Jeremy Rockliff

Premier of Tasmania

Mr Speaker,

It is a privilege and honour to serve the people of Tasmania as their 47th Premier.

It is a job of enormous responsibility – one I take with genuine commitment to making the lives of Tasmanians better.

Better today, better tomorrow and better for many, many years to come.

Tasmania today is very different to the Tasmania when we first came to Government in 2014.

After nine years under a majority Liberal Government, Tasmania is now a growing state with a story to tell – growing in diversity, industry, innovation, attraction, and creativity.

Mr Speaker,

To know where we’re going, it’s important to reflect on the past and what Tasmania was like under the former Labor-Green Government.

Our economy was in recession.  Business confidence was destroyed, private investment had withered away, and Tasmanians were buying a one-way ticket out of here.

I will never forget the conversations I had with Tasmanians during those days. They were dark and challenging times, and under my watch, I will do everything possible to make sure Tasmania never goes back to those days again.

Our health system under Labor and the Greens was starved of funding, wards were closed, nurses were sacked and beds were locked away.

Our education system was leaving young Tasmanians behind and hundreds of social housing stock was sold off just to pay for capital upgrades, with maintenance left by the wayside.

Mr Speaker,

On our side of the House we understand that you need a strong economy to pay for the essential services, infrastructure and support Tasmanians need.

Mr Speaker,

I am focused on getting things done.

Tasmania has come a long way under this Government.

Our economy is nation leading, we have the most confident businesses in the country, a record low unemployment rate of 4%, down from 7.4% when we took office – meaning more Tasmanians are working than ever before.

In fact, more than 54,000 jobs have been created since this Government came to office, and Tasmanians are being rewarded with the highest wages growth in the country over the past year.

Our total exports were at a record level of $6 billion to September 2022.  Retail spend is up, and our plan to market Tasmania as a premium destination is working, with visitor spend a record three and a half billion dollars for the year ending December 2022.

Building approvals remain at elevated levels. Our record breaking $5.6 billion infrastructure program is turbo-charging the economy and creating jobs, while delivering better roads and bridges, schools, hospitals and facilities communities need.

To put our investment in perspective, the Government’s expenditure on roads and bridges alone last year was three times more than was committed in 2013, a year before we formed Government.

And, across Government we are delivering what was promised, with 99% of the infrastructure budget delivered last financial year.

Mr Speaker,

A good performing economy allows us to invest in essential services.  And we are.

A record $11.2 billion into health, $8.5 billion into education, $1.5 billion into housing, and more than $330 million this year and across the forward estimates to help Tasmanians with cost-of-living pressures, including substantial energy relief.

The hallmark of this Liberal Government has always been strong budget management, our Revised Estimates Report released this month confirms a significant improvement in the Net Operating Balance, the Fiscal Balance and Net Debt.

These results put us in a strong position to weather economic headwinds and allow us to continue to make strategic investments in cost of living relief, health and housing for Tasmanians.

Mr Speaker,

Tasmania is the envy of the world.

Our time has come.

And it is what we do with this time that matters.

My focus as Premier is on getting things done – to:

  • Grow our economy;
  • Support 20,000 more jobs over 5 years;
  • Take action on cost-of-living pressures;
  • Deliver a world-class health system;
  • Deliver further education improvements;
  • Build the homes Tasmanians need;
  • Keep our communities safe; especially our children and
  • Protect and promote what makes Tasmania special.

Grow our economy

Mr Speaker,

This majority Liberal Government has taken our economy from economic laggard to economic leader.

There are more people than ever calling Tasmania home.

In 2014, we set a bold and ambitious target to grow Tasmania’s population to 650,000 by the year 2050.

We did this because our economy was languishing, and population growth was wavering between stagnation and decline.

Since we launched the Tasmanian Population Growth Strategy in 2015, focusing on job creation and strengthening our economy, migration and liveability, our population has grown at an unprecedented rate, and is expected to continue to do so.

We want Tasmanians and those who migrate here to have opportunity.  To have a home, access to a great education, world-class healthcare, skills and training, and career pathways.

Tasmania is building its reputation as a global gateway for innovation and commerce.

If there’s one thing I’ve heard from business leaders recently - it’s Tasmania’s time.

And it’s time to get things done.

We have secured our identity in the global economy.

It’s why as a majority Liberal Government we will always back our business and industry to innovate, accelerate and prosper.

