25 March 2019




ROSS HART, MEMBER FOR BASS: Good afternoon everybody. It is my very great pleasure to welcome the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator Penny Wong, here today and the Mayor of Launceston Albert van Zetten and the Mayor of West Tamar Christina Holmdah to this very special announcement today.

My office has been working with the office of Football Federation Tasmania with respect to the funding proposal to provide assistance to participation in soccer here in the north of Tasmania for a great deal of time. I’m very, very pleased to welcome Penny here today to make an announcement with respect to facilities, not just here at Churchill Park, which is the central area in Northern Tasmania, but also at Windsor Park and Birch Avenue in Newstead.

It’s really important that we understand that it is a rite of passage for many parents here in Northern Tasmania to spend their time here at Churchill Park, but also at Windsor Park and other suburban soccer grounds. The standard of the playing surface here has improved over the years but the facilities can always be improved.

I really do congratulate Football Federation Tasmania for the work that they have done in advocating for this proposal, but also the individual councils, West Tamar Council and Launceston City Council, have it in their clear priorities to improve sporting infrastructure in their municipalities.

Once again welcome to Penny, welcome to Launceston, welcome to Northern Tasmania.

SENATOR PENNY WONG, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN THE SENATE: Thank you and thanks very much for coming. It’s great to be here again and particularly at the invitation of Ross who is such a committed champion for Northern Tasmania and somebody who never lets us forget our need to invest in Northern Tasmania.

Thank you also to both mayors, not only for being here today, but for the work the local councils have done with this facility and to improve sporting facilities in Northern Tasmania more broadly. I know there are others here who represent Football Federation Tasmania and clubs and associations who use these facilities. Thank you for the work you do in the community and also for being here today.

One of the things Federal Labor has been very focused on is how do we improve the sporting participation at the grassroots and community level. And working with clubs, councils, associations, to promote that and support that is one of the ways the Federal Government can contribute. Ross has been working very hard to ensure Northern Tasmania gets an appropriate share of the federal investment an incoming Labor Government would provide for that purpose.

So I am very pleased to announce with him today that if elected a Shorten Labor Government will invest $1 million to upgrade the Northern Tasmanian football – or soccer – grounds centring, obviously around here, Churchill Park which I understand has already gone through two stages of redevelopment and investment and this would hopefully deal with the third and possibly final stage of that. So that would have a $675,000 investment and the other three grounds – Windsor Park, Birch Avenue, the home of Launceston United, and NTCA No. 2, the home ground of Northern Rangers FC. So that is an investment here in Northern Tasmania that’s an investment which has been urged by councils, by the community and pressed very hard by Ross who is a dogged and persistent advocate for your community.

JOURNALIST: Tasmania has wanted its own AFL team for a while. Would Labor give money towards this?

WONG: I’m a Port supporter so you’re probably not asking the right person but I’m going to let Ross deal with that. We won on the weekend, first match, I just wanted to say.

HART: Labor has made it a fantastic commitment towards getting an AFL team to Tasmania. That’s a real commitment of $25 million towards the establishment of an AFL team in Tasmania.

But our commitment to AFL in Tasmania is two-pronged. We have a $5 million commitment towards local football, something that is absolutely essential. The participation we are supporting here today with respect to soccer is mirrored with respect to participation in AFL. The only way you can get that participation is by supporting our regional and country football teams. Both males and females need good change rooms, they need lights, they need properly draining grounds. So we will work with the individual clubs and also the councils involved to deliver that on the ground.

But in answer to your question, most definitely, Labor has got a concrete plan, $25 million worth of commitment towards establishing an AFL team here in Tasmania. It’s necessary for the AFL to come on board and grant a licence but that’s a concrete proposal.

JOURNALIST: The Nationals have just announced their candidate for Lyons today. The Liberals already have a candidate for Lyons. What do you think these kind of announcements mean for Labor’s chances at the upcoming election?

WONG: I think it is more confirmation of the division that is really the hallmark of this Coalition Government. Whether it is running against each other, or the division on energy policy or water policy or how you deal with One Nation, we see division at the heart of the Morrison Government and that seems to only be continuing.

