International Firefighters Day and Family Violence – Candlelight Vigil

Adjournment – International Firefighters Day and Family Violence – Candlelight Vigil

4 May 2022

[6.15 p.m.]

Mrs PETRUSMA (Franklin – Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Management) – Mr Speaker, I rise to speak on International Firefighters Day, also known as St Florian’s Day.  I and quite a few other members of this House attended the memorial service at the Hobart Fire Station today. 

The date of 4 May was chosen for Saint Florian’s Day as it is linked to the feast of Saint Florian who was the first known commander of a firefighting squad in the Roman Empire.  Florian was a high-ranking Roman army officer in the Roman province of Noricum and is now known as the patron saint of firefighters.  He was the first known commander of a firefighting squad in the Roman Empire.  He lost his life as did his colleagues in protecting the same values which firefighters all over the world share today, to protect life in their community.

Today is a very special day for those in our firefighting family.  It is a day for honouring our firefighters who demonstrate bravery and commitment each and every day.  Saint Florian’s Day is a time for communities to come together to recognise career and volunteer firefighters who have gone above and beyond showing incredible acts of bravery in protecting the community.  It is a day to pause and give thanks and to reflect on those who serve.  Those who help to protect us and save us at times when we are at our most vulnerable.

It is important that we recognise the extraordinary efforts and sacrifices of our firefighters that they make each and every day to serve their communities – all for people they do not know, but who they have sworn to serve and protect.

Ms O’Connor – Hear, hear.

Mrs PETRUSMA – Our firefighters do not undertake these roles for recognition – they do it because they care about their loved ones and they care about their community.  They dedicate countless hours to ensure we are kept safe.

The role of firefighters has evolved over the years and today they respond to a diverse range of challenging incidents such as house fires, bushfires, hazardous material incidents, road crashes, and technical and specialist rescues.  While our firefighters are well trained, well equipped and have good safety systems in place, they still operate in a high-risk environment in their quest to protect lives and property.  Invariably, there are times in our firefighters’ lives when they will put themselves in harm’s way all for the sake of others.

Today, we pause and remember those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in protecting their community.  In particular, our 16 Tasmanian firefighters who have sadly died whilst on duty between 1859 and 2022.  This year we especially remember Mr Andrew Kerr and Mr Michael Dennison who will be honoured formally during the National Emergency Services Memorial Service in Canberra, this Friday 6 May.  The Chief Officer will attend Canberra for the memorial service where Andrew and Michael’s name will be inscribed on the National Emergency Services Memorial to ensure they are remembered eternally.  Our sincerest condolences and heartfelt thoughts are with the family, loved ones, friends and colleagues of our firefighting heroes.

Today, I and other members attended the commemorative service at the Hobart Fire Station to lay a wreath and remember Andrew and Michael and all of our firefighters who have made the ultimate sacrifice in serving and protecting our communities.  We stood together in deep respect for firefighters and provided tribute to those who have fallen.  It is my hope and I know it is all of this parliament’s hope, that at the end of every shift every firefighter goes home safely.

Ms O’Connor – Hear, hear.

Mrs PETRUSMA – On behalf of all of us here tonight I thank our career and volunteer firefighters for their ongoing dedication and commitment to ensure the Tasmanian community is cared for and protected.  From the bottom of all our hearts our sincerest thanks to all of our firefighters for their commitment, service and dedication to keeping all of us safe.

On the parliament lawns right now, there is a candlelight vigil, which is held on the first Wednesday in May every year.  It is happening right around Australia and it is to remember those who have died because of domestic and family violence.  I want to thank the Domestic Violence Coordinating Committee for organising tonight, as well as Betsy and the outstanding Nourish choir who each and every year attend as well as James, the police piper, but also Xavier, Mon and Louisa for also sharing with us tonight their own lived experience of being new entrants and people seeking asylum and the issues they face in regards to family violence.

I thank everyone who is at the vigil tonight because they were showing their strong stance that enough is enough – that family violence in Tasmania must stop.  It was very poignant to note, just to pause and remember and honour those whose lives have been lost and who have tragically died because of family violence.  On average, one woman is tragically killed in Australia by a former or intimate partner every week and we are already in the 18th week of 2022 and tragically already in 2022, 18 women’s lives have been lost due to family violence at the hands of a current or an ex-partner.  What is even more worrying is one in five people still believe there are situations in which women still bear some responsibility for the violence.  These are our mothers, our wives, our daughters, our sisters, our aunts, our friends, our neighbours, and our colleagues.  The simple truth is there is never an acceptable excuse or reason for violence against any Tasmanian.  I want to thank everyone for turning up tonight, because as a community we do need to speak out.  There should be no family or sexual violence in Tasmania.

We need to stop treating family violence as a private matter.  Family violence behind closed doors can go on for many years.  In some cases, it only ends with death.  Tonight, it was good to hear from Xavier, Mon, and Louisa about the additional barriers to getting support that our asylum seekers, temporary visa-holders, and people from our CALD community face, in understanding their rights and in getting support.  People with disability, our LGBTIQ+ Tasmanians, people in rural and regional Tasmania and Tasmanian Aboriginal people and people from all socioeconomic groups face difficulties in getting the support and services they need.  I say to them all tonight to come forward and please report so we can hold perpetrators to account and they can get the support and services they need.  Our vision is a Tasmania free from violence for all Tasmanians.

Criminal Code Amendment Bill 2022

Criminal Code Amendment Bill 2022

22 March 2022

[3.45 p.m]

Mrs PETRUSMA (Franklin – Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Management)Mr Speaker, I rise in support of the Criminal Code Amendment Bill 2022 which will introduce the new standalone criminal offence of non-fatal strangulation, choking and suffocation, and will amend the definition of consent in relation to stealthing. 

I commend the Attorney-General, the department and all the stakeholders and the public who made submissions to this bill, and for all they have done in bringing this bill into this parliament.  I know how passionate and committed the Attorney-General is in bringing forward this bill, as well as her commitment to ensuring that our family and sexual violence laws are contemporary and best practice.

I also acknowledge and pay tribute to the courage of all victims/survivors of family and sexual violence, especially those who have lived through non-fatal strangulation, choking, suffocation and stealthing.  This bill is for them.  I also thank all those in our Government and in our NGOs, who assist victims/survivors of family and sexual violence and help them in their most vulnerable time of need, and for their strong dedication and ongoing efforts to support Tasmanians impacted by family and sexual violence. 

Every Tasmanian has the right to live free from all forms of violence and abuse.  That is why eliminating violence, especially family and sexual violence, is a top priority for the Attorney-General, for me, for our Government and indeed, for this parliament.  Violence against anyone in any form is unacceptable, but the harm caused by family and sexual violence is particularly devastating.  This is why, since 2015, this Government has undertaken significant legislative reform, including legislation to hold perpetrators of family and sexual violence to account and provide access to specialist legal support services.

The Criminal Code Amendment Bill 2022 recognises that non-fatal strangulation, choking or suffocation is a significant form of violence which can be a precursor for escalation in the severity of family and domestic violence.  Tasmania Police has advised that there are approximately 16 family violence incidents per month that involve an element of non-fatal strangulation or choking.  This represents around one in every 20 family violence incidents reported to Tasmania Police.  Male perpetrators are more likely than females to attempt to strangle their victim, with Tasmania Police advising that 5.7 per cent of family violence incidents with male perpetrators involved attempted strangulation, versus 1.2 per cent of incidents with female perpetrators.  Non-fatal strangulation or choking is also regarded as a high-risk factor for family violence offending, therefore evidence of non-fatal strangulation is considered by police when assessing the risk level of each incident. 

I am also advised that more than one in five incidents that were categorised as high-risk last year involved non-fatal strangulation or choking.  This demonstrates that there is a definite need for the standalone offence of non-fatal strangulation in Tasmania.  These statistics are also why our Government wants to ensure that incidents of non-fatal strangulation are recorded on a person’s criminal record, by ensuring that perpetrators are charged and prosecuted for a specific criminal offence in recognition of the utmost seriousness of this form of violence. 

Non-fatal strangulation is never acceptable.  Therefore, recognising it as a specific indictable offence in its own right recognises the seriousness of this behaviour and will enhance the safety of victims of family violence.  Importantly, it will carry a statutory and maximum penalty of 21 years imprisonment, consistent with most offences under the Criminal Code. 

I note that the bill also amends the definition of consent in relation to stealthing, which has been the subject of legislative reform in other states.  Stealthing refers to the situation in which the person consented to sexual activity on the basis that a condom would be used and the other person then deliberately does not use, damages or removes the condom before or during the sexual activity, without the agreement of the other person. 

From attending meetings with other jurisdictions in regards to women’s safety, our consent laws are seen as nation-leading.  This is because section 2A of our Criminal Code already provides that a person does not freely agree to a sexual act if the person does not say or do anything to communicate  consent.  This is akin to the concept of affirmative consent, which is considered by many to be best practice.  An expanded definition of consent through this bill will therefore make it plain that there is no free agreement to an act of sexual intercourse if a person says or does anything to communicate to the other person that a condom must be used and the other person intentionally does not use, tampers with, or removes the condom before or during the sexual intercourse.

Ordinarily, stealthing would vitiate consent under our nation-leading laws.  However, our strong reforms for the inclusion of a specific provision for stealthing are designed to avoid any doubt, will help with education efforts in regards to prevention of violence against women, will hopefully discourage would-be offenders, and will also support the making of complaints and prosecutions for sexual offences such as rape.

Stealthing is an emerging issue for the criminal law.  This is why law reform alongside education regarding consent is so important as it helps to change behaviours and attitudes in our society.

I have listened to Ms O’Connor’s contribution and a little of Ms Haddad’s contribution, and I hear what they have said about consistency in regards to police response.  I want to assure them that both me as minister and the Commissioner of Police are very determined that any victim/survivor will have a consistent response across Tasmania.  I will speak about MDCs later on in my contribution.  The MDCs are about ensuring that we have a one-stop place where people can go to get the best service provision they need at the time when they report.  At any time, if a member has any concerns about the police response, I ask you to please contact me.  I assure you that I will follow it up.  Now that police have body-worn cameras we have the date, the time, and where it happened, so we can follow it up.  I ask members to bring it forward.  Tasmania Police want to make sure our victims/survivors get the best response they can.

Regarding training, Tasmania Police officers receive training on family and sexual violence during their recruitment course and then constantly through their service.  This includes regular training days, which occur every five weeks, and through in-service courses.  These amendments will be included as part of this training to ensure that our police officers know how to assist victims/survivors and how to apply this important legislation to prosecute offenders.

The senior investigators also have a forum where they meet regularly to discuss changes to legislation and investigative procedures.  This will inform how police are taught to apply this legislation, including these amendments.

As well as these formal methods of training, police officers are continually undergoing on-the-job training and coaching in relation to family violence responses.  Every family violence incident is reviewed by a supervisor and feedback provided, meaning there is a constant training loop in this area.  In Tasmania, family violence is the only crime type that requires supervisor validation, demonstrating the importance that Tasmania Police places on its response to family violence.

To further strengthen our legislative reform agenda, I am pleased to note that this week the Attorney-General has introduced the Family Violence Reforms Bill to create a new declaration for repeat family violence offenders and introduce the ability to mandate participation and behaviour change programs as part of a family violence order.  These amendments are also part of Action 30 of our second family and sexual violence action plan Safe Homes, Families, Communities, which commits to the implementation of legislative reform to strengthen legal responses to family and sexual violence and builds on the amendments already implemented, including:

  • introducing a declaration scheme under the Dangerous Criminals and High-Risk Offenders Act 2020 for high-risk serious sex or violent offenders, enabling them to be monitored after their release from prison.
  • amending the Evidence Act 2001 to allow victims of sexual offences the right to speak out publicly and to identify themselves.
  • changing the language used in the Criminal Code relating to sexual crimes against children to reflect the gravity of such acts.
  • introducing the new crime of persistent family violence and enabling courts to impose electronic monitoring on a person as a condition of a family violence order.

The Government takes its role very seriously.  This is why, since the launch of our first nation-leading action plan in 2015 and under our second action plan launched in 2019, the Government has continued to build upon its commitment, investment and scope, in preventing and responding to family and sexual violence in Tasmania.  We do not apologise for sending the strongest message to offenders that harmful and violent acts will not be tolerated and that the Tasmanian Government is committed to supporting victims of domestic, family and sexual violence.  This is why we have invested over $300 million in direct and indirect services in responding to family and sexual violence, including $63 million for specific measures under our first and second action plans.

As a result of our significant investment through our action plans over the past seven years, we have implemented a wide range of reforms and measures aimed at primary prevention of family and sexual violence, response and recovery supports and initiatives to strengthen the service system. 

This includes delivering a range of programs designed to reduce offending by family violence perpetrators and having early interventions available for low-risk perpetrators and men who have self-identified the need to change their behaviours, such as the Men’s Referral Service.  This service provides a point of contact for men taking responsibility for their violent behaviour as well as support and referrals for women and men seeking information on behalf of their male partners, friends or family members, and support services seeking assistance for their clients.  No to Violence has delivered the Men’s Referral Service in Tasmania since December 2015.  In addition to self-referrals, the Men’s Referral Service delivers the early intervention response, where perpetrators are called within 48 hours of a family violence incident attended by police and offered counselling and referral to appropriate services.

In 2021, there was a 208 per cent increase in inbound calls to the Men’s Referral Service from the previous year.  The significant increase in calls, both self referrals and return calls to the early intervention response, indicates a really positive uptake in men seeking help for behaviour change and increased awareness of the service.  Access to rehabilitative services and programs for family violence perpetrators, like the Men’s Referral Service is essential if we are to achieve long-term change in offending rates.  Therefore, it is pleasing to see that the early intervention response is having a clear impact on engaging men to take steps to end violent behaviours.

In regards to high risk perpetrators, the Government is providing ongoing funding for electronic monitoring following the outcomes of our trial that showed a 76 per cent decrease in high-risk incidents, a 75 per cent reduction in assaults, an 81 per cent reduction of threats, a 74 per cent decrease in property damage, 100 per cent decrease in reports of stalking, and 80 per cent of offenders did not reoffend in the six months following the removal of the electronic monitoring device.

These extraordinary results are why Project Vigilance won a silver award in November last year at the 2021 Australian Crime and Violence Prevention Awards.

On 18 March 2022, the Australian Government introduced a further $150 million funding into a range of measures to deliver on its commitment to end family, domestic and sexual abuse.  This additional funding includes a $104 million technology-focused package to keep women and children safe and to prevent devices being used to perpetrate or facilitate family, domestic and sexual violence.  This includes establishing a $20 million fund for states and territories to trial electronic monitoring of high-risk and persistent domestic violence offenders based on Tasmania’s award-winning Project Vigilance.

It is fantastic for Tasmania to again be acknowledged for all its great work, especially the nation-leading efforts in that regard.

In recent years there have been a significant increase in the reporting of sexual violence which comes amid unprecedented public disclosure, media attention and awareness around sexual violence and consent, including in regards to non-fatal strangulation, choking, suffocation and consent in relation to stealthing.

The Government also recognises that this increased demand, together with the unique challenges provided during the COVID-19 pandemic, has required an increased investment in family and sexual violence support services.  This is why since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have invested an extra $10.8 million in state and national partnership funding for additional responses to family and sexual violence.  This includes $6.1 million additional funding across nine specialist family and sexual violence services to increase operational capacity and to respond to demand.

Our community-based family violence services do an inspirational job of delivering confidential specialised family violence responses for individuals and groups.  This includes therapeutic counselling, referral and information support to establish safety, restore confidence and support personal recovery goals.  Specialist community-based services also play a very important role in primary prevention and early intervention through the provision of information, education and training to members of the community, and other service providers, including in regard to non‑fatal strangulation, choking, suffocation and stealthing.

To further assist victims and survivors of non‑fatal strangulation, choking, suffocation and stealthing, in his state of the state address the Premier announced that we will be establishing multidisciplinary centres in Tasmania.  These centres will ensure we are providing a best-practice sexual and family violence response in Tasmania that puts victims/survivors at the centre, including victims/survivors of the offences we are talking about today.  Multidisciplinary centres are a proven model in other jurisdictions, both nationally and internationally, as they ensure that victims/survivors of family and sexual violence receive immediate and integrated wraparound support in a safe place from a range of services.  This is a landmark outcome for victims/survivors who will be the centre of this new support model.

