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Mr. Chair, I rise to make some comments regarding the minister's contribution to Estimates last week.
In the suite of portfolio areas the minister is responsible for, there are many areas of personal interest. In particular, Children and Youth, Education, Skills and Training and the broader suite of Hospitality and Events we are discussing now as well as Tourism. It is important for Tasmania and our shared electorate in Bass.
I will start with the hard and end with the positive. The hard is the conversation that has been raised by many here this afternoon regarding Ashley.
My journey into public life started only a few steps prior, through Ashley, having worked with the Beacon Foundation at Launceston College.
I found a place where I could make a contribution working with young people, particularly young people at risk and was assigned to work at Ashley Youth Detention Centre. I have some personal experience and understanding, although that was 20 years ago.
As we have heard, there has been recent change and things do change, but not a lot has changed. I had to go back and do a little research with the Leader of the Greens' comment about it having been over a century.
I thought, wow, really, is that where it all started? Over the last 100 years to get to this point with the extraordinary and devastating circumstances of last week with Alysha's public confrontation with the outcomes of her investigation bringing this to a head.
For many moments in life when we seek to make change, and I know there is seriously good intent to shift what we all understand are the challenges with Ashley at the moment, but for my contribution here I implore those responsible for this transition, to understand that infrastructure alone, that closing a facility and building two new facilities is not the solution.
When we look deeply at concerns in the community or in organisational facilities, it is culture. Culture can sometimes be the most important part of any operation but it can be the most difficult to shift.
Yes, with a fresh facility, at some point in the future in the three years that have been suggested, finding a site, designing a for-purpose, best-outcome facility that has the very best teams and people with purpose, consideration and dedication for the work they do with the young people of Tasmania who will find themselves in these circumstances, needs to be at the very core of what happens.
Staying with the theme of young people and their development and expansion for a moment and looking into the education element of Estimates from last week, I want to highlight in a positive way some of the contributions for education facilities in the Bass electorate.
I know for some time members of the Legana community have been excitedly awaiting the development of a school for Legana but also were really keen to express their concern or needs about placement and integration and how the facilities, if built, can be shared with community.
So recognising the commitment and the timing over these next three years to land that project in a positive way for the community is welcomed.
Something that is further welcomed because that has been on the agenda for some time, like many have discussed in their contributions this afternoon, is the number of school facilities.
For many years, Exeter High School has been asking for support for their infrastructure upgrades so it is great to see that in the budget and that is a positive contribution.
New to this place and new the process of state level elections, I found it curious in the early build-up of our election in Bass was the really obvious focus that was put on the Glen Dhu Primary School swimming pool.
Anyone in northern Tasmania who is in the region of Bass or in the extended greater Launceston area, pretty much everyone, learnt to swim at the Glen Dhu Primary School pool. There were suggestions that it was going to close. Back in the day when we learnt to swim it was freezing; there was no heating; there was nothing; and we would often have our swimming lessons in winter.
For a recognition to roll back the intention to close but to contribute or make that commitment to retaining that facility and ensuring that it is upgraded and fit for purpose is also a welcome outcome in this budget. I want to speak to the different suite of responsibilities for the minister in Hospitality and Events and acknowledging that the Estimates period for Tourism was in another time allocation but they all integrate and tie in together.
I want to reflect on the process, not only last week in scrutiny or the week before, in recognising what allocations were actually in the Budget and how much has been set aside in case we need ongoing support regarding any sort of COVID-19 impact for Tasmanian operators who make positive comments when it is appropriate.
The package that has been announced this week is welcomed. I almost find it curious that you can on one hand be really positive about something and also have feedback about it so that the need to defend a decision that a package has raised and then look at all these people who said it is welcomed, of course, it is welcome.
Support right now for our businesses that are struggling is always going to be welcomed. If it is enough and it goes to the point of what is really needed is a whole other conversation but to have an expanded package of support is great.
I cast my mind back only a few weeks prior, and over the month of this sitting period 116 Wednesday 15 September 2021 and just before, and being able to prosecute that the original grants program did little to support the businesses that were really struggling. Often if you are a small or a tiny business, the financial impact of not having visitation and not having the regular type of clientele that you would otherwise rely on has a massive financial burden.
Initially after pressure from peak bodies and from this side of the House to have that reviewed then to open up the $25 000 above eligible businesses was also welcomed. I have a particular interest and everyone will be aware of this.
When businesses are under pressure and they are bleeding cash and they are having to monitor their cashflow we talk about things being available in a month or so, or in weeks. Some businesses right now are monitoring their cashflow daily.
They are trying to figure out how they are going to get to the end of the week to pay their staff so every bit of information is really important now. I went on the Business Tasmania website over the last couple of days to find out, for the businesses that are in contact with me, how they can find out about what this package actually means.
I note today that while we were sitting in the House the website was updated. For me there has been a particular interest over the last couple of weeks of the treatment of the JobKeeper payments and payroll tax. I know there are two slightly different things happening here.
There is the historical issue where some organisations receiving JobKeeper have triggered over the threshold and where they thought they would not pay any payroll tax they are now being lumped with quite a large and significant payroll tax liability.
I note that in this current package there was a comment about - people might say we are fighting over words but language is really important because it goes to definition. The minister, as we are all aware, was talking about payroll tax being exempt, JobKeeper payments being exempt from payroll tax when, in fact, that was not the case. Now we are talking about payroll relief.
I ask that some clarity be provided, hopefully today, if not tomorrow. When I have been through the Business Tasmania site it is clear what the expanded packages offer to people in different eligible entities, in different revenue categories.
However, there is no information I can find yet, nor any businesses that have been interested who have looked for it, on what the actual relief means, how it will work and where they can find out that information. I am not sure if it is updated somewhere else but if someone knows that and they could let me know, that would be great because we can pass it on.
Also, for the people who have paid their liabilities under that payroll tax which was unexpected, when and what the timeframes will be for those reimbursements to occur. In this suite of responsibilities, more importantly than anything: changes to Ashley.
Infrastructure alone, system and structure alone, means a bit, but not everything. It is culture, it is behaviour, it is expectation, it is leadership; it is about how people behave, engage, respect and care for the people they are charged to support.
In my time at Ashley I saw so many young people who had such great potential and they were incredible individuals but for the ecosystem they had grown up in. My plea is, in the three years from now, we need to set a culture where we look after young people and support their potential in our community and beyond.
15th September 2021 - 6:41pm
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