Reply - Premier's State of the State Address 2022
Thursday 24 March 2022, Motion
Ms ARMITAGE (Launceston) - Madam Acting President, the Premier's Address is certainly a good point at which we can take a look at how Tasmania has performed and will continue to perform as we move forward in time.
There is a good amount of evidence to show we are fiscally in a more prosperous position than we have been in the past and the COVID-19 pandemic certainly brought that into sharp focus. We have been removed from some of the more serious shocks caused by the COVID‑19 pandemic, but we have certainly not been immune.
Twenty-eight Tasmanians have died due to COVID-19. We have had over 73 000 cases and we continue to see the COVID-19 charts record more and more Tasmanian infections.
I myself have been in quarantine last week, owing to a close contact in my household. You do not really appreciate what it is like to be free until all of a sudden you are locked up, and that was only for seven days. Imagine my distress, working in the garden, when I get a phone call from my son from his bedroom from which I was pleased he actually had not come out to say, Mum, I have just last night recorded a positive test. Now he had no symptoms, but because many of his other workmates had COVID-19, he thought as he had a RAT test at home, it was wise to take a test. Unfortunately, it came up positive. Fortunate for him, as I said he had no symptoms. I made him stay in his bedroom and delivered meals outside his door and I have to say I did not sight him for seven days. Probably much of the reason we remained COVID‑19 negative, which was a good thing, but of course, all of sudden you realise the events you cannot go to including the Launceston Chamber of Commerce dinner.
Most unfortunate, when on Day 6, which is really Day 7, because Day 1 is Day 0, you record a negative test, but you still cannot leave quarantine until after midnight. The Chamber of Commerce dinner would have been well and truly over by midnight. I could have gone down there at midnight, but unfortunately it would be over, even though I recorded a negative test. These are the breaks. However, I survived.
Madam ACTING PRESIDENT - Next year.
Ms ARMITAGE - Next year. I survived seven days. Bruce barely survived. He was lucky. I think he could have harmed me as much as I could have harmed him and I know it would have happened if we had been 14 days in a hotel room. I do feel for those people who have been locked up in a hotel in quarantine in the past. But the virus has crept in and we are now learning to live with it.
This is in contrast to the world we were living in two years ago, when the COVID-19 virus was still novel and we had no idea what was coming.
Madam Acting President, Tasmanians have adapted extraordinarily well to the COVID‑19 pandemic, and we have all contributed to the state we have today. It was ordinary Tasmanians who bore the brunt of restrictions on work and socialising, many to their detriment. It was ordinary Tasmanian businesses that changed the way they delivered their products and services in order to keep their staff on. It was ordinary Tasmanians who taught their kids at home, and managed to muddle through with their other work and home commitments. I believe some have continued to teach their children at home and discovered it was quite good and worked quite well.
As for Tasmanian businesses, I discovered a lot of great restaurants that home-deliver. Some unfortunately have stopped the home-delivery. I wish they had continued. It was really good that it gave us the chance to try some things that we might not have otherwise tried. There is always good with bad.
It follows then that Tasmanians should all be sharing in the prosperous position we now find ourselves in. It is difficult to go a week without seeing what new strains Tasmanians are facing, whether it be rental stress, house prices, petrol prices, or health care. We want all Tasmanians to be able to share in the prosperous position we find ourselves in. I want us as lawmakers to have our priorities right.
Health and hospitals continue to be especially important to me. I understand that the Government in its 2021-22 Budget included $10.7 billion for Health over four years to target immediate needs such as reducing elective surgery waitlists, opening more beds and employing more staff. We need to listen to our regional hospitals and provide them with the tools and funding necessary to properly manage our hospitals, and attract and retain talented health professionals. This particularly goes for places like Launceston and the north-west.
I worked at the Launceston General Hospital in the mid-1970s. It truly was a place of excellence in training, where staff, especially doctors, were desperate to work. It was a great training hospital. Somehow, in some way, we have lost our way somewhat and I really do not know how we can find it again. It does not matter what colour government is or how much money you throw at Health, it does not seem to get a lot better.
