Tasmanian Election On March 15; Giddings Sacks Greens Ministers And Recalls Parliament

Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings has called a state election for March 15.

Giddings

Parliament will be recalled on January 28 to vote on a bill to facilitate the Bell Bay pulp mill.

Giddings has also sacked the two Greens ministers, Nick McKim and Cassy O’Connor, bringing to an end the formal Labor-Greens alliance established by former premier David Bartlett after the 2010 election.

The Liberal Leader of the Opposition, Will Hodgman, welcomed the election and accused Giddings of attempting to whitewash the last four years of the Labor-Greens alliance government.

The Greens leader, Nick McKim, said the Greens had brought stable government to Tasmania and allowed the government to run full-term. He said the Greens were the only party thinking of Tasmania’s future and not playing politics.

Giddings said the ALP had decided that it would never again enter into an alliance with the Greens, regardless of the election outcome. “There will be no power-sharing arrangement with the Greens,” Giddings said.

Giddings claimed that ALP supporters have told her: “Lara, you’ve got to get rid of the Greens… we like you but we don’t like the Greens.”

The Labor government has been in office since 1998 and is expected to face a heavy defeat in the election. In last year’s federal election, a statewide swing of 9.39% saw the ALP lose 3 of its 4 seats, even though 51.23% of the two-party vote still favoured the ALP.

The state of the parties in the current House of Assembly is ALP 10, Liberals 10 and Greens 5. There are 5 electorates which each return 5 members, using the Hare-Clark proportional voting system. Each electorate split 2-2-1 in 2010.

In her announcement, Giddings sought to frame the election as a contest between the ALP and the Liberal Party. She said the alliance with the Greens had “run its course”.

Hodgman

The Leader of the Opposition, Liberal Party leader Will Hodgman, is the longest-serving political leader in the nation, having held the position since March 2006. In his response to the election announcement, Hodgman said his party would support the pulp mill legislation and would not attempt to bring down the government when the Parliament meets.

South Australia will also hold an election on March 15. Whilst South Australia has fixed terms, Tasmania does not. The two states also held elections on the same day in 2006 and 2010.

Media releases from the Premier of Tasmania, Lara Giddings.

Election date set but more governing to do

The Premier, Lara Giddings, today announced that the State Election would be held on March 15.

While the election date has now been set, Ms Giddings said the Government still had important business to attend to and would not enter caretaker mode until the House of Assembly is dissolved on February 12.

Ms Giddings said voters would have a choice between a Government that was prepared to stand up for Tasmania and provide vision and leadership to take Tasmania forward and an Opposition that was full of negativity and false promises.

“Labor has provided strong leadership over the past 16 years, through both good and challenging economic times and we have laid the foundations for a stronger and more prosperous Tasmania,” Ms Giddings said.

“We’ve provided strong financial management through the toughest economic conditions the world has faced since the Great Depression.

“We’ve worked to make Tasmania one of the most dynamic small economies in the world by investing in irrigation, better road and rail transport, and jobs in growing industries like dairy, aquaculture, wine and tourism.

“We’ve moved to create better services for all Tasmanians by investing in new hospitals, more affordable housing, new child and family centres, and more support for disadvantaged Tasmanians.

“We’ve delivered major reforms in planning and health, and energy reform that’s helped to reduce electricity prices for the first time in years.

“And we worked with the former Labor federal government to help Tasmanians benefit from major national reforms such as Gonski, the NDIS, and the NBN.”

Ms Giddings said in contrast the Liberal Party had demonstrated a complete unwillingness to stand up for Tasmania and had only offered smoke and mirror policies.

“Tasmanians will have a choice between the Labor Party which has a proven track record and the Liberal Opposition which is big on promises but devoid of substance.

“We have been fighting for Tasmania’s interests in Canberra while Will Hodgman has repeatedly failed to stand up for Tasmania on the GST, NBN and Gonski.

“He has also racked up around $335 million worth of spending promises which could only be funded through job cuts, more debt and asset sales.”