In addition, this will be the most significant change in how we respond to family and sexual violence since we came to government in 2014.  These new facilities will be a place where victims/survivors can access the support and services that they need and, if they are ready, to formally report these offences to specialist police investigators through the provision of multidisciplinary support teams, including family and sexual support and counselling services, witness intermediaries, police and other related services.  In addition, these new centres will recognise the intersection between sexual and family violence by expanding the capabilities and resourcing of the Safe Families Coordination Unit to include sexual violence more broadly, therefore creating a multi‑agency response and intelligence hub with more effective working relationships between agencies for both sexual and family violence.

The provision of multidisciplinary centres will address the increasing need for services for both adult and children victims/survivors, and I am pleased to note that funding will be included in this year’s Budget for the first of these centres, with planning work already commenced which will be coordinated alongside the development and release of our Government’s next family and sexual violence action plan.

The Tasmanian Government is a strong supporter of primary prevention research and education, because this is key to challenging attitudes and behaviours that contribute to non‑fatal strangulation, choking, suffocation and stealthing.  This is why Tasmania is a foundation member of Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety, or ANROWS, with our ongoing membership a dedicated action under Safe Homes, Families, Communities.  Our continued support for ANROWS recognises the very important work that they do towards ensuring evidence‑based approaches underpin all family and sexual violence priorities, programs and services.  ANROWS commissions research by expert academics and practitioners and conducts its own research.  Research published or in development includes Defining and Responding to Coercive Control, while another one is titled Chuck Her on a Lie Detector:  Investigating Australia’s Mistrust in Women’s Report of Sexual Assault.

On 26 February 2022 ANROWS released two reports on intimate partner homicides which are relevant to the bill before us today.  The first was Australian Domestic and Family Violence Death Review Network Data Report: Intimate Partner Violence Homicides 2010‑2018.  This report found that in regard to fatal assaults, where a male homicide offender killed a female intimate partner, in 31 cases the cause of death was suffocation or strangulation.  In 29 cases, death was due to multiple assaultive behaviours from the homicide offender, for example, suffocation or strangulation and assault with a blunt weapon.  Of the male homicide offenders who killed their male intimate partner, only one suffocated the victim.  Furthermore, physical violence including non‑fatal strangulation was used in 169 of 212 cases where a male primary domestic violence abuser killed a female domestic violence victim.

The second report is Pathways to Intimate Partner Homicide Project:  Key Stages and Events in Male-Perpetrated Intimate Partner Homicide in Australia.  This report discussed three pathways to intimate partner homicide in offenders – fixated threat, persistent and disorderly, and deterioration acute stressor.  The persistent and disorderly type is the most common pathway to intimate partner homicide, with relationships characterised by persistent intimate partner violence and frequent criminal justice contact.

Looking at the nature of intimate partner violence within a relationship, there was evidence that 79 per cent of persistent and disorderly offenders were abusive towards their victim during their relationship.  Primarily, abuse was physical, including slapping, hitting, punching, assaults with a weapon, and non‑fatal strangulation.  This evidence graphically shows us that eliminating family sexual violence will only occur if we stop it at the start and address the underlying drivers of gendered violence to drive the long‑term change needed.

This is why our Government has also been a proud member of Our Watch since 2015, and why in 2020 we commenced our nation-leading partnership which established the role of Our Watch as senior advisor in Tasmania to support and drive change in Tasmanian communities and settings. 

On 6 March 2022 I was pleased to know that the Australian Government announced additional funding of $189 million over five years to strengthen prevention and early intervention efforts in family sexual violence.  The funding package includes $104 million over five years for Our Watch, the largest investment ever made to this outstanding organisation, to help expand its role as a trusted source of training and advice and a national centre of excellence on prevention, including helping to drive change in the corporate sector, providing campaigns and resources that raise awareness around gendered violence, and developing safety programs to be used in key settings such as TAFEs, universities, the media, workplaces and sports organisations.  Our Watch will also boost its efforts in prevention for LGBTIQA+ Australians, Australians with disability, and migrant women, and will develop further resources to educate young people about consent.

These resources on consent will also assist with the respectful relationships education being delivered in Tasmanian government schools, and I am also pleased to see the recent announcement about embedding consent education in the Australian school curriculum from early next year.  The Australian Government has also committed $48 million for a new campaign that focuses on confronting the attitudes and expectations of some men which condones or excuses family violence; $32 million for a consent campaign focused on young people 12 and older and their parents; and $5 million to develop a survey of secondary school students on issues related to consent.  I was also pleased to note that on 18 March as part of the Australian Government’s announcement of a further $150 million funding, the government is also committing an additional $46 million to roll out two further phases of the Stop It at the Start campaign to help drive change in people’s attitudes towards violence, including sexual violence, and to raise awareness of new and emerging issues such as technology-facilitated abuse.

Under action 4 of Safe Homes, Families, Communities, we also continue to support the Australian Government’s national campaign Stop It At the Start, as well as the development of new activities to raise community awareness of sexual violence, which will also help support the reforms we are doing in this bill, and the community awareness campaign that will be developed will help ensure that we send a clear and strong statement about the seriousness of the harmful act of non-fatal strangulation. 

Sadly, often without realising, adults play down boys disrespectful behaviour, blame girls by questioning their role, and empathise with males.  These words and actions can unintentionally shape young people’s views about more serious behaviour such as non-fatal strangulation and stealthing, and this is why the national Stop It at the Start campaign is helping to break this cycle of violence by supporting adults to have conversations with young people about respect, encouraging adults to reflect on their attitudes and behaviours, and providing bystander strategies for both adults and young people to intervene where they see disrespectful behaviours. 

This campaign will also now run alongside the other new national campaigns to be developed and delivered, with an additional $91 million Australian Government funding, which will run across mass media channels including television, cinema, social media and bus stops.  This campaign will help ensure that crucial messages about consent are heard in every home around Australia so that we are all empowered to have conversations with young people, our family and friends about this important issue.  These campaigns will also be drawing on the success of campaigns such as Scotland’s Don’t Be That Guy, as well as a second campaign that will ask men to consider how they hold each other to account, because sexual violence should not be considered a woman’s problem to solve. 

Recent national conversations have highlighted the importance of hearing from people with lived experience, which is why we are putting the voices of victims/survivors at the centre of our consultation approach in developing our next family and sexual violence action plan to be released in July 2020.  To inform the development of our next action plan, we have already commenced a comprehensive consultation process that engages with people with lived and diverse experience, the community, and key stakeholders.  This consultation process will help us to develop a range of new evidence-based initiatives based on feedback from those who are most impacted, which is why we would really welcome hearing from victims/survivors of non-fatal strangulation, choking, suffocation and stealthing.

I was pleased to recently launch the public consultation process to inform the development of our next family and sexual violence action plan, and I am very grateful that Mayor Mary Knowles OAM, as a victim/survivor herself, has kindly agreed to be our consultation ambassador to encourage other victims/survivors to share with us about their own personal experiences.  There are five key elements of our community consultation, including the Hearing Lived Experience survey 2022; establishing a victim‑survivor advisory council; partnering with Tasmanian Aboriginal people.  There will also be targeted workshops with stakeholders, especially those with diverse lived experience, including people with disability, women from CALD communities, women from rural and regional communities and LGBTIQA+ Tasmanians, which will be held before and after Easter, as well as public written submissions, which will be called for very soon. 

The Hearing Lived Experience survey 2022 is an online public survey for adult victim‑survivors with lived experience of family and sexual violence.  It will be providing an opportunity for victim‑survivors to share their experiences.  The survey will also build upon our previous survey that was conducted in 2018 by also including people’s experiences of sexual violence in addition to family violence and, importantly, provides people with the opportunity to share their story anonymously.  The survey is being promoted to family and sexual violence service providers and a statewide advertising campaign and can be accessed through the QR code on promotional posters from the Tasmanian Government Safe from Violence website.  I thank all members in this parliament who have put up these posters in their electorate offices to increase awareness and to encourage responses.

The survey is open for 12 months, giving people a chance to have their say at a time that is safe for them.  We understand that relating a person’s experiences can be traumatic.  For people who cannot access the internet, the survey is now available as a hardcopy booklet at all Service Tasmania outlets, as well as local Neighbourhood Houses. 

Information about the booklets is also being circulated to local councils through the Local Government Association in Tasmania.  For those councils who wish to participate, posters and booklets were also made available for collection at the recent Local Government Association of Tasmania conference on 18 March 2022. 

I am pleased to note that as of yesterday we have already received 519 completed survey responses in just over five weeks.  Given that the 2018 Hearing Lived Experience survey received 500 responses in total, this is a fantastic level of take‑up in such a short period of time.

Our awareness‑raising advertising campaign is also achieving a fantastic reach with, as of yesterday, ads on social media generating over one million impressions and over 12 500 link clicks and swipe ups.  On Facebook, this has reached more than 80 000 unique users; on TikTok it has reached more than 72 000 unique users and on Snapchat it has reached more than 30 000 distinct users. 

In Tasmania we also have our Safe from Violence website, which is designed to increase community awareness about family violence and its underlying drivers; provide family sexual violence service contact information and pathways to seeking support. 

In February our Safe from Violence website had a 535 per cent increase in monthly page views because of the launch of the Hearing Lived Experience survey.  It has also had 400 daily page views since the launch of the survey.   This is fantastic because it means that more people are going to the website and seeing how it provides clear and targeted information.  It also provides online resources and links about family and sexual violence for a range of people, including victim‑survivors, perpetrators, family and friends, children and young people, service providers and the broader community.  The website also provides targeted information for groups that are at increased risk of experiencing violence or who may experience additional barriers to seeking support, including children and young people and culturally and linguistically diverse communities. 

The Safe from Violence website has had significantly increased traffic due to the launch of the survey and the information and the resources that it offers the community about family and sexual violence is fantastic.  As part of our awareness‑raising campaign in regards to nonfatal strangulation, choking, suffocation and stealthing, the website will be updated with this information and resources produced to further increase awareness about these offences. 

Development of the action plan will involve collaboration across government.  We will also be working with the Family and Sexual Violence Community Consultative Group, our Victim Survivor Advisory Council, as well as with a large number of government and non‑government stakeholders and service providers.  To cement the success of the next action plan, I am also looking forward to working collaboratively with all of my parliamentary colleagues. 

As I wrap up today, I commend my colleague, the Attorney-General, on this bill and thank her for her outstanding dedication and commitment to introducing a new standalone criminal offence of strangulation, choking and suffocation, and to amend the definition of consent in relation to stealthing.  This builds on the work that this Government and previous governments have already done.  It will underpin our efforts to hold perpetrators to account and will help deliver on our shared aim of eliminating family and sexual violence. 

I also thank the department for all that they have done in drafting this bill.  I commend this bill to the House.

2022 State of the State Reply

MOTION – Premier’s Address

3 March 2022

[5.21 p.m.]

Mrs PETRUSMA (Franklin – Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Management) – Mr Deputy Speaker, as a proud member of the Tasmanian Liberal Gutwein Government it is a privilege to be back for this, the second year of the 50th Parliament of Tasmania, and I would like to congratulate the Premier on his 2022 address.  I also want to thank the Premier for his friendship and for his calm, steady leadership.  His reassuring manner has been of great comfort to all Tasmanians throughout the challenges of the past two years.

Under the Premier’s guidance Tasmania has weathered the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.  While it is not over yet, we are in a good place and our reopening plan is progressing well.  We have worked hard to deliver our plan to secure Tasmania’s future and we have kept Tasmanians safe.  This week the Premier outlined a bold long-term vision for the future of Tasmania, with significant announcements in health, education, children and young people, women, family and sexual violence, skills and training, housing, renewable energy, Aboriginal affairs, tourism, agriculture, the environment and sporting infrastructure.

It is clear that along with current economic indicators and our strong policy and infrastructure agenda that our beautiful state is poised to maximise the opportunities and to thrive once again.  Tasmania is now in a fantastic position with unemployment at a record low of 3.8 per cent, which is half of what is was when we came to Government in 2014.  Tasmania has been rebounding strongly from the worst of the pandemic with state final demand in the December 2021 quarter growing at a massive 5.8 per cent over the last 12 months.  This was the second highest growth rate in the nation.  These are just some of the reasons why CommSec has rated Tasmania as the best performing economy in Australia for eight consecutive quarters.

I am honoured to be the Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence, the Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Management and the Minister for Parks.  The opportunity to work across all three of these portfolio areas is a great privilege and I am very dedicated to delivering on all of our commitments during our third term of Government.  Like the Premier I also want to thank in the most generous of terms our hardworking, dedicated and talented public servants as well as all of our Parks personnel, police officers, fire fighters and state emergency service personnel who over the past two years have gone above and beyond in their efforts to keep our state safe and to assist those Tasmanians who needed support during these most challenging times.

Likewise, I want to acknowledge all of my wonderful ministerial and electorate staff, each of whom work exceptionally hard and very long hours to support me.  From the bottom of my heart a huge and big thank you to all of them.  I wish to also congratulate my wonderful parliamentary colleague and fellow member for Franklin, the honourable Nic Street MP, for his well-deserved promotion to Cabinet.  I wish him every success in each of his portfolios.  I likewise also congratulate the member for Clark, the honourable Madeleine Ogilvie MP, on her promotion to Cabinet, Mr Tucker for his election as Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees, and Mr Ellis on his appointment as Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier and Government Whip. 

I would like to acknowledge the outstanding contributions of both Sarah Courtney and of the honourable Jane Howlett MLC and their time as ministers.  We should all understand and appreciate the difficulty in balancing the demands of public life and family.  The recent loss of family members I know has been a devastating loss for both Sarah and Jane and their families.  To them both, I offer my deepest condolences today.

I would also like to warmly welcome and congratulate our new member for Bass, Lara Alexander MP, who has a wonderful and inspiring background in community service and will bring a wealth of skills and experience to this parliament, and to the Gutwein Liberal team.  I am also proud to represent the great electorate and wonderful people of Franklin.  I am delighted that there are an exciting range of commitments that this Government is delivering for those living south and east of Hobart.  Anyone who has travelled between the city and Sorell recently cannot miss the significant works that are currently under construction as part of our southeast traffic solution, with major upgrades at the Hobart Airport interchange and Midway Point well advanced and on track to be finished by the end of this year.

In addition to the significant investments we are already making in our greater Hobart traffic solution, in the next few years we will also be commencing the $60 million dollar upgrade to deliver a new grade separated interchange at the Algona Road roundabout, and duplication of the Kingston bypass.  On the eastern shore, we are also providing funding towards the commencement of the $55 million stage three upgrade of the South Arm Highway through Rokeby, which will provide full duplication between Pass Road and Oakdowns, and remove commuter traffic from the Rokeby commercial district.

We are providing funding to a new $8 million multi-sports facility at Bayview Secondary College, $6.5 million for a major redevelopment of Lauderdale Primary School and $15.1 million dollars for a major redevelopment of Cambridge Primary School.  These are all very exciting improvements that will vastly improve opportunities and outcomes for our children and young people in these growing parts of the electorate of Franklin.

Keeping our community safe from harm is a core function of government and I am very honoured to be working with our brave police officers, firefighters and SES staff and volunteers.  Throughout the pandemic, Tasmania Police has had a central role in protecting our community.  Commissioner Hine as the state controller has had the responsibility for the whole-of-government response.  I want to offer my thanks and deepest appreciation to Commissioner Hine for his steady leadership, as well as to all of our hard-working police officers and emergency services personnel who have helped protect us from the threat of COVID-19.  Their dedicated efforts have enabled us to reopen our borders safely and to re-join Australia and the rest of the world.

Tasmania is one of the safest places in Australia to live and raise a family because of this Government’s commitment to tackling crime and investing in policing.  Tasmania Police recorded 24 089 total offences in 2020-21, the lowest number recorded in eight years.  This is an outstanding result.  We know that there is more to do, which is why last year’s Budget committed $348 million over the forward Estimates to Tasmania Police as part of our plan to keep Tasmanians safe.  This includes capital funding of $100 million.  The Government has also committed to recruiting an additional 308 police officers, which is a 30 per cent increase since we came to Government in 2014.  To deliver on this commitment, we have another course of recruits that will be graduating at the academy next week.  I am very much looking forward to welcoming them to the force.