I acknowledge the hard work of all the staff at the hospital. Whether it be the nurses, the doctors, the ancillary staff, the cleaners, people on the wards, they work so hard. How often do we see in the paper someone who has been to the hospital stating that they went to the hospital and were looked after and cared for well? Sometimes with all the difficulties we have, particularly with Health, we forget to mention how much we appreciate those people, and how much they go above and beyond. It is the long hours. It is not just them, it is their families as well. We appreciate what they do. Without them, we would not have a hospital. We always have plenty of patients but without those staff, it does not matter how beautiful your hospital is, there is nothing there. It is important to stress how hard working and well trained and dedicated our staff are.
It was interesting to read in the newspaper, I think it was on Friday, the AMA President Dr Omar Khorsid saying we need a long-term plan and solution for our public hospitals. It is so easy to say that, but no-one seems to come up with one. That is the thing. You hear the doctors saying this is what we need, but someone needs to come up with what the plan is. It does not matter whether you are red, blue or green in government. It is a very difficult thing. I can say we need this in the hospital, but how do you deliver it? It does not seem to matter matter how much money you throw at it.
It is a very hard thing. Low bed ratios for elderly people, longer waits in the ED. We all know the longer you are in the emergency department the worse outcome you have. It is the same thing in elective surgeries. The longer you wait for an elective surgery, all of a sudden an elective surgery becomes an emergency surgery, which means you wait longer. How do we fix it? I do not think anybody knows. This is the real problem. It is very easy to accuse a government of what they are not doing. But nobody seems to know what should be done.
The Launceston General Hospital Precinct Masterplan is another such initiative that requires a lot of coordination between a number of different parties to be able to deliver a hospital that is able to provide northern Tasmanians with the health services they require and deserve. As I said, you can have beautiful new hospitals with the best equipment, but primarily you need the staff because there is no shortage of patients.
It is worth mentioning the new Calvary Hospital that is proposed to go on the land adjacent. I have asked questions in the past but it is really important that when the new hospital is built it is not just a combination of two campuses on one site. We do not want it to be just one Calvary where we have now combined St Luke's and St Vincent's campuses on one site; great for them, but not so good for the community and public. We also need some new services there to assist the Launceston General Hospital. I would also like to see our new hospice there. I am sure that they will move their Melwood Wing, which they now have at St Luke's. It is a great service, but it is not on the ground floor. I know that Barb Baker and her group have been wanting a new standalone hospice for a long time. I do not know that we are ever likely to get it.
If the new Calvary Hospital could have their hospice facilities on a ground floor with access to outside, with trees and grass, it would certainly be a step in the right direction. While they are waiting for a standalone hospice it would certainly be nicer than being on a ward. Sometimes when it is not full with palliative patients, it might have other patients in it. It would be the most awful thing for a patient, when you are palliative, to have other patients in a ward who are actually going home. It must be terrible. It would be really nice to have at least a ground floor for the hospice, if they could, with the new Calvary Hospital. I will continue to lobby that group, as I have done in the past, and ask questions.
I cannot speak on the Address without mentioning the proposed new $750 million stadium in the south. I am not going to say a lot. I am sure a big ticket item like this would help us in the case for an AFL football team bid and would certainly boost our chances of hosting major sport or entertainment events. However, it does not provide a guarantee of any of those things. With a significant investment in Launceston by way of the Launceston City Deal, the millions of dollars that have been channelled over the years into the university precinct and the upgrades that have gone into UTAS Stadium, or York Park, makes me question the need for another stadium in the state's south. I genuinely am not being parochial here. I know that is probably not going to be believed by the Chamber. With the proposed work to be done at UTAS stadium that would take the seating capacity up to 27 500, it would be the ideal home for an AFL team, with Launceston being central to the state and close to the mainland by both sea and air.
