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Monday, 9 December 2013
Page: 2061

Mr RIPOLL (Oxley) (12:18): I appreciate the opportunity to talk about the good state of Tasmania and about the good things that are happening there. As we know, there are some difficult circumstances and difficult times facing Tasmania which have been long running. There have been situations and matters at hand that are not as a result of this current economic period but of many decades.

What is confusing, though, is that members from Tasmania come into this House and talk down their own state. I find that quite confusing. This motion is more about all the things that are wrong with Tasmania than the things that are right with Tasmania or the work that can be done to improve the lot of the great state of Tasmania. I look through this motion, moved by the member for Bass, at the bits referring to some negative things and also where Tasmania does not quite lift to the standard that we might all expect and then see that it quickly shifts to just looking for someone to blame, or quickly shifts to just saying, 'It's just somebody's fault.' I think it is actually a little bit more involved and a little bit more complex than that.

Reading this motion highlighted to me that this is the state of a confused government—a government that is still confused about its role in what it might be able to do for the state of Tasmania and in fact for this country; about whether it is still in opposition or whether it is in control of the reins and levers of the economy; and about what it should do. Instead of talking down an economy, it should be talking up an economy. Instead of highlighting the problems, which anybody can do—it is very easy to do; anybody can highlight problems—it should provide concrete solutions. Plans are many. When you have only been in government for five minutes, you have all the plans in the world. Let us just see how those plans work out. I wish them well on this, because I think the good people of Tasmania deserve to do well and to do better.

We heard other members talk in here about some of the long-run issues that have not been resolved. They were not resolved in the Howard government years and they were not necessarily resolved under us either. But I will say this: we stood up for the Tasmanian economy and the Tasmanian state, and we will continue to do that. The confused circumstances that the government find themselves in are reminiscent of the confused circumstances they found themselves in with what they said before an election and where they are after an election, particularly in our relationship with Indonesia. They are not sure which they are anymore, but there is always a price to be paid for the things that are said and done before an election and the things that must be done after an election.

So it is very easy for government members to come in here and write these long private members' business motions talking about how bad things are in Tasmania, but they take no responsibility. They will not take any responsibility if things do not necessarily improve all that much, and they talk about the jobs that have been lost in the past. I can tell you, Mr Deputy Speaker, that things might have been worse if it were not for some of the good things that the Labor federal government did while it was in government.

I can tell you this: if you come into this place on a promise of building a million jobs, you have to start somewhere, and you do not start by sacking people, such as people directly in the IT sector down in Tasmania. You do not create jobs in Tasmania by sacking people in an industry where there is a potential for growth, you do not shift public servants from Tasmania back to the mainland if you want to create something positive for the Tasmanian economy, and you certainly do not walk away from the workers of Holden in South Australia if you are serious about building a million jobs. I recall something really specific that the opposition used to say to me all the time when we were in government.

Mr Nikolic: Mr Deputy Speaker, on a point of order, talking about Holden in South Australia is not relevant to the topic under consideration.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Broadbent ): There is no point of order.

Mr RIPOLL: Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, because you are right: there is no point of order. Perhaps when the member has a bit more experience in this place he will understand that. But the reality is that, just as the government walked away from workers in South Australia, you are doing the same thing in Tasmania. You have walked away from public servants and you are shifting them from Tasmania straight back across to the mainland. That will not help in Tasmania. You are a government of three years, so start acting like a government. Start laying out the proper plans. Instead of saying you have the lowest qualifications and the lowest of this and the lowest of that, come in here and talk about the positive plans, because I do not see too many positive plans contained in this.

As I said, this is a government that is wracked by confusion. Government members will come in here with their confected anger and they will carry on about a range of things, but let me tell you something else that we did in government: we looked after low-paid workers, particularly women. There are two million women in Australia who are paid less than $37,000 a year, and they got a very important bonus through their superannuation, called the low-income superannuation contribution. Many of those are in Tasmania, and that is what is most upsetting about this: when you rip that away from these people, you rip it away from the Tasmanian economy. You rip it away from the people who need it the most.

