Media Releases

Rebecca White MP | Labor Member for Lyons

  • Geoff Lyons has impressive record in community work and federal and local government
  • Windermere voters have a clear choice for change to get jobs back on track
  • Community leader will be a part of a strong Labor team committed to working for Tasmania

Labor Leader Rebecca White has today named community leader, former Federal MP and current West Tamar Councillor Geoff Lyons as Labor’s candidate for the up-coming Windermere Legislative Council election.

Ms White said with Mr Lyons as the candidate, voters had the opportunity to install a passionate voice for jobs and Tasmania’s economic future in the Upper House.

“Labor has a clear, fully costed Working for Tasmania jobs plan that will deliver jobs for 35,000 Tasmanians and Geoff is passionate about training our workforce of the future, getting Tasmanians secure, rewarding employment and keeping them in jobs,” Ms White said.

“Geoff will be an ideal addition to the enormous depth of talent already in the Labor team and to keeping a firm focus on ensuring our state does not simply return to normal after the COVID pandemic, because normal wasn’t good enough for too many Tasmanians.

“With the unemployment rate approaching eight per cent and youth unemployment the worst in the country, we need to get more people into jobs and we need to ensure our children get the skills they need for the future and Geoff will be a strong advocate for this.”

Mr Lyons has enjoyed a long career in senior roles at both the Beaconsfield District Hospital and the Launceston General Hospital and other senior roles within the public sector. He has dedicated decades to volunteering with aged care organisations and Surf Life Saving, was the former Federal Member for Bass and is a current West Tamar Councillor.

Mr Lyons has also led an extremely active sporting life as a senior footballer with Launceston, Wynyard and North Launceston Football Clubs, a tennis official at three Australian Opens and a Tasmanian representative in judo and surf lifesaving.

“I’ve been committed to my community all my life and through my work both as a volunteer and as an elected representative, I’ve never lost sight of the fact that we need to make a better life for all Tasmanians our priority,” Mr Lyons said.

“As we steer our way out of the pandemic, that’s never been more important.

“Labor has a strong plan to build industry and create jobs in this region including rebuilding our TAFE system and skills base, partnering with businesses to drive innovation in both new and traditional industries and implementing our Sea Highway Plan, which I believe as an island state is critical to our recovery and our future.”

  • Geoff Lyons has impressive record in community work and federal and local government
  • Windermere voters have a clear choice for change to get jobs back on track
  • Community leader will be a part of a strong Labor team committed to working for Tasmania

Labor Leader Rebecca White has today named community leader, former Federal MP and current West Tamar Councillor Geoff Lyons as Labor’s candidate for the up-coming Windermere Legislative Council election.

Ms White said with Mr Lyons as the candidate, voters had the opportunity to install a passionate voice for jobs and Tasmania’s economic future in the Upper House.

“Labor has a clear, fully costed Working for Tasmania jobs plan that will deliver jobs for 35,000 Tasmanians and Geoff is passionate about training our workforce of the future, getting Tasmanians secure, rewarding employment and keeping them in jobs,” Ms White said.

“Geoff will be an ideal addition to the enormous depth of talent already in the Labor team and to keeping a firm focus on ensuring our state does not simply return to normal after the COVID pandemic, because normal wasn’t good enough for too many Tasmanians.

“With the unemployment rate approaching eight per cent and youth unemployment the worst in the country, we need to get more people into jobs and we need to ensure our children get the skills they need for the future and Geoff will be a strong advocate for this.”

Mr Lyons has enjoyed a long career in senior roles at both the Beaconsfield District Hospital and the Launceston General Hospital and other senior roles within the public sector. He has dedicated decades to volunteering with aged care organisations and Surf Life Saving, was the former Federal Member for Bass and is a current West Tamar Councillor.

Mr Lyons has also led an extremely active sporting life as a senior footballer with Launceston, Wynyard and North Launceston Football Clubs, a tennis official at three Australian Opens and a Tasmanian representative in judo and surf lifesaving.