Like other members here, I am also horrified at the stories we hear week in and week out about the strife happening in the property market and within the housing construction industry. With the ballooning of house prices, low interest rates and the fear‑of‑missing-out factor driving many people to buy or build now, the market has become ruthless. I have heard of people whose building contracts have been entered into in good faith, having them pulled out from them on technicalities so that their property can be sold at a better price. This is the sort of event that can cause a significant amount of stress and sadness. It is apparently happening to many people.
Also, like other members, my electorate office often gets calls from constituents in housing stress. I have endeavoured to help people who have been on the housing waitlist for 12 months or more, but unfortunately there is little to nothing that we really can do to help. Of course, they might be my constituent today, yours tomorrow - the member for Windermere or the member for Rosevears. They move around because they have nowhere to go. It is very sad. Many of them have children and some of them have mental health issues as well, which makes it even harder for them.
Mr Valentine - That is the problem, isn't it? They can be nobody's constituents because they do not have a home to go to.
Ms ARMITAGE - Absolutely. It is very, very hard. You have to rely on them trying to get back in touch with you to try to find them help. All too often there is really nothing that we can do because we cannot produce houses that do not exist.
I am pleased therefore to see that some measures have been introduced to help people on lower incomes enter the housing market through things like the Housing Market Entry Program. The provision of financial assistance measures will certainly be a help to people who struggle to raise enough for a deposit or have difficulty obtaining finance by extending the First Home Owner Grant. As mentioned previously, I believe the First Home Owner Grant should be renamed the first home builder's grant, as it does discriminate against those who cannot afford to build a first home but could afford to buy an older home.
I appreciate the 50 per cent rebate on duty. But even on a medium-priced house this would equate to a saving of around $11 000, which we were told in briefings is a third of that being provided to other first homebuyers. How is this fair or equitable? While I appreciate it was able to assist the building industry, which is now doing very well - and try to get a builder if you can - together with the old excuse that to do otherwise inflates the real estate price, I do not accept that. Having been in real estate in the past, all the first home owner's grant did was to help provide with a deposit. Vendors have always wanted as much as they can for their properties but they do not know who is going to buy it and they do not add money on if it is a first homebuyer. As always, the market demands the price and it does not mean they put more on it because they might get a first homebuyer. I have heard the story time and time again and do not agree, having been in the industry.
Last year the parliament passed the Housing Land Supply Amendment Bill, which targeted under-utilised or vacant land suitable for residential purposes and the provision of social and affordable housing for the making of housing land supply orders. I was one of a few members in this place who resisted this piece of legislation, and I admit that. It stripped away too many powers vested within our local councils to meaningfully have a say about planning that actually occurs within their local government area. The front‑facing level of government, which would have the most knowledge about the best use for land and what the people living in their local government area want and need, had their processes wiped away.
I entirely understand the need for intervention in the housing and rental markets for Tasmanians. People are under significant stress and face a great deal of uncertainty; however, I did not believe then, and still do not, that hollowing out the influence and abilities of Tasmanian local councils to have their say over such land and assets is of benefit. I do not think these two things are incompatible but I restate at this juncture our local councils have an important part to play in the planning processes.
With regards to education, as always, I am heartened to see investment in our state's future, our children. We all know a quality education leads to better outcomes in a person's life, it is longer, healthier and provides pathways to more opportunities to participate in work and in society. It will likely not be years until we realise the full effect the pandemic, consequent lockdowns and health consequences will have had on our children. It is important we work now to set them up for success and support into the future. In this context, I do not just mean educational support. I mean support for mental and physical health and wellbeing, providing opportunities to feel connected with their peers, their schools, communities and families and having educational pathways that do justice to their dreams and aspirations.
I accept that now all high schools have extended to provide senior secondary options, our kids who are moving into the adult world will have greater access to higher education. However, I still believe in cities such as Launceston and Hobart, where our colleges are easily accessible, it must be difficult to have all subjects catered for sufficiently in these high schools for years 11 and 12. There is a dearth of qualified teachers for many of these pre‑tertiary subjects. If we continue with years 11 and 12 in our high schools, it makes sense, for example, to have one public college in Launceston, with two campuses. This is not to say apprenticeships and traineeships should be neglected. The Tasmanian economy, the businesses and organisations who rely on skilled employees should be listened to when it comes to education policy.
