2022 State of the State Reply

MOTION – Premier’s Address

3 March 2022

[5.21 p.m.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2021 ADDRESS-IN-REPLY

2021 ADDRESS-IN-REPLY

Tuesday 29 June 2021

[12.47 p.m.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Debate adjourned.

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

Resumed from above.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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