MEMBERS of Tasmania’s Parliamentary Liberal Party met on Friday morning to elect a new premier and deputy premier. The only candidates were Jeremy Rockliff MHA for premier and Michael Ferguson MHA for deputy premier. Mr Rockliff later gave the following speech:
“I am honoured and excited to be elected today by my parliamentary colleagues to lead the Liberal Party and therefore become Tasmania’s 47th Premier. It is a great privilege to have their support, to continue the incredible work undertaken by my friend and colleague, Peter Gutwein, and Will Hodgman before him.
“There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that through Peter and Will’s leadership, Tasmania is in a better place. Peter steered Tasmania through two of the most challenging years in recent history and put in train a bold plan for our future, and I believe I speak for all Tasmanians when I thank him sincerely for all he has done. There is no doubt he was an inspiring leader and I wish him and his family all the best for the future.
“I am very pleased to have Michael Ferguson here with me today, to serve as Deputy Premier and Treasurer, and I thank him for his support and his encouragement. I value his experience – Michael’s economic and infrastructure credentials, and his very strong work ethic. And like myself, Michael has a real sense of duty to serve the people of Tasmania.
“Together, working with our colleagues, we will continue to soundly manage through the COVID-19 pandemic, and prioritise the plans we have put in place to grow opportunities for Tasmania, while ensuring Tasmanians have the support and care they need, where and when they need it.
“Our economy right now is one of the strongest in the country, with more Tasmanians in work than ever before, including a record number of women, while our unemployment rate is at a near-record low of 3.9 per cent, below the national average. In fact, since coming to Government in 2014, 31,000 jobs have been created and we have nearly halved the unemployment rate.
“We have growth in retail, tourism spend and private investment, while exports have hit a record high. And we will work hard every single day to continue that momentum. At the same time we are investing more than any Government in Tasmania’s history into the areas that matter most – health, education and housing. And we have taken steps to harness our state’s competitive advantages to ensure we have a diverse and resilient economy, attracting investment and growing jobs so that all Tasmanians have the opportunity to achieve their goals and succeed.
“It is my plan to lead a Government with integrity, that is courageous, accountable and delivers on its commitments, but above all, I will lead a Government with heart. A Government that listens to Tasmanians’ needs and ensures Tasmanians’ priorities continue to be our priorities. A Government that continues to invest heavily to transform our health system right across Tasmania to be more responsive and accessible, so Tasmanians get the health care they deserve, where and when they need it.
“Mental health and wellbeing is very important to me. It is something I have personally championed for many years, and knowing it leads to a happy and fulfilling life is something I want for all Tasmanians. This is why we will continue to drive our multi-million-dollar mental health reforms across Tasmania and deliver the services and care Tasmanians need. The importance of health and mental health is so important to me that I can confirm as Premier, I will retain these portfolios to deliver the health system Tasmanians deserve.
“Additionally, we are getting on with the job of delivering the biggest ever housing commitment in Tasmania’s history – to unlock more land and options for development, and transform the way we build social and affordable housing, building 10,000 homes in 10 years, while ensuring there are more options for Tasmanians to access home ownership than ever before, while taking action to put downward pressure on rental costs.
“As the former Education Minister, I am passionate about the importance of education as a passport to a healthy and successful life, and together with our record investment into education, we have also bolstered trauma and needs-based funding in our schools so that no child is left behind. To make sure this support starts from before birth, so during pregnancy, we are implementing Tasmania’s first ever Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy, to give our young people the best chance in their early years.
“It remains our priority to have safe and inclusive communities, and we are steadfast in our commitment to righting the wrongs of the past, including through the Commission of Inquiry into the Tasmanian Government’s response to Child Sexual Abuse in Institutional Settings. I am also deeply committed to delivering a pathway to Treaty and Truth-Telling, in deep consultation and through an Aboriginal-led process.
“But we know to invest in those areas that matter to Tasmanians, requires a continued focus on keeping our economy strong and enabling Tasmanians to succeed. We will continue to prioritise creating further diversity and resilience in our economy, backing small business, and leveraging our enviable climate positive profile, through delivering our job-creating renewables projects, including Marinus Link, Green Hydrogen and Battery of the Nation.
“Being a place with the most ambitious emissions reduction profile, will deliver enviable reputational and brand benefits for Tasmania and everything we offer and produce here – including advanced manufacturing, hospitality and tourism, science, irrigation, agriculture, aquaculture and resources. Being Tasmanian and the Tasmanian brand, has never been so quietly powerful. What we’ve been building for a century is what the world is looking for – premium products produced with renewable energy.
“I firmly believe that our trade, small business, tourism, talent and investment attraction are all underpinned by our community and culture, and we will continue to nurture what is uniquely Tasmanian. And while the future for our state is bright and full of possibility, I know that there is still work ahead of us to ensure everyone benefits. My vision for Tasmania is simple. It is to be a place where everyone feels valued, included, encouraged and supported to be the best they can be.
“I love Tasmania, I Iove our people. I was born and bred here, I’ve farmed the land here, Tasmania is in my blood. I firmly believe that through bold ambitions and the responsible Budget management which has been a hallmark of this Government since we were elected in 2014, we can lead with both our hearts and minds, to secure a future that benefits all Tasmanians. This means having the essential wrap-around community services and a health system that benefits everyone, while also investing in opportunities that give generations of Tasmanians a better future.
“There is no reason Tasmania has to miss out. We have demonstrated that we can take our place on the national sporting stage and Peter Gutwein has been instrumental in getting us as close as we have ever been to securing an AFL licence, and I am determined to finish what he started so that Tasmania has its own team, once and for all.
“On a personal level I would like to thank my beautiful family for their love and support. In my first speech in Parliament in 2002, I paid tribute to Sandra, my wife, and said I looked forward to our future and to raising a family. Twenty years later, I continue to thank her, along now with my three wonderful daughters, Ruby, Lucy and Holly. You mean the world to me.
“Over the course of the weekend, I will be taking time to discuss with my colleagues roles and responsibilities, and I will have more to say on this next week. I look forward to serving and working for Tasmanians as Premier with an energised, unified and committed team.