Wednesday, 12 September 2018
The motion is seconded. Tasmanians are rightly outraged as they pick up their newspaper today and see reports about the conversation between the Treasurer of Tasmania and the now Prime Minister. Tasmanians have allegedly been called beggars by the Prime Minister. Tasmanians who are queuing up in our hospitals and are currently ramped in an ambulance at the Royal Hobart Hospital, Tasmanians who are seeking mental health services at the Launceston General Hospital, and Tasmanians who are trying to access specialists on our north-west and west coasts are beggars, according to the Prime Minister. They're not Australians trying to seek the same health services as every other Australian, according to our Prime Minister.
It is an outrageous slur on Tasmanians and it goes to the character of this Prime Minister. It goes to the character of this Prime Minister that he will, behind closed doors, say things like this about Tasmania and Tasmanians and show such complete disregard for Tasmania in a private conversation that clearly happened, because the Treasurer of Tasmania, one of his friends, hasn't denied this conversation happened. All he's denied are the actual words. Clearly there was a very heated conversation and clearly a conversation took place where the current Prime Minister allegedly called Tasmanians beggars.
This Prime Minister really needs to come to Tasmania. He's been down once, as we heard from the shadow Treasurer. He's been down just once in the last three years in his term, and it's only because of the Braddon by-election that he come down. In fact, his trip was so quick, I actually missed it. He just flew in and flew out and nobody really noticed he was there. That's because he doesn't actually care about Tasmania, and that is apparent.
It's also very clear, unfortunately, that the Tasmanian Liberals have no influence here in Canberra and that the federal Liberal Party is not taking the Tasmanian Liberals seriously, whether it be the Senate team or whether it be the Liberal state government. This does not bode well for Tasmania. It does not bode well for Tasmania in GST discussions, it does not bode well for Tasmania when it comes to funding our education system, it does not bode well for Tasmania when it comes to health funding and it does not bode well at all for Tasmanians who expect the Prime Minister to treat us like every other Australian—to treat us the same as he treats his friends at Cronulla.
This is an outrageous slur against Tasmanians, and Tasmanians actually deserve an apology from this Prime Minister for speaking like that to the Treasurer of Tasmania, who is supposed to be his friend. You can imagine the muppet show over there—who's friends with whom? They go over here, they do a little dance and a little show and they try and pretend they're authentic. They try and pretend that they like Tasmanians when they come down. It is outrageous what is going on over on that side—the disunity and the dysfunction from this government continues with this leak. It is outrageous that they would say such things about Tasmanians. But, as I said, it really does go to the character of our Prime Minister.
Our Prime Minister should be prepared, in a phone call with the state Treasurer, to discuss a serious issue like GST funding, which Tasmanians rely on more than most states to fund essential services. This is a very serious issue. We talk about the muppet show and dysfunction and chaos, but Tasmanians actually need these funds. Tasmanians actually rely on them to fund our essential services. It is not good enough for the Prime Minister to have this conversation in private and to say things that clearly happened in this conversation that implied Tasmanians are beggars. We should not have to put up with this. It is not okay that this has happened, and the Prime Minister really does need to say to Tasmanians: 'I'm sorry for what I've said. I'm sorry I've been caught out. I'm sorry that this has occurred.' He needs to say 'I'm sorry' to Tasmanians for this conversation.
The fact that the Treasurer of Tasmania, as I said, has not denied that a conversation occurred is actually damning on the Prime Minister. The fact that he has not said that there was not a heated conversation is damning of this Prime Minister. But, as we heard from the shadow Treasurer, we expect these leaks to continue because we know that they are still not united on that side. We know that they still don't trust each other. That is clearly apparent. We know that the disunity, the dysfunction and the chaos on that side of politics is going to continue, and it will continue to the detriment of Tasmanians and it will continue to the detriment, I'm sure, of other Australians. But this Prime Minister should actually come in here, say sorry and start treating Tasmanians the same as every other Australian. This has been an outrageous slur and he should fix it.