JOURNALIST: One of the things we asked today was whether or not there would be a commitment to not preferencing One Nation and we asked that of Mr Littleproud and he said he hadn’t really given preferences much thought. Do you think that is good enough given a lot of the commentary around racist language?

WONG: I’m not sure what planet he’s been on for the last week or so if he hasn’t thought about it. I’ve spoken about this for the last 20 years, certainly since I’ve come into the Parliament I’ve spoken about the need to put One Nation last.

I understand there are people who are disaffected and who are looking at major parties and saying you are not offering me enough. It’s one of the reasons why Labor has made it such a priority to focus on inequality. We understand there are a lot of Australians doing it tough and a lot of Australians who watch everything going up except their wages and feel a sense of disengagement and dissatisfaction with politics and with our democracy.

But the answer lies in trying to improve equality in this country and improve opportunity not in turning on each other. One Nation’s views are really counter to the Australian democracy and it is really about time the Liberal Party remembered its liberalism and stood up against people who promote division and prejudice.

I think it is extremely disappointing that Mr Morrison and Mr Littleproud are not prepared to do what even John Howard was prepared to do which is to give a commitment to put One Nation last.

JOURNALIST: Do you think Brian Mitchell has done enough to hold his seat in Lyons?

WONG: Brian is a very hard worker and a good bloke.

JOURNALIST: Obviously Tasmania returned four Labor MPs at the last election. If this happens again and a Labor Government is elected do you think Tasmania has got a very good case for some strong advocacy and support?

WONG: You’ve already got some very strong advocates. Every Tasmanian MP and Senator preselected by the Labor Party is a passionate champion for your state, as is demonstrated by today’s announcement and demonstrated by the way they approach some of the issues that the state has.

We recognise, the Labor Party, the importance of working with Tasmania. I think it was Scott Morrison when he was Treasurer who described your state as beggars. That is not our approach. We think it is important to work with Tasmanians to tackle some of the problems of inequality and, most importantly, to invest in health and education and infrastructure. That is the difference between the Coalition and the Labor Party, is fundamentally we actually believe you invest in education, health and infrastructure.

Cuts and chaos is what defines the Morrison Government. We have seen today another announcement from Federal Labor ending the freeze on Medicare rebates for GPs. It is about Labor investing in Medicare because we understand how important it is.

JOURNALIST: Do you think the Nationals running a candidate in Lyons will actually affect the Liberals’ chances of winning that seat back?

WONG: Well you should ask them that. It doesn’t seem like it’s all very much happy families does it?

JOURNALIST: Just on the sporting announcement, Albert and Christina if I can? Albert, the announcement for here, what will that mean for this facility?

ALBERT VAN ZETTEN, LAUNCESTON MAYOR: It means that we can continue developments which we are doing here.

This facility has, on a Saturday morning, some 2000 people here, young people not just from the city of Launceston, but from right around the region from many council areas as well.

So it’s very important we can work together and we can work with the federal and state governments to make sure these facilities – which are fantastic and are very good in our state – and it’s not many places have an area where so many people can come to the one facility and that really is a benefit for our families and parents who want to come with their children to play soccer.

So what it means is the work we have planned with the car park redevelopment which you can see happening now and also some extra fields, pitches that we need – there’s another two that we want – this money will certainly help going towards that. They, the additional smaller amounts funding will help the other areas around the city, the NTCA No. 2 ground, but also Birch Avenue, which are very important.

JOURNALIST: Christina, out at Windsor Park what kind of things will we see happening out there?

CHRISTINA HOLMDAHL, WEST TAMAR COUNCIL MAYOR: As a council we have long recognised the importance to invest in this rapidly growing sport. The funding that we have been granted today – and we thank very much Senator Wong for coming down and making the announcement and especially to Ross Hart, he’s been a great friend of our council and has listened to what we need and today he’s delivered on one of those needs.

We will liaise very closely with the Riverside Olympic Soccer Club and while we have invested a lot of money in the sport already, there are still a lot of things on our wish list that we will have to approach – things like lighting and fencing. The money will be very, very well used.

JOURNALIST: Have you seen this kind of commitment from any other party?

HOLMDAHL: Not at this stage no.

Authorised by Noah Carroll, ALP, Canberra.