When it comes to private sector jobs, let me tell you about a lot of the things that Labor did in government, particularly for small business. We injected more than $5 billion worth of direct assistance. I went and visited Tasmania and held some small business forums around some of these issues, and there were a lot of complaints and a lot of different issues, but I tell you what: we were there with money on the table, $5 billion worth of direct assistance, from which Tasmania benefited directly. But when the coalition comes to power what does it do? It rips that away. I want to see someone explain to me how $5 billion less in the small business world can directly help. There was the uncapped, unlimited $6,500 in direct assistance with the instant asset write-off.

I would like to see how that is explained to Tasmanian businesses when they go to write a cheque and are about to buy a piece of equipment and they realise that that piece of equipment is no longer covered and they will not get that direct assistance. Tasmanian small businesses will be directly worse off to the tune of real dollars, and they will make an economic decision. They will say, 'Well, we might just hang off on buying that piece of equipment or employing that extra person.'

But the Tasmanian state government, on the other hand, has actually taken direct action, unlike the direct action that has been taken by the coalition government now, which is to rip money out, rip out superannuation, rip a whole heap of things out of that economy, rip out the Public Service jobs, rip out public sector jobs—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: A point of order?

Mr Nikolic: Under standing order 66A, would the member tell us how many jobs were created under the former government's plan in Tasmania?

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

Mr RIPOLL: Thank you, Deputy Speaker. Perhaps with experience the member across the chamber will learn that those things are—

Mr Nikolic: It was an intervention. It was your opportunity to tell us how many jobs you created.

Mr RIPOLL: What we did was to specifically focus on all the things that are good in the things that you can focus on. Tasmania has lots of great opportunity, including a state government that has directly stumped up to create jobs. Let me talk about job creation, because this is how you create jobs. Right now, there are 2,250 small businesses that will benefit directly from changes to the payroll tax exemption threshold announced in the Tasmanian state budget. From 1 July this year, the threshold at which the payroll tax kicks in will be raised from $1 million to $1.25 million. This will directly support 2,250 businesses. It is estimated that this will add an additional 1,400 jobs. That is how you create jobs. You reduce the payroll tax. You do positive things.

An honourable member interjecting

Mr RIPOLL: Unless, of course, the LNP, the coalition government, are opposed to job creation and opposed to payroll tax reduction? This mob are—and this is where I started—confused. They are just confused. They do not know whether they are Arthur or Martha, whether they are coming or going. They are confused as to whether they are now actually the government or still in opposition, just tearing things down.

You criticise everything. You make the world sound a lot worse than it is. And it worked very well. I will give you credit. You are the masters of doing a great job of throwing rocks, tearing down, blowing the place up. You did a really good job of it. I commend you for tearing down the economy, because no-one did it better than the opposition, now the government! The Liberal and National parties were absolute experts.

But now you have a new job. The government's job now is to support the economy, support the states, support job creation. Get on with the job of being in government. Get on with supporting all the great things about Tasmania. Support the state government in Tasmania, which has done some very good things in job creation and in bringing down average unemployment rates through these changes to payroll tax.

There is one thing I know from small business: no matter where I go, in whichever state, Tasmania included, if I am talking to them, they say, 'One of the biggest things you could do is reduce payroll tax.' And that is what a Labor government has done. That is what we have done. And then I heard before that one of the government members wanted to talk about renewable energy. Well, hello, which century were you born in? Renewable energy is something that the Labor Party supports, helps create and fund—actually do something—because we understand that the future of this country is actually in renewables, clean energy. That is why I said—

Honourable members interjecting

Mr RIPOLL: I will finish, Mr Deputy Speaker. Through all the cacophony on the other side, I will finish on a positive note. I love the state of Tasmania, and I will not be talking it down; I will be talking it up.

Debate adjourned.