“I’ve been committed to my community all my life and through my work both as a volunteer and as an elected representative, I’ve never lost sight of the fact that we need to make a better life for all Tasmanians our priority,” Mr Lyons said.

“As we steer our way out of the pandemic, that’s never been more important.

“Labor has a strong plan to build industry and create jobs in this region including rebuilding our TAFE system and skills base, partnering with businesses to drive innovation in both new and traditional industries and implementing our Sea Highway Plan, which I believe as an island state is critical to our recovery and our future.”

  • Tasmania needs comprehensive jobs plan 
  • Labor’s Working for Tasmania plan vital for local jobs
  • Labor continuing to push for good outcomes for all Tasmanians

As tens of thousands of Tasmanians start 2021 with a pay cut and ongoing uncertainty, Labor’s Working for Tasmania jobs planis desperately needed to keep our recovery on track. 

Labor Leader Rebecca White said the Federal Government’s cuts to the coronavirus supplement and wage subsidy risk terrible consequences for the economy and for workers.

“While it’s great to see businesses start to bounce back from the pandemic, many of them still rely on JobKeeper to stay in business and keep Tasmanians in jobs,” Ms White said.

“And yet, two days ago, the Morrison Government again cut the JobKeeper payment, reducing the take-home pay of thousands of workers and jeopardising hundreds of businesses.

“On top of this around 51,000 Tasmanians who rely on the coronavirus supplement will see their next fortnightly supplement slashed from $250 to $150, affecting our most vulnerable and stripping an estimated $33 million out of the state’s economy over the next three months.

“Proceeding with the disastrous plan to cut the payment to zero in April will take a further $250 million from the economy and from Tasmanians doing it toughest over the course of 2021.

“With nearly eight percent unemployment overall and youth unemployment approaching 20 percent – by far the worst in the country – we are in desperate need of a comprehensive plan to get Tasmanians back to work. 

“Labor’s plan provides much-needed support to help the tourism, hospitality and arts sectors get back on their feet by reconnecting people with venues, events and places, funding important infrastructure upgrades and investing in training to deliver the workforce needed in recovery.

“And, Labor’s Free TAFE policy will provide free training for people wanting to work in these sectors. Our broader plan to rebuild TAFE will also make training more accessible in regional areas and more responsive to industry needs.

“2020 was a difficult year for everyone. As we bounce back, we need to look after all Tasmanians and build a better and fairer state for everyone.”

  • Peter Gutwein must close the border to NSW
  • Tasmania can’t afford further COVID outbreaks
  • Swift action will protect Tasmanians

Premier Peter Gutwein must act now to ensue Tasmania stays COVID free.

Labor Leader Rebecca White said with community transmission of the virus in New South Wales and new cases in Victoria, the government should follow the lead of other states and close our borders to NSW to keep Tasmanians safe. 

“It’s crucial the government moves swiftly to protect Tasmania from COVID as we all know how devastating this virus can be for our economy and community,” Ms White said.

“We saw the shocking consequences of this virus last year with 13 people losing their lives and hospitals shut down and we need to take appropriate action now to protect our community.

“We have a vulnerable population, a health system that is already stretched to capacity and a public health workforce that is exhausted and we can’t afford to see further outbreaks here in Tasmania.

“We have an opportunity now to keep Tasmania COVID free and quite frankly I am surprised the Premier is taking so long to make the decision to close our borders to NSW. 

“Despite having a national cabinet in place, it is concerning that there still isn’t a nationally consistent approach to this virus.

“We know from experience that the best way to protect Tasmanians is to act swiftly and while we understand the impacts to the tourism and hospitality industry, the greater risk to the economy and community is further transmission in Tasmania.” 