Mr Valentine - Are you saying years 11 and 12 are impacted in some way or are you saying where they are conducted?
Ms ARMITAGE - I believe they are impacting in some way on our colleges. In areas such as Launceston, where we have high schools such as Queechy, Kings Meadows, Riverside, we have a lot of high schools in very close proximity to our two colleges, yet we have two colleges. I understand high schools being extended in areas where it is a long way from a college, but when you have them a short bus ride and you have the lack or difficulty getting enough pre‑tertiary teachers for those subjects, it would be sensible to have our two colleges, as in Newstead and Launceston for example, combined into one college and have two campuses. It would make more sense when one college has a lot more students than the other, in order to make them viable and a sensible option. I have heard in the past that one college might have a huge number of students in a particular subject, with one or two teachers. The other college might have a limited number, but still needs the same number of teachers.
It would make more sense to have each college with certain subjects, particularly with the difficulty getting teachers, as we heard in the past with teachers trained in sciences. How often have we heard we might have PE teachers teaching science or their training is in something else?
Mr Valentine - They are teaching outside their skills.
Ms ARMITAGE - Absolutely. It does make it really difficult. I understand why it has happened and I see it is a great thing in some of the outlying rural areas, but in areas such as Hobart and Launceston, I cannot quite see the benefit there and a detriment -
Sitting suspended from 1 p.m. to 2.30 p.m.
Resumed from above.
Ms ARMITAGE (Launceston) - Mr President, when I finished before lunch, I was speaking about the two colleges in Launceston. My thoughts are that perhaps it would be worthwhile for the Government to consider one college with two campuses.
To go on further, this is not to say that apprenticeships and traineeships should be neglected. The Tasmanian economy and the businesses and organisations that rely on skilled employees should be listened to when it comes to education policy. Businesses in my electorate, including Karen Burbury's Cataract on Paterson or Steve Simeoni's Tas City Building, for example, put a great deal of personal and professional investment into their staff. This sets people up for a very bright career indeed.
Skilled professionals and tradespeople in many cases go on to earn a lot of money through their careers. Small to medium businesses that provide pathways for their employees should be fostered and supported as much as possible. I have heard several doctors say you will not get a plumber out at two in the morning - and you would hate to get the charge - whereas a doctor is more likely to come out and not get nearly as much money. It is certainly worth going into some trades.
While our children are at school, in the meantime I am pleased to see that support extends beyond the school hours and days and into their family and community lives. I understand that six new child and family learning centres are being built and more upgrades to our schools are being funded. I also understand that this year the Government is increasing its support for students impacted by trauma in addition to the funding of the educational adjustments model for students with a disability.
I was shocked recently to hear the numbers of Tasmanian students suspended for physically abusing other students during 2021, which I understand was a marked increase on previous years. The disclosed state statistics tallied just under 8500 Tasmanian suspension incidents in 2021, up from 6830 in the previous year, with 2200 of those incidents resulting from physical abuse of another student. Those incidents of student-on-student violence led to 1511 students being suspended in 2021 compared to 1275 students suspended in 2020. This also coincides with a rise in suspension incidents relating to student-on-staff violence, which increased from 268 in 2020 to 312 in 2021.
This is entirely unacceptable. No student, teacher, or support staff member should be going to school or work with the possibility of being physically abused. As I believe the shadow spokesperson for education, the member for Elwick, has pointed out, more support staff in schools, particularly for mental health intervention, would be a good start.
Mr Willie - The minister responded to the suspension rates saying it was a good thing, which I think shows a complete lack of understanding of the portfolio.
