Senate debates

Tuesday, 13 February 2018



8:24 pm

Photo of Nick McKimNick McKim (Tasmania, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank Senator Bilyk for sharing that really poignant speech with the Senate tonight. I take great pride in being a senator for the state of Tasmania, and an even greater pride in being Tasmanian. You know, we're lucky down there. We live in one of the most beautiful parts of the world—if not the most beautiful part of the world—with magnificent natural wilderness, mountains, forests and coastlines that the rest of the country can only dream about. And I've no doubt that the rest of the country—and, indeed, the rest of the world—is starting to catch on about everything Tasmania has to offer. Tasmanian people are kind hearted, generous and resilient, and we regularly donate far more per capita to charitable appeals than any other state or territory in the country.

We're ready, right now in Tasmania, to set a standard the rest of the world can follow. If we make the right decision in the next few years, we can offer an unrivalled quality of life to every man, woman and child who's lucky enough to call Tasmania home. Our island can be a centre of creativity where people are free to choose their own goals and make their own choices in life, surrounded by beautiful forests, coastline and natural environment and a friendly and welcoming people.

With that in mind, I conducted a very small democratic experiment and asked on my Facebook page what people wanted to see happen in Tasmania, not in the short term—an electoral cycle or two—but over the next 20 years. I want to share some of their hopes, ideas and dreams with you tonight.

Carole Benham says she wants to see 'a welcoming, inclusive community powered by renewable energy, sustainable enterprises and a thriving hub of creativity'. Bob Moon called for 'water security, healthy river systems and public transport options'. Meg Borg also wants better public transport, whilst Sarah-Jane Clarke called for passenger trains in Devonport, Launceston and Hobart. Robert O'Keefe says: 'Tasmania's climate, clean power and low cost of living make it perfect for data centres and IT work. We should be building a nation-leading IT industry.' Liz Cameron says: 'Tassie has to save its wilderness. That will be its biggest drawcard as more and more people seek the balm it provides.' Larry Forbes says we should evacuate Manus Island and Nauru detention centres and resettle the detainees in Tasmania. Alex Martin calls for closed-loop recycling, while Leaps Vincent says what the state needs is 'renewables, renewables, renewables, no pokies, no fish farms and transparent political donations'. With what I'm sure some colleagues would agree was mildly unparliamentary language, Gustav Risberg called industrial fish farms 'the most critical assault on our island'. Finally, Aaron Miller says, 'I'm not from Tassie, but an AFL team is overdue.' Well, whether you're from Tassie or not, Aaron, welcome to the fight for a Tassie AFL team. I can only say, 'Hear, hear,' to you and many of the other people who shared their hopes for Tasmania.

So our people, our Tasmanians, want our state to be clean, green and as welcoming as they are. It doesn't always seem this way down in Tassie, but all of those ideas are within our state's grasp if we want to create our own future and make our own choices. I hearken back to the days of the Franklin Dam dispute, when all the political power seemed locked up in the hands of the two establishment parties and the big corporate interests that then ran—and to a large degree, unfortunately, still run—Tasmania. It never seemed, back in those days, that the Franklin Dam could be stopped. Later on, more recently, it never seemed that the Gunns Ltd pulp mill could be stopped. It never seemed that Tasmania could be such a hub for the arts with a world-class gallery like MONA, which seemed so unthinkable just a few decades ago. It seemed impossible 20 years ago that marriage equality could happen in Tasmania, but every single electorate in Tasmania supported it in the recent postal survey, and Tasmania effectively finished equal second of all the Australian states in that survey. We are far, far more progressive in Tasmania than the north islanders like to give us credit for. A few months ago, it seemed impossible that we could break the shackles of poker machines in our pubs and clubs, but we stand now on the cusp of achieving that. At the moment, it seems impossible that our state could be represented with our own standalone team in the AFL or our own standalone AFL women's team, but we'll keep pushing for it, and one day we're going to get it. All of those progressions start with the simple step of people standing up, having a crack and demanding that our state be run in the interests of the many, not the privileged few.

It's a rapidly changing world at the moment. What we see happening on our news on a regular basis can be frightening, but if you wanted to design somewhere to thrive and prosper in the challenging, rapidly changing world of the 21st century you'd basically end up designing Tasmania. It's those places that are the smallest and the most networked and that have the most tight-knit communities that can change rapidly and adapt best. Our size allows us to be nimble, to react more quickly and to work together using our established communities and networks to maximise our advantages. And what advantages they are: some of the cleanest air in the world and some of the cleanest, most abundant fresh water in the world; our spectacular nature—our forests, our coastlines, our mountains, our button grass plains and our carbon-rich forests; our magnificent Aboriginal cultural heritage; our world-leading expertise in renewable energy and in agriculture; our fantastic and productive soils; and the respect and love for the place that we all call home.

Tasmania can be a beacon of sustainability not just for the rest of the country but for the rest of the world. It can be a place that is respected, loved and treasured, a place that people look at from all around the world and all around the rest of the country and wish they lived there, wish they were lucky enough to enjoy the advantages Tasmania has. When you ask the people of Tasmania to think of something greater than themselves, more often than not they will oblige. When they oblige, we have to listen. When we, the people that make decisions, listen, Tasmania as a state can achieve all the opportunities that stand before it to be a beacon of prosperity and sustainability in a rapidly changing and challenging world.