  • Passenger vehicle equalisation scheme should be boosted to get more tourists to Tasmania
  • Spirit of Tasmania vessels will play a critical role in the tourism sectors recovery
  • Government not doing enough

The Government is sitting on its hands while Tasmania’s tourism industry has waited six months for an answer on whether the passenger vehicle equalisation scheme will be extended to cover the cost of bringing a car to Tasmania.

Labor Leader Rebecca White said Tasmania’s tourism sector has been hit hard by COVID and there is a dire need to do more to support the recovery of businesses and jobs. 

“From as far back as May the tourism industry has been calling for the passenger vehicle equalisation scheme to be boosted, to cover the full cost of bringing a car to Tasmania. Six months later and still there’s been no action by the Government,” Ms White said.

“Because no tourists could travel to the state for six months the Federal Government has saved money on the passenger vehicle equalisation scheme that could be directed to fund this initiative.

“While the ships are booked solid for December as families reunite for Christmas, crunch time for Tasmania’s tourism operators will come in the new year, particularly when JobKeeper is cut in March.

“But in Government Business Estimates hearings last week Minister Michael Ferguson appeared to pour cold water on the merit of the proposal.

            “The question remains about what that initiative would do in the current season because the ships are fully booked.” – Michael Ferguson

“Michael Ferguson seems to think that because the ships are booked out in December then there’s no point in pursing the idea further. He is wrong. 

“Strong shoulder seasons will be critical for the survival of many tourism operators in Tasmania and this proposal could make all the difference, especially for our regions. 

“We know visitors who travel here on the Spirit of Tasmania ships spend more time and money in our state, with many of them visiting regional areas.

            “People travelling on the Spirits are averaging just over $3100 per traveller into the state compared to somebody coming in on the airlines which…is about $1650 per

            person. People travelling on the Spirits spend 14 to 14.5 days in Tasmania…a lot longer than people coming in on flights… It is interesting that people from

            Queensland…stay upwards of 24 to 28 days in Tasmania.” – Bernard Dwyer, CEO TT Line, evidence to GBE hearings December 2020

“Peter Gutwein should be doing everything possible to get this deal across the line with Canberra to make sure our tourism sector has every chance of success.”

  • Premier needs to release Terms of Reference in preparation for inquiry
  • Urgency required in announcing starting date and Commissioners
  • Full, frank and fearless inquiry must be delivered

Three weeks after Premier Peter Gutwein promised a Commission of Inquiry into historical allegations of child sexual abuse it’s time for the Liberal Government to deliver the terms of reference and more detail about when hearings will start. 

Labor Leader Rebecca White said Tasmanians must be given confidence that the government has a genuine commitment to staging the Commission and the Premier should instil that confidence by releasing terms of reference before the end of the year.

“It’s especially important for Tasmanians who want to give evidence and tell their stories to the Commission that they are kept informed of progress and that they are fully aware of how the hearings will proceed,” Ms White said.

“This is going to be a difficult and traumatic experience for survivors of sexual abuse and people wanting to come forward and be heard require guidance and support through the process.

“Survivors and their families and staff of government agencies who will be called cannot just be placed before the Commission without being prepared and supported and provided with an understanding of how the hearings and proceedings will operate.

 “This Commission will involve extremely serious, distressing matters that require the highest level of scrutiny for families involved and staff who in many cases have been left devastated for years.

“That’s why it’s important the mechanics of the Inquiry are explained with a degree of urgency and that’s why the government and the Premier must release the terms of reference as a priority.

“Those terms of reference must be wide-ranging and specify the inquiry will look into not only government agencies but groups covered by state legislation including non-government schools, sports clubs and volunteer organisations.

“Sexual assault survivors also want to know where they can turn to for information and support – how and when will the government be offering support services?

“The Liberal Government should also be preparing witnesses in advance by announcing the Commission start date and telling Tasmanians who will act as Commissioner.

“This is an important moment in Tasmania’s history and it must be handled with urgency and at the same time sensitivity and understanding of the trauma suffered by survivors.”