Ms ARMITAGE - Yes. Raising reporting standards would of course also be of great assistance. We cannot formulate a solution to problems like these if we do not have evidence of their existence. Moreover, Kristen Desmond, founder of the Tasmanian Disability Education Reform Lobby, has questioned how many of these suspensions are students with a disability or students impacted by trauma. How many were victims? Support for our more vulnerable children and the collection of data that can help demonstrate the scale of the problem would also help to direct good policy to protect, intervene when things go wrong and guide them through a more positive, productive education journey.
This is what I mean when I say I want all Tasmanians to be benefitting from the prosperous position we find ourselves in. Our unemployment rate is at 3.8 per cent according to the Premier's Address. Job vacancies are 72.6 per cent higher than before the pandemic. We are in such an extraordinarily advantageous position economically and financially, and we need to make sure we are extending these windfalls right across our communities.
In the state's northern capital, my electorate of Launceston has continued to flourish. As I have mentioned on many occasions, I believe Launceston would be the state's capital if we had a decent river. You are just fortunate that the Derwent is a little cleaner than the Tamar. If we could get rid of the mud I am sure we would become the capital.
We recently celebrated business success at the Launceston Chamber of Commerce and Business Excellence Awards. If you are looking for evidence that our northern commercial scene is in good shape, you need to look no further than to some of the amazing businesses, organisations and individuals whose successes were celebrated last Saturday. As mentioned, unfortunately I could not attend due to being in quarantine. However, I would like to acknowledge some of the fabulous winners of the Business Excellence Awards.
Harvest Launceston Community Farmers' Market celebrated their tenth birthday this year and they were awarded Environmental Excellence. It is a great little market that is on every Saturday. I am sure the member for Windermere and the member for Rosevears would be frequent visitors. We attend every Saturday to get our sourdough brought on by the member for Hobart, who encourages us to eat sourdough. Thank you.
Mr Valentine - That is fine. It works for me.
Ms ARMITAGE - It is a great harvest market.
Casalinga Gourmet Meats for Excellence in Agribusiness. This is another local butcher. It is wonderful to have butchers that are still working and going really well. Casalinga, on the corner between Charles and Elizabeth Street, is a great little butcher and comes highly recommended.
Enable Ag for Excellence in a Start-up. Launceston City Mission, Mission Health for Community Service. Geronimo Aperitivo Bar and Restaurant for Hospitality run by Jeremy Kode, another young guy who has started up his own business, his own restaurant. Obviously in difficult times, but going very well and it is great to see him being awarded business excellence awards.
Commercial Dive Academy for Export. Healthy Tasmania for Health. Miss B's Student Services for Innovation and Technology. Emerson Health for Exceptional Workplaces. Launceston Precision Jewellers for Manufacturing. Property Wise Launceston for Marketing. North Festival for Exceptional Event. The Royal Flying Doctor Service for Professional Services Excellence. Find your Feet Australia for Retail, another new business. It opened up in the Kingsway. And the Overland Track Transport for Exceptional Visitor Experience. How good is it that people from Launceston - I believe Hobart would have the same, but from Launceston can actually get a bus up to Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair? They have daily services.
Ms Rattray - Was that your special interest speech on Tuesday? Did we already know that?
Ms ARMITAGE - You possibly did, but this is my state of the state contribution so I decided to give them a second bite of the cherry. They are such great businesses and worth more recognition, member for McIntyre.
Ms Rattray - I just thought, I think I've heard it. But say it again, that is fine.
Ms ARMITAGE - As mentioned, these organisations have proved themselves to demonstrate and practise excellence based on the opinions of an independent panel of judges. I also acknowledge, and did so in my special interest speech, member for McIntyre, but I will again, some of the fabulous finalists including the Migrant Resource Centre, Paint the Town Red - and I do not know how many people here might have been to Paint the Town Red.
Ms Rattray - Is that the art and where you drink wine?
Ms ARMITAGE - It is the art and pottery. I must admit I went as a gift from my Western Australian family. Both Bruce and I did paintings that now take pride of place in our kitchen. It is a great little place to go and have fun and very well attended by many people, not just from Launceston.
