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Brand Tasmania Bill 2018 (No 46)

[3.48 p.m.]

Ms ARMITAGE (Launceston) - Mr President, I thank the Leader for the briefing last night. It was at a late hour but it was still very useful to have the briefing.

I also commend the Brand Tasmania Council and all those who have acted on the board in an honorary capacity for quite some time and for the work they did prior to this new bill for Brand Tasmania.

I certainly agree with the Leader that our brand is one of our state's greatest assets and we must ensure we have a contemporary and best practice approach to managing, developing, promoting and protecting our brand. As mentioned by other members, there is not much that is as important as our brand. If we lose our brand, people will not see Tasmania as the great place it is. You hear all the time about our clean, green image and how wonderful Tasmania is. From the recent committee we had on blueberry rust, we know the concern, particularly of the organic blueberry growers, for their overseas and interstate markets. There was also concern with the fruit fly infestation and how, all of a sudden, what it could do to our brand and how Tasmania could be looked at differently. We have spoken to people from overseas, particularly from areas like China and Japan. I recall - I am not sure if the member for Windermere might have been involved - the honourable Don Wing brought in a chap from Japan and introduced him to us; he was looking for product from Tasmania. I remember him ringing me and saying that he did not want just some cherries, he wanted 60 tons. It is quite amazing once people see the brand and the product we have - all of a sudden, they want it for their own -

Mrs Hiscutt - I can only handle about a kilo.

Ms ARMITAGE - It is such a great product, and so sought after in these other countries.

Much has already been said about the need for the board and the statutory authority we are considering. I am pleased we will be able to scrutinise it at Estimates next year but obviously being its first year, it will have the excuse that it is only just up and running. Often in the first year of government we hear this.

Mrs Hiscutt - They will have a budget, though.

Ms ARMITAGE - They will have a budget. I recall from last night that the Brand Tasmania Council was given $400 000. I had an idea the member for Rosevears might have said $600 000.

It is quite a large board and worthy of note considering the Government is looking to shave down and become a leaner organisation. It is always interesting when they start a new authority with a CEO and staff - the $400 000 will probably not even pay for the CEO and the staff let alone the board and the board payments. I will be interested to find out the board payments, considering the last board worked very well in an honorary capacity. I appreciate that a board such as this does require probably more work and to attract people, we will need to pay reasonable fees.

As mentioned by other members, I have concerns when I look at government boards and government-owned boards and business enterprises at the disparity when it comes to where the board members are located. We have skills right across the state. I hope it is advertised widely and not seen as a Hobart-centric board or filled with members from the mainland, as has been the case in the past. On other boards, there were probably three times as many interstate members as there were from the north and north-west, which is concerning. I hope the Government has taken note that Tasmania is one state and we have a north and north-west. Everything does not revolve around the south - while we might think it sometimes does, we have some intelligent people in other areas who I would really like to see on the board. It is important they know these boards exists.

Mr Farrell - I think most of them come to Hobart.

Ms ARMITAGE - You are quite right, they come to Hobart for meetings because that is where the meetings are held. I have had that argument raised before: even if you are a northern member on a board, all of a sudden a board meeting is at 5.30 on a Thursday night and people who work have difficulty in getting to these board meetings. That is something that needs to be looked at - board meetings need to be rotated around the state, as many organisations do.

As for gender, and I note the 50:50, I do not like that particularly because there might not be that balance of male and female. I have always preferred that you obtain a position on merit, and not because you are a token female. I am not so keen on having 50 per cent female, 50 per cent male. I like the right person for the job. You would hope that there is some balance, but if there is not, it just happens to be the way it is.

Ms Forrest - You could have more women there.

Ms ARMITAGE - That is a possibility, too. You might have more women, but it should be the right person for the job and not just a person because they think we need so many women or so many men, so we will take these even though someone might be better but not of the right gender. I think that is inappropriate and I would never condone that.

As has been mentioned, tourism and the brand are extremely important to Tasmania. They are our primary areas. The member for McIntyre mentioned where the council might be located. I think the Coordinator-General has a rather large office in Launceston. It might be nice for the north of the state to look at where this could be relocated.

Ms Forrest - But he is there.

Ms ARMITAGE - I know, but that is where this could be relocated to. He is up there, but I was thinking he has rather a large office -

Ms Forrest - The physical space is large or the number of staff?

Ms ARMITAGE - No, the physical space. I am sure they could make room for the Brand Tasmania statutory body. That was my thought. If you do not ask, member for Murchison, you do not get, so it is certainly worth putting on the record.

I was also pleased to hear last night in briefings that there will be key performance indicators, and we are assured there will be a return for the investment. I agree with the member for Rosevears that the CEO is the linchpin in this, a key person, the person who needs to carry out the wishes of the board and ensure the organisation runs smoothly. It will be interesting to see who attains that position. I note it is for a five-year period. Perhaps the Leader, as asked by the member for McIntyre, could advise whether, at the end of that five-year period, there is an option for them to be reappointed for a further five-year period if they are doing a really good job.

As the member for Windemere would recall, often in the police force they have this turnover where someone is doing a really good job, but their term is up and they do not renew it. It is important that if someone is doing well and continuing on, all of a sudden - and it has happened in other private enterprises as well - they say, 'It is really sad, but I have to move on because I have served my time'. They are just getting into the area where they could be proceeding and doing some very good work. It would be interesting to know if they can renew, roll over for another five years or what the limit might be.

Mrs Hiscutt - You mean roll over once they have done their 3+3+3?

Ms ARMITAGE - I am talking about the CEO. I believe the CEO has a five-year contract; can they renew it for another five years?

Mrs Hiscutt - Yes, they can, to answer that question here and now.

Ms ARMITAGE - That is very good, thank you. I will support the bill.

Ms ARMITAGE - That is very good, thank you. I will support the bill.

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