Labor’s agreement with the Greens at an end

With an election date now set the agreement between Labor and the Greens is now at an end.

The Premier, Lara Giddings, said the agreement was made solely in response to the outcome of the 2010 election, in order to provide stable government for the life of the current Parliament.

“With the next election date now set we have reached the logical end of the agreement between Labor and the Greens,” Ms Giddings said.

“We have succeeded in providing responsible government and strong leadership through difficult times but this was never an arrangement that was intended to continue beyond the current term.

“I can announce I am withdrawing Nick McKim and Cassy O’Connor’s Ministerial commission, effective from tomorrow.

“I will be recommending the following appointments to the Governor:

  • Attorney General Brian Wightman will take on the Education and Skills portfolio;
  • Craig Farrell will become Minister for Corrections, Consumer Protection and Sustainable Transport;
  • Rebecca White will be Minister for Human Services; and
  • the Premier will assume responsibility for Community Development, Climate Change and Aboriginal Affairs.

“Having Labor members in these roles for the short period that remains before the election means Tasmanians will know exactly what a future Labor Cabinet will look like.”

Ms Giddings said earlier today the caucus had endorsed her motion that Labor would not have Greens in Cabinet again, regardless of the result of the March 15 election.

“We acted to provide stable government for the past four years, but it’s clear that having Greens in Cabinet has disappointed many Labor voters and made it harder for us to highlight our achievements in the current term.

“We will always be prepared to provide responsible government but Labor Party members and the Labor supporters I’ve spoken to while door-knocking are united in their belief that Labor should not have Greens in Cabinet again and I will respect and uphold their views.

“As I have said many times before, Labor will be campaigning to govern in our own right because only Labor has the values, experience and policies to take Tasmania forward.”

Parliament to be recalled

Parliament will be recalled on January 28 for a special sitting to remove doubts about the validity of the permits for the proposed Bell Bay Pulp Mill project.

The Premier, Lara Giddings, ‘doubts removal’ legislation was initially requested by Gunns’ receivers, KordaMentha.

“KordaMentha wrote to me in September 2013, asking the Government to consider introducing legislation to remove any doubt as to the ongoing validity of the Pulp Mill Permit,” Ms Giddings said.

“I replied that we were willing to take appropriate action if the sales process identified serious and credible pulp mill proponents.

“On Monday KordaMentha briefed Government that there was significant interest in the pulp mill project.

“On that basis, I advised KordaMentha that the Government’s requirement had been met and I that we would take necessary action to ensure the project is not jeopardised by doubts over whether the Permit remains valid.

In a letter received yesterday, KordaMentha reiterated the importance of doubts removal legislation, which has contributed to the State Government’s final decision.

“The passage of legislation through the Tasmanian Parliament that clarifies the validity of the Permit will enhance investor confidence and increase the likelihood that the Project will proceed,” the letter states.

“We cannot afford to wait until after the election, when Parliament may not sit until May,” Ms Giddings said.

“The sale process will conclude on March 31 and if there is no certainty around the permits, there is a real danger that the trees will be sold without the pulp mill. If there is no resource then we will never see a pulp mill built in Tasmania.

“Labor has always supported the proposed pulp mill, and the enormous boost for jobs and the economy that it could bring to Tasmania, which is why I am prepared to do whatever it takes to realise this investment.”

Ms Giddings urged the Liberal Party not to play politics with the pulp mill and to work with Labor to support the doubts removal bill through to Royal Assent.

“The challenge for Will Hodgman is to back his claimed support for the pulp mill by agreeing to vote for the Bill without playing games, knowing the election will be held on March 15 regardless.

“If Mr Hodgman plays politics with this issue he will be toying with the future of a $2 billion project which would create jobs for thousands of Tasmanians.”

Transcript of statement by Nick McKim, leader of the Greens.

McKim

We can confirm that this morning the Premier informed us that she would be advising the governor to withdraw our Ministerial commissions effective tomorrow, and that she would set an election date of March 15.