We continue to make investments to ensure that our emergency services personnel are well supported and have fit-for-purpose infrastructure.  I was delighted last week to open the new $5 million New Norfolk police station.  In a couple of weeks we will be opening the new $1 million northern Special Operations Group facility as well as the new $5 million Longford police station.

We also have a new $6.5 million state control centre, which will provide our emergency services personnel with the state of the art technology and space they need to respond to emergencies, with the Tasmania Fire Service and the air desk already operating from this facility throughout the bushfire season.  Linked to this investment we will be expanding the team of skilled staff in the state operations centre, with an investment of $900 000 to set up our permanent multi-hazard intelligence team, that will work from the state control centre to plan and provide rapid advice to incident response.

Tasmanians can be proud of our magnificent Tasmania Fire Service and State Emergency Service volunteers.  This Government is delivering for our volunteers: $2 million in grants funding on top of the $2 million committed in 2018, $2 million to roll out enhanced standard equipment for brigades, $250 000 for new-generation defibrillators, which are already being distributed around the state; $2.4 million for staff to recruit and retain volunteers, and we have also doubled our investment in the health and wellbeing program to $3 million, with this program being fully expanded to all of our volunteers in the TFS and the SES. 

Over the coming year, we will also complete the new Sorell Emergency Services Hub, with a contract awarded to Tasmanian company Fairbrother.  Construction is already underway.  In addition to this, we are investing $7 million to refurbish the Launceston Police Station and will be delivering a new $3.6 million Southern Special Operations Group facility, which is being built by another Tasmanian firm, Voss Construction and Joinery. 

As well, we also have our rollout of the $567 million Tasmanian Government radio network contract, which is progressing well.  Over the forward Estimates, we will also see the commencement of a new $12.5 million Bridgewater Police Station and a new $7.5 million St Helens Police Station. 

This Government understands that we face increasing climate‑related threats and challenges, which is why last year’s Budget provided $125.6 million across the forward Estimates for bushfire and flood prevention and safety, ensuring that our communities are ready and resilient.  To date, we have invested $55 million in fuel reduction and over the forward Estimates, we will deliver another $48.3 million to reduce the risk of bushfires.  This will be a massive investment of $103.3 million in fuel reduction since 2014.

We are also diversifying our approaches to fuel reduction.  Last year’s Budget provided $2.5 million through the fuel reduction program to support mechanical clearing in places where burning is not appropriate.  While fuel reduction burning does not prevent bushfires from occurring, the potential damage from fires is greatly reduced, making it easier and safer for firefighters to control them.  We have seen this on several occasions in this summer’s bushfire season, with fuel reduction burns already undertaken in recent years being credited with reducing intensities of fires at Dynnyrne, Sisters Beach and Olegas Bluff in south-west Tasmania.

I want to thank all of our brave firefighters in the Tasmanian Fire Service, Parks and Wildlife Service and Sustainable Timbers Tasmania and the staff who support them for everything they do to keep our community safe and protect our homes and our natural and cultural values and heritage.

The voices of all victim‑survivors matter.  All victim‑survivors of child sexual violence, whether historical or contemporary, need to know that they can come forward and that when they do they will be heard and appropriate action will be taken. 

On 26 February 2021 Tasmania Police released the Tasmania Police Outcomes Report in relation to the police investigation of James Geoffrey Griffin.  The outcomes report demonstrated that collaboration between government agencies was not optimal and service to victim survivors needed to be improved.  Tasmania Police and other agencies have also acknowledged this need for improvement.  As a result of the outcomes report, the Government allocated $1.5 million for the establishment of a child sexual abuse joint review team, which has been given the task of implementing the recommendations from the outcomes report, along with a need to deliver a historical complaints review process and to provide recommendations to government on structural reform for best practice service provision to victim-survivors of sexual violence.  The joint review team includes experienced child safety professionals from the Department of Communities, detectives and intelligence analysts.  Since its inception the joint review team has undertaken a significant body of work, including:  undertaken a review of thousands of records held across government agencies to assess any potential risk to children; developed MOUs between Tasmania Police, Communities Tasmania, Justice and Education to ensure that information is shared promptly across agencies; and they have also developed training and investigation guidelines for police officers and child safety professionals. 

The work of the joint review team in reviewing reports and records has been meticulous and thorough.  This process has involved the review of thousands of records held across government systems and agencies, with a focus on the approximately 136 000 individuals who are registered to work with vulnerable people in Tasmania, as these individuals have access to our children through their work or volunteering.  I am advised that after all these thousands of records were reviewed by the joint review team there have been no children identified as being at current risk of harm.  Furthermore, that reviewing intelligence holdings will continue to be a key focus to ensure that information holdings are maintained, evaluated and used to protect children and identify and respond to potential risk.

The impact of child sexual violence is devastating and it is critically important that we provide the most comprehensive and supportive response for victim‑survivors.  This Government wants to ensure that we do everything we possibly can to make sure that our children and young people remain safe and protected.  This is why, last year, the Premier asked the Commissioner of Police for advice on structural reform across government to ensure that we are providing a best practice sexual violence response for Tasmania that puts victim-survivors at the centre.

Having received the Commissioner’s advice, the Premier announced this week the Government’s intention to establish next level multi-disciplinary centres in Tasmania.  Multi‑disciplinary centres are a proven model in other jurisdictions, both nationally and internationally as they ensure that victim-survivors of sexual and family violence receive immediate and integrated wraparound support in a safe place from a range of services.

This is a landmark outcome for victim-survivors who will be at the centre of this new support model.  In addition, this will be the most significant change to how we respond to family and sexual violence since we came to government in 2014. These new facilities will be a place where victim-survivors can access the support and the services they need and, if they are ready, to formally report to specialist police investigators through the provision of multi‑disciplinary support teams including family and sexual support and counselling services, witness intermediaries, police and other related services.

These multi-disciplinary centres will also have specialist analysts embedded in them so that any and all information regarding the abhorrent criminal behaviour of child exploitation will be subject to immediate review and information sharing across agencies so that we can better protect our children, improve investigation outcomes and make our community safer.  In addition, these new centres will recognise the intersection between sexual and family violence by expanding the capabilities and resourcing of the Safe Families Coordination Unit to include sexual violence more broadly, creating a multi-agency response and intelligence hub with more effective working relationships between agencies for both sexual and family violence.

In recent years there has been a significant increase in the reporting of sexual violence which comes amid unprecedented public disclosure, media attention and awareness around sexual violence and consent.  The provision of multi-disciplinary centres will address the increasing need for services for both adult and children victim-survivors, and I am pleased to know that funding will be included in this year’s budget for the first of these centres.

Victim-survivors are at the heart of this major reform, therefore planning work has already commenced and will be coordinated alongside the development and release of the Government’s third Family and Sexual Violence Action Plan. The prevention and elimination of family sexual violence is a top priority for me and this Government.  Violence against anyone in any form is simply unacceptable but the harm caused by family and sexual violence is particularly devastating.

Today I would like to pause and acknowledge and pay tribute to the courage of all victim‑survivors of family and sexual violence.  I also thank all those in our Government and NGOs who assist victim‑survivors of family and sexual violence and help them in their most vulnerable time of need, as well as for their strong dedication and ongoing efforts to support Tasmanians impacted by family and sexual violence.

Every Tasmanian has the right to live free from all forms of violence and abuse.  All of us have the responsibility to help make this happen.  This Government takes our role very seriously.  This is why since the launch of our first nation-leading action plan in 2015 and under our second action plan launched in 2019, this Government has continued to build upon its commitment, investment and scope in preventing and responding to family and sexual violence in Tasmania.  We have invested over $300 million in direct and indirect services in responding to family and sexual violence, including $63 million for specific measures under our first and second action plans and the $19 million in direct funding and $59 million in indirect funding that the Tasmanian Government spends to address family violence each year.

Over the same period, we have also successfully secured $8.5 million in investment from the Australian Government, which has enabled the very successful Keeping Women Safe in their Homes program as well funded a range of family sexual violence supports under the national partnership agreements.

We have also always taken a flexible and responsive approach so that we can continue to be responsive to emerging needs and issues.  For example, rather than wait for the current action plan to expire, we committed to investing a further $11.5 million through our 2020-21 state election policies to address current family and sexual violence priorities and related initiatives.  As well, we have already provided additional funding to the family and sexual violence sector to maintain increased organisational capacity to meet demand up to the 30 June 2022.

We were also the first state in Australia to implement a COVID response support package in anticipation of increased family violence.  This is why since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 we have invested an extra $10.8 million in state and national partnership funding for additional service responses to meet demand.

As well, despite the challenges, we continue to deliver significant new responses and key activities under Safe Homes, Families, Communities to date, including: increased investment in primary prevention, including establishing a national first partnership with Our Watch;  committing all Tasmanian government departments to implement the Our Watch Workplace Equality and Respect Standards; the launch of our new Safe from Violence website, Tasmania’s central point of information for family and sexual violence, and I am delighted to say that in February, this website had a 535 per cent increase in monthly page views because of the launch of the Hearing Lived Experience survey on 11 February.

We have also established a harmful sexual behaviours program; we have extended forensic medical examinations to a statewide service; and there has also been ongoing legislative reform including amending the Evidence Act 2001 to allow victims of sexual offences the right to speak out publicly and to identify themselves.

We have also continued our focus on holding perpetrators to account by continuing funding for electronic monitoring following outcomes of the trial that showed:  a 76 per cent decrease in high risk incidents; a 75 per cent decrease in assaults; an 81 per cent reduction of threats; a 74 per cent decrease in property damage; a 100 per cent decrease in reports of stalking; and that 80 per cent of offenders did not reoffend in the six months following the removal of the electronic monitoring device.  These extraordinary results are why Project Vigilance won a silver award in November at the 2021 Australian Crime and Violence Prevention Awards.

I am also pleased to note that this year, my colleague, the Attorney-General will introduce amendments to the Criminal Code to introduce a new standalone criminal offence of strangulation, choking and suffocation and to amend the definition of consent in relation to stealthing.

Recent national conversations have highlighted the importance of hearing from people with lived experience, which is why the Tasmanian Liberal Government is putting the voices of victim‑survivors at the centre of our consultation approach in developing our next Family and Sexual Violence Action Plan.  Through a comprehensive consultation process with people with lived and diverse experience, the community and key stakeholders, we will develop a range of evidence-based initiatives based on feedback from those who are most impacted.

I was pleased to recently launch the public consultation process to inform the development of our next Family and Sexual Violence Action Plan.  I want to say how grateful I am and thankful that Mayor Mary Knowles OAM, who is a victim‑survivor herself, has kindly agreed to be our consultation ambassador so as to encourage other victim‑survivors to share with us their own personal experiences.

There are five key elements of our community consultation including:  the Hearing Lived Experience Survey 2022; establishing a Victim‑Survivors’ Advisory Council; partnering with Tasmanian Aboriginal people; targeted workshops with stakeholders, especially those with diverse lived experience including people with disability, women from CALD communities, women from rural and regional communities and LGBTIQ+ Tasmanians; and public written submissions.

The Hearing Lived Experience Survey 2022 is an online public survey of adult victim‑survivors with lived experience of family and sexual violence.  Through providing an opportunity for victim‑survivors to share their experience, the survey will also build upon our previous survey that we did in 2018, by also including people’s experience of sexual violence in addition to family violence.  Importantly, it provides people the opportunity to share their story anonymously.  The survey is being promoted through family and sexual violence service providers and a statewide advertising campaign.  It can be accessed through the QR code on promotional posters or via the Tasmanian Government’s Safe from Violence website.

I am pleased to note that as of today we have already received 419 completed survey responses, which is a fantastic level of take up in such a short time.  The survey will also be open for 12 months giving people a chance to have their say at a time that is safe for them.

The Government will establish Tasmania’s first ever Victim Survivor Advisory Council.  The advisory council will inform our next action plan as well as provide ongoing advice to the Government during the life of the action plan, ensuring our policy and program design continues to be informed by lived experience.

Additionally, the Government will work in partnership with Tasmanian Aboriginal people during the development and implementation of the action plan, enacting the priority reform areas of the national agreement on Closing the Gap and empowering Tasmanian Aboriginal people to lead responses in their communities. 

Development of the action plan will involve collaboration across government and we will be working with the Family and Sexual Violence Community Consultative Group as well as with a large number of government and non‑government stakeholders and service providers.

Like many Tasmanians, our parks and reserves are dear to my heart and I absolutely love getting out and about with my family to experience Tasmania’s natural beauty.  The Tasmanian Government is very committed to the delivery of upgrades and improvements to enhance our national parks and reserves as well as creating world-class visitor experiences for locals and visitors alike.  This Government committed an unprecedented $127 million in infrastructure investment at the last two elections to futureproof our parks and reserves.  This investment is continuing to support our regional economies in terms of economic activity and jobs creation.

Just this year alone, we will be completing upgrades around the state including the new Dove Lake viewing shelter as part of our $29.8 million investment in the Cradle Mountain Gateway precinct which will complement our award‑winning Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre.  We will also be completing our joint state-federal $3 million investment in new huts on the Overland Track, with renovated huts at Kia Ora and Windermere, which will improve the quality and experience for those completing this iconic bucket-list walk with modern, larger fit-for-purpose facilities.

I am pleased to note that this year with the assistance of Australian Government funding, we will be completing campsite and track upgrades in the Walls of Jerusalem National Park and a new foreshore link track at Freycinet.  We will also be undertaking a range of upgrades to camping facilities on the east coast including at Dianas Basin, Humbug Point, Scamander, Little Beach and Mount William National Park.

Our planned program of works for the future also includes investing $8.4 million to upgrade the waste water treatment systems at Freycinet National Park.  The contract has been awarded and preparations are already under way.  As well, we are committed to our $3 million revitalisation at the Hastings Thermal Pool to contemporise this jewel of the south.  In addition, we will be continuing our program upgrades on Maria Island with a further $6.8 million committed for investments in waste water treatment, energy generation and rainwater capture and storage.

We also have stage two of our camping and access upgrades at Cockle Creek with $3 million committed to deliver realignment and construction of new camping areas for caravans, motor homes and camper trailers.  Over the next three years, we also will be investing $10 million to provide improved and enhanced opportunities for recreational driving in the Arthur Pieman Conservation Area and the broader west coast region, as well as increasing the management and enforcement of regulations in the APCA through increasing the resourcing of the Parks and Wildlife Service at Arthur River as well as undertaking review of the legislative tools available to PWS staff to deal with behaviour which poses a risk to the area’s natural and cultural values.

Other identified priorities include upgrades to the shack nodes in the APCA and the development of a four‑wheel drive strategy, which will inform the investment of our $10 million with tenders for the development of the four‑wheel drive strategy for the APCA and west coast, closing on Monday this week.

I was pleased to announce in September last year that the Tasmanian Government will develop amendments to the National Parks and Reserves Management Act 2002 to recognise the RAA process as a statutory process to improve transparency and opportunity for public comment and appeals.  The current RAA process has been in existence for some time, having been first implemented in 2005, and it has served both the previous Labor-Greens government as well as this Government in managing and mitigating the impacts of activities on reserve land.

Over the last 18 months, the PWS has undertaken extensive review of the RAA system and it has been progressively implementing improvements to the system for greater transparency and consistency.  This includes earlier consultation with experts such as the National Parks and Wildlife Advisory Council and earlier engagement and consultation with Tasmanian Aboriginal people, through Aboriginal Heritage Tasmania and for matters to be referred to the Aboriginal Heritage Council, as well as formal, consultative and expert review of proposals that may affect reserved land managed by the PWS.

The next phase of RAA improvements is to develop a statutory and binding environmental impact assessment process for major use and development proposals.  This work has commenced and I am advised that the Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania has established a project team to lead all aspects of this RAA reform.  A consultation paper is currently being prepared to be released in April 2022 to support further discussions and engagement.  Critical to ensuring the success of the RAA reform will be public consultation, especially with key stakeholders and the broader Tasmanian community.  Therefore, the NRET project team will be in contact with key stakeholders when the consultation process commences, and to invite them to provide a submission.  Informed by this feedback, the Government will prepare a draft bill which will be released for public consultation with a view to tabling a final bill this year.