We’ve just launched our Small Business Growth Strategy 2026, delivering grants to help small business grow.

Our significant boost in exports shows that Tasmania has what the world wants.

Our agri-food sector has grown to $3.52 billion, putting us on track to reach our target of $10 billion by 2050.

Under this Government more farmers than ever before now have access to reliable irrigation water, with some 18 schemes now in place.

We are working to progress additional projects, including the Don, Northern Midlands, Sassafras Wesley Vale, Tamar and South-East irrigation schemes.

Over the next five years these projects are estimated to deliver 3500 jobs, more than $450 million in on-farm investment and over 130 000 megalitres of highly reliable irrigation water.

Mr Speaker,

We are growing our Blue Economy through the responsible use and stewardship of our marine estate, including via our Tasmanian Salmon Industry Plan informed by world leading practice, science and consultation.

Our Shellfish Market Access Program is supporting the oyster industry, our Building our Fisheries policy backs our commercial fisheries sector, and we are improving access and facilities to support recreational fishers.

We are extending the Abalone Industry Reinvestment Fund to provide ongoing and dedicated invasive urchin control and supporting research and activities to underpin our abalone fishery.

We are also extending our support of the Rock Lobster Translocation Program to help rebuild stocks of our iconic rock lobster on our East Coast.

And it is this Liberal Government which is delivering facility upgrades to enhance trout angler access to our world class inland waterways.

Mr Speaker,

Forestry and mining are the backbone of many of our regional communities, and we are giving the industry the confidence it needs to invest and grow jobs.

We have strengthened our workplace protection laws, ensuring Tasmanians working in our forests are better able to go about their jobs without threat or intimidation from radical protestors.

Forestry exports are up, we’re helping the industry to innovate and diversify, and we’re working with Sustainable Timber Tasmania to realise the carbon potential of our forests.

Mr Speaker,

The mining sector accounts for over 60% of our mercantile exports by value, supports more than 5 000 jobs, and provides tens of millions in royalties and other fees to Tasmanian taxpayers.

We are backing this important industry having stopped the land lock-ups, doubled our mineral exploration spend, moved Mineral Resources Tasmania to Burnie, and provided funding to keep mining at the global forefront of innovation.

With the world moving to a renewable energy future, Tasmania is in the box seat to provide many of the key minerals needed to power this transition.

It’s why we’ve committed $2 million to a refreshed Geoscience Initiative, on top of an additional $1.5 million for our popular Exploration Drilling Grants Initiative.

Mr Speaker,

There is no doubt that our most significant economic, environmental, social and community game-changer lies in our globally leading renewable energy strategy.

Tasmanians are proud of their Hydro. It’s placed us at the forefront of renewable energy development in Australia.

But make no mistake, we are still facing challenges as we grow as a state.

Hydro isn’t cheap to maintain, and it doesn’t generate all the energy we will need for the future as demand grows.

It’s why we have a plan to make sure Tasmanians continue to have access to the most clean, affordable and reliable energy in the country.

Under our plan, we are developing new renewable energy capacity, which we need to keep downward pressure on prices, and ensure our energy system continues to grow with our expanding population and economy.

We want to be able to support our existing industries and attract new ones.

Through our partnership with the Federal Government on Marinus Link, we now have certainty for the project and a clear pathway to Final Investment Decision in late 2024.

Marinus Link provides confidence for our renewable energy proponents, including wind, solar and green hydrogen, looking to invest here in Tasmania.

We will soon be releasing an update to the Renewable Energy Action Plan, Powered by Tasmania, focussed on accelerating renewable energy developments.

Mr Speaker,

We need to be connected to the national grid so that we play our part in helping Australia and the rest of the world meet its emissions targets, and so that we can sell excess energy when we have it - and import power if we need it.

That’s why Marinus is so important.

Make no mistake, pulling out of the national network would see power bills soar and make it harder to keep the lights on.

We do know power bills are hurting.

That’s why we have direct support for the vulnerable, and loans for business to make them more energy efficient.

We also know households and businesses are facing short-term energy price pressures. That’s why we are delivering the most generous electricity concessions of all the states.

In addition, we have made available an Energy Assistance Package - a $180 Bill Buster Payment, Energy Saver Loans Scheme, Hardship Relief, and we’ve made Aurora+ available for free.

We have also announced the establishment of a loan scheme for commercial and industrial energy users to support investment in energy efficiency.

We are building on this support.

