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Mr. Speaker, it is important to speak on this important matter. Tasmanian Labor, on this side of the House, bring forward conversations that we have in community, concerns that are expressed to us so that we raise the understanding and awareness of what is, for so many Tasmanians, a debilitating impact of having to work hard on behalf of themselves, often by themselves, to rectify the small number of examples, examples not of all builders in Tasmania, but to rectify major defects in building works.
These have happened often in the single greatest investment that someone makes in their life.
Often people who have stretched themselves, who have committed to an investment to build their dream home, often their first and only ever home, find that before completion, throughout the process and at conclusion, they have a property they may not be able to live in, that may, in fact, need to be torn down or that they cannot get someone to commit to come back and rectify the defect works in the property.
Today we have heard a number of comments about the supports provided for people in our community, yet we still hear from people who are having to mount very expensive and emotionally draining, impactful action in order to, not even yet for some, find resolution of these important issues. There is not sufficient government oversight.
Our regulations are inadequate. Too many consumers are left with thousands of dollars, tens of thousands of dollars, over $100 000, of ruining debt for themselves and their families. We are raising these issues on behalf of members of our community.
This is not politics, although the member for Franklin said that, in fact, by nature, many of these concerns are political. This is not politics; this is personal. For the people in our community that we sit down with and hear from, the impacts both personally and in their families, their financial impacts, their emotional impacts, the impacts on their relationships, on their children and on their networks are, for many, debilitating.
A government at any point needs to stand up and accept. We have heard the minister this morning take responsibility and accept the concerns that have being presented in the community. They need to take the next steps and ask, 'What can we do now that will ensure the current concerns are rectified and this does not happen again in the future?'.
We have heard from the minister that there is a suggested pathway, that if mediation is not successful, that if CBOS is not successful, it could go through TASCAT. There are concerns with that outcome and also concerns with the timeliness of when that might be implemented. For many in our community right now, we have –
Ms. Archer -But a parliamentary inquiry will not do anything.
Ms. FINLAY - Taking up the interjection of the minister, given that she mentioned the parliamentary inquiry, what a parliamentary inquiry does is put all the facts on the table, it brings experts to a table, allows people to discuss, to consider what happens in other jurisdictions, make recommendations and ensure that things are implemented.
I spoke to a gentleman in Launceston in a cafe, who shared with me the work that was done on his building, where the cladding was not applied either to code or to the manufacturer's instructions. In order to get someone to come back and rectify that, six years later it is still unresolved. There were issues in the bathroom with inadequate water protection, where there has been water damage in the bathroom.
Six years later still not protected. Another gentleman I am aware of through the same conversation has had tens of thousands of dollars of damage on an application on a concrete floor and is not adequately resolved four years later.
These are over $100 000-worth of impact of people in our community who are having to act on their own behalf. Where the minister says an inquiry will not resolve this, we know that the people of Tasmania are calling, whether it is 40 people identified through the ABC recently, or whether it is a Facebook page that was set up in the community three months ago. When I checked the numbers this morning there were 281 members.
When I checked just then it is at 284. There are new cases being shared daily in community about defect building activity and we need to do more to prevent that. What are we scared of with an inquiry? What are you scared that will be identified and recommended that you will not be willing to implement?
Tasmanian Labor, on this side of the House, want to bring forward the concerns of the community. We want to ensure that everything possible is done to protect members of our community. TASCAT may be good but there is no guarantee that it will incorporate building disputes any time soon.
There is no guarantee that it will improve the system for consumers. Right now, CBOS cannot do the things that it needs to be able to do to support people in our community with concerns. If it can, it gets tied up for months or years in court. Will this change through TASCAT? Is it enough?
Will it be able to provide the solutions that people are looking for in our community: people in our community where there is an emotional weight on an individual or in a family, the impact of mental health concerns, the challenges that these types of experiences cause family and marriages?