In parallel to this, the Department of Natural Resources and Environment will shortly commence a program to collate and review existing leases and licences with the intention that NRET will be ready to start publishing these once the legislation is in place.  This will include engagement with existing lease and licence holders later this year and will be an important achievement in the delivery of the Government’s transparency agenda and a more robust process.

In conclusion, I thank the Premier for his address.  We have an exciting vision ahead for Tasmania and for the next 10 years.

2021 ADDRESS-IN-REPLY

2021 ADDRESS-IN-REPLY

Tuesday 29 June 2021

[12.47 p.m.]

Mrs PETRUSMA (Franklin – Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Management)Mr Speaker, it is with great delight that I rise to reply to the Governor’s Address.  I congratulate you on your election to the Speaker’s Chair.  I have no doubt that your wisdom and experience will provide for a very orderly but fair House.  I would also like to congratulate all new and returning members of this House on their successful election on 1 May as we collectively form the fiftieth parliament of Tasmania.  Being a member of parliament is a great honour and privilege and I know that we are all here because we all want to make Tasmania an even better place in which to live, work and raise a family and to enjoy everything that our beautiful state has to offer. 

First, I thank the electors of Franklin for their overwhelming support.  The support from my people in my electorate was truly humbling and I look forward to representing them in parliament and in Government over the next four years.  I also wish to acknowledge my fellow Franklin member and great colleague, Nic Street.  I want to congratulate him on his re-election and I look forward to working with him very much for the next four years for the betterment of the Franklin electorate.

I am truly honoured to have been asked by the Premier to join his Cabinet.  I congratulate him on our historic third term election victory, as well as to thank him for his leadership and friendship.  The Premier, Mr Gutwein, has shown strong and calm leadership throughout the pandemic, with decisive decision-making that has protected Tasmania’s people whilst rebuilding our economy.  I look forward to working with the Premier and my Cabinet colleagues to secure Tasmania’s future.

It is a core function of government to ensure that its citizens and communities are kept safe from harm and I look forward to working with our police, fire and SES heroes over the next four years as the Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Management.  Since 2014 the Tasmanian Liberal Government has made significant progress in this portfolio and I look forward to building on that progress to ensure our communities remain safe, especially during COVID-19.  I recently had the pleasure of visiting the State Control Centre and saw first-hand the work that has been undertaken by our police officers and state servants while working hard to protect our state from COVID-19.  Under our emergency management arrangements Commissioner Hine as State Controller has responsibility for coordinating the whole-of-government response to the pandemic and I want to offer him my sincere and deep appreciation for his strong leadership, as well as my sincere and deep appreciation to Deputy Commissioner Scott Tilyard as Deputy State Controller, as well as all of our hard working emergency service and health personnel who continue to be on the front line of keeping us all safe and protected from the threat of COVID-19.

To assist, the new state-of-the-art State Operations Centre and State Control Centre will be operational this year, providing our emergency service personnel with the equipment and space they need to plan and respond to emergencies.  On top of this, we are also providing $900 000 to establish a permanent multi-hazard intelligence team that will work from the State Control Centre to plan and provide rapid advice to incident response.

This Government also understands that we face increasing climate-related threats and challenges, which is why we are responding and planning for these threats to ensure our communities are ready and resilient.  The provision of skilled staff to activate the State Control Centre promptly in emergencies will provide the preparedness and capability to plan and respond to all types of hazards.

This Government also has a strong track record for rebuilding our Police Service.  On top of the 258 police officers that the Government has previously committed, we are adding an additional 50 police officers over the next five years, bringing the total to 308 under this Liberal Government.  This will take Tasmania Police to the highest establishment that it has ever had, with 1428 police officers, a 30 per cent increase since 2014, and will assist Tasmania in being one of the safest places in which to live, work and raise a family.  However, we know that there is more work to be done, which is why the focus of the additional 50 police officers will be to bolster criminal investigation capability which will help to tackle cybercrime as well as disrupt organised crime networks.

I recently had the privilege of visiting the Crime and Intelligence Command, a new division of Tasmania Police that has been established due to the investment of this Government.  This new command is delivering real results to the Tasmanian people, results like the one we saw earlier this month involving the dismantling of a drug syndicate yielding the largest volume of illicit drugs and cash seizures in Tasmanian of over $5.5 million.

We are also delivering more support roles for police officers to ensure our officers remain on the front line and in our communities.  This includes eight additional State Service employees who will support police in roles such as prosecution, cybercrime and digital evidence analysis.

The Tasmanian Liberal Government also delivered the police Capability Review in our last term.  This demonstrated that the nature of policing is changing, with a need for specialist roles that complement and assist police investigations.  This is why we are providing this support to our police, so they can continue the fantastic work they are doing in reducing crime in our state.

Since 2014 the Government has also provided significant investment to improve our police stations around Tasmania.  This is in recognition of both the need to contemporise police stations for our officers and also because we have increased police numbers in our communities to help keep Tasmanians safe, therefore larger stations are needed to accommodate these additional officers.

We are also delivering a new $5 million police station in Longford, a new $5 million police station in New Norfolk and a new $12 million Emergency Services hub at Sorell.  On top of this we have committed $20 million to provide a new police station at St Helens and to upgrade the Bridgewater police station.

This Government has also delivered our nation-leading health and wellbeing program for our emergency services personnel.  This is in recognition of the challenging and confronting roles that our emergency services workers perform and the risk factors that can impact their mental and physical health.  Due to the success of the health and wellbeing program, we are doubling our initial $1.5 million investment to provide the program with $3 million per annum.  This will provide support services to both our career and volunteer emergency services personnel.  This program is already delivering real results in the form of physical and mental health support through services such as psychologists, physical exercise programs, critical incident stress management and wellbeing support. 

I am pleased to note that this Government will also deliver a $4 million grants program to allow local communities to purchase and install CCTV cameras to make Tasmania safer.  While overall crime is reducing, we know there is more to be done to keep our communities safe.  This is why the installation of these CCTV cameras will help deter criminal activity and allow police to access evidence that will assist them to identify offenders as well as to prosecute them.  These new cameras will provide an additional tool for our police officers and build on our very successful drone program which is already delivering results in prosecuting offenders. 

Unfortunately, our emergency services personnel are at times confronted with violent offenders which in some incidents can involve offenders biting, spitting or exposing our personnel to body and blood fluids.

This is abhorrent and places our frontline workers under stress as they wait to hear the results of blood tests to determine if they have been exposed to a transmissible disease such as HIV or hepatitis.

To address this, the Tasmanian Liberal Government will introduce legislation to ensure that mandatory blood testing can occur when a person has deliberately exposed a frontline worker to blood or body fluids that puts them at risk of contracting a disease.

For more than 25 years Crime Stoppers has operated in Tasmania providing an important avenue for people to report crime and to assist police to identify offenders.  Earlier this month we had Crime Stoppers Week which focused on reporting those that deal with drugs.  This Government recognises the important role Crime Stoppers plays in our community, which is why we will provide Crime Stoppers with $100 000 over the next four years to assist in delivering its education programs and adopting innovative programs such as Bikelinc, which will assist Tasmania Police to return stolen bikes to their owners.

Responses to critical mental health incidents usually involve uniformed police officers and this does not always result in the best outcomes for a patient.  This is why this Government will deliver a $5.1 million emergency mental health co-response team.  This team, comprising mental health workers, police and ambulance officers, will improve the way our services respond to critical and specialised mental health cases, ensuring better outcomes for our patients.

I acknowledge our Tasmania Fire Service and State Emergency Service career and volunteer personnel for the incredible work they undertake every day to ensure our communities are ready to respond to emergency situations, and also for their valiant efforts when fire, flood and other emergency incidents occur.  They are always there for us in our time of need and I thank them, as I do Tasmania Police, from the bottom of my heart for their bravery in keeping Tasmanians safe.

To assist them, the Government has invested strongly to keep our community safe from the threat of bushfires and floods. This includes $1.7 million for community protection planning for floods and storms; $4.66 million for flood mitigation for the township of Latrobe; $2.75 million for new state-of-the-art firefighting appliances; $2 million to provide volunteers with equipment through our grants program; $1.5 million to undertake a flood-mapping project; and $9.3 million for 12 extra staff to reduce fuel loads across the state.

We are also continuing a strong investment to provide our communities with as much planning protection as we can from the effects of hazards and emergencies, to ensure that our communities are ready and resilient to the threats of bushfires, floods and other emergencies.

We have already invested $55 million in the fuel-reduction program to protect our communities from bushfire. Building on the success of this program, we are committing a further $2.5 million to support mechanical clearing.  This funding will provide an alternative to burn offs, with machinery to remove trees and undergrowth.

A new division is also being established within the Tasmania Fire Service to manage planning and response to bushfires.  This is through an investment of $8 million.  This division will have responsibility for the management of the Fuel Reduction Program.

On top of this, our Red Hot Tips program has been hugely successful, with 144 farms and private landholders registering.  These participants manage over 327 500 hectares of land and have now completed 189 planned burns. This has been achieved through the Government’s initial investment of $595 000.  Due to the success of this program, we have committed a further $2.5 million so as to continue to manage and reduce bushfire risk.  This funding will allow the program to expand so that more landholders and farmers can seek assistance to undertake bushfire planning and burning, which will enhance business property and community safety.

We are also investing $2 million to roll out enhanced standard equipment for volunteer brigades.  Our volunteers rely on special personal protective clothing and equipment to ensure they can do their jobs.  This means helmets, overalls, jackets and mission-critical equipment that they need to keep themselves safe.

We are also providing $250 000 to provide new-generation defibrillators for volunteer fire trucks.  This not only increases safety for volunteers; it prioritises an added level of coverage to support communities in rural and remote areas.

It is important, especially for our rural communities, that our highly trained volunteers are supported.  With this in mind, we are providing $2.4 million to establish a dedicated team to recruit and support our volunteers across the state.  These new staff will be recruited specifically to work with communities and brigades to recruit new members and retain existing members.

In addition, a permanent executive officer will be allocated to support the volunteers’ associations.  This Government strongly supports our volunteers, which is why we are providing the support needed to grow our volunteers throughout our communities.

We will also deliver a new Fire Service Act for Tasmania.  The Act was proclaimed in 1979 and is no longer contemporary.  Work is underway to commence consultation on the development of a new Act.

Debate adjourned.

Sitting suspended from 1 p.m. to 2.30 p.m.

Resumed from above.

Mrs PETRUSMA – (Franklin – Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Management) – Mr Speaker, I am also delighted to be appointed as the Minister for Parks.  Tasmania’s natural assets are world‑renowned and they hold a special place in my heart.  I am a passionate and frequent user of our parks, and my family and I love nothing more than to pull on our hiking boots and to get out and about in our wild and beautiful places.

I passionately believe that protecting our outstanding universal values must be achieved through culturally sensitive, environmentally sustainable visitation to our National Parks, reserves and Crown lands, to ensure that our beautiful land is available for our future generations, and that future generations can not only explore and learn about our state’s unique wild places, but ensure that our wild places will be passed on to future generations in even better condition than they are today.

Through our unprecedented investment, the Tasmanian Liberal Government has demonstrated its firm commitment to ensuring that these special places are protected and presented in ways that will allow all people to enjoy the natural and cultural values they contain, irrespective of their level of ability.

That is why, in the recent election, this Government made commitments totalling more than $41 million to future‑proof our world‑renowned national parks and reserves through our Parks Powering Regional Economies policy.  This investment will continue to support our regional economies in terms of economic activity and job creation.  These commitments also build on the Government’s record investment in our parks since 2014, where more than $80 million in funding has been committed.

I am particularly pleased about the planned upgrades to the parks facilities in my electorate of Franklin and the far south region.  The Government has committed $3 million towards two major projects in the area, investing in both the redevelopment of the Hastings thermal pool site and upgrades to the Cockle Creek campgrounds.

The Hastings Caves State Reserve is already a key regional tourism drawcard.  Renovation of the popular thermal pool and surrounds will ensure that these facilities are suitable for all. 

Cockle Creek is the southern gateway to the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, and is a popular area for camping and for families.  As part of this project, we will realign the site and provide new and enhanced camp sites, including facilities for RVs and motorhomes.  These works will build on and complement the recently completed new day use shelter and toilet facility at the site that I was delighted to visit recently.

A small but very important commitment in the far north‑west of the state is the improvement of access to the Black River day use area through the upgrade of Spion Kop Road.  This commitment will deliver the resheeting and upgrading of 2.1 kilometres of road, and for the removal of vegetation and clearing of drains.  We have also committed to contracting the works within 100 days.  This will certainly be achieved, and I am advised that the grading and resheeting works will occur in the next month. 

On Tasmania’s West Coast, the Government has also committed $600 000 to complete the Horsetail Falls Trail at Queenstown, adding to the short walk offerings that are a significant drawcard activity.

Stage one of the Horsetail Falls walk was funded by the Liberal Government to assist the West Coast community after the Mount Lyell mine entered care and maintenance back in 2014.  At a difficult time, our investment provided access to a platform overlooking the falls, adding a memorable tourism experience to the region that supported increased visitation and jobs in the area.

Our commitment to stage two will provide an attraction in its own right, taking visitors right to the top of the falls and providing a complementary experience to the extensive work being undertaken by the West Coast Council to build a mountain‑biking destination at Mount Owen.

On the East Coast, Freycinet National Park has been one of the fastest growing and most popular tourism destinations in Tasmania.  We have taken the responsible approach of improving infrastructure to meet the existing demands, but also taking steps to ensure that the benefits of tourism do not compromise the national, cultural and social values of the magnificent Freycinet Peninsula. 

Our commitment of an additional $14 million will fund the development of a new visitor gateway to the park.  The gateway will include a transport hub with a shuttle bus to the Wineglass Bay car park, and redesign the road to alleviate congestion on Freycinet Drive as well as reduce the impact on residents.

This new visitor gateway will also build on our joint $15.6 million investment in partnership with the Australian Government to deliver improved waste water treatment and other projects, such as the already completed shared-use track from the Freycinet National Park visitor centre to the Wineglass Bay car park and the second lookout at Wineglass Bay.

I was pleased to recently release the Tourism Master Plan for the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.  One of the priority actions from the plan is the development of a master plan for the Mount Field National Park.  This iconic National Park is a gateway to the TWWHA and the Tasmanian Liberal Government has committed in the election to undertake these master planning works as well as to construct a new arrival concourse at the entrance to the park, a very much needed $1.8 million investment.

The Maria Island National Park is a key attraction on the East Coast and the Tasmanian Liberal Government has recognised our commitment to further invest in this site with an additional $6.8 million for stage 3 of the Maria Island Rediscovered project.  This follows on from our previous commitment of $5.8 million, which will ensure that Maria Island remains a unique and sought-after destination on the east coast of Tasmania.

The new commitment will enable the completion of new wastewater treatment facilities, fund the installation of improved electricity generation infrastructure, including power connection to all buildings in the Darlington precinct, as well as improving rainwater storage infrastructure and undertaking crucial heritage maintenance.  This important project will ensure the facilities on Maria Island are modern and fit for purpose.

Flinders Island has some of the most beautiful and photogenic landscapes in Tasmania and providing access to these areas for visitors is very important for ensuring that these places can help drive, in a sustainable manner, our regional tourism economy on Flinders Island.  This is why we have acknowledged this with a $900 000 investment into parks assets on Flinders Island.  The funds will deliver improvements to infrastructure at Trousers Point Beach, perhaps the most photographed place on the island, as well as investment in camp facilities across the island.

Ben Lomond has, for many years, been known as a ski destination.  Its close proximity to Launceston and the presence of existing infrastructure, make it perfect for development as a year-round attraction.  The Tasmanian Liberal Government will invest $2.8 million to unlock the potential of this National Park by undertaking crucial planning to guide future development, identify priority infrastructure crucial in the development of this site and investing in the highest priority assets.  This investment will allow the Government’s current funding of a replacement for the Ben Lomond public shelter which was destroyed by fire in 2018. 

