06 July 2011 

Andrew’s speaks on the collapse of good governance in Tasmania.

Mr WILKIE (Denison) (09:45): I wish to express my despair at the collapse of good governance in my home state of Tasmania. The Tasmanian government is poised to lend an undisclosed amount of taxpayers’ money to a newly registered $24 company so it can purchase Gunns’ foundering Triabunna woodchip mill. This is outrageous, because the handout would be just another thinly veiled payout to the company struggling to manage its daily cash flow, let alone build its stinking Tamar Valley pulp mill.

That this deal is even being considered dashes the hopes of those of us desperate to believe that new Premier Lara Giddings would do things differently or that the Greens elevation to state government would curb Labor’s appetite for dodgy deals. Apparently, the loan has been all but signed off. But the Tasmanian government, true to form, are refusing to tell us how much of our money they are pouring into the deal and under what conditions.

Tasmanians are used to watching in disgust as their government tramples on proper process and shows contempt for the community’s demand for competence and transparency. But this deal is particularly distasteful because it comes at a time when the Labor-Greens government is so cash strapped that it has been canvassing the idea of closing some of our very best schools and is set to cut the number of nurses and police.

This is relevant to the federal parliament because, since my election, there has been a line of community groups calling at my office for support after their long-term state government funding has been either slashed or axed completely. Just last week, for example, the federal government needed to intervene and grant $50,000 to keep Sustainable Living Tasmania afloat. And, in April, federal funding of $350,000 was provided to allow the Holyoake organisation to revive its drug, alcohol and gambling addiction service. I despair that I have got a long list of other worthy electorate causes in need, most of which must go unmet.

The Tasmanian government keeps telling us that there is no hay in the barn for such groups, yet it does not hesitate in pouring money into football sponsorships and now providing this proxy loan to an old forestry mate. And, in another stunning measure of the government, this year $11 million was allocated on the sly for a racetrack, despite the state government preparing to bring down a horror budget.

Frankly, we in Tasmania are exhausted by the endless displays of government dishonesty and ineptitude, not to mention the complete abandonment of the public interest in favour of vested and party political interests. It does not have to be this way.

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