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For sale: coolest shed in town

Written By miftah nugraha on Sabtu, 09 Maret 2013 | 19.55

Real estate agenct Neville Crowther expects serious bidding for this heritage-listed boatshed at Cornelian Bay. Picture: ROGER LOVELL

SOME of the most tightly held properties in Tasmania are not in an upmarket area or come with a million-dollar price tag in fact, they are not even houses.

The Cornelian Bay boatsheds have been a popular waterside feature for about a century and are some of the most hotly contested real estate going.

Now someone has the rare chance to snap up one of these heritage-listed sheds, with a newly configured 25-year licence opening up on shed No.9.

Featuring a mezzanine bunk space, potbelly heater, kitchenette, power, water and new deck, it is the ultimate spot for boating enthusiasts or those looking for a peaceful retreat.

Artists of all kinds have long been attracted to the boatsheds and set up studios on the foreshore of the River Derwent.

The shed is up for auction on April 6 unless sold earlier and the first "open shed" will be held next weekend.

"I expect serious bidding to be in the high $100,000s," Crowther Richards agent Neville Crowther said. "When I first started selling these years ago, they were going for about $30,000 but they've improved a lot since then.

"It's all about the location. You're not just on the water, you're over the top of it, so it's better than waterfront.

"You can lock yourself away here and do your art just escape from the world and yet you're still so close to Hobart."

The first boatsheds were built in the late 1890s.

Most of the 33 sheds were built between 1920 and 1930 and are now leased from the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment.


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Power bill relief

THE State Government says power price hikes will be a thing of the past for 260,000 Tasmanian households and small businesses.

Deputy Premier Bryan Green said Aurora Energy's customer base would be sold off to competing retailers, in a move expected to put an end to bill increases.

Legislation will be tabled in Parliament next month to remove Aurora's monopoly, with the sale of its customer base starting mid-year.

The Energy Retailers Association of Australia said the move was a "win" for consumers.

Aurora's customer base will be sold in two tranches to two retailers.

Customers will automatically be rolled over to one of the two retailers, which will control the market for the first three months.

"We think that it's appropriate to give those retailers who are buying into Tasmania the opportunity to at least bed down their businesses," Mr Green said.

From then, the sector will open to full retail competition.

"It's really hard to say [how many retailers will target the state], but my expectation is that there will be many more retailers looking to get Tasmanian customers," Mr Green said.

The Tasmanian Economic Regulator will be given more powers to set the wholesale price of electricity to encourage retailers to enter the market.

"The government will establish the model to determine regulated prices for electricity generated by Hydro Tasmania for the first five years of competition, providing retailers with certainty on entering the Tasmania market," he said.

A fixed wholesale price and competition between retailers will help keep energy prices down.

AERA chief executive Cameron O'Reilly welcomed the move.

"Ultimately the customer will win," he said.

"These reforms should see more electricity retailers enter the Tasmanian market which will give households and business new products and more choice."

Mr Green said power prices should stagnate as a result, despite costly increases in other states.

He said power prices in Queensland and the Northern Territory had recently jumped 20-30 per cent.

"We believe that increases forecast will be below CPI, hopefully even negative going forward," he said.

Mr Green said the State Government would be looking for the highest bidder when selecting the first two energy retailers to enter the market.

"Treasury have been very cautious about providing the government with any real information about what we might get because I'm not quite sure that they're 100 per cent sure [what price it will fetch]," he said.

"There are figures around that you can sort of transpose to what an amount might be, but they haven't provided us with any conclusive advice."

Mr Green said the sale money would be used to finance energy reforms.


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Fears fire aimed at activist

TREE-sit protest supporter Bob Brown yesterday called on police to investigate the cause of the bushfire that forced Miranda Gibson from her tree.

The former Australian Greens leader said it could be a case of "intended homicide" if it was deliberately lit to target the ObserverTree protester.

Dr Brown said the fire, which started on Tuesday, was lit southwest of Maydena and Forestry Tasmania believed the fire may have been deliberately lit.