TASMANIA TOGETHER PROGRESS BOARD REPEAL BILL 2012

Mrs ARMITAGE ( Launceston ) - I commend the board for the work it has done in the past and the provision of the data collection. I concur with the government that it is a luxury we can ill afford at the current time. To me, Tasmania Together is something we have in good times and currently we have a financial crisis and we need to live within our means. I have yet to see many goals that have been achieved by Tasmania Together. I am going to make only a very short contribution because I believe it has been summed up very well by Barry Prismall, the deputy editor of the Examiner on 11 October 2012:

It was always difficult to understand what the Tasmania Together board did, that an existing government department could not do. From its inception in September 2001, Tasmania Together became a valuable snapshot of our social and economy progress but, again, the Australian Bureau of Statistics is paid handsomely to collect the same information for a detailed census every five years.

The Tasmania Together board of nine, with six staff, was charged with reviewing a set of benchmarks every five years, while making reports to Parliament every two years.

Since 2001 the board was paid a total $7.6 million for operating expenses at an average of $500,000 to $1 million a year.

Until it bowed to financial realities yesterday and incorporated the board's functions into the Department of Premier and Cabinet, the government had set aside a further $3.7 million to keep the board in pocket at least until 2015.

Some of the benchmarks were changed over the years to reflect changes in government policy.

The concept never took off as a weather vane measure of our progress.

Premier Lara Giddings says the changes will save around $200,000 a year.

One suspects the Premier is downplaying the vivid hue of this white elephant.

Tasmania Together was a $1 million-dollar-a-year statistical luxury that the state could not afford, especially when the information was available elsewhere at little or no cost.

The Department of Premier and Cabinet will use its existing resources to collate information emailed to it from various departments and government business entities, to provide the same level of information more regularly.

It is not surprising that the government took action …, but it is surprising that it took so long.

Ms Forrest - Do you agree with him?

Mrs ARMITAGE - Yes. I have been to the forums as well and the majority of people I saw there were from local government and a variety of agencies. I saw very few people from the community. We get out in the community; we are the ones who talk to the local people and find out what is happening. I can only speak from the forums I attended, but the majority of people were those who had the ability to make their point known at a number of different levels whenever they pleased. I will be supporting the bill before us. I have some concern - it has been questioned whether the independence will still be there - however, I have yet to see many outcomes that have come from the Tasmania Together board and, personally, I would like to have seen a larger saving than $200 000.

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