We’ve made provision for $33 million toward the National Energy Bill Relief program, which is close to being finalised through National Cabinet. This package will provide further support to households and small businesses doing it tough.

We are also aware there are larger commercial and industrial businesses, that are being hard hit coming off non-regulated contracts that are not within the proposed national relief package.

We will be implementing our own state-based program for this group of businesses, through hardship payments of up to $20,000.

Furthermore, I have tasked Treasury to look at how we develop a renewable energy dividend payment for all Tasmanians, so that as these significant renewable energy projects come online, all Tasmanians reap the benefits.

Mr Speaker,

Our plan will always ensure Tasmania has among the lowest power prices in Australia.

A price cap isn’t the answer.

Labor knows this.

They know it will kill retail competition, drive prices up, make our systems harder and more expensive to maintain and cost $50 million dollars a year to implement.

Mr Speaker,

Marinus also brings an enhanced telecommunication future for Tasmania.

Growing our digital technology capability will attract business from across the globe.

We all remember the digital disruption to our lives when the cable went down.

More than ever digital capacity is essential to growing Tasmania’s economy.

The Marinus project will bring fibre optic cabling to enhance our digital environment.

To further supercharge Tasmania’s economy and provide added protection against digital disruption we are also investing $1.5 million to identify additional subsea digital cabling opportunities across Bass Strait.

This is an important investment in Tasmania’s future to attract and develop new opportunities including in the research and business sectors which rely on digital connectivity.

We will also deliver a whole of Government strategy to address the digital divide through innovative solutions.

Support 20,000 jobs over the next five years

Mr Speaker,

Together with our $5.6 billion infrastructure spend over the next four years, our industry innovation, attraction and growth plans, and our urban renewal projects, we will support the creation of over 20,000 more Tasmanian jobs in the next five years.

As our population grows, we need to ensure we have the skills and training in place to meet industry needs.

What we don’t want is paperwork standing in the way of jobs, which is why I wrote the Prime Minister this month urging a fix to the skilled migration system to fast-track visa processing.

First and foremost, I want Tasmanians to have the best chance of getting a job.

That’s why we’re transforming our skills and training systems to be modern and fit-for-purpose.

It’s why we passed legislation in 2021 to make TasTAFE a Government business, and we’ve delivered new training infrastructure right across the state.

In the next 12 months we will deliver stage one of the new TasTAFE Agricultural Training Centre of Excellence in the North West, the TasTAFE Water and Energy Trades Centre of Excellence in the South, and TasTAFE’s first ever Cyber Security Operations Centre.

Our Jobs Tasmania agenda is delivering for Tasmanian jobseekers, businesses, and local communities.

The Regional Jobs Hub Network has supported almost 3,000 Tasmanians into work and helped over 1200 people to connect to training opportunities to up skill them for the future.

What makes the Jobs Hub model work is the personalised support they provide for individuals who aren’t eligible, or who have been let down, by other service providers.

People like Jason from Launceston who faced a few personal life challenges and had been out of the workforce for some time.

Jason didn’t know what was next for him until he walked through the doors of the Northern Employment and Business Hub and was connected to a job at Progress Switchboards in Rocherlea. Jason is thriving in his new workplace and has been given a renewed sense of purpose and confidence.

While almost 5,000 people like Jason have sought advice and support from a Jobs Hub, they are also helping employers find, train and retain a workforce in a very tight labour market.

Over 5 500 businesses have connected with a Jobs Hub to find the staff they need to continue to grow and meet demand.

With almost 1 500 job opportunities available across the Regional Jobs Hub Network over the next 6 months, this nation leading model is continuing to deliver for Tasmania.

Mr Speaker,

There is more that we can do – especially for our young Tasmanians.

Young Tasmanians deserve a smooth pathway from school into the world of work. That is why we are developing a Youth Jobs Strategy.

Over the next 12 months, Jobs Tasmania will be working closely with the Department for Education, Children and Young People, the Youth Network of Tasmania, Jobs Hubs and other service providers to examine how we can better support young people as they transition from school to work or further education and training.

Tasmania can play a crucial role in the transition to green energy, while generating employment opportunities and attracting major investment. To best position our State to take advantage of new opportunities, our Government will produce a Tasmanian Critical Minerals Strategy. The Strategy will help identify on-island resources, drive investment and grow jobs, particularly in our regions.

