene these laws

“These changes don’t have to wait for the election of a Labor government – Will Hodgman could act now to protect Tasmanian concert goers.

“Tasmanians want to be able to enjoy home grown and visiting artists at a reasonable price. It’s time to stamp out practices that exploit consumers.”

  • Cuts to health compromise community safety
  • Ambulance Tasmania struggling to fill rosters
  • Christmas period puts more pressure on emergency services

Tasmania’s ambulance service remains in crisis, with management struggling to fill rostering gaps in the lead up to Christmas.

Labor Leader Rebecca White said Will Hodgman’s cuts to essential services and frontline workers was putting at risk the safety of individuals and communities.

“Sarah Courtney and Will Hodgman have promised to employ more paramedics, but have failed to follow through.

“Yesterday afternoon an urgent message went out, looking for paramedics to fill rostering gaps at multiple stations today. There are five stations in the south of the state with rostering gaps, and management called on people to come from other parts of the state to help out.

“In a sign of how desperately under-resourced the service is, the request to paramedics said management were ‘happy for part shifts or whatever you can offer.’ This isn’t the way an essential service should be run.”

Ms White said stations at Hobart, New Norfolk, Bridgewater, Kingston and Sorell were affected today.

“In the lead up to Christmas we know things are only going to get busier – unfortunately, it’s a time of year when accidents do happen.

“We know that a lack of resources has put paramedics under pressure. And is it any wonder, when we have ongoing and severe ambulance ramping, leading to distress for patients and paramedics alike, and – sadly – sometimes resulting in the deterioration of patients’ health while they wait hours or days for treatment.

“It is incredibly difficult for hard-working paramedics to watch patients suffer unnecessarily.

“Fatigue and work stress result in time off work, and those remaining are being asked to fill the gaps left, which will only compound the situation.

“Will Hodgman has been put on notice about this and can no longer ignore the impact of his $450 million in budget cuts. If he fails to reverse those cuts, things can only get worse.”

  • Guy Barnett turns his back on the farming community
  • Reliability and transparency casualties of the Liberal government
  • Investment confidence shattered

Will Hodgman’s government has learned nothing in the four years since extremely dry conditions in Tasmania threatened water supply for farmers.

In 2015 the South East Irrigation Scheme Stage Two was put on restrictions, limiting farmers to just 2% of their water right.

Labor Leader Rebecca White said the South East Irrigation Scheme Stage Three was opened in the same month, with a promise it would deliver highly reliable irrigation water.

“At that time, Jeremy Rockliff named up some of the biggest investors in Tasmania’s agriculture sector as beneficiaries of the scheme, the same businesses that now have investment at risk because of dramatically reduced water allocations just two months into the season.

“Will Hodgman’s government promised to protect the investment made by irrigators, investment that supports Tasmania’s reputation for premium produce, and supports creation of much-needed regional and rural jobs.

“Far from being able to invest with confidence, those businesses are now worried that without certainty of water, their crops will fail, contracts with supermarkets will be placed at risk, the reputation of nationally recognised businesses and the Tasmanian brand will be on the line and ultimately jobs will be lost.”

Ms White said the current situation is unacceptable, particularly when the Government launched a new Ministerial Policy, Water Resource Management During Extreme Dry Conditions, in response to the 2015 restrictions to prevent impacts on farmers occurring again.

“It was Jeremy Rockliff who said in 2015 that this new Ministerial Policy would, ‘minimise hardship on farmers and regional communities by ensuring that, particularly in spring, there is timelier and pragmatic decision making before the tap is turned off”.

“Embarrassingly for Guy Barnett, he seemed oblivious to the policy when asked today whether it was currently in effect.

“Using scrutiny hearings as an excuse for not attending a meeting with irrigators is very thin. Guy Barnett could have fronted the meeting and still made it to Parliament for hearings on time.

“If Guy Barnett was truly committed to meeting with irrigators to address their concerns he could have arranged the meeting for a time when everyone, including him as Minister, could attend.

“The Minister has ignored his own Ministerial Policy, he’s avoided meeting with irrigators and the Government has turned the tap off on farmers without warning, once again.”

Labor Leader Rebecca White today paid tribute to outgoing CEO of TasCOSS, Kym Goodes.

“Kym’s advocacy work has helped shape public debate on important issues such as housing, education and intergenerational poverty,” Ms White said.

“Her ability to bring the community sector together and actively work towards a whole of government approach to healthy communities is to be commended and we thank her particularly for her work on empowering communities and connecting people with jobs in order to overcome disadvantage.

“Kym’s commitment to ensuring people less fortunate always have a voice was evident even this week, with the release of the TCCI’s Tasmania Report.

“We are sure  Kym’s influence at TasCOSS will continue, and trust the next CEO has the same passion for investment in social services and infrastructure.

“Labor wishes Kym all the best with her consulting business and into the future.”

  • Jess Greene brings energy and commitment to community
  • A strong voice for the people of Rosevears
  • Jess Greene will hold Will Hodgman’s Government to account

The people of Rosevears have an opportunity to elect a local with fresh energy and a commitment to community in the upcoming Legislative Council election.

Labor Leader Rebecca White said she was delighted to introduce Jess Greene as the Labor candidate for Rosevears.

“To many people in the greater Launceston community Jess needs no introduction. She is a small business owner with her husband Nathan, and a union representative who has worked closely with Tasmanian workers to protect their conditions.  She’s also well known for her volunteer work with Laurel House and a number of organisations working to improve health and wellbeing outcomes for children.

“The people of Rosevears deserve a representative who understands and cares about their livelihoods and the issues affecting locals, such as the rising jobless rate in the area and the broken health system”.   

Ms Greene said she was a proud advocate for her community.

“As a small business owner and a union representative, I know the importance of a job to someone’s life, and I understand the pressures on operators within a small community to remain profitable and efficient within a competitive business environment.  

“I know public sector workers are at breaking point and the pressure will only get worse with Will Hodgman’s savage $450 million cuts to frontline jobs and essential services. I’ll always stand up for the public services we all rely on.

“More than 700 jobs have been lost around Launceston over the past 12 months and the Liberals don’t have a plan to turn things around.

“I wish the outgoing Member for Rosevears Kerry Finch MLC the very best. He’s a genuine local and put the needs of our community first.

“I will be a strong advocate for the people of Rosevears in the Legislative Council and hold the Government to account.”

The division of Rosevears includes the West Tamar municipal area, and the Launceston City municipal area east of the southern outlet and north of the Bass Highway, including Riverside, Trevallyn, West Launceston, Summerhill and most of Prospect.

  • Another economic measure goes backwards under Will Hodgman
  • Jobs at risk in regional Tasmania

Data released today by State Treasury shows international exports continue to go backwards, reinforcing a downward trend that’s persisted for more than a year.

Labor Leader and Shadow Trade Minister Rebecca White said the September figures show exports have declined by 3.13% for the year. The figure is in stark contrast to an 18% increase in national export figures over the same period.

“If Tasmania had grown at the national rate, nearly a billion dollars would have come into the economy, supporting businesses to employ more people and generating more wages to be spent in the community,” Ms White said

“Instead, Tasmania is one of only three states and territories to have exports drop in the last year.

“Tasmania is renowned overseas for our high-quality products, including dairy products, meat, wine, seafood, minerals and timber products.

“We have quality products to market overseas but thanks to Will Hodgman’s inaction, figures have gone backwards putting Tasmanian jobs and businesses at risk.

“The Liberals came into Parliament and said the Premier was taking personal responsibility for taking trade to the next level. He has failed.

“Will Hodgman has no long-term vision for Tasmania’s economy.”

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