Tasmanian Hand Sanitiser - we know how well they have been doing. The Elphin Motel and Serviced Apartments. The Metz. Theatre North. Property Wise. Key2. Definium Technologies. And who can forget Encore Theatre with the wonderful shows that they have had? They just had Chicago, which fortunately, I went to see on the Saturday night before I went into quarantine on the Monday. So, I was very pleased to see Chicago by Encore Theatre. They are the most fabulous theatre company that put on the best shows in northern Tasmania.
The University of Tasmania Library at the Inveresk precinct in the member for Windermere's electorate was another wonderful milestone of the ongoing implementation of the UTAS Northern Transformation project. Everyone in and around Launceston benefits from that. It was wonderful to find out that anyone can go to the university library. That was really good news. There is a café there so it is not just for the university. People can go in, get a free library card, grab themselves a coffee and have a look around. That is a really good thing, close to the city. I was very pleased to attend and it was great to see that the community can use it.
The State of the City report released by the City of Launceston in February details a number of measures which have been locally taken to boost jobs and opportunities in Launceston. I will share a few of the milestones that can be taken from that. A total of $800 000 in community care and recovery package grants were distributed to 196 Launceston-based businesses and organisations, resulting in an estimated $1.3 million in economic activity. A further $158 000 of events sponsorships funding was distributed and we are now really seeing our northern-based events and functions start to take off again in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Regarding retail and occupancy rates in Launceston, the State of City report has this to say:
The number of ground floor shops open for business in Launceston's CBD has rapidly improved in the wake of disruptions caused by COVID-19 last year.
At the height of last year's lockdown, Council data shows that the number of dormant ground floor shops rose to 154 in the Launceston CBD.
Post lockdown, early data shows that Launceston's CBD has rebounded with only 57 dormant ground floor shops … This equates to approximately 93% of ground floor commercial space being utilised and open for business.
Earlier in the year, I walked around some of the businesses in the Launceston CBD and was really quite shocked to hear about the blight of antisocial and even violent behaviour in our mall and in some of our stores. Almost every shop in the mall had stories about shop stealing, abuse, threatening behaviour and the difficulty they were having attracting customers back into their stores at a time where buying local is so important. In one store a lady was telling me that even though they did not have enough customers for two staff, it was important to have two staff because of the safety aspect, which was making their bottom line much more difficult.
After having a discussion with Commander Stuart Wilkinson and Inspector Nathan Johnson, I was really pleased that they are putting an accent on having more uniformed police in our CBD walking around to help with prevention rather than cure. Hopefully, the evidence of more uniformed police will make people think twice. It appears to be certain groups. There were not a lot of groups at this time when I was talking to the store holders; it was one particular group. Obviously, when that group moves on, another group moves in. It is an ongoing problem that needs to be addressed.
However, the workforce and key sectors, such as education, health care and retail are particularly affected by an ageing workforce and low population growth. This, I believe, should be a good impetus for the Government to focus on population attraction and growth policies outside the state's south.
I am hopeful, as ever, that we find solutions to geographical mobility in the state's north. That is to say that we should find more solutions to our traffic issues and transport options. It is pleasing to see that for the next five weeks, from 28 March, buses will be free. It is the hope that many people get into the habit of catching a bus. I do not remember the last time I caught a bus. I think I might hop on one outside and ride to work. I might get used to it. That is the whole aim, that people will get used to the bus and find out this really is not such a bad thing.
Mr Willie - That was a good idea.
Ms ARMITAGE - It is a good idea. If you look at the price of a car, if you catch a bus to and from work, plus the cost of parking, it could work quite well, particularly with the cost of fuel.