It's essential we have a capable and highly skilled workforce to deliver major projects in renewable energy infrastructure, including hydrogen, Marinus Link and Battery of the Nation.

That’s why today I am excited to announce as part of our Energy Jobs Plan we will upskill industry specialists, employ more vocational teachers and expand our training capacity.

This will increase our ability to meet industry’s growth plans and ensure we are able to establish and grow a nation leading clean energy sector here in Tasmania.

Take action on cost-of-living pressures

Mr Speaker,

A strong economy underpins jobs and means we can take better care of Tasmanians.

It means more money for supports and services and gives us the funds to help relieve cost of living pressures.

Our Government understands the community sector is experiencing increased demand at the same time as their operational costs are going up.

It’s why we increased indexation on our funding to 3% last year and will further consider fair and reasonable indexation as part of this year’s State Budget.

In addition, as I have already outlined to the community sector, it is our government’s intention to implement an outcomes framework to ensure ongoing sustainability and stability of the sector through five-year contracts.

Deliver a world-class health system

Mr Speaker,

A strong economy enables more investment into healthcare and that’s exactly what we’re delivering.

Under this Liberal Government, Tasmania’s health system has the highest level of funding and staff on record.

We are spending $11.2 billion on health across the forward estimates – more than $7.25 million every day.

Since 2014, we’ve employed almost 14 hundred additional nurses, 390 additional doctors, 310 additional allied health professionals and 220 additional paramedics and dispatch officers.

And today, I can announce that the additional 97 temporary Ambulance Tasmania positions deployed in response to COVID-19 will all be made permanent.

Mr Speaker,

What I want to see as Premier and Minister for Health and Mental Health and Wellbeing, is Tasmanians being able to access the healthcare they need, when they need it.

We are slashing elective surgery waiting times and delivering record numbers of surgeries – more per capita than any other State – with our $196.4 million State-wide Elective Surgery plan.

Today I am announcing we will allocate four-year funding to significantly increase State funding for endoscopy procedures across Tasmania, because we know that early access to these diagnostic procedures is important for detecting certain cancers and other diseases.

In the upcoming Budget, our Government will commit an extra $38 million over four years to fund an additional 22,000 endoscopies and purchase new equipment for the Launceston General and Royal Hobart Hospitals.

Mr Speaker,

There’s no doubt that the difficulties getting into a GP and the decreasing rate of bulk billing is having a real impact on Tasmanians, meaning more Tasmanians end up at the Emergency Department.  More than 40 per cent of ED presentations Statewide are now those less urgent cases.

I want to be very clear:  Medicare is a Federal Government responsibility, and only through strengthening Medicare will we see access to GPs improve.  But our Government is being proactive - investing more into innovative primary care initiatives to improve access to healthcare for Tasmanians.

Last month we announced a partnership with the Federal Government for a $13 million jointly funded pilot to trial a single employer model for GPs and rural generalists in training.

This is about getting more GPs into communities where they are needed, improving retention and helping more Tasmanians get care.

It complements the work we are doing to strengthen Tasmania’s rural medical workforce of the future through our Rural Medical Workforce Centre based at the Mersey.

We are also providing millions in funding to GPs and pharmacies to provide more after-hours care in local communities around the State.

To further support Tasmanians to get the care they need when they need it, from Monday, 6 March, Tasmanian pharmacists will be able to supply a month of medicines after a patient’s prescription runs out, when a GP is unavailable.

This regulation change will apply to hundreds of medicines, from the oral contraceptive pill to asthma puffers.

We are also taking action to get more allied health professionals into Tasmanian regions with what will be the most generous scholarship program in the nation.

We will target final year students in 10 allied health professions where we have workforce shortages, with a $25,000 incentive should they choose Tasmania as their place to work from 2024 and commit to working in the Tasmanian Health Service for at least three years.

Mr Speaker,

Improving access to mental health services and supports for Tasmanians, wherever they live, is an absolute priority for this Government as we continue to implement significant reforms.

Next month will see the opening of the redeveloped Peacock Centre, providing four new services and 12 beds for recovery focused, compassionate, community-based mental health care.

Importantly, these new services have been co-designed in partnership with people who have lived experience of mental health.

I am pleased to see innovative mental health services expand further across the State this year, including Mental Health Hospital in the Home.

Our mental health emergency co-response initiative, PACER, has had great success assisting 1,690 Tasmanians in its first year of operation, with 75% of these people supported to remain in the community.

