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Thursday, 27 March 2014
Page: 3483


Ms COLLINS (Franklin) (12:29): Tasmania went to the polls on 15 March and, of course, the Tasmanian people voted for a change of government, a government that will come into effect in coming days, as the Tasmanian Electoral Commission goes through the process of counting a Hare-Clark ballot. I want to put on record my congratulations to the new Liberal government and the new Liberal Premier, Will Hodgman, but, importantly, I want to put on the record the achievements of 16 years of Labor. Sixteen years is a very long time for anybody to be in government. That time has seen Premier Jim Bacon, Premier Paul Lennon, Premier David Bartlett and Premier Lara Giddings working to turn the state of Tasmania around. As Labor leave office in Tasmania, we leave the state in a better place than we found it in 1998.

I happened to be there when we took office on 14 September 1998 with Premier Jim Bacon. Jim wanted to turn Tasmania around. He wanted to stop the cultural cringe that Tasmanians had about themselves and that others had about Tasmania. He slowly set about that task. He talked repeatedly of the archipelago of islands that make up Tasmania—334 of them, indeed. He talked passionately about Tasmania's positives, about our cultural heritage, about the life in Tasmania and about our food and our produce. He always talked Tasmania up. It took many, many years for Tasmania's economy to turn around, but there was a stage there where we were the fastest-growing economy in Australia, under Premier Bartlett.

When we took office, unemployment in Tasmania was 10.9 per cent. Under former Liberal premiers Ray Groom and Robin Gray, it was 13 and 11 per cent, respectively—far too high indeed. As we leave office, the unemployment rate in Tasmania is 7.4 per cent, which, of course, is still far too high, but, given we had a global financial crisis and the state of Tasmania's finances post that, it is an achievement to get it to that level, considering what we inherited.

The many, many achievements of those four governments over those 16 years are hard to list, but I will attempt to do so today. They are things like the creation of the Basslink Interconnector, sending Tasmania's clean, green power across Bass Strait to mainland Australia. We wiped out the state debt that we inherited, $1.6 billion, in just six years. Jim Bacon and the Labor government purchased the two Spirit of Tasmania ships to start more regular crossings of Bass Strait to bring more people to the great state of Tasmania. Mr Bacon was always, as I said, talking up the tourism opportunities, but there were some great social reforms under Labor in Tasmania, particularly the Safe at Home legislation. We were the first state in Australia to introduce this legislation to stamp out domestic and family violence in the home. It was a remarkable achievement and a remarkable moment for Tasmania. Also, in May 2005, we were one of the first states to apologise to children who were abused in state care and to offer compensation. We also apologised to the parents and children and families affected by forced adoption in Tasmania.

There was so much done. New abortion laws were passed and Labor made significant changes around surrogacy laws as well. Then we undertook something very difficult indeed: to end the forestry debate in Tasmania. That had been going on for decades and decades to try and achieve peace and get agreement between the environmental groups and the forestry workers and industry in Tasmania. I am pleased to say we did achieve all of that. In the last six years, working hand in hand with federal Labor, we delivered record investments in infrastructure in Tasmania, in health care in Tasmania, in irrigation in Tasmania and in education in Tasmania and, of course, we increased the affordable housing stock in the state considerably—all through state and federal Labor working together. So much was undertaken, including the NBN rollout that so many Tasmanians were promised prior to the last federal election regardless of which party won and that they are now not getting. Tasmanians are pretty unhappy about that.

There is no doubt that the new Premier, Will Hodgman, has a lot to do. He has promised a lot to Tasmanians and he will need to deliver. He made over $300 million worth of election commitments, so much more than Labor. He will need to deliver and I intend to make sure he does.