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Tuesday, 30 October 2012
Page: 12651


Mr LYONS (Bass) (22:04): Launceston, in my electorate of Bass, has always been a pioneering Australian city. Launceston is home to the first licensed hotel in Australia, which was licensed in 1814, and the first country newspaper, and in 1847 Launceston was the first place in the Southern Hemisphere to use anaesthetics in a surgical operation. The Launceston Chamber of Commerce was the first to be formed in Australia, and in 1851 we were the first in Australia to hold a first-class cricket match, between Victoria and Tasmania. The innovation does not stop there. Launceston was the first city in the Southern Hemisphere to be lit by hydro-electric power. In 1896 Launceston had the first X-rays, and it has the oldest continuously operating radiology department in Australia. In 1916, Launceston RSL Club was the first RSL club in Australia to receive its charter. Launceston was the first Australian city to add fluoride to its water supply and we were the first place to use humidicribs and an infant iron lung. I was most pleased to point out the many achievements of Launceston when the community cabinet met in Launceston recently. Launceston was also one of the first cities to start the rollout of the NBN. This is a great investment in the future of Launceston and has great potential for our region.

Yet our state is at risk. We are at risk of the member for Warringah and his colleagues destroying our state by pandering to their state Liberal counterparts about GST distribution. Respected economist Saul Eslake recently expressed his concern about this situation. On radio on 23 October, Saul Eslake confirmed that the Leader of the Opposition represented a big risk to Tasmania's GST revenues:

Tony Abbott has…indicated a fair degree of sympathy for the outrageous claims that Western Australians have been making for a bigger share of the GST revenue, and I guess he…calculates that there are potentially more votes to be gained for his side of politics from appearing to sympathise with Western Australia's claims than there are votes for him in Tasmania from appearing to reject them.

This sums it up quite well. Those opposite are after a vote grab at the expense of teachers, police, doctors and nurses in Tasmania.

When the Leader of the Opposition was last in Tasmania for the Liberal Party state conference, I called on him to rule out cutting our GST. My call was not answered. Those opposite pose a big threat to my state, a threat to the families that make Tassie the great place it is. I will not stay silent on this issue, and it is about time those opposite stood up to Premier Campbell Newman and Premier Colin Barnett and ruled out their populist pleas.

It is also of great concern to me that the Tasmanian Liberals recently welcomed Premier Campbell Newman to Tasmania for a fundraiser. Premier Newman has shown that he fails the decency test by axing jobs and cutting funding to important services in Queensland. Yet the Tasmanian Liberal Party see him as their poster boy, happily posing for photos with him, listening to his address and backing the decisions he has made in Queensland.

Our Federation has survived for 111 years. The notion of a fair go is being put in danger by the Leader of the Opposition's dangerous pandering to his Liberal mates in the resource rich states. His $630 million cut to Tasmania's share of GST revenue would devastate my state's economy. The Leader of the Opposition, like his state Tasmanian colleagues, talks our state down at every opportunity. They are blind to some of the great projects and innovations that are happening in Tasmania, which I highlight regularly in this chamber.

Australia's economy does have patchwork pressures and, although the economic fundamentals are strong, there are pressures on some industries and some regions. Throughout our history the fortunes of towns, cities and states have shifted with the economic winds of the day. But there is one constant—the benefit of a united Australia has ensured a fair go for all Australians.

Let me tell you there are many concerned teachers, nurses, doctors and police in my electorate who are worried about their jobs. I encourage all Tasmanians to contact your Liberal senators and explain to them that you oppose this Liberal change to GST distribution. The Gillard Labor government is working hard to invest in our nation's future in skills, education, infrastructure and technology such as NBN. Those opposite just want to put their heads in the sand whilst the gap between the rich and the poor widens— (Time expired)