And I look forward to piloting a similar model this year tailored to the needs of the North-West.

Deliver further education improvements

Mr Speaker,

The foundation of a strong economy and caring community is education.

It is the most powerful driver for improving economic and social outcomes in Tasmania, including health, life expectancy, happiness and productivity.

Our 2014 election commitment to extend all high schools to year 11 and 12 has now been implemented, despite vocal opposition from Labor and the Greens.

Our students no longer face the agonising decision of leaving their local community or leaving the education system.

We have a proven track record of delivering ambitious transformations to education in Tasmania, but we know there is more to be done.

State funding for government schools, skills and training, is now at a record $8.5 billion.

We are delivering the largest State investment in education infrastructure in decades, including exciting new builds in Legana and Brighton and the North West Support School.

There are major redevelopments at Sorell School, Hobart City High School, Cambridge Primary School, Lauderdale Primary school, Exeter High School, Montello Primary School and Cosgrove High.

And we are constructing six new Child and Family Learning Centres across the state.

Improving access to early education, regardless of where you live or family circumstance, has long been a priority of mine.

We know early learning gives children the best possible start in life.

That’s why last year I announced our aspiration to provide access to early learning in the year before kindergarten - to every three year old.

During March and April this year we are embarking on an extensive information, engagement and co-design process for our expansion of early learning as we work towards this goal.

In the second half of 2023 we will be announcing pilot sites to test approaches to expanding access to early learning, in a range of different settings, co-designed with the Early Childhood Education and Care sector, and informed by the needs of local communities.

This announcement complements our targeted expansion of our nation leading Working Together program already being delivered across Tasmania.

Mr Speaker,

Every child in Tasmania has a fundamental right to learn to read, write and spell.

Learning these skills is critical to future success in learning and life and should be guaranteed in every school and every classroom.

Today the Government’s Literacy Advisory Panel is releasing its final consultation paper which will inform a framework to improve literacy from the early years to adulthood.

The paper highlights what is working, backed up by a body of research.

When it comes to schooling the evidence is very clear about the benefits of a whole of system approach to, and whole of school implementation of synthetic phonics - which is learning to read by breaking up words into sounds.

This, combined with explicit and structured teaching of all other essential components of reading, including oral language, phonological awareness, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension – is what the evidence tells us will make a positive difference.

And, we need to ensure all teachers have the skills and resources needed for this work.

Our goal is that all schools with primary-aged children can demonstrate they are implementing the elements of evidence based structured literacy as advised by the panel, by 2026, and we will work with other education sectors and national research bodies to achieve this.

Progress towards this goal will be monitored independently and reported on publicly. This will include all schools being required to adopt the National Phonics Check in Year 1.

Build the homes Tasmania needs

Mr Speaker,

A strong economy allows us to invest in more housing and that’s exactly what we’re doing.

We’ve made this a priority focus by establishing Homes Tasmania, and we’ve committed a record $1.5 billion to deliver 10,000 social and affordable homes by 2032.

We are committed to building 1500 homes by June 2023 with 745 homes delivered to date.

But with our positive population growth trend and the need for more social and affordable housing, we need to deliver even faster.

This is a matter of state significance.

We want to prioritise housing developments to build more homes, faster, particularly for those most in need.

It’s why we created Homes Tasmania.

We are getting things done.

Our planning reform agenda is progressing.

We are also undertaking a comprehensive review of local government and will act on its recommendations.

Despite all we have achieved, we recognise that there is still more we can do to deliver more homes, faster.

We have asked Homes Tasmania to identify and address delivery challenges, together with the sector and local government and advise on solutions by 30 April 2023.

If legislative changes are required, we will take action to bring this to Parliament.

We know rental stress is another major issue for many Tasmanians – we will continue to advocate to the Commonwealth Government to ensure it provides appropriate levels of rent assistance for those who need it most, while also investigating how we can at a state level improve rental affordability. Funding will be set aside in the upcoming Budget to deliver practical solutions that will make a difference, just like our successful Private Rental Incentive Program.

We have taken significant steps to help more Tasmanians into home ownership.

We will extend the popular MyHome program, which provides Tasmanians the opportunity to buy their own home with a deposit as low as 2 per cent.

Combined with other supports such as the First Home Owners Grant, this program has already seen 107 Tasmanians purchase their own home since July 2022.

Increasing the supply of affordable housing is achieved when state government, local government, and key industry sectors work together.

