Christine Milne press conference, Hobart, 24 August 2014
Federal budget impact on Tasmania
Will Hodgman has really got a big problem on his hands. He has already had to come out and promise at least $36 million over the next few years to cover a big hole that Tony Abbott has created. Tony Abbott went out after pensioners, he has gone out and said he will not support that rebate for rates, and for electricity, and other things. So, Will Hodgman has said he will come up with the money. The reason he has got the money this year is because of the carbon price. Now that it has been abolished where is he going to get the revenue next year?
Tony Abbott has really smashed Tasmania hard. He’s smashed us hard because we have a lot of people who are pensioners or who receive some benefit from the Commonwealth Government. He’s hit us hard because our big competitive advantage in Tasmania is renewable energy and the carbon price was bringing in millions. The Hydro is going to go from more than $200 million in profit to less than $20 million next year. That means there will be no dividend to the State Government. My question to Will Hodgman is, now that Tony Abbott and Eric Abetz have smashed the Tasmanian University, hitting jobs at the Antarctic Division, taking money out of the pockets of pensioners, where are the Liberals in Tasmania going to get the money from to plug these holes?
The federal cuts have really wrecked the Tasmanian budget and capacity to do things in Tasmania. When you take away the carbon price, when you smash the renewable energy target that undermines investment and jobs fair the very things Tasmania desperately needs. The hit to the university: that is a really bad thing for Tasmania because on the north-west coast you have got more and more people trying to go back and get a degree after having left school early or after having lost jobs in many traditional industries. The university has been hit. Then all of the welfare beneficiaries in Tasmania have been hit by losing their concessions.
What Will Hodgman is trying to do is insulate himself from the damage that Tony Abbott has inflicted but the question is: where is he going to get the money to plug these holes? He should have been out condemning Tony Abbott for abandoning carbon pricing, he should have been out backing the Greens, saying this is the best thing for Tasmania. Instead, he has now got a big budget hole to fill.
The Tasmanian Government is running dead. When did we hear anything from a State Government minister getting stuck into Tony Abbott for abandoning Tasmania's absolute competitive advantage in renewable energy? Not a peep out of them. They have not been out there complaining about Tony Abbott. We should have had Will Hodgman having a press conference getting stuck into Eric Abetz. Instead, Eric Abetz is hiding and pretending that he supports the renewable energy target. Well he does not, and my challenge to Eric Abetz and to all the other Liberals in Tasmania is, if you support the renewable energy target as it is, cross the floor, that is the test.
Tasmanian forests legislation
The Tasmanian Government is not being upfront with the Tasmanian people about what they are doing on the forests. This is yet another of their totally backward looking moves. Not only are they repealing the reserves but they are opening up additional areas to make them available for logging for specialty timbers. They should come out and admit that is what they are doing. They are bringing in draconian legislation that would take away people's right to protest, opening up reserves to logging, and then trying to say to people around the world: come to Tasmania - clean and green - come and look at our wilderness. They cannot have it both ways. They need to recognise that we have got to move on and this complete disaster they are engaged in with native forest logging - no doubt will see them pushing to try and build a forest furnace to burn forests - that will be their next thing. It is so backward it should not be allowed to be unchallenged. The Premier and Mr Gutwin need to come out and admit that they are going to open up reserves as well is repealed the existing reserves to allow the accessing of specialty timbers. It is disgraceful.