Senate debates

Tuesday, 11 May 2021


Tasmanian State Election, City Park Radio: 35th Anniversary

9:24 pm

Photo of Helen PolleyHelen Polley (Tasmania, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to speak about the 2021 Tasmanian state election. Although the final result is yet to be determined, I believe that Tasmania has re-elected a Gutwein Liberal government. Unfortunately, Tasmanians were forced to go to an election 12 months early to capitalise on the COVID effect. The Premier was hoping that the result would emulate what happened in Western Australia, Queensland, the ACT and the Northern Territory, and that he would be returned. Well, yes, he was returned, as all those incumbent governments were. Mr Gutwein ran a presidential style campaign under the pretence of maintaining a majority government. But what we've seen is that the result will most likely return the status quo. So there was no landslide victory in Tasmania. In fact, returning with only 13 seats is not what I would call a landslide—not like what was experienced in Western Australia and Queensland, in particular.

The Premier has already shown a lack of judgement by not sacking former minister and candidate in the state election Adam Brooks. As we understand and as the public have learned, there have been serious allegations made by two women that he used aliases of 'Terry' and 'Gav' Brooks. This happened after what we have seen as extraordinary circumstances and events in this place. And what did we see the Premier do? Absolutely nothing. He stood by without taking any serious consideration of what these women had brought to the attention of the public. We have already experienced Mr Adam Brooks when he was a minister, with his career-ending performance in budget estimates in the state parliament, where he denied using his mining business email while serving as the minister for mines. That was the extraordinary behaviour of this minister. To date, we have seen no explanation from Mr Brooks in relation to the allegations that two women have come forward saying that he used these aliases and in fact falsified a Victorian drivers licence. These are serious allegations, and yet we see the Premier standing by him.

The campaign was short, it was a year early, and it had it highs and lows. So many people, as usual, put up their hands to be candidate. Whatever party or wherever they came from as Independents, they should be commended. But, ultimately, Tasmanians rewarded the current government for keeping them safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Quite frankly, as I said, there is nothing for this government or the Liberals to crow about when they were only returned with the same numbers after orchestrating the early election by sacking the Speaker of the Tasmanian parliament.

Unfortunately this election was fought and the result created under false pretence. There will be no change at all to TAFE. There will be no changes to the ramping of ambulances in both the Royal Hobart Hospital and the Launceston General Hospital. There will be no change whatsoever in unemployment in Tasmania. There will be no change in housing affordability under the incoming Liberal government. There will be no change to the fact that too many Tasmanians cannot find affordable rental accommodation.

What we have seen is a continual growth in the casualisation of employment in Tasmania, as there is around the country, along with underemployment. What we did see, though, was an innovative, creative health policy put forward, and I'm hoping that the incoming government will take that policy and implement it. I want to put on record my appreciation of Bastian Seidel, upper house member, the shadow spokesperson for health, who did an extraordinary job in pulling together a well-costed, well-founded health policy to take to that election. Unfortunately—and that's democracy, and I respect the Tasmanian community—they have voted to return a Liberal government. As I said, there are real issues. There's a crisis in our hospitals. There's underemployment, casualisation and a lack of housing affordability, with people unable to find rentals. The government have not been supporting TAFE, not employing enough apprentices and not making sure that our community are well skilled in the jobs of the future and have real security in employment.

What particularly disappoints me is that the Liberal government, in its wisdom, did not see the need to match Labor's commitment to building a 10-bed, standalone hospice for northern Tasmania. After all, it was the former Minister for Health Dr John Morris who made a commitment, on his deathbed, that he would support the establishment of a hospice in northern Tasmania. The government has walked away from that. I want to commend Barb Baker and the Friends of Northern Hospice and Palliative Care Foundation for their 14 years of unwavering support and lobbying for a hospice in northern Tasmania that would meet the needs of Tasmanians in their final weeks and months.

I'd like to turn to something more positive, and that is to congratulate City Park Radio on their 35th anniversary. What an outstanding achievement for a local community radio station that services northern Tasmania; in particular, my home city of Launceston. City Park Radio is Launceston's community radio station. It offers a diverse range of locally and nationally produced programs, both music and spoken word. It does this from studios situated at the cottage in Launceston's City Park. For the past 35 years, people have been tuning in to this service for Australian music, local news and events, to hear local voices and personalities, and for an independent voice that isn't owned by big business.

I was honoured to attend the event, hosted by the Launceston City Council, to celebrate the longevity of the radio broadcast. It's so important to support our community. Something I and, I'm sure, a lot of people have been reminding ourselves over the past year is how important during this pandemic it has been to have a local community radio station, with local voices and personalities, as a conduit to the community. How important that has proven to be not only in our local community but around the country.

City Park Radio is a microcosm of the community, with people of all ages and walks of life involved. It's run by a large workforce of volunteers who value community engagement. Volunteers are an essential part of the station's existence and a hallmark of its value as a community service. They are the lifeblood of the station, taking on a variety of positions, from radio announcers and producers to behind the scenes roles, including management, administration and technical services, amongst so many others. City Park Radio offers all individuals and community groups the opportunity to participate and to work towards creating a more inclusive society. Through multicultural programming, the station broadcasts in over 10 languages. In providing this service, it enhances the quality of life of residents in Launceston and northern Tasmania and creates a more inclusive community which promotes multiculturalism.

Community radio gives voice to a diverse range of groups and is Australia's largest independent media sector. A key pillar of the Australian media landscape, it must be supported so that it can prosper into the future. Six million Australians tune in to over 450 not-for-profit, community owned and operated radio services across the country each and every week. These stations provide programming that caters for the needs and interests of their communities and provides the news and information that is relevant to them. It's provided in very authentic and familiar voices that we know and trust. Another vital role that community radio plays is in helping people not to feel socially isolated. That's why it has been instrumental throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. I congratulate City Park Radio and wish them all the very best for another 35 years and beyond.