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


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


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


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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Thursday, 11 April 2019

[4.03 p.m.]

Jacquie Petrusma (Franklin – Minister for Disability Services and Community Development)

Madam Speaker, I congratulate the Premier on his 2019 Address.  As the Premier outlined, under his strong leadership, Tasmania, has captured the attention of the world with an envied reputation for our unrivalled natural environment, our premium grade products and excellence in education, science and research.  This is Tasmania’s time to shine.  With such strong growth, inevitably comes challenges.  Our Government will grasp the challenges, as we likewise do all the opportunities, as we aim for strategic growth so that more Tasmanians across every region can share in our state’s prosperity. 

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Christchurch Condolence and Harmony Week

Wednesday 20 March 2019

Adjournment Debate
Christchurch – Condolence
Harmony Week

[6.41 p.m.]
Mrs PETRUSMA (Franklin – Minister for Disability Services and Community Development) – Mr Deputy Speaker, like all members of this House I was shocked and horrified by the events that unfolded in New Zealand last week. I wanted tonight to place on the record my deepest condolences, thoughts and prayers to those in New Zealand who have lost loved ones, families, friends, colleagues and fellow worshippers in last week’s senseless attack on people who were only peacefully participating in religious observance. I also give my support, prayers, thoughts and condolences to the Tasmanian Muslim and multicultural community as well as the wider Tasmanian community as we all come to terms with this tragedy.

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Consolidated Fund Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2017 (No. 31)

Minister for Human Services, Minister for Women
Consolidated Fund Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2017 (No. 31)
Second Reading
Wednesday 31 May 2017

[2.30 p.m.]

Mrs PETRUSMA (Franklin – Minister for Human Services) – Mr Deputy Speaker, I am exceptionally proud to speak on the Hodgman Liberal Government’s fourth budget.  I congratulate the Treasurer for all the hard work that he has put into this Budget because it truly represents a budget that is building Tasmania’s future.

I believe this Budget both reflects that we have undertaken the hard yards over the past three years in government and we are now able to capitalise on and invest in areas of need, whilst at the same time acknowledging that there is still much more that can be done to continue to make Tasmania the best possible state for all of its residents.  Our Budget this year also highlights our goal to lead the nation in health and education, to create a job ready generation, to give our children the best opportunities possible, to have better roads and transport, to take action on the cost of living and the continued investment in essential services, such as public safety and supporting Tasmanians in need. Read More