  • House of Assembly passes second reading of VAD Bill
  • Labor applauds compassion demonstrated by Tasmanian Parliament
  • Bill delivers freedom of choice for Tasmanians

Tasmanian Labor has welcomed the passage through the second reading of the End-of-Life Choices (Voluntary Assisted Dying) Bill 2020 as a historic day in the Tasmanian Parliament.

Labor Leader Rebecca White said the Bill’s passage in the House of Assembly today is a win for compassion.

“As a matter of principle, Tasmanian Labor believes in a compassionate society that affords freedom of choice to people at the end of life and respects their wish for a peaceful death,” Ms White said.

“That’s why today is such an important and historic day for the state.

“The Premier Peter Gutwein has given a commitment that the Bill will be the first order of business when the House of Assembly resumes sitting in 2021.

“We look forward to finalising this legislation and giving the community voluntary assisted dying laws that are cohesive, patient-focussed and evidence-based.

“This sensitive debate has been conducted with civility, decency, respect and genuine engagement, and the focus has been on the needs of terminally ill Tasmanians. I thank everyone who has taken the time to share their views and personal stories.”

  • Ministers still will not provide crucial answers on Griffin allegations
  • Central question remains around timing of advice on allegations to sporting clubs
  • Police Minister and Sport Minister not up to the job

Gutwein Government Ministers Mark Shelton and Jane Howlett are maintaining their unacceptable silence about when Tasmanian sporting groups were alerted about horrific child sex abuse allegations and the potential danger to their clubs.

Labor Leader Rebecca White said both the Police Minister and Sport Minister dodged multiple questions today about when advice was provided to sporting clubs about the allegations involving former Launceston General Hospital nurse James Griffin.

Ms White said it was critical both Ministers provide thorough explanations about when children’s sports groups were told that Griffin was under investigation for child abuse so that his involvement could be investigated and survivors might be allowed the opportunity to come forward.

“It’s become increasingly clear that both Mr Shelton and Ms Howlett simply did not share information about this offender but what is not clear is why they took that course,” Ms White said.

“Investigations by police into Griffin started within a week of a woman coming forward with historic sexual abuse allegations on May 1, 2019 and that abuse allegedly started when Griffin met her as a child through a local sporting club.

“Subsequently, information about the removal of Griffin’s Working With Vulnerable Persons accreditation was given to government departments.

“When did the responsible Ministers first reach out to sporting clubs? When were they told their members had potentially been exposed to Griffin? When were warnings or calls for survivors to come forward issued?

“Red flags were not raised and it’s unacceptable that both of these Ministers believe they can skirt the fundamental issue by reading from prepared scripts that do not contain answers.

“This government has no intention of answering important questions.

“The appallingly inadequate approach in failing to ensure potential survivors were given the opportunity to come forward is unacceptable and has exposed the weakness that is at the heart of Peter Gutwein’s Cabinet.

“Ms Howlett and Mr Shelton are the best the Liberals have to offer but they just aren’t up to the job.”

  • Weak Cabinet incapable of dealing with extremely serious issues
  • Minister Shelton and Minister Howlett not up to the job
  • Children, families and workers overlooked as cover-up prioritised

Critical opportunities to examine horrific child sex abuse were brushed aside and ignored by Gutwein Government Ministers more intent on secrecy than helping families and survivors.

Labor Leader Rebecca White said it was becoming increasingly clear that members of Peter Gutwein’s Cabinet chose to keep information they had been handed in relation to former Launceston General Hospital nurse James Griffin secret when they had a responsibility to investigate.

“The woeful performances of Ministers in Question Time today have exposed the weaknesses at the heart of Peter Gutwein’s Government,” Ms White said.

“This is one of the weakest Cabinets Tasmania has ever seen and they have badly mishandled an incredibly serious matter involving the welfare of children.

“Police Minister Mark Shelton could barely cobble together a reply today.