The trial of e-scooters is an interesting development. I am not sure if we will see it being a really viable alternative to driving or public transport. I did an opinion editorial on e-scooters last week and I was quite surprised at some of the information I discovered, particularly when I read the terms and conditions. I am sure that when most people get their app, they do not look at the terms and conditions. If you get on an orange Neuron scooter, you have to be 18 or over. How many know they have to be 18 or over to get on an orange Neuron scooter? I assume that if you do not meet the terms and conditions then the insurance would be void. With a purple Beam scooter, you can be 16 or under provided your parents say it is okay, but that does not meet the Traffic Act. If you go along with the requirements of the Beam scooter, you are breaking the Traffic Act.
I have mentioned the anomalies of the terms and conditions to the Launceston City Council because they had advised me in the past that they meet weekly with the scooter companies. I hope that they look at the anomalies in their terms and conditions and appreciate that, at the moment, particularly the purple scooters differ quite considerably to our Traffic Act.
Another thing I learnt about the scooters is the penalties. Now the police have not booked a lot of people, but I read in today's newspaper one lady was booked with being under the influence and a variety of other issues to do with that. I am not sure whether that was just convenience for the media, but it had a picture of an orange scooter going through the McDonalds Drive-Thru. It is in Today's Court in The Examiner so it is obviously on the public record.
The police have told me their aim really is on education. They are trying to educate people into what they should do on the scooters, as opposed to initially booking or charging them. It is $129.75 for anyone riding without a helmet, using a mobile phone, two people on the scooter. There is a whole list of rules, but of course if you are riding under the influence of alcohol or drugs, then you go to court. The court will decide the penalty for riding under the influence.
I am sure a lot of people do not appreciate the fact there are as serious charges for just riding a scooter as there are for driving a car or anything else. It is not like a pushbike. There is certainly more concern with charges.
Mr Valentine - More exercise on a pushbike.
Ms ARMITAGE - There is more exercise and that was raised with me by a lady recently saying the scooters are obviously making us a more obese society because instead of people walking, they hop on a scooter and ride.
In my son's case, we probably live one kilometre from a supermarket. Because scooters are readily available near our house, he tells me he can get a scooter, reserve it for 15 minutes, he can go and ride back, where he used to walk to the supermarket. In his case, it is not as healthy as it was previously. Definitely more costly, when you consider $1 to unlock and 45 cents a minute.
I have to say, I can imagine not wanting to put the helmets on their head necessarily, particularly with COVID-19 and you do not know who has used it last. I do not know whether you can buy those little hairnets you see when you go somewhere like Tassal or where we have been to some of those businesses, to put on your head under the helmet. Probably not so much COVID-19, but it would make you feel a little bit cleaner when you put that helmet on your head. I am not sure what might be in the helmets, but I can appreciate that some people are not keen to put the helmet on, but obviously it is part of the road rules and they need to do that.
I was also told by the City of Launceston General Manager that in the first month of the trial there were more than 60 000 e‑scooter trips in Launceston, with rides travelling more than 100 000 kilometres. I do not know what it was in the second, it might have been a little bit more with the first being such a novelty, and that 40 jobs had been created through the companies involved in the trial.
The other issues are there is currently no by‑law or road rule prohibiting the use of the personal mobility devices in our City Park, Riverbend Park, which is our children's playground, and Princes Square. Of course the companies have been asked that their scooters are geofenced and will not ride under power in those areas.
The other issue I have noticed down at the Seaport is the bridge that goes across and that plastic tread that you walk on has some really nasty grooves on it where apparently people lean scooters against the side rail and then they put them on full bore, spin the wheels and they have been melting the rubber on the trails, which is very unfortunate.
Obviously, it does not take many people to do the wrong thing and that is the really unfortunate part.
Mr Valentine - Kelly's Steps are the same and severely impacted.
Ms ARMITAGE - The same with the grooves and the melting.
Mr Valentine - The scooters have been dragged up them.
Ms ARMITAGE - There are always going to be unfortunate areas. Today, a lovely old gentleman in his 90s rang me about e‑scooters. He keeps me advised with what is happening in the UK telling me in the UK a lot of places now have stopped the use of them because of the concern and the public liability. In New Zealand they had around $5 million in public liability claims. It is good and bad. It will be interesting to see what happens at the end of the trial and how we go. Whether we continue it or bring in more restrictions, like Brisbane, about slowing them down more and having more devices on them to recognise pedestrians to try to make it safer for people.