A planned $2.8 million investment to replace the Tamar Island Boardwalk of the Wetland Centre will secure the future of this outstanding visitor asset in the north of the state.  The centre provides access to a superb wetland and ecosystem of mudflats, lagoons and islands with abundant wildlife and plant species and is operated 364 days of the year by a fantastic team of dedicated volunteers who provide visitors with valuable educational and recreational experiences.

In my electorate of Franklin, we are investing $1.7 million in upgrades of picturesque Cape Bruny in the South Bruny National Park.  These funds will deliver upgraded day-use facilities, improve road access and car-parking facilities and site-planning work to guide future development.  These works will also ensure that the site remains able to cope with an increasing number of visitors wishing to see this glorious and most beautiful coastal environment.

The redevelopment of the Edge of the World experience at Arthur River will provide an important visitor experience in the far North West of Tasmania at this wild and beautiful coastal location.  This investment is important because currently, while the far north-west region receives about 150 000 visitors a year, only about 30 000 of those visitors head in to the area west of Stanley.  We want all areas of Tasmania to benefit from our strong visitor economy. This Government has therefore committed $2.75 million to undertake this redevelopment, which will provide another high quality, natural attraction, to draw visitors to the coast and provide a reason to stay another night.  The redevelopment will allow for the construction of a new, unobtrusive all-weather shelter which will offer visitors the opportunity to take in the breathtaking vista of the west-coast landscapes and the pounding Southern Ocean.

The project also provides another opportunity to deliver high quality interpretive materials to highlight the outstanding values of the Western Tasmanian Aboriginal Cultural Landscape.

Since the development of Safe Homes, Safe Families, our first Family Violence Action Plan in 2015, we have demonstrated our commitment and our belief that it is every Tasmanian’s right to live free from all forms of violence and abuse and it is everyone’s responsibility to make it happen. 

As a survivor of family violence, I am humbled as the new Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence to now be able to work with my cabinet colleagues, this parliament, across government, with community sector organisations, businesses and the wider community towards this important aim.  This is an issue of immense personal importance to me, and eliminating family and sexual violence is, and continues to be, a top priority for the Tasmanian Liberal Government.

Over the past six years, the Tasmanian Liberal Government has invested over $240 million in direct and indirect services in responding to family and sexual violence.  In addition, since 2015 we have provided a further $61.2 million in funding specific measures and we have secured $7.1 million in additional investment by the Australian Government.  We are now in the second year of our second Family and Sexual Violence Action Plan, Safe Homes, Families, Communities, which continues to prioritise the safety and wellbeing of people affected by family and sexual violence, particularly women and their children.

We are also progressing the implementation of 40 actions under Safe Homes, Families, Communities.  These actions form a whole-of-government multi-agency response to addressing family and sexual violence, including measures for primary and early prevention, response and recovery, and actions to strengthen the service system.  Alongside my fellow Ministers, I am privileged to have responsibility for delivering seven actions as the Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence and a further five actions as the Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Management.

I thank all of our emergency services and support personnel, as well as anyone across government, in our non-government organisations, who assist survivors of family and sexual violence and helps them in their most vulnerable time of need.

I was privileged to recently visit the Safe Families Coordination Unit and see firsthand their important work in action.  Under Action 27 the unit is undertaking important work in mapping high-risk families, identifying affected children and notifying schools, and making recommendations to other government agencies.

The SFCU is also working with all partner agencies to broaden data access and to facilitate strategic data analysis.  This aims to provide a more comprehensive evidence base to inform future policy direction and decision-making around targeted, effective interventions.

Our trial of electronic monitoring undertaken under Action 28 proved very successful, with an 82 per cent decrease in high-risk family violence incidents, a 75 per cent decrease in assaults and an 81 per cent decrease in threats, as well as an 87 per cent decrease in allegations of emotional abuse, a 74 per cent reduction in property damage, a 100 per cent decrease in reports of stalking, and 80 per cent did not reoffend in six months following the removal of an electronic monitoring device.

In addition to providing victims with an extra level of safety and comfort, electronic monitoring provides information that forms evidence in court and, in some cases, helps victims avoid attending court to give evidence.  This is why our election commitment includes $2.4 million to continue the monitoring of high-risk family violence perpetrators so as to increase the safety of victims and the accountability of perpetrators.

It is also notable that while there was an increase in reporting of low-risk family violence incidents from 2015 to 2020, at the same time there was a continued reduction or decrease in the number of family violence incidents assessed as high-risk, which is now down 30 per cent.  This is because the Action Plan is not just a checklist of 40 measures:  the Action Plan is a living document that evolves over time.  We will always look at new ideas and explore opportunities to invest into programs that will make a difference.

We will also take action to address emerging needs.  I was inspired to recently meet with the CEO of the Sexual Assault Support Service, Jill Maxwell, and the new CEO of Laurel House, Kathryn Fordyce, following the Government’s announcement of additional funding of $500 000 to these two wonderful organisations.  This additional funding was provided in response to increased demand for their services, enabling both organisations to employ more counsellors and administrative staff.  I was touched to see the comments of Jill Maxwell in the newspaper where she said that “This will make an immediate and tangible impact for many Tasmanian survivors of sexual violence.”

In total for 2021-22, $3.91 million will be provided to support Tasmanians affected by sexual violence. 

It is important to know that our investment in family sexual violence is having a real and measurable impact.  As our last Annual Report on achievements shows, our actions have seen 4 421 abused children being identified, with 3 015 notifications by the Safe Families Coordination Unit to schools, so as to support students experiencing family violence.  The SFCU mapped 197 high-risk family violence incidents ; 643 clients provided with support, counselling and referral options; 353 additional clients provided with legal assistance by the Women’s Legal Service and Legal Aid; 155 women provided with safety upgrades to support them to remain in their own home or home of choice; and 238 children and young people provided with 2019 hours of counselling support by the Australian Childhood Foundation.

As part of our Keeping Women and Girls Safe election policy, we have also committed to the development and implementation of a third action plan.  The third Family and Sexual Violence Action Plan will continue our strong track record through a comprehensive public consultation process with the community and key stakeholders that will commence later this year, and will develop a range of fully-funded evidence-based initiatives to continue our efforts to eliminate the incidence of family and sexual violence in our communities and the devastating impact it has on victims and their families.

In advance of the development of Tasmania’s third action plan, the Australian Government will convene the next National Summit on women’s safety in July.  This National Summit will bring together both levels of government, together with persons with lived experience, family safety advocates, service providers and other stakeholders.  The Summit will continue the important discussions that Australians are now having, building on the existing National Plan in forming the development of the next National Plan that will commence in 2022.  I am very much looking forward to participating in the summit alongside the other Tasmanian community delegates that will be accompanying me.

Tasmania has voted for a strong, stable majority Liberal government because we presented a united team and a detailed plan to secure Tasmania’s future.  As part of the Gutwein Liberal team, I look forward to delivering on our commitments over the next four years, improving and caring for the national and cultural values of our parks, working with our police, fire and emergency service heroes to keep Tasmania safe and continuing our fight against family and sexual violence.

I also want to thank my ministerial staff for everything they have done for me over the last few weeks since becoming minister.  I deeply value all of their advice and support, and I also want to thank my electorate officer Rochelle, without whom I would not have been re‑elected.  I also want to pay tribute and acknowledge the love and support of my family.  Without my husband Tim, my four children and my six grandchildren, I definitely would not have been elected, because it was through all of their help and support that my election signs were put up.  They helped to keep the house tidy and clean and I just want to say how much I value their love and support of me.

I thank and acknowledge everyone in this House again for being returned again to this Fiftieth Parliament.

2021 State of the State Reply

2021 State of the State Reply

MOTION – Premier’s Address

Tuesday 23 March 2021

[2.32 p.m.]

Mrs PETRUSMA (Franklin) – Madam Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise to speak on the Premier’s Address.  As a very proud member of the Tasmanian Liberal Government, it is an honour and privilege to be back for this, the fourth year of the 49th Parliament of Tasmania.

I congratulate and thank Peter Gutwein on his outstanding leadership.  Mr Gutwein and his Cabinet, together with our public service, have been tireless in overseeing the delivery of our plan to secure Tasmania’s future by keeping Tasmania one of the safest places in the world as we rebuild and grow Tasmania’s economy after COVID-19, while creating more jobs and more opportunities for Tasmanians. 

A parliamentary career is a demanding one and no one knows this more than the family and friends that surround you.  I am very grateful to my number one supporter, my husband Tim, and my four children.  I would not be here without their loving encouragement.  I am always conscious of the many sacrifices they make on a daily basis to allow me to have a career in public life, albeit a career working for the constituents in the best electorate in Australia, the great electorate of Franklin.

I also gratefully thank the world’s best and most amazing and fantastic electorate office staff, Rochelle and Clare, without whom I could definitely not do this role.  The wonderful Franklin members of the Liberal Party who support me and the entire Liberal team are invaluable. 

In regards to my role as Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees, I would like to say how much I enjoy the committees I am a member of.  Committee work is a very important role and function for members of parliament.  I commend the professionalism, positive attitude and commitment that members in both this House and the upper House of the various committees show. 

I have deeply appreciated working with the respective committee secretaries.  I thank them, our Clerks, and all our wonderful parliamentary staff in the House of Assembly for their professionalism and tireless support for what they do each and every day for all of us in this House. 

I congratulate Mr Gutwein on his second Premier’s Address.  As the Premier outlined, COVID-19 has been the biggest single health, economic, and societal shock to hit Tasmania in our lifetime.  The efforts of Tasmanians have been extraordinary in what has been the most dreadful of circumstances.  Many of our businesses were closed, thousands of Tasmanians lost their jobs and Tasmanians lost people they loved.

As the Premier stated, we will not forget the sacrifice that Tasmanians made, the cost borne by individuals, families and communities.  Nor will we ever forget that tragically there were 13 lives lost.  This is why the Premier established PESRAC last year, to provide advice to the Government on strategies and initiatives to support both the short- to medium- as well as the longer-term recovery from COVID-19.

The final PESRAC Report has now been released and the Government will accept all 52 of the recommendations so that we can grasp new future-focused opportunities across five key priority areas, including jobs and income, health and housing, community, connectivity and engagement, environmental sustainability and public sector capability.

The Government is very committed to delivering all of these 52 recommendations as we want to ensure that all Tasmanians, regardless of their background or where they live or their circumstances, are able to grasp the opportunities that our new growing economy offers, including making our great state an even better place in which to live, work and raise a family.

Regarding Tasmania’s economy, there is no doubt that this Government’s Social and Economic Support Package of $1 billion is working.  Employment is back to pre-pandemic levels, we have the second-lowest unemployment rate of all the states and our economy is ranked the number one performing economy in Australia for the fourth quarter in a row, according to CommSec. 

We know that there is still much more to be done.  For example, Tasmania has a world-class tourism industry, which is essential in supporting and securing local jobs.  While we have had an incredibly tough year, the future is bright, which is why the Premier has announced $17.5 million of initiatives to ensure that we have the right attractions and opportunities for visitors and which also enhance our world-class reputation.  This includes the launch of our most aggressive winter season campaign ever.  Along with the Australian Government’s discounted flights initiative this will set us up for a bumper season.

A strong and resilient tourism industry plays a key role in our plan to secure Tasmania’s future which is why my family and I over summer delighted in supporting our local industries through thoroughly enjoying the pleasure of holidaying at home and supporting the Huon Valley in its recovery.

When you drive south from Hobart you pass through Huonville, Franklin and Geeveston with the opportunity to stop to fill your car with petrol, buy the groceries you need at Woollies and shout the kids an ice-cream or grab a coffee at one of the many fabulous restaurants or take-away outlets on the way.  Among all the many activities and attractions we visited, the Tahune Airwalk was especially inspiring, to see firsthand the resilience and community spirit shown by Ken Stronach and his fabulous staff at Tahune Adventures.  My family and I were amazed and inspired by all that the team has achieved in restoring Tahune since the horrendous 2019 bushfires ravaged the site, including the magnificent rebuilt walks and views and the great vignettes scattered throughout the walk on forest regeneration and resilience.  I particularly congratulate Mr Barnett, Sustainable Timber Tasmania, Tahune Adventures Tasmania and all the contractors for their investment, hard work and efforts in getting this very popular and very important tourism site for the Huon Valley back up and running to full operation.

The Tahune Airwalk is now employing both former and new employees and providing job opportunities to locals in the area with immense flow-on economic effects to the Geeveston community and the wider Huon Valley.

A little further past Dover and Southport lies the wondrous Hastings Caves.  If you have not been there I encourage you to do so.  The Hastings Caves is a magical underground world.  My family and I love the dolomite cave system, an incredible labyrinth of chambers cleverly lit to highlight the ancient subterranean formations, including cathedrals and columns.  We also enjoyed the warm and newly resurfaced thermal pool at Hastings.  It is 28 degrees and mineral-rich.  It is surrounded by gorgeous walking trails.  It was wonderful to see so many tourists there on the day.  Because the Government has now sealed the road, they can now take their hire cars on the road and enjoy a picnic and barbecue with their families in the forest surrounds.

If you really want to support your fellow Tasmanians, do not just go for the day, stay for a night or two in the far south.  My family and I enjoyed superb accommodation in Southport and undertook many beautiful walks, including the short and easy walk to Duck Hole Lake in the South West National Park.  This walk is mostly boardwalk and it follows the stream through to regrowth forest along a 19th century sawmill tramway.  It is the most delightful tranquil location in which to just sit and listen to the birds and frogs, while enjoying a picnic. 

We also visited Cockle Creek, a much-loved destination in Tasmania’s far south and saw firsthand the $800 000 worth of upgrades being undertaken to the Southwest National Park including a new interpretation shelter as well as new and refurbished amenities.  It was fantastic to see that the works are being undertaken by a local company which is providing ongoing work for Tasmanians as well as value-adding to our local economy. 

Closer to Hobart is the Channel Museum at Margate, a fantastic place for visitors to check out the many, varied and quirky stories of the D’Entrecasteaux Channel region.  This award-winning museum is packed with rare and fascinating insights into the cultural, social, artistic and industrial life of the original Aboriginal inhabitants, the early explorers and the various channel industries.  It has been wonderful to visit the museum a few times lately because on every visit you learn so much more.

This Government is also continuing to invest in the infrastructure our growing state needs with a record $5 billion infrastructure program to turbocharge our economy, supporting about 25 000 jobs and building the intergenerational infrastructure our state needs to thrive, attract investment and to rebuild a stronger Tasmania. 

As a member for Franklin I am particularly excited to see the raft of infrastructure measures to deal with traffic congestion in Hobart, as people from both sides of the river in my electorate need to get into and quite often to travel right through the city to get to work, to drop off kids at school, or to participate in daily activities.  I note that construction of the $46 million Tasman Highway Hobart Airport interchange upgrade is now well and truly under way, making this intersection safer, reducing traffic congestion, while also allowing for future increases in traffic.  It is scheduled to be completed before the end of 2022.

There is $23.2 million for the duplication of the East Derwent Highway at Geilston Bay which has started this week; $65 million towards the Tasman Bridge upgrades as part of this $130 million federal/state government project; $23 million for intelligent traffic solutions around the greater Hobart area, therefore enabling the road network to be more resilient as well as to accommodate traffic changes arising from unplanned events; $7.5 million for the Channel Highway diversion at Huonville; $500 000 for bus services as part of the Hobart City Deal; and $7 million for the Sandfly intersection upgrade on the Huon Highway.

This Government has also released the Channel Highway Corridor Study, between the Algona Road roundabout and Margate, which has considered how the highway will best meet the community’s needs including future housing growth.  This is a plan for not just the short term but for the next 20 years.  It identifies challenges as well as a shortlist of prioritised opportunities for future improvement projects to address congestion, safety and public transport concerns.  I congratulate the minister for Infrastructure, Michael Ferguson, and his department, as the report was developed with extensive consultation including residents, road users, businesses, community groups and the Kingborough Council, and is taking into account future development proposals as well as projected traffic volumes.

I note that potential projects to be put forward in future budgets as high priorities include significant upgrades at the ‘Fork in the Road’, the Algona Road intersection with the Channel Highway so as to deal with congestion, together with improvements to site-distance at the Howden Road intersection, improvements to pedestrian cycling and public transport facilities as well as a future grade-separated interchange at the existing Algona Road roundabout and a new roundabout to align with the future Huntingfield Stage 2 development.