Build up Tassie is a program run by Centacare and St Joseph Affordable Homes, which helps vulnerable young people into work, while building affordable homes.  We will be asking the Federal Government to match our commitment of $4 million over 6 years to help more Tasmanians into jobs and more Tasmanians into homes.

We are also actively working with the Commonwealth Government to identify federal land such as Dowsing Point which we believe would be ideal to repurpose for housing.

When it comes to private developers looking to invest in housing we are incentivising them to act.

We are extending our Headworks Holidays program to provide relief from TasNetworks, water and sewage charges and support developers to bring more affordable housing online.

We know that navigating the approvals pathway for developments can be challenging, as part of our commitment to have customer focused government departments, we will be implementing a one-stop concierge service to support developers through this process.

This Government continues to deliver on our planning reform commitments and the delivery of a state-wide Tasmanian Planning Scheme. We now have 19 councils participating in the scheme, which is making our development assessment requirements and processes more consistent and efficient.

For example, the average turnaround in 2020-21 for discretionary applications with Burnie City Council was 28 days and permitted applications five days.

Today I call on councils who are yet to join our state-wide planning scheme to get on board, so we can see the same sort of turnarounds in every town, and in every region of our State.

This Liberal Government will continue to incentivise property owners to bring vacant housing into the rental market and look at innovative ways to encourage this.

We will also continue to work with the Commonwealth Government to ensure Tasmania gets its fair share of funding, and collaborate with local government on programs, partnership and land supply.

Keep our communities safe

Mr Speaker,

A strong economy allows us to invest in community safety.

And we’re getting things done.

We have more police on the beat, we’ve improved working conditions and support staff levels, we’ve invested in new and improved police stations and we’re injecting funds into Tasmania’s Special Operations Group.

We’re taking care of those who watch out for us, and we’ve implemented a comprehensive health and wellbeing program for emergency services.

Mr Speaker,

We know that bushfires are devastating, and we need to be as prepared as possible.

That’s why we have invested in our State Operations Centre and Emergency Services Hubs.

The State Fire Service Act review recommended outcomes and we’re implementing those changes, including the recent improvements to governance structures for a more coordinated approach.

We’ve committed $567 million to the Tasmanian Government Radio Network program to ensure connectivity during emergency events, and significant flood resilience initiatives, as well as mitigation planning for any future natural disasters.

Mr Speaker,

There can be no bigger priority than keeping our children safe – we all heard the horrifying accounts from victim survivors during the Commission of Inquiry hearings last year and we aren’t waiting to respond.

There are dozens of actions we have announced, are progressing and publicly reporting on, including establishing a Child and Youth Safe Organisations Framework and Reportable Conduct Scheme.

I am committed to keeping faith with victim-survivors and ensuring the mistakes of the past are never repeated.

We are also committed to ensuring that we address family violence and sexual violence in our communities.

Knowledge is power, that is why our Government is considering the efficacy of a Family Violence Disclosure Scheme for Tasmanians, which is essentially a “Right to Ask”.  This will be informed by the national review into such schemes, currently underway.

The Government is continuing to work hard to lower the rate of reoffending. This is a challenging issue requiring a substantial commitment to address intergenerational issues that impact the rate of recidivism in our community. Intervention programs are critical to reducing reoffending rates and ensuring our community is safe for all Tasmanians.

It’s why we are increasing services that support offenders to rehabilitate and successfully reintegrate into the community, and this year we will commit to ongoing permanent funding for five therapeutic staff to provide increased drug and alcohol intervention and therapeutic support in Tasmania’s correctional facilities.

We are also increasing funding to appoint additional Program Facilitators to boost the delivery of the high intensity Family Violence Offender Intervention Program and violence prevention programs, across the Tasmanian Prison Service, and we remain committed to increasing rehabilitation programs across our facilities.

We are progressing our plan to close the Ashley Youth Detention Centre and transition to contemporary therapeutic facilities and models of care by the end of 2024.

Protect and promote what makes Tasmania special

Mr Speaker,

A strong economy allows us to protect and promote what makes Tasmania special.

To ensure that we can effectively plan for growth and provide the essential services, supports and infrastructure Tasmanians need, we must better understand growth projections in every region of our State.

That’s why we’ll be turbo charging targeted regional demography work, including appointing a State Demographer to ensure we effectively plan for the needs of the Tasmanian population over the long term.

So every region of Tasmania can benefit.