“Sports Minister Jane Howlett could barely answer questions and failed to say what action she or her department had taken after they received a Coroner’s report on Griffin’s death.”

The Coroner’s report, released on May 18 this year, found that a woman had made a complaint of historic sexual abuse by Griffin to police in May 2019.

“An investigation followed. Mr Griffin was formally interviewed. During that interview, after caution, he made admissions that he had met the child through a local sporting group where he had acted as a masseuse. He also made admissions of criminal sexual misconduct in relation to her,” the Coroner found.

“Ms Howlett simply failed to act to ensure other potential survivors were given the chance to come forward,” Ms White said.

“Ms Howlett’s pitiful performance on the floor of the Parliament today when confronted with this truth speaks volumes about the weakness of this government.

“Ms Howlett and Mr Shelton aren’t up to the job.

“The concerning thing in this terrible matter is that Mark Shelton and Jane Howlett are the best the Liberal Party can offer.

“What that amounts to is an appalling failure in the government’s responsibility to ensure the safety of children in its care.”

  • Ministers withheld horrific information preventing wider investigation
  • Unacceptable lack of urgency on allegations cannot be explained
  • Commission of Inquiry must examine government’s lack of response

Senior Gutwein Government Ministers can still not explain why they failed to launch a government-wide investigation into horrific child sex abuse allegations and withheld information for more than a year.

Labor Leader Rebecca White said both Health Minister Sarah Courtney and Police Minister Mark Shelton failed to act on the allegations involving former Launceston General Hospital nurse James Griffin when they were provided information in July and August 2019 respectively and Premier Peter Gutwein similarly did nothing when he learned of the claims late last year.

“Ms Courtney still cannot provide a legitimate answer as to why she failed to launch an independent investigation until just weeks ago,” Ms White said.

“Mr Shelton cannot explain why he withheld the information for more than a year and failed to share it with other government agencies where we now know Griffin worked, potentially giving him access to children.

“The Premier cannot explain why investigations were not widened across government when he came into possession of the information via the former Premier’s office late last year.

“Clearly – when the initial allegations were raised about Griffin at the LGH in 2019 – this was a matter that potentially reached beyond the hospital considering Mr Griffin’s involvement with other government agencies and other organisations.

“There has been an appalling failure in the government’s responsibility to ensure the safety of children in its care.

“Alarm bells should have been ringing loudly when Griffin’s Working With Vulnerable Persons accreditation was revoked In July 2019 but for reasons they refuse to explain, the Premier and his Ministers chose to do nothing to shine a spotlight across government.

“The government cannot hide behind a police investigation when that investigation ended with Griffin’s death more than a year ago. The rampant secrecy needs to end. The planned Commission of Inquiry has not yet been established and there are serious, far-reaching questions that need to be addressed urgently and truthfully today.”

  • Iconic museum set to reopen on Boxing Day
  • Revamped MONA a major drawcard
  • Locals and visitors encouraged to book tickets

Tasmanian Labor has welcomed news that the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) is set to reopen on Boxing Day.

Labor Leader Rebecca White said the announcement by David Walsh is great news for the iconic museum and for the state.

“MONA was one of the first popular attractions forced to close because of COVID-19,” Ms White said.

“As one of our premier drawcards, David Walsh’s announcement that MONA is preparing to reopen on Boxing Day is a wonderful Christmas present for Tasmania.

“It is particularly good news as we continue our recovery from the health emergency, welcoming Victorians back to the state without the need to quarantine.

“I encourage locals to take advantage of the free entry, and pre-book their tickets to see the new gallery exhibitions.

“And I urge visitors to the state to make sure they don’t miss out on discovering why MONA is one of our top drawcards.

“This year has been extremely tough for the tourism, hospitality and arts sectors and it is fantastic to see them starting to re-emerge after months of pain and hardship.”

Rebecca's Facebook link
Rebecca's Twitter link
Rebecca's Volunteer link
Rebecca's Contact link
Rebecca White

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