The Southern Access Project, as a key initiative of the Hobart City Deal, is also on track with a contract awarded to develop a detailed design for a Southern Outlet transit lane to link with bus priority measures in Hobart with concept designs also developed.  Preliminary works at the park-and-ride facility at Firthside have commenced and the tender for stage 2 of the park-and-ride facilities at Huntingfield and Firthside are now open.  Additional express bus services to support the park and ride facilities will commence mid 2020-21.

Bruny Island residents and visitors are also set to benefit through the $7.5 million being spent on Bruny Island landside infrastructure providing an improved traffic management and far greater amenity for local residents and other road users. Work is also continuing to progress on the Bruny Island ferry terminals at Kettering and Roberts Point so as to improve travel times to and from Bruny Island; to reduce ferry queues and congestion on Ferry Road and the Channel Highway; and to improve more orderly and safer boarding.

Another exciting project is the new $22.5 million TasTAFE Energy Trades and Water Centre of Excellence in Warrane.  This will deliver an innovative teaching and learning facility that meets the current and future needs of the plumbing, mechanical services, water, hydrogen electro-technology and polymer processing industries.  The latest technologies will be showcased and will also enable TasTAFE to adapt its training offerings to respond to the changing needs of traditional industries and emerging industries.  This is another important step in TasTAFE’s evolution. 

As the Premier and minister Rockcliff have outlined, one of the strongest themes in the PESRAC report is the critical role of skills in building Tasmania’s recovery, and TasTAFE’s central role in this.  We know that our construction sector has a pipeline of work, which is why we are training more Tasmanians as tradies, apprentices and trainees.  We have emerging industries with new jobs on the horizon, which is why we must act now to make sure Tasmanians has the best access to industry-endorsed training that is fit‑for‑purpose.  This is why this Government supports PESRAC’s recommendation, as we believe it is time to take action and build a bolder TasTAFE with a smart approach to delivering hands-on training to courses that best equip Tasmanians to gain a job.

Under the Fair Work Act 2009, no teacher or staff member will be disadvantaged by this move.  Instead this action will deliver more teachers and more delivery in our regions, contemporary fit-for-purpose facilities, more training options, better pay for skilled teachers and flexible hours.

Another key recommendation of PESRAC is the creation of Jobs Tasmania Local Networks to strengthen the links to job opportunities and ensure more Tasmanians have the opportunity to live and work in the place they call home.  We will work to establish these local networks to link to our existing hubs, however we know Tasmanian businesses need workers now.

This is why we have announced a two-year $20.5 million package to help Tasmanian workers into jobs which includes:  $6.5 million over two years for the Tasmanian Employer Bonus to help employers take on long-term jobseekers who need a fair go, with a $6500 bonus for those employers; $3 million to fund an additional 600 training places in certificate 3 in individual support, which is the crucial qualification staff need to work in the Aged Care and Disability Support sectors; $2.2 million for low-cost or free buses by expanding our Area Connect service.  This will provide transport to get people to work, training or education where no easier alternative exists and will be expanded to serve 16 local government areas.

There will be $2 million for our Job Ready Fund to help jobseekers with the costs of licensing, Working with Vulnerable People checks, or a toolbox with equipment necessary for a new job.  There is also $2.4 million to expand our successful job matching service to place more jobseekers with local employer vacancies, and $1 million to extend TasTAFE’s successful Skill-Up initiative, which provides fee-free training for those hardest hit by COVID-19 in key areas such as Health, ICT, Business, Tourism and Hospitality.

I note that there is $850 000 towards the Youth Navigators Project, which will assist disengaged youth to get extra triage services they need over the next 12 months to navigate further education, training or employment opportunities through one-on-one guided support; $400 000 to establish a workers connect portal, providing Tasmanian businesses and jobseekers with authoritative information about local jobs, programs and the support services that are available; and $200 000 to deliver regional job shows and events to showcase local employment and industry opportunities in partnership with regional job hubs and community groups.  These projects will be managed by a new jobs and participation unit, to align with adult learning and vocational training strategies in Skills Tasmania.

This Government believes that every Tasmanian needs a roof over their head, which is why we are committed to helping more Tasmanians into a home by boosting the supply of new homes, supporting home ownership and putting downward pressure on rents.  Our home builder program is already a great success with more than 2600 grants received and 1763 applications conditionally approved for new home builds and substantial renovations.

This Government under minister Jaensch is also rolling out the most comprehensive affordable housing strategy attempted in this state.  Alongside this we will develop a broader housing policy framework that looks at the full array of housing market issues across the public and private sector to drive solutions in line with PESRACs recommendations.  This includes $10 million to support a further 100 low income households into home ownership, through the Home Share program.

To address land supply, we will incentivise landowners to activate land with a $10 million headworks holiday for new residential subdivisions, including up to $5000 per residential lot for power and up to $5000 per residential lot for water and sewerage infrastructure.  I note there are around 5000 hectares of privately owned, vacant, residential-zoned land across Tasmania which, if activated, could deliver around 60 000 lots for residential development across the state. 

We will also provide further support to Tasmanians to buy their first home and incentivise empty-nesters to downsize with a stamp duty concession threshold to increase from $400 000 to $500 000 to reflect current market conditions.  This will mean a saving of up to $9100 for homebuyers.  To make it faster and simpler to build in-filled medium-density housing, we will also finalise an apartment code this year to make it easier, faster and simpler for developers and landowners to meet the growing demand for inner-urban apartment living.  We are also providing a streamlined no-permit-required approvals pathway for landowners to construct ancillary dwellings such as granny flats or self-contained studios on their existing properties.  To help meet demand for rental properties, the first 250 new ancillary dwellings that are made available for long-term rental for more than two years will also receive $10 000. 

As well, to ease cost-of-living pressures and put downward pressure on rents, we have also released a suite of measures to modernise land tax arrangements.  While land tax in Tasmania is the lowest, together with Western Australia, of all the states as a share of total state revenue, land tax thresholds will be increased to reflect today’s strong property market, with the land value at which land tax becomes payable to double from $25 000 to $50 000.  The top threshold will also increase by $50 000 from $350 000 to $400 000, which means that around 70 000 landowners will benefit by up to $613 a year and 4100 additional landowners will pay no land tax at all in the year ahead.  The premium penalty rate of interest will also be halved from 8 per cent to 4 per cent and land tax bills over $500 will be able to be paid in three instalments over the year. 

On top of our $10 million building project support program announced in the 2020‑21 state budget, to further support stalled shovel-ready projects we will also establish a $30 million building construction support loan scheme to bring forward commercial construction projects that have been paused due to the economic and financing uncertainties created by COVID-19.  This will further support jobs and create new or improved buildings or infrastructure.  Projects of $3 million or more will be able to apply for low-interest commercial loans through the Office of the Coordinator-General under this job-creating scheme. 

In regard to our health system, since coming to government we have grown our Health budget to $9.8 billion, a 70 per cent increase since the last Labor-Greens budget, with 1500 additional FTE staff.  While Tasmania now has the second-highest rate of public hospital staff in Australia, we know there is still more to be done.  Therefore, as minister Courtney has announced, to help make it even easier for Tasmanians to access medical care closer to home, we will work with the primary health sector with $3 million in additional support and incentives for primary care services, including GPs, to provide after-hours services for their local communities which will complement other state government initiatives including community rapid response and secondary triage.

The aim of this incentive program is to take pressure off Tasmania’s emergency departments and to maximise opportunities for lower-level care to be provided outside of hospitals, providing a better patient experience and freeing up hospital resources for more urgent patients.  To ensure greater access to high-quality palliative care services, in the lead-up to the August budget we will also work with peak palliative care and health bodies and the community sector on the best approach for additional and expanded hospice-at-home services and expansion of statewide after-hours palliative care support.  This will result in substantial investment to ensure that Tasmanians continue to have improved levels of care. 

The Government will also be investing $5 million to provide around 20 000 appointments for public patients across emergency, general care and denture clinics so that more Tasmanians can get the dental care they need. 

Tragically, there still continues to be far too many distressing and shocking incidents of family and sexual violence, both interstate and here in Tasmania.  It is horrific incidents like these that remind us all that we still have such a long way to go to change the attitudes that lead to such terrible, senseless and unforgiveable acts of violence. 

Eliminating family and sexual violence remains a top priority for our Government and we are strongly committed to preventing and responding to family and sexual violence in Tasmania.  Together with many in this parliament, I attended the March 4 Justice rally last Monday and I welcome the Premier’s comments in his Address where he said: 

In terms of the rallies held yesterday around the country and the hundreds of women who marched and rallied for a more inclusive, safe and fair society here in Tasmania, I see you, I hear you.  This Government, this parliament sees you and it hears you, and while action has been taken already, we know there is more to be done and we will not shirk our responsibilities to ensure that everyone is safe, everyone is respected and everyone is supported. 

Madam Speaker, this is also why this Government supports PESRAC’s recommendation to proactively seek out and fund additional initiatives that increase community connection, primary prevention and early intervention in areas such as family and community violence.  To ensure our supports are ongoing the Premier has already assured our specialist family and sexual violence service providers that their funding will be extended at the increased level of COVID funding until 30 June 2022 so they can maintain their operational capacity to meet demand and continue to support our communities. 

The Tasmanian Government is also continuing to support women and children affected by family violence through funding the upgrade and expansion of our women’s shelters, including Jireh House in my electorate of Franklin which, through this increased funding, have expanded their services through the purchase of a new three-bedroom home and the construction of another three-bedroom home, therefore helping more women to access safe and secure accommodation, support services and assistance to help them in their time of most vulnerability. 

Young Tasmanians are our next generation and the future of our state, which is why a very important part of our plan is to invest in the education, learning and wellbeing of our young people.  Since coming to government, across Tasmania we have extended 56 high schools to years 11 and 12, there are currently 35 new education infrastructure projects in planning, design or construction.  We have prioritised boosting staff, with 269 more FTE teachers and 250 FTE teacher assistants.  I congratulate minister Rockliff on these outstanding achievements and the fact that from term 3 this year pads and tampons will be freely available in all our government schools to ensure that no female student will miss school because they do not have access to basic requirements such as sanitary products at home. 

We also acknowledge that mental health issues in our schools require a holistic multifaceted approach.  This is why we have committed $81 million to deliver an extra 80 FTE professional support staff, including school psychologists, social workers, ministers and speech and language pathologists.  We have also empowered senior people in our schools to adapt and tailor classroom teaching accordingly to better support students with mental health challenges or who are impacted by trauma.  We are also further strengthening supports already in place by upskilling all of our school health nurses, with the latest mental health first aid training commencing later this year. 

Additionally, this Government is taking a best-practice approach to building a contemporary integrated model of mental health care so our children and young people can get more holistic support at the right time.  That is why, in line with PESRAC’s recommendations, we will also invest an additional $41.2 million over four years to fully fund phases 1 and 2 of the Government’s response to the CAMHS review. 

This Government passionately believe that sporting clubs and organisations play an enormously positive role in our communities.  The single largest investment in the 2020-21 state budget to boost community sport was our $10 million Improving the Playing Fields grants program that provides support for a range of capital investments by sporting clubs and associations.  I have been delighted to visit some of the successful recipients to hear all about how this program will benefit their communities.  For example, the Middleton Tennis Club will have a new and upgraded tennis court; the Huon Valley Golf Club will benefit from improved subsoil drainage for their fairways; Geilston Bay Tennis Club will have new lighting for their courts; and Sunshine Tennis Club will benefit with much-needed court and fencing upgrades as well as installation of the Book a Court online reservation system.  The Kettering Cricket Club will be able to install a new centre pitch and training nets and the Kingborough District Cricket Club will benefit by installing a new complex scoreboard at the twin ovals. 

In regard to climate change, Tasmania has a very proud history as a quiet leader on climate action, with a strong track record of renewable energy and innovation which has not only helped to reduce our emissions but also those of our nation.  As the Premier and Minister for Climate Change has stated, the transition to net zero emissions represents an economic, environmental and social opportunity for this state which we are very well placed to grasp.  We have already achieved our net zero target by 2050 four years in a row, and our target and Climate Change Act are currently under independent review.  We are also developing our next climate action plan to guide our actions over the next five years. It will be informed by the modelling we are already undertaking to understand both the economic and the environmental implications of more ambitious goals.

We also have a target to have the lowest rate of litter in the country by 2023.  We will support up to $30 million of investment into waste management and recycling facilities state-wide.  We will also introduce legislation for our container refund scheme this year.

PESRAC has also recommended that we develop a sustainability strategy for Tasmania with ambitious goals and actions.  The Department of Premier and Cabinet will lead this work in concert with other agencies and will consult widely on the strategy this year.

I congratulate Mr Barnett for taking the lead on the Tasmanian Government’s Renewable Energy Action Plan which has been rated by the World Wildlife Fund as nation-leading.  It is a blueprint to leverage our renewable energy resources and to transform Tasmania into a renewable energy powerhouse.  It will build on Tasmania’s natural competitive advantages, attract large-scale investment and ensure that new, large-scale renewable energy development and investment happens in the right place at the right time and for the benefit of all Tasmanians.

As the World Wildlife Fund stated yesterday, Tasmania has been named the overall leader on the scorecard largely due to our 100 per cent self-sufficient renewable status, our legislated renewable target and our efforts to punch above our weight to build a renewable hydrogen industry with our $50 million funding program.  As Mr Barnett stated yesterday, we know we have more to do.  We have our eyes on achieving an even higher level on the World Wildlife Fund scorecard as we continue to further our Tasmanian Renewable Energy Action Plan over the coming years.  It is great that Tasmania has been acknowledged as the leader across all state, territory and federal governments when it comes to the actions essential to position Australia as a renewable export superpower.

Finally, I acknowledge and thank the Premier, the Cabinet, the public service, in fact all Tasmanians who worked together to ensure that we kept our state safe over the last 12 months.  As a result of all of these efforts, and I acknowledge the efforts of everyone in this Chamber as well, Tasmania has not only managed to conquer a health crisis but it has also turned around its economy, which is again growing strongly and supporting Tasmanian jobs.

2021 Australian of the Year

2021 Australian of the Year – Grace Tame

ADJOURNMENT

Tuesday 2 March 2021

Grace Tame – 2021 Australian of the Year

Brian Williams – 2021 Tasmanian Senior Australian of the Year

Toby Thorpe – 2021 Tasmanian Young Australian of the Year

Edna Pennicott – Tasmania’s 2021 Local Hero

[8.25 p.m.]

Mrs PETRUSMA (Franklin) – Madam Speaker, tonight I offer my congratulations and honour and applaud Grace Tame, who is a resident in my electorate of Franklin and was announced as our 2021 Australian of the Year.  It was an incredible and well-deserved recognition of her powerful advocacy for survivors of sexual assault and for highlighting that trauma does not discriminate, nor does it end when the abuse does.  Being the first Tasmanian to be named our Australian of the Year in the award’s 61-year history is also tremendous and a very fitting tribute to Grace’s extraordinary courage in championing the #Let Her Speak campaign.

What I admire personally, and I am sure everyone in this House does, is that Grace was determined to have a voice, which is why she spearheaded the #Let Her Speak campaign and became the first woman in Tasmania to be granted the legal right to talk publicly about her experience as a sexual abuse survivor.  Grace has been inspiring in raising public awareness of the impact of sexual violence in her fight for legal reform so that she could publicly name herself as a rape survivor, when previously only her abuser could speak publicly and she could not.  It takes immense courage and enormous bravery for survivors to speak out about their experiences.

In recognition of the courage and bravery of Grace and other survivors, I am proud that the Tasmanian Government and Minister for Justice, Ms Archer, amended – in fact all the members of this parliament amended – section 194K of the Evidence Act 2001 to provide victims the right to speak publicly.  As Grace said, ‘Publicly I was silenced by law.  Not anymore.’. 

I also commend and congratulate Grace on her inspirational and powerful acceptance speech.  When I watched her giving her outstanding speech, I, like everyone who was watching, got very teary and emotional, especially when Grace said:

I know who I am, I’m a survivor. A proud Tasmanian.

I remember him towering over me, blocking the door.

I remember him saying, ‘Don’t tell anybody.’