Our first Strategic Regional Partnership pilot will be established with the West Coast by the end of this year, with further Partnerships to be identified soon.

These partnerships will establish a 20-year framework for planning and land use within the area.

Mr Speaker,

When it comes to our cities as major gateways of innovation and commerce, as globally unique places to live, work and visit, we must ensure they have the facilities and infrastructure they need.

That’s why we are pursuing the Macquarie Point urban renewal project, which will unlock opportunities as the gateway to the Antarctic, an international conference and convention destination and a hub of sporting and cultural events.  It will unlock transport corridors and open up housing and development opportunities.

It will deliver $2.2 billion in economic activity over 25 years, support thousands of jobs and create new industry opportunities in the sporting, tourism, hospitality, events and creative industries that Tasmania has never had a share of.

But we will also not compromise the very things that make Hobart special.

We are committed to delivering a modern and connected public transport system that utilises our river, roads and bridges to provide commuters with an attractive alternative to private car transport.

That’s why we are working with the Commonwealth Government and Greater Hobart Councils to fund and build:

  • Multiple new ferry terminals and routes;
  • A new integrated Rapid Bus Network; and
  • New and enhanced active transport corridors.

There will also be unprecedented investment in active transport corridors, providing more direct and safe links from Hobart’s suburbs to the city for walking, scootering and cycling, including upgrades to the Tasman Bridge.

The stadium on Macquarie Point will propel Tasmania onto the national and international conference and conventions stage.

It will give us an ability to attract events on a scale never before possible.

Both in the South and the North of the State.

To enable this, we must be prepared to meet existing and future demands and attract conference and business events.

There is a clear industry expectation for destinations to have quality, fit for purpose, modern facilities to cater for large scale state, national and international events.

If Labor in Tasmania had their way Tasmania would be left off the map.  The billions of dollars in economic benefit, the jobs and opportunities – they have made their position clear – they’d rather see it go to another state.

Whilst Launceston and the Northern region is well catered for by our existing commercial operators, there is a need to strategically plan for future growth in this sector.

We will work with stakeholders to undertake a demand and feasibility study for new convention facilities in Launceston. This will help inform private sector investment and complement the UTAS stadium and Inveresk precinct. It will enable the North to have a full book of events, bringing further economic, cultural and creative activity and opportunity to the city.

In the North West, we are bolstering Burnie as the export gateway to Tasmania through our $64 million Bulk Minerals Export Facility and we’re investing new infrastructure at the Port of Devonport to cater for a projected 40% increase in freight and an extra 160,000 customers on the new spirits of Tasmania.

These significant projects help take Tasmania to the world and bring the world to Tasmania, while underpinning small businesses and industry right across our state.

More people than ever will want to visit the West Coast.

Not only has it been the centrepiece for the regional screen production Bay of Fires, which our Government supported, but we’re investing in our West Coast tourism with $40 million for the next iconic walk at the Tyndall Ranges.

It is investments like these, in our regional areas, that create jobs, support business and build stronger communities.

Tourism and hospitality are major drivers of our economy and synonymous with our culture and lifestyle.  What we love about this place, visitors love too.

Our strategy for tourism is based on yield and cementing ourselves as a premium destination with unique experiences.

That plan is working.

Our tourism yield has never been stronger, at record levels of $3.49 billion for the year ending December 2022.

It is vital that our future is managed strategically without compromising our brand proposition or negatively impacting our protected areas and natural environment.

This Government takes its responsibilities for managing Tasmania’s extensive reserve estate seriously and is committed to delivering job-creating tourism projects, while upholding natural and cultural values.

We remain firmly committed to our Tourism EOI process, which encourages visitor experiences in our natural areas by inviting proposals that deliver economic opportunities, as well as visitor experiences that are the envy of the world.

This process has produced ventures we are all proud of.

From the Maydena Bike Park to Freycinet Lodge on the magnificent East Coast to Blue Derby Pod Rides in the North-East.

Last year, we took important steps to enhance the process by addressing concerns about land-banking and setting timeframes for key milestones.

We have also updated the EOI guidelines, improved information for proponents and made more information on proposals publicly available.

Projects that have been approved to proceed via the EOI process will provide investment of over $74 million and 254 jobs when fully realised.

As a State we have a new nation-leading Climate Change Act, and 2030 net zero emissions target – which is globally ambitious – yet we have the plan to achieve it.