She also told us that she would be recalling parliament to debate a doubts removal Bill on the divisive and toxic pulp mill proposal, which of course the Greens will not support.

Of course we conveyed our disappointment to her, but nevertheless it is her prerogative as Premier to take these actions.

We also expressed to her that the pulp mill is the wrong direction, not only for the Tamar Valley, but for the entire future of this beautiful island that is a beacon to the rest of the country and the world.

We also told her that Tasmania can create far more jobs, and far greater value, from other ways of downstream processing the plantation resource than the pulp mill, particularly as it does not have the community support to ever be built.

But, today is about far more than just the pulp mill. It’s about the entire future direction of Tasmania’s economy, and our people.

It’s about whether we want to continue to work together towards a new future for Tasmania, or whether we will be plunged back into conflict and division, back into the failed business and political models of the past.

Labor’s decision, supported in lockstep by the Liberal party, to recall parliament to debate enabling legislation for the pulp mill, is all about politics.

This morning, Labor and Liberal woke up, as they did in 1987, totally fixated on a pulp mill. The Greens are the only ones who woke up this morning looking to the future.

And again, this morning Labor and Liberal woke up thinking only about politics, and only the Greens woke up focussed on Tasmania’s future.

We have delivered on our promise of stable government, and we’ve respected the will of the Tasmanian people expressed at the ballot box in 2010.

This government has gone full term, and we have delivered on our promise of driving the transition to a new economy.

Just today we’ve seen figures released that show Tasmania’s unemployment rate coming down for the fifth consecutive month, bucking the national trend, precisely because of the four years of Greens in government driving our economic vision of jobs and prosperity in the new economy.

Ultimately, we’ve had our Ministerial commissions withdrawn for driving the new economy in Tasmania, for driving Labor towards the jobs rich future that lies in industry sectors where Tasmania has a competitive advantage over the rest of the world.

Sectors like ICT and the digital economy, the creative economy, tourism, agriculture based on our priceless clean green brand, fine food, quality wines and beverage at the macro and micro level, science, aged care and international education.

Tasmanians already know that this is the best place in Australia to live, and if we make the right decisions the rest of the country will come to know it too.

It’s been a privilege to serve as Ministers in the Tasmanian government, and we are very proud of the outcomes that we’ve delivered for Tasmania.

We’re proud of being part of a co-operative government that has by any measure been an effective, strong and stable government prepared to make difficult decisions in challenging times for Tasmania.

We’ve delivered on our promise of achieving critical social, economic and environmental reforms.

In my portfolio areas we have seen Tasmania’s Educational outcomes improving faster than the rest of Australia in every single NAPLAN measure over the last two years.

We’ve invested more into the early years, with our nation leading launching into learning program now for the first time available in every single government primary school in Tasmania.

We’ve moved Tasmania to a four term school year to improve educational outcomes.

We’ve created TasTAFE, a substantial and enduring reform to the public provision of Vocational Education and Training.

We’ve launched 26 TEN, the leading adult literacy program in Australia.

Tasmania is now a safer place thanks to successful corrections reform.

And we’ve delivered on our promise of protecting Tasmania’s precious high conservation forests, including an extra 170 000 hectares into the World Heritage Area, and we’ve delivered on our promise to end the community division and conflict over forestry.

And we’ve driven reform of the energy sector, which sees electricity prices now coming down in Tasmania, again bucking the national trend.

And we’ve done this all while, like every other state and territory government in Australia, we’ve faced significant fiscal challenges which we’ve met head on.

Those are hugely significant achievements that will stand Tasmania in good stead, well into the future.

We also acknowledge and thank the Tasmanian public service for the outstanding support they have given us as Ministers.

I can’t speak highly enough of their professionalism and dedication to serving the Tasmanian people.

Also, a massive shout-out to my staff, who have gone above and beyond so many times.

Today the Premier announced the date for the election.

There is no doubt that Tasmanians want change. While Labor and Liberal remain focussed on the past, we offer that positive change. We want to see Tasmania create its own future, and we want to work with the Tasmanian people to deliver that future.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email