I remember him saying, ‘Don’t make a sound.’

Well hear me now. Using my voice, amongst a growing chorus of voices that will not be silenced.

Let’s make some noise, Australia.

I also commend and congratulate Grace for recognising and advocating for marginalised Australians by encouraging them to likewise tell their stories so they too will be seen and will be heard.  It is because of courageous and persevering Australians such as Grace that we can increase the quality, justice and support to build a stronger and more inclusive Tasmania and Australia.  Grace stands among a field of inspirational Australians with this prestigious award, and I look forward with anticipation to see the powerful difference and change that she makes over the next year and beyond to educate others and empower other survivors as every voice does matter.

I would also like to recognise and acknowledge Tasmania’s other 2021 Australians of the Year award winners who all, including Grace, came from my electorate of Franklin as well and of whom we are also very proud, including the 2021 Tasmanian Senior Australian of the Year, was respected scout leader, Brian Williams.  Brian’s mentoring of thousands of Tasmania’s young people, training and nurturing over 100 Venturer scout leaders, organising the inaugural Australian Venture and elevating Blackmans Bay Scout Group to be one of the largest and most successful scout groups in the state, is truly inspirational.  Brian’s significant devotion, leadership and contributions to scouts in Tasmania for over 50 years is an exceptional achievement.  My congratulations to Brian.

Our 2021 Tasmanian Young Australian of the Year is youth empowerment and climate action leader, Toby Thorpe.  Toby’s inspirational advocacy for youth empowerment and climate action, including Huonville High School winning the international Zayed Sustainability Prize, has helped grow Tasmania’s reputation as a global leader in renewable energy innovation.  Toby’s many achievements, including organizing the first ever statewide climate leaders’ conference, leading the Tasmanian youth delegation as part of the United Nations Climate Change Conference and his role as Executive Director at the Climate Justice Initiative, are all tremendous accolades and made him a very worthy recipient of this award.

Lastly, but by no means least is Tasmania’s 2021 Local Hero and the founder of Kingborough Helping Hands, a one of a kind and one of the most inspirational women any of us can ever meet and that is Edna Pennicott.  Edna’s significant passion, dedication and generosity that is actively demonstrated by her personally collecting and delivering care packages of food and other essential items to people facing financial hardship is indeed outstanding.

It was therefore rightly fitting for Edna to receive such a tremendous accolade for founding Kingborough Helping Hands and for over four years providing caring, dedicated service, including the after-hours mobile van service to the most vulnerable members of the community.  I have had the honour and the privilege to go out with Edna, late at night.  The amazing thing about Edna, she does this night after night, week after week, month after month, year after year and she is an incredible woman. 

I congratulate Edna, Brian, Toby, and Grace.  They are all worthy recipients of being Tasmanian Australians of the Year and I wish them all the best for the coming year.

APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 1) 2020 (No. 46)

APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 1) 2020 (No. 46)

Second Reading

Wednesday 18 November 2020

[12.27 p.m.]

Mrs PETRUSMA (Franklin) – Mr Deputy Speaker, it is my pleasure and honour to speak today in response to the Tasmanian Liberal Government’s seventh Budget.  First, I take this opportunity to recognise, acknowledge and applaud our Premier and Treasurer, Peter Gutwein, and all the Cabinet for having delivered yet another budget that will rebuild a stronger Tasmania.

This Budget is especially crucial during this unprecedented time of this pandemic as it will rebuild our economy, create jobs and continue to invest in essential services and protect our way of life, which is why our 2020-21 Tasmanian Budget is all about jobs, confidence and community, rebuilding a stronger Tasmania.

This COVID-19 pandemic has been the largest shock in generations to our way of life, our society, our economy and our budget, which is why this Government moved swiftly to put in place measures at our borders and in the community to save lives and leverage our strong balance sheet to save livelihoods.  These immediate steps, difficult as they were, enabled us to control the spread of this insidious disease and in recent months they have allowed us to return in a staged and careful way to a more normal, albeit a COVID-19 normal, way of life.

Throughout this year Tasmanians have shown and demonstrated great compassion, courage and resilience and I want to commend Tasmanians for what they have done throughout these many months and put on the record today that I sincerely thank them all, because going forward the challenge we face will require all Tasmanians to work together as we face what I see are the two main elements.  What we are going through at the moment is both a health crisis and an economic crisis and we must deal with both and the road ahead will not be easy.

There are things that we cannot control, as the Premier has outlined, such as volatility in international markets or how soon a vaccine may become available, however what we can control is how we respond to this situation – our health response and our economic response.

I applaud the Premier because he has made it very clear that we can never tax our way to prosperity, nor can we cut our way to recovery.  The only way we can rebuild a stronger and more resilient Tasmania is to invest heavily to support jobs, to regain confidence and to rebuild our economy and our community. 

That is why, in addition to COVID-19 support measures, the 2020‑21 Budget will provide the economic platform needed to rebuild Tasmania, including allocating $5 billion towards building the infrastructure our state needs.  It will support around 25 000 jobs.  It will build the intergenerational infrastructure our state needs to thrive, and it will provide the economic stimulus to return our budget to surplus in two years.  This will increase confidence, grow our economy, attract investment, support jobs and rebuild a stronger Tasmania.

As Saul Eslake, well known economist, stated in regard to the Budget –

It has been presented in the circumstances which are radically different from those which have confronted any Tasmanian government in living memory.  The overall conclusion is that this Budget is an appropriate response to the circumstances which the Government is confronting.

As the Mercury editorial stated –

With interest rates at an all time low it is the right time to spend and as we have said before Mr Gutwein has carte blanche to fork out the cash.  With a planned $5 billion infrastructure spend Mr Gutwein says he is throwing the kitchen sink at our recovery and that is what is needed.

Matthew Pollock, Executive Director, Master Builders Tasmania, said –

Premier Peter Gutwein is committed to building our way out of this economic crisis and today’s State Budget makes good on that pledge with construction put at the centre of our recovery strategy.  Construction will be our economic accelerator and a jobs generator.

Stuart Collins, Executive Director, Housing Industry Association, commented –

The Government has handed down a Budget designed to increase confidence, grow our economy, attract investments, support jobs and rebuild a stronger Tasmania.

Rachel Matthewson, the CEO of the Civil Contractors Federation, said –

The uncertainty around COVID has dramatically impacted on market confidence in Tasmania.  By announcing a record investment in infrastructure the Government has laid the foundation for our economy’s recovery.  Our members are looking forward to building infrastructure that will serve the community for generations to come as a result of today’s Budget.

This Government is backing Tasmanian businesses, supporting their recovery and growth and making it easier for them to employ.  Rob Mallett, the Executive Officer of the Tasmanian Small Business Council, stated –

Tasmanian Budget, whilst forged in the fires of the world’s worst crisis in 100 years provides unprecedented opportunity for the Tasmanian small business sector.

I note funding of $145 million in 2020‑21 has been allocated to a central COVID-19 provision to support the response measures of the Premier’s Economic and Social Recovery Advisory Council (PESRAC), by supporting businesses, stimulating economic activity through improving the environment, creating regional jobs and supporting young people into training and apprenticeships.  Of the $145 million, $50 million has been allocated to initiatives to support businesses, jobs and our economy, support the cultural and performing arts sector, improve our environment and invest in public housing infrastructure upgrades.

This Government will also transition the Government fleet to electric vehicles by 2030 and Michael Bushby, President of Roads Australia, stated –

RA also applauds the Budget’s announcement of a target for electric vehicles by committing to transition its own fleet by 2030 and in investing in charging network infrastructure the Tasmanian Government is helping to provide the community with greater confidence about EV technology that will be central to increased uptake.

I also note that $30 million will be invested into circular economy initiatives including a container deposit scheme, waste action plan and waste recycling and re‑use facilities.  As Mayor Christina Holmdahl, the President of the Local Government Association of Tasmania, stated –

The commitment of $4 million to implement the waste action plan, $10 million to co‑invest with the waste management sector and recycling infrastructure and $5.5 million to match the Commonwealth Government’s recycling modernisation fund are most welcome by the local government sector.  The targeted investment in the collection and sorting of recycling combined with funding to support improved resource processing will serve Tasmania very well from a jobs and resource recovery perspective.

As importantly our investments in Tasmania’s renewable energy future will not only have the potential to create thousands of jobs and to help our economy, but confirms our commitment to transform Tasmania from not only being Australia’s renewable energy powerhouse, but to also being the world leader of clean, reliable and affordable energy with a 200 per cent target by 2040.  We will also invest $168.7 million dollars for Tasmanian Irrigation to build the next tranche of our Pipeline to Prosperity Irrigation Project state-wide which will greatly assist agriculture in Tasmania.  I note that Peter Skillen, CEO of TFGA, stated –

The state budget has once again shown the government’s support for agriculture in the state in conjunction with recent announcements the total package for agriculture is to be warmly welcomed.

The Government recognises the valuable investment businesses make in training the next generation of Tasmanian workers.  To assist this valuable investment of Tassie businesses we are investing more than $43 million to boost jobs for apprentices and trainees in Tasmania, to give businesses the confidence to employ more Tasmanians.  This includes $10.5 million towards the Australian government’s $21 million dollar job trainer fund, delivering up to 7000 additional free training places specifically for youth and the unemployed.

Angela Bennet, CEO of Master Plumbers Tasmania, has welcomed the government’s job training fund initiative.  It means that up 7000 Tasmanians have a chance to kick start their career. 

Peter Cornish, CEO of Fruit Growers Tasmania, said the budget job training initiative which would target school leavers, young people and job seekers, builds on the recent joint efforts between the fruit industry and the Tasmanian government to promote the job opportunities available to locals in the fruit industry. 

I note that YNOT also welcomes the Tasmanian government’s investment in job creation for apprentices, trainees, and youth employees.

To ensure our businesses are incentivised to hire apprentices and trainees, we will extend our successful payroll tax rebate scheme and small business apprentice and trainee grant scheme for a further 12 months until June 30 2022 and we will broaden these schemes to all industries.  This will be an investment of more than $22 million to significantly boost jobs for apprentices, trainees and youth employees.  We will also extend the payroll tax rebate for all youth employees for a further 18 months from the end of the year until 30 June 2022.  These schemes are already supporting nearly 4000 apprentices, trainees and young people and we expect that these initiatives will support an additional 4000 new full time jobs for apprentice, trainees and youth employees.

We also recognise that we need to do more, particularly to attract and support more women into non-traditional roles, with these sectors set to play a vital part of supporting our recovery.  That is why the 2020-2021 budget includes $2.5 million over two years to develop a statewide program to enable and empower more women to participate more broadly across our economy.  To achieve this, our Government will work with peak industry bodies and skills and training providers to support women to train and to enter roles in industry. We will also support employers to help them develop the skills that they need to succeed to shift community and employee perceptions of traditionally male dominated industries.

There are specific initiatives in Southern Tasmania which greatly assist my electorate in Franklin.  I note our Government has committed $85 million for the construction of the new southern remand centre on the Risdon site, including an additional $15 million in this budget.  Also, the State Budget has $19.7 million over four years to meet the additional operational costs associated with the remand centre.  The construction of the centre is well under way and is expected to be completed at the end of 2021.  This additional funding is being provided to ensure that the centre will be ready to open after construction has been completed.  Funding of $9.3 million is also provided to upgrade shared facilities at the Risdon Prison.

I commend Dogs’ Homes of Tasmania at Risdon Vale, and thank them for their great work in caring for and re-homing dogs.  I was delighted the minister locked in $200 000 to assist them with critical upgrades over the 2020-21 period.  This vital infrastructure improvement will help Dogs’ Homes Tasmania to meet projected demand into the future, and as importantly, ensuring that dogs have a safe refuge to be cared for and to be re-homed. 

Tasmanians love their pets and we have one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the country.  Dogs are a very important part of many Tasmanians’ lives.  I am the owner of two dogs.  I know Michael Sertori, CEO of Dogs Homes Tasmania, was delighted with this funding,  and as he said –

In challenging times it is extremely difficult to fund organisations such as ours yet in this budget the Gutwein Government has had the courage to not only fund high level economic activity but also small project activity within the animal welfare sector.

In regard to high level economic activity, both the east and western shores of Franklin will also benefit from our massive $2.4 billion state roads and bridges program which will support jobs, give the construction and engineering sector the confidence it needs to keep employing Tasmanians and will continue to improve safety and travel times on our roads.

Michael Bushby, the president of Roads Australia, stated –

Tasmania’s road network will be safer and more sustainable as a result of the record level of infrastructure investment in today’s Tasmanian State Budget. 

Stacey Pennicott, Chief Member Experience Officer RACT said –

This budget delivers on the Government’s key commitments around road funding. 

Some of the many projects include:  $65 million to match funding from the federal budget with a $130 million Tasman Bridge project, which will improve pedestrian and cyclist safety and provide future traffic growth through the installation of new smart transport management systems.  This includes road travel information, variable message boards and automated and dynamic tidal flow for the Tasman Bridge.

There is also $20 million as the first investment into the $37 million duplication of the Midway Point and Sorell causeways to complement the $150 million in funding from the federal budget.  We are also investing $46.5 million together with the Australia Government for the Hobart Airport interchange which is part of the now $350 million South East Traffic Solution, which will deliver a continuous four-lane highway from Hobart through to Sorell.

There is also $175.5 million over four years with the Australian Government for the Greater Hobart Traffic Solution, including funding to address congestion in Kingborough; a fifth lane on the Southern Outlet, the Derwent River ferry service trial; Kingborough park and ride facilities; bus improvements and prioritisation measures; active transport upgrades and improvements to Macquarie and Davey streets and $23 million for Intelligent Traffic Systems around the Greater Hobart area, enabling the road network to be more resilient and to accommodate traffic changes arising from unplanned events.

Other road, bridge and infrastructure projects to be funded in Franklin include $23.2 million for the duplication of the East Derwent Highway at Geilston Bay, including COVID‑19 stimulus funding for improved local road connections; $6.5 million for the final stages of the Richmond Road upgrades; $7.5 million dollar for the Channel Highway diversion at Huonville; $7 million for the Sandfly intersection upgrade on the Huon Highway and $7.5 million for the Bruny Island landside infrastructure.

Through the 2020‑21 State Budget focusing on the infrastructure and services that Tasmanians need now and into the future, we will create and support the jobs and confidence needed to recover and rebuild, including in our tourism industry where I note that the Tasmanian Liberal Government is committing almost $10 million towards upgrading the Hobart International Airport, which is part of a $17.5 million plan in partnership with the airport’s owners to upgrade the infrastructure and to facilitate its international border arrangements.  It is fantastic that in the future, Tasmania will be welcoming international flights from New Zealand for the first time in more than two decades.

This will provide a boost for local jobs across tourism as well as more jobs at the airport.  As the upgrades take place, this will set Hobart Airport up for a big positive future for locals and visitors alike while also stimulating our economy and creating jobs.  As Matt Cocker, the acting CEO of the Hobart Airport stated:

Welcoming direct international flights will be a massive shot in the arm for the tourism sector and the economy more broadly.  In addition to that, the upgrades themselves will be a great stimulus for the local economy.

I also note that the 2020‑21 State Budget also includes a record $9.8 billion in health spending over the next four years and I commend the minister who is here today, Ms Courtney, because this is a record investment by any Tasmanian Government.  It is unprecedented resourcing for our health system that is recruiting record staffing, opening beds and investing in the facilities our patients and staff deserve.

This is $1.7 billion more than in last year’s budget, a 21 per cent increase and is operational expenditure on top of the $391.2 million capital program being delivered across Tasmania, which includes $89.8 million to continue stage 2 of the Royal Hobart Hospital redevelopment, including an expanded ED and ICU.  This is the biggest-ever uplift in health spending and it also includes $600 million of additional funding to the Tasmanian Health Service over the next four years and a boost to our funding base that will help meet the demand in our hospitals and will underpin improved health outcomes.

In addition to this, we are providing a $45 million injection into elective surgery, taking our additional investment to $60 million.  I thank the Commonwealth Government for the $15 million that they have also provided towards this fund.  This funding will provide an estimated 8500 additional surgeries over the next 18 months, above and beyond what was already due to be delivered.