Mr Willie - I think they are doing that here too. One of the companies is using a camera.
Ms ARMITAGE - The purple. Yes.
Mr Willie - Yes. To recognise pedestrians and others.
Ms ARMITAGE - You see them parked everywhere. Living in the city, I see them parked absolutely everywhere. People just stop them and you take a photo and the machine tells you that is fine, but the machine does not actually know whether you are blocking a footpath, across a footpath or whether it is at the edge. Some of the footpaths are very narrow and you have to feel for people, particularly in wheelchairs. It was in the paper recently where one gentleman fell over a scooter. He walks past our house regularly with his white stick as he is severely sight-impaired. For people like that it would be very difficult to have a scooter branching out and it is not easy to access and get around it, even people with prams and elderly people. As I said, it only takes a very small percentage to do the wrong thing. The majority can do the right thing and a lot of people love them and are very happy with them. I have heard from many people -
Mr Willie - It has given a lot of young people independence.
Ms ARMITAGE - Yes. I wonder if they get a shock when they get their credit card bills at the end of the month. Living in the city, I also see people very late at night because outside our house, on the other side of the street, there are the metal grates and you hear when they go over them. You know when it is 1 o'clock in the morning and you hear this clang clang and think this person is probably had a little bit to drink. You hope they actually remember when they put the scooter away that they turn it off and finish it, otherwise I believe it keeps adding up the money. They might get an awful shock when they get their credit card bill. I wonder about some people using them continually because you are using it before you pay. You are paying later and when your credit card bill comes in, it is a bit like when your children start using your phone when we used to have the normal phones. All of a sudden you get your phone bill and see your children have been ringing friends on the mainland and the cost was quite high but you did not know until maybe a month later. I wonder if that might happen here.
Mr Duigan - My daughter had to walk back from her scooter, which was abandoned in town, because when your credit card reaches zero, the scooter stops.
Ms ARMITAGE - Okay, so you have to have a debit card. You have to have a certain ‑
Mr Duigan - Yes, I guess that is a debit card situation.
Ms ARMITAGE - Right. That could be unfortunate if you are on your way to somewhere and you cannot get back.
Ms Rattray - I suggest the member's daughter needs a pay rise by the member.
Mr Duigan - Productivity rise.
Ms ARMITAGE - When my children were younger, I must admit it was the phone call to mum at two in the morning, 'Mum, can you pick me up please, I don't have any money for a cab.' Or, 'There aren't any cabs around.' It was interesting that there were always lots of cabs when I drove into town to pick them up, but they were not there when they phoned me. I think it was that paying of the money.
I am urging e-scooter riders and PMD users to do the right thing because it may then provide a transport option for the future. However, if we have lots of problems it will be much more difficult for the local councils to decide to continue them.
In conclusion, Tasmania finds itself in a unique position, especially considering the effects of the pandemic and the events which are unfolding overseas. I pay tribute to all Tasmanians and particularly those in the north of the state who have adapted so well and whose resilience epitomises the strong community spirit we find in places like Launceston.
I also thank all our responders, all our health workers, all our first responders for all the work they have done, particularly during the COVID-19 time; our police, our fire services. Sometimes I think we do not appreciate what they do. It has been said many times in this place, and the previous member for Windermere used to often say, 'They race in when we are racing out.' That is very true in many situations. I take the opportunity to thank those first responders and health workers for all the work they have done, particularly the extra work they have had to do during COVID-19. It cannot have been easy and I am sure it is not over yet.
I thank the Premier for delivering another state of the state Address. I am pleased we are in good financial shape. There are more things I want to know about some of the more recent policies which have been announced, because the Tasmanians who have worked hard and sacrificed much in the past two years deserve to share in the prosperity. I note the Premier's Address.