We are committed to sustainability, and we need to make sure we deliver the actions in our sensitive areas that align to this and globally what people expect of us.

We do nature tourism well and we can continue to do that.

There is no doubt that Cableways continue to be installed in iconic locations around the globe where sensitive environmental conditions exist.

Switzerland, for example, is consistently ranked as one of the greenest and most environmentally sustainable places and has the highest concentration of point-of-Interest cableways.

We must move in this direction.

It’s why I am committed not only to the Cradle Valley Cableway, but also a cableway on Kunanyi/Mt Wellington, and I have sought advice on developing a pathway to support this to happen.

Mr Speaker,

This island has been home to Tasmanian Aboriginal people for over 40,000 years. As a Government we are working hard to ensure we are listening and learning from Tasmanian Aboriginal people, and we are committed to a pathway of Treaty and Truth-Telling.

The Aboriginal Advisory group had its first meeting earlier this year and is being supported to undertake whatever work it feels is needed to determine how we should approach this important conversation, including investigating work underway in other jurisdictions, undertaking research, seeking specialist advice and most importantly, consulting with Aboriginal people right across the State.

Later this year, Australians will have their say in a referendum on whether to update the Constitution to include an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament.

Just last month, I was pleased to co-sign a Statement of Intent, alongside all other First Ministers, that committed all Governments to working collaboratively to support a Constitutionally-enshrined Voice to Parliament, and ensure the integrity of the referendum process.

Alongside this important work, a priority for the Tasmanian Government in the year ahead will be to deliver better outcomes for Tasmanian Aboriginal people and their families, including:

  • Introducing new, stronger, Tasmanian Aboriginal Cultural Heritage legislation to Parliament;
  • Legislating amendments to the Aboriginal Lands Act 1995 to facilitate the return of more land; and
  • Working with Tasmanian Aboriginal Community-Controlled organisations to build their capacity to deliver services in and for their own communities.

Mr Speaker,

A stronger economy allows us to invest in more connected, active and inclusive communities.

We want more Tasmanians participating in sport at a community level, and we want the supports, facilities and pathways from grassroots to national levels.

We have seen from the Jack Jumpers that when we invest in the team and in the facilities and infrastructure they need, the team has success and Tasmania has success.

It’s why we are the strongest supporters for a Tasmanian AFL team, the infrastructure to support the team across the state, and we are so close.

Mr Speaker,

I am committed to ensure more Tasmanians regardless of their age or background, get active and have somewhere to play. Recognising this, Sport and Recreation within the Department of State Growth will become Active Tasmania, which we will immediately charge with conducting a whole-of-State facilities audit to determine what new or upgraded community sporting facilities are needed to keep up with demand, and an Active 2030 Strategy that will be developed to ensure no Tasmanian misses out on the social and physical benefits of getting active, playing sports and participating in recreation activities.

To assist, this process we are delivering a package of initiatives, including committing $10 million over two years for a Tasmanian Active Infrastructure Grants Program to fund community sporting facility upgrades across the State, and $2 million for immediate upgrades at the Moonah and Clarence Sports Centres.

We will ensure that the opportunities brought about by the Northern Suburbs Community Hub development in Mowbray are fully realised to ensure community activities and sports have a new home they’ll be proud of in the north of the state. And we will also contribute $2.5 million to enable works to begin straight away on the George Town Aquatics Health and Wellbeing Centre, which will provide improved wellness and health outcomes for that community.


Mr Speaker,

Tasmanians elected a majority Liberal Government to transform Tasmania.

To put up an open for business sign, create jobs and economic security and Budget certainty.

We are getting on with the job and on all fronts we have delivered.

But we need continuous improvement.  Or we will get left behind.

The Tasmanian Liberal Government will continue to do everything that it can to create a positive investment environment.

We will continue to create a Tasmania that has the confidence and trust to invest in our State for the long term.

We have, and will continue, to make hard decisions.

Now is the time to keep our foot on the accelerator, to increase momentum, and raise our sights even higher.

In conclusion, let me be clear:

I will always stand up for everyday Tasmanians.

Together we will build a better Tasmania through innovation and hard work.

We will build a stronger economy that gives us the means to deliver the infrastructure and services Tasmanians need and deserve.

We will get things done, facing the challenges ahead in housing, health, cost of living and economic growth.

We will never shirk a challenge or miss an opportunity to make Tasmania the best place on earth to live, work, visit and raise a family.

Thank you.