The Government and the THS are also committed to meeting demand in our hospitals with $50.2 million over the next two years to support staff and beds in our major hospitals.  This is in addition to $299 million over four years to continue the rollout of the 250 new beds at the Royal Hobart Hospital.  I note there is $11.9 million for extra graduate nurses.  As a registered nurse, I think this is fantastic.  It will allow for about 60 additional extra graduate nurses for the south, and $11.4 million is also in the Budget for the Community Rapid Response Service, including the southern pilot. 

It is crucial that we support care for patients and their families when they need it most, and I am also delighted to see that we are delivering further funding of $1 million over two years for Palliative Care Tasmania.  Also, to further support the delivery of cancer related services and programs during the COVID-19 response and recovery period, there will also be $500 000 for the Cancer Council of Tasmania in 2021, as well as $2.9 million over two years to support our other very hardworking community healthcare providers.

I also note that the minister has also been firmly committed to ensuring our regional communities have modern health facilities for staff and patients, which is why the Budget will deliver $24.4 million over the next two years to upgrade and renovate regional health and ambulance facilities, including in my electorate of Franklin.  The upgrade of the Cygnet Community Health Centre and the Huonville Community Health Centre will enable the delivery of better care for our patients and modern infrastructure for our staff. 

There is also $4.1 million for mental health integration and reform; $4 million for reforming Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services; $4.9 million to implement alcohol and drug sector reform; $19.8 million to build 27 new mental health beds in southern Tasmania and $21.6 million for a new human resources information system.

As Dr Helen McArdle, the president of the AMA Tasmania said –

AMA Tasmania has valued the approach taken by the Government in guiding our State and the health system through COVID-19.  It has been critical for our clinicians to know that access to funds was not going to be an issue when dealing with this insidious virus. 

We support the government’s commitment to funding investment into the State health sector.  We could not as a State or as a health system have coped with cuts to state government expenditure at a time when the economy is fragile, and demand for health services is increasing.  [OK]

Paul Lupo, the CEO of St Luke’s Health, stated –

The funding boost for elective surgery and mental health support would go a long way to tackling some of the challenges the Tasmanian community faces.

Dr Scott Fletcher, the vice president of the AMA, said:

Any increase in funding for elective surgery is welcomed as this will help us to manage waiting lists. 

Connie Digolis, the CEO of the Mental Health Council of Tasmania, also welcomed the Tasmanian Government’s ongoing commitment to reforming the state’s mental health system, as demonstrated through the funding announced in the 2020‑21 State Budget –

This Budget is a clear acknowledgement by the Tasmanian Government of the need to create an integrated system that supports the mental health and wellbeing of all Tasmanians. 

I note that the Youth Network of Tasmania (YNOT) also welcomes the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) reform, supporting the mental health and wellbeing of students impacted by trauma and a new youth at risk centre in Launceston.

Adrienne Piccone, the Chief Executive Officer of TasCOSS said –

The Government’s welcome shift towards prioritising investment in people’s health and wellbeing throughout the COVID-19 recovery is evident in this Budget. 

I note too that there is also $350 000 in this Budget for TasCOSS to assist the community sector to adapt and respond to COVID-19. 

I also note that the Tasmanian Government is also investing a record $7.5 billion over the forward Estimates into education and training as part of our plan to rebuild a stronger Tasmania.  We know that education is a major contributor to improving social and economic outcomes in our state, including health, happiness, life-expectancy and productivity.  That is why this Budget will be continuing to employ additional staff in Government schools, in line with our commitment of 358 more staff, including 250 additional teachers by the end of 2024. 

This Budget includes $38.9 million to employ 87.25 teacher FTEs which will have the benefit of reducing the instructional load for primary school teachers by about one hour per week and will also enable teachers to have more time to spend on lesson planning.  A further $12.8 million will also be invested in an additional 35 quality teaching coaches, including six new lead numeracy coaches for 2021 and a further 29 coaches for 2022.

Investment in this Budget will also continue to support Learners to Succeed, with $36 million to continue our commitment of expanding all government schools to year 12.  I note that a total of 47 schools have already been extended to year 12 with a further nine to commence in 2021, leaving just one to be extended in 2022.

Other significant educational investments in the 2020-21 Budget include $6.6 million to engage and empower our learners in senior secondary education through providing flexible learning pathways to and from years 9 to 12 with a focus on school-based apprenticeships.  There is $1.2 million to engage parents as partners in student learning by providing families with greater access to information on their child’s progress and achievements.  There is also $3.2 million for the student system renewal, including a case management platform to deliver a cross-agency view of learners facing vulnerability.

There is $53 million across the forward Estimates for the educational adjustments model for students with disability to continue building participation engagement for students with disability.  There is also $4.4 million for the Adult Learning Strategy and $14 million to expand the Student Assistance Scheme which waives the cost of government school levies for eligible students, and $14 million for supporting mental health and wellbeing in our schools including students impacted by trauma.

On top of all of this, there is $222 million for new and upgraded schools, training centres and IT infrastructure, including $3.6 million for the redevelopment of the Southern Support School in Howrah and $28 million for six new Child and Family Learning Centres statewide including in Kingborough.

The importance of education and supporting our learners has been further highlighted following the challenges of COVID-19.  A commitment to improving education and supporting our economic recovery is evident in this Budget and again I commend the minister and the Premier on these initiatives.  These initiatives also support PESRAC’s recommendations of accelerating existing strategies to deliver improved educational opportunities that meet individual student needs and also provide clear pathways to jobs as well as supporting our most vulnerable students across all sectors.

As the Australian Education Union (Tasmania) said:

Having recognised the increasing number of students with trauma in our schools last year, it is most welcome to see an increase in funding in this budget to begin addressing the complex needs of students affected.

The Tasmanian Government deserves to be commended for committing to needs-based funding in our schools – it’s a common sense, fair funding approach. 

On top of all of this, the 2020-21 State Budget also includes a range of targeted investments totalling more than $13 million into our public training provider, including $2 million to employ more teachers in areas of high demand.  An extra 10 teachers will be employed across a range of courses including aged care, electrotechnology, plumbing, allied trades and nursing.

We are also continuing our strong investment in TasTAFE infrastructure, with $4 million in this Budget for upgrades to IT infrastructure to futureproof our training provider.  The funding will support switch and server upgrades, a new wi-fi network statewide and support the implementation of critical systems including teacher competency records and work placement management.  These upgrades are vital to support digital innovation at TasTAFE and to support TasTAFE’s move to become a more agile training provider which delivers flexible training for students.

I note that an additional $7 million has been allocated in the Budget towards TasTAFE’s Energy Trades and Water Centre of Excellence in my electorate of Franklin at Warrane, which will increase our student enrolment capacity and deliver the skills needed to rebuild Tasmania.  This brings the total investment for this facility now to $21 million.

With regard to housing, the Tasmanian Liberal Government has continued to rebuild a stronger Tasmania with our record investment in new social and affordable housing to continue in the 2020 State Budget.  Overall, the Budget includes more than $300 million to deliver new housing and homelessness initiatives which will help some of our most vulnerable while creating jobs, growing our economy and strengthening our communities in every region.  This includes locking in the $100 million investment announced as part of our construction blitz which will build up to 1000 new homes over three years with an EOI currently under way.  The new homes will be delivered where Tasmanians need them most whilst supporting local economies in their recovery from COVID-19.  This is a great outcome and forms a crucial part of our record investment into infrastructure across the state that will create jobs and opportunities for Tasmanians. 

I note as well that this Budget also includes $16.8 million to extend the Safe Space program as a 24/7 wraparound service in Burnie, Launceston and Hobart.  This will allow the program to run through to June 2022, with over $6 million of this investment used to continue to deliver general health and mental health support to people experiencing homelessness. 

This comprehensive housing package also builds on the exceptional work done to date since we commenced our Affordable Housing Strategy by locking in the operating expenditure for key projects and continuing the rollout of the Government’s second Affordable Housing Action Plan and in southern Tasmania includes more than $10 million for a new Hobart youth foyer including operating costs, more than $22 million for new supported accommodation facilities around Hobart, and the delivery of the Huntingfield land release project, a subdivision that will provide around 470 residential lots.

Overall our Affordable Housing Strategy has seen more than 2400 households supported into housing that suits their needs.  I note that the waiver of the Commonwealth housing debt will also assist a further 400 households into suitable accommodation including the construction of 300 new social housing dwellings. 

As well, the State Budget also allocates $15 million to public housing heating and energy efficiency initiatives to ease cost-of-living pressures for tenants, reduce emissions and create jobs.  This will include completing the Government’s program of replacing inefficient direct electric and gas heating in all public housing stock with energy-efficient heat pumps where it is appropriate and viable to do so.  We will also begin a program to progressively replace existing standard electric hot water systems with new heat pump hot water cylinders.

Pattie Chugg, the CEO of Shelter Tasmania, has welcomed the State Government’s 2020‑21 Budget with increased spending for social housing and homelessness services.  She says –

A building-led recovery will help increase jobs and create more affordable homes for Tasmanians.  Today’s announcement that $300M over four years will be spent on social and affordable housing will provide certainty and a pipeline for new construction.  Shelter Tas welcomes this clear commitment to increasing much-needed public and community housing across the state. 

With a quiet confidence and cautious optimism Tasmania is returning to a more normal way of life.  We will continue to take action with the levers we have to keep us safe and to provide security, certainty and confidence for Tasmanians, our businesses and our community. 

Once again, I congratulate the Premier and his Cabinet for delivering a solid and sensible Budget as we recover from the greatest challenge of our generation, the coronavirus pandemic.

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Month – Bears of Hope

ADJOURNMENT

Wednesday 14 October 2020

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Month – Bears of Hope

[6.07 p.m.]

Mrs PETRUSMA (Franklin) – Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise tonight to speak about how October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Month, and tomorrow, October 15, is International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, where bereaved parents from Tasmania, Australia and around the world pause to remember their babies who have sadly passed away.

This annual day of remembrance is a significant one honouring the approximately 106 000 babies who lose their lives to miscarriage, still birth and newborn deaths in Australia every year – with one baby, sadly, dying in Australia about every three and a half minutes.

One in every four pregnancies in Australia tragically ends in loss, but despite these alarmingly high figures, pregnancy and infant loss are still topics that most people are reluctant to talk about.

For those of us who have experienced such a loss, it is often too painful to speak about, and for those who have not, it can be hard to even know where to start or what to say to a bereaved parent, as the topic is so impossibly sad that people tend not to want to talk about it at all.

That is why Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Month and Remembrance Day tomorrow is so very important.  A major goal this month is to get people talking about the issue, to make it visible, and to challenge our reluctance as a society to look this issue in the eye.  As reporter Tim Martain, in his excellent article in the Mercury, states –

For mums and dads, the loss of a baby is not some abstract idea or vague lurking fear.  It is a real thing and it shatters many lives. 

In 2002, my husband Tim and I lost a baby.  I woke up having contractions and significant blood loss far too early in our pregnancy, and after an agonising wait at the doctors and having ultrasounds with the contractions getting worse and worse, we were informed that our baby, our daughter, had tragically died – and the grief was further compounded by being in labour for another 16 hours.

Back in 2002 there was not the support for grieving parents that there is today, that is being offered through incredible organisations such as Bears of Hope Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support in Tasmania, which provides information on counselling, grief support and organising a funeral, as well as a teddy bear to take home, so that parents’ arms are not empty when they leave the hospital.

These bears are a gesture so simple and yet so meaningful, and serve as a link between bereaved families, a symbol of shared pain and understanding and acknowledgement that even in their darkest time these parents are not alone.

Bears of Hope was cofounded by Amanda Bowles and Toni Watson, two women who understand that pain and the need for connection only too well.  Like me, what they found many years ago was that there was very little assistance available that was targeted specifically towards the grief and heartbreak that families experience, especially as we live in a culture in which people still rarely speak openly about miscarriage or stillbirth.

Bears of Hope helps to fill that gap, so that parents are less alone and less isolated.  This is also vitally important for something as culturally entrenched as what Amanda Bowles calls the ‘magic 12-week barrier’, which has its roots in extremely old and outdated attitudes that the loss of a baby earlier than 12-weeks’ gestation is not really the loss of a proper baby.  For this reason, many women who miscarry in the early stages are subject to the assumption that their loss is not that big a deal, because it happened early in their pregnancy.

For that mum, that dad, they still had hopes and dreams for their baby.  They probably had a name picked out, and grieved the loss of that baby as keenly as any other bereaved parent.  Tragically, many of the surrounding events that occur after the loss can also leave parents further traumatised.

For me, I had a close friend who gave birth to their beautiful baby daughter the day that we lost ours, which made the loss even harder when we were together, as I was still in grief, but at the same time feeling incredibly guilty that it was so hard for me to hold her baby and to look at my friend’s baby without wanting to cry at the same time.

That is why this month is so important, as it educates us all to never underestimate or minimise the ongoing trauma of losing a baby, whether early or full term, and to beware of using phrases that begin with ‘at least’.

I have had so many well-meaning people say to me, ‘at least’ you can always have another baby, ‘at least’ it happened early, ‘at least’ you already have other children.  Yes, at the time I did already have two children, and yes, I did go on to have another two more children, but none of these words give any comfort.  They just cause more pain.

As Tim Martain stated, ‘while parents might get stronger and more practised at carrying their grief, its weight is never any less’, and it is well documented that women suffer post‑traumatic stress disorder and post-natal depression as their emotions are triggered by many unexpected things.  Anniversaries of the loss, their due date, babies with similar names – or for me, despite the fact that I was very blessed to fall pregnant again three months later and our family is so very blessed with another beautiful daughter, there is not a year goes by when I do not think about our other beautiful daughter, Danielle Joy, on her birthday, who I look forward to seeing again one day.

A bereaved parent is still a parent.  They are still a mum, they are still a dad, and they still love their baby even if they cannot hold them.  This is why in 2015, this Government officially launched recognition of loss certificates in Tasmania, which families can apply for, for free, from the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

Our family has one for Danielle, and every time I look at it, like her middle name, it brings me a lot of Joy.  For these certificates, I acknowledge the advocacy of Maria Bond in her role as Tasmanian coordinator for Bears of Hope.  Back in 2014, alongside Dr Vanessa Goodwin, myself, former premier Will Hodgman and other MPs such as the member for Clark, Ms Ogilvie – and I am sure other members in this House – we worked to formally recognise these babies that are lost in early pregnancy, therefore helping parents through their difficult grieving process.

This remembrance month is usually marked with fundraising walks and remembrance services.  However, due to COVID-19, these have now moved online, so I ask people to check out the Bears of Hope Facebook page, which features the annual Wave of Light remembrance event, which will be happening tomorrow night, where people are encouraged to light a candle and to share their photos on Facebook.

Finally, I commend Bears of Hope, SANDS, and all the other great organisations that provide support to parents at their time of utmost grief.

Consolidated Fund Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2019

Minister for Disability Services and Community Development

Consolidated Fund Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2019

Second Reading

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

[2.58 p.m.]

Mrs PETRUSMA (Franklin – Minister for Disability Services and Community Development) – Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure and honour to rise to speak today in response to the Hodgman Liberal Government’s second budget of our second term, and the sixth budget we have delivered overall.

Before I discuss in detail the initiatives we’re committing to in this budget – both in my electorate of Franklin and in my portfolio’s – I would like to take a moment to recognise and acknowledge the Treasurer for having delivered yet another budget, that maintains the momentum and invests for growth.  This Budget is the next step in this Government’s long-term plan to grow the economy, create jobs, continue to invest in essential services and to protect our way of life.

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Condolence Adjournment Speech – Attacks in Sri Lanka and California

ADJOURNMENT

2 May 2019

Attacks in Sri Lanka and California

[6.07 p.m.]

Mrs Petrusma (Franklin – Minister for Disability Services and Community Development) – Madam Speaker, like all members of this House, I was shocked and horrified by the events that unfolded in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday and in an American Synagogue last week.  I place on record my deepest condolences, thoughts and prayers to those in Sri Lanka and in California who have lost loved ones, family, friends, colleagues and fellow worshippers in these senseless attacks on worshippers who were in church on one of Christianity’s holiest of days, in a synagogue, peacefully participating in religious observance or simply tourists in a hotel going about their daily lives.

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