A gentleman recently disclosed, and it must have been painful to disclose publicly through the media, he was considering taking his own life because of the impact of these financial burdens. We know families and marriages are at risk because of these financial burdens. This is not politics. This is deeply personal for the people impacted.
In Tasmania we have a small number of people causing these great concerns to many members of our community. However, it is important to note, and I know the minister wants us to note this, we celebrate so many things that are amazing in Tasmania. We have some of the best builders in the country. We have people who aspire to excellence. We know that even the best builders sometimes have defects.
They go back and fix them. What we are dealing with is the small number of people who are making critical impacts to the single greatest investment of many people's lives. It is not good enough and more needs to be done.
9th November 2021 - 11:55am
Video - YouTube
Mr. Speaker, I am happy to make my contribution, and support Labor's position of supporting this as it passes through the parliament.
As already outlined, we have some questions and some expectations subject to it being successful with its implementation and ongoing management.
I acknowledge that, as the previous member mentioned, it makes sense. It is practical, it improves what is currently a network of significant pieces of infrastructure that are sometimes in competition with each other, sometimes seeking to do similar things, and then have to decide and continue to reinforce that north-south competition that often happens in regard to what will happen where and why.
It also takes away a burden on sometimes a small community carrying a large financial responsibility for a region and the state.
Practically, this makes sense. However, the Premier's second reading speech acknowledged the complexity of implementing something that seems fairly simple.
As has been mentioned, if it does successfully bring in two stadiums, then it may be partially useful. If it can bring in more stadiums, as hoped for, that is when it really comes to have some strength. It is complex in regard to its governance and the responsibilities of those people who will be required to have board oversight.
It is complicated when you are asking an organisation to be commercially minded and also consider community needs.
Where there is a recognition that the new entity will act commercially, be responsive and flexible in decision-making and understand the physical, social, economic and community connections that major stadiums have within the state, that is a lot to ask of an organisation that is being required to balance being commercially focused and having a community mind.
When we go through the responsibilities that say the board is required to operate in a commercial manner that maximises value for the state, it does become complex; when that board of directors is considering the challenges of financial responsibility in being able to manage assets that are often enablers of economic development in a region, but are actually financially resource-intensive.
That would be the first reason why that is required but would be actually difficult in practice to implement.
Particularly from Bass and being from Launceston, one of the assets that is identified is the University of Tasmania Stadium or as we love to call it, York Park, where we are taking assets out of community ownership and handing them to a board which has a bespoke piece of legislation. The community loves having access and responsibility in ownership even though it is burdensome and problematic.
One of the expectations is that when these ministerial statements are provided, when the direction is given to the board, that this community-minded aspect continues to ensure that decisions are made in the best interest of the state whether it be sporting events or entertainment events.
For instance, in northern Tasmania we specifically have a cool season strategy around having events there in the winter and harder months for hospitality and tourism. Those sorts of things should be maintained in the configuration of who has what, where and when.
That is vitally important and where these assets that are financially draining actually make the economic impact into a small community. I suppose that is the first suite of comments. I wish those people well who are appointed, subject to this being successful, and recognise that the task will be challenging.
When we are talking about transitioning these community assets across to statewide management, there has also been a recognition in speaking to this bill, that we are talking about assets that have potentially in the future, a focus on only elite or high-level sporting or entertainment events.
We know that these facilities in small communities and in local communities have always been part of that pathway.
Again, reading from what the Premier said earlier, we know that these are providing pathways for people to compete at the highest level in sporting codes in truly Tasmanian teams but it will stimulate greater grassroots sporting participation and generate outcomes that will help build a more active and healthy Tasmanian population.
If we are going to stimulate greater grassroots activity, we already know that grassroots and local community assets are completely overwhelmed. We know there is much to be invested in terms of being able to create those environments where particularly young people and children have access to quality local facilities.
There was a correlation drawn earlier between not wanting to invest heavily in sporting facilities when we have got so many challenges in the community.
