Scrutiny of government
The role of Members of the Legislative Council is to scrutinise government and hold political parties to account. This important role is best performed by Independent Members. A properly functioning Legislative Council can ensure integrity and accountability. As the Independent Member for Nelson I would assess all proposals against:
1. evidence that they will achieve what is claimed;
2. the views of people in the electorate; and
3. the cost/benefit to future generations.
I also believe an Independent Member should put forward their own ideas and policies.
A good education sets up students for life and is one of the most important investments government can make. We need to continue the cultural shift towards Year 12 being regarded as the ‘new normal’. Year 10 should no longer be the end point of education. This is one of the biggest challenges our education system faces and one which we must continue to prioritise.
I support investing more in preventative health, such as good nutrition and active lifestyles. Important basics can help prevent chronic disease later in life such as type 2 diabetes. The ‘slip, slop, slap’ message has weakened over time and we need to re-invest in this simple but effective strategy to reduce skin cancer because Tasmania still has one of the highest rates of sunburn in Australia.
The hospital system needs better resources for people who need urgent medical help. I plan on being particularly rigorous in monitoring funding and making sure GST payments made to Tasmania for health are actually spent on hospitals and services.
I will campaign for free Metro buses in peak hour in southern Tasmania. Evidence from previous trials in Tasmania of free buses has shown a 14% increase in patronage. This means fewer cars on the roads. This is one immediate step we can take to reduce congestion now. It will take time to investigate large-scale transport options, like adding a fifth lane to the Southern Outlet, and we need to act in the meantime to stop the problem getting worse.
I have proposed to the Infrastructure Minister, Hobart Lord Mayor and Kingborough Mayor that they form a joint venture to trial free Metro buses between Kingborough and Hobart in peak hour to cut congestion. A copy of my letter is here and the associated costing is here.
Tasmania has a shortage of the most fundamental kind – houses that people can afford to buy or rent. To help address the housing shortage, I support investigation of a government policy requiring 10% of residences at new large developments being made affordable for people on low incomes. This is called ‘inclusionary zoning’ and has been successfully used in NSW, South Australia and the ACT as well as London and New York.
As the Member for Nelson, I would continue to prioritise this issue by tabling a bill for a Tasmanian Human Rights Act. If passed, this would make Tasmania the third Australian jurisdiction after Victoria and ACT with such laws.
In 2007 an inquiry by the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute (TLRI) found that when proposed new laws are examined by State Parliament, there is no formal assessment of impacts on basic rights such as education, health or housing. The TLRI recommended that State Parliament should pass a human rights law to fix this problem. That recommendation has not been adopted so in 2016 I started the Tasmanian Human Rights Act Campaign to raise awareness.
Tasmania is trading with renewed confidence and purpose. The geographic isolation previously an economic inhibitor now advantages us as a positive point of difference against competitors. In a world increasingly overcrowded, over-developed and polluted, Tasmania has specialist products and unmatchable experiences to sell to the world. Making the right decisions to maintain our competitive advantages is a key economic challenge. This means being strategic enough to tread our own path and not blindly copy others. For these reasons I support policies which attract investment that is consistent with our core brand.
Protecting our unique environment is the right thing to do for Tasmanians today, and for future generations. I am fortunate enough to have bushwalked through the Tarkine and support national park and world heritage status for this area so future generations have the same opportunities to visit this awe inspiring and special place.
On other emerging issues…
Please get in touch directly if you have any questions or comments or would like to raise any other issues of concern.