One of the things that I love about sport and about facilities like this is that it often provides a sporting pathway for a young person when we are talking about grassroots sports and young kids being able to use facilities and participate in sport.
It also creates social pathways, education pathways and community pathways - often for some young people where sport is their only outlet to positive opportunity and positive engagement in a community.
Where these elite facilities come under the management of an entity that is required to focus on the commerciality of it, we need to continue to recognise the importance of the community elements of these facilities and make sure that we do not see this as the answer to investment in sporting facilities. We need to continue to deliver on the commitments or the required commitments to develop community infrastructure.
As the Premier said earlier, it is important to remember that while Stadiums Tasmania is focused on major public stadiums, this does not diminish the importance of other community based assets operated by local communities or government. Again, drawing on my experiences in Bass with York Park, there are current commitments and hopefully future commitments to further development of that space.
Whether that be for cricket, football, rugby, soccer or basketball, or whether one of the other assets - the Silverdome - is for netball, what we need to recognise is that at the grassroots much more needs to be invested into facilities. There was a report done around five years ago on the community-level facilities required for basketball, an area that I know.
We had a shortage of about 12 courts and there are now facilities being developed in the suburbs. There will be facilities hopefully developed in this major facility depending on the decision of the board that oversees these facilities in the future but we are still short.
We have a facility like Elphin and I ask the question if there is ever consideration in the future that if Elphin was redeveloped to have baseline quality courts for the number of kids that are growing, say, in basketball, for that to be incorporated into this entity where the network of facilities is not just recognised for elite sport and events but for the pathway towards outcomes so people can participate at this level.
A young person who wants to play basketball needs to have a court to play on, which is not for an under 12 or 14 at 10 o'clock at night. Then they can go to the Torns and then they can go to the JackJumpers.
It would be lovely at a facility like this managed for the state where there is WNBL team and women's support is also heavily invested in. I can see where it might be practical and it might be useful. It is a little bit complex and it is probably the right approach.
From a former local government perspective I know that being able to take these significant assets off the balance sheet of local government is positive in those communities but I recognise there are still negotiations to go on particularly with the cities of Launceston, Clarence and Cricket Tasmania. That takes me to a question that our shadow treasurer asked earlier.
There were comments in the second reading speech about the responsibilities of a new entity where the responsibilities to own, acquire, manage, operate, maintain, plan for, investing and facilitate future development of the facilities are under this board but there was no comment in the second reading speech about how assets are disposed of.
I recognise in section 7(2) it talks about disposal. When the Premier speaks later I would like it if he could describe the process of disposal. For instance, if this entity having been required to operate with commerciality decides to sell an asset under its responsibility - just say they sell Blundstone Arena because it would be a great location for apartments - what is the process of consideration and what are the protections for that?
It says in here that it can only be done with the approval of the minister and the Treasurer but as our shadow treasurer said, what is the scrutiny over those sorts of decisions either in real-time or later, and what are the protections for the community whether that is the right decision even though it is being independently handed to the responsibility of this board.
I think that is something that people would be interested in having clarified further. For me, it makes sense, it is a practical instrument.
Tasmanian Labor supports it. It takes away that north-south rivalry which is sometimes useful and interesting.
It sometimes creates a good story but what it will require is that whoever sits on this board will be responsible, in my case, to the northern community that we continue to have those economic benefits in the cooler months with strategies of implementing sporting and other events in those times that really matter and that it does not prevent a young kid getting on the turf and having that experience in an elite facility.
It should not excuse future investment in community facilities in order to provide the pathways so that we can have Tasmanians playing at the top of their game in these sorts of codes that we see playing here.
We have got Tasmanian footballers, basketballers and soccer players being able to participate and being supported all the way through, so that they can experience what it is like to be out there in the centre of the field in one of these facilities.
They are the sorts of questions that we have. This bill has our support and we would love some responses to those questions.
9th November 2021 - 2:37pm
Video - YouTube
Mr. Speaker, in the time left available to me, I will reduce my contribution into three areas to directly respond to the notice of motion before us, to put on record the clear and relentless history and current action of the Tasmanian Labor Partysupported by unions and others in our great community to advocate for safe workplaces in Tasmania, whomever the owners are, and make some final contributions about the industry.
Before I do that, I want to shift the tone a little, of which the former minister for primary industries and water has gone some way to do.
The first point of the motion is noting the sale of Huon Aquaculture. In noting the sale, I think it is appropriate, and the former minister did do this, to acknowledge the incredible work of the Benders, raising an industry from almost nothing in support with others and with others coming onboard, which is a star of the Tasmanian economy, and recognised internationally for the great work they are doing not only to provide employment for local workers but, as the former minister indicated, leading innovation in making sure that we do have world's best practice in the industry, from a great family that has grown something really important for the economy of Tasmania.
Ms O'Connor - Which family?
Ms FINLAY - This is the Benders. Thank you for that clarification.
There have been a number of comments today in relation to the sale and the company that now has the ownership of Huon Aquaculture. I put on the record Tasmanian Labor's position in terms of this.
We are unreservedly strong supporters of the salmon industry and we are supporters of this because of the marine environment and the way that we are able to provide great opportunities for economic advancement in Tasmania and also for the support of small regional towns, often coastal towns, in Tasmania.
We know that, in doing so, it supports thousands of jobs, both directly and indirectly, across the state. In doing that, we do know that although foreign investment can be really important and a great driver for economic growth and employment, it must always be in the national interest. It is the government's responsibility to explain how the foreign investment approvals are in the national interest.
Given that none of the information of the FIRB review is available to either us or the public, it is on the government to ensure that. We trust the system and if there are faults in the system that the government would attend to that.
I want to make the first opportunity to put on the record my disappointment that the newly appointed minister for such a significant portfolio area of primary industries and water, which goes across not only aquaculture, which hit its billion-dollar contribution just in this last year, but also across fisheries and primary industries and our great water resources, is not in this House.
Therefore, this afternoon, although there has been a great contribution from the former minister, the current minister is not here to defend and put on the record her position. I think that is a real failing of this current Government, not being able to find a significant minister from within the lower House who can be over this portfolio.
I want to make a comment about workplace safety and the suggestion that an owner of any business, any entity, any company in Tasmania can somehow be outside the law.
Tasmanian Labor places firmly on the record that irrespective of any ownership of any entity, anyone operating in Tasmania must ensure that they meet all the local, Tasmanian, Australian and international laws. They must be held accountable by this Government for any failure to do so at any point.
What I want to do now is shift the focus from the attempt to continue to undermine what is a wonderful industry for Tasmania that provides so much for so many, and reinforce that whenever these attacks occur to remind people that from Huon's example they directly employ over 800 Tasmanians, many young Tasmanians.
They employ families where there are members of multiple generations working within the one company, and that have passed down expertise through their family to continue to work in this area.
I remind people when we speak of such things in this place that there will be people who listen to this, employees of not only this company but of the industry and those people who support the industry - almost 12 000 people in Tasmania work directly or indirectly to support what is a great brand benefit to Tasmanians. We should always understand and respect that.
I put on the record that, point (1), noting the sale, that the Benders have created something important here, that the new owners, no matter who they are and in whatever environment will be, and should be, called to account by the Government if they are any examples of poor behaviour.
While these attacks continue we must remember the great Tasmanians who work in this industry who raise their families, who support their families and support local communities in Tasmania because that is the lifeblood of small regional towns in Tasmania. Without such industries in small regional towns Tasmania would be far poorer.
I recently met people working in net labs, people working in the feed control centers, I met smart and clever Tasmanians, young Tasmanians in their first job, and they always speak proudly and confidently about the contribution they make to their local town, and also to their really important industry.
4th May 2022 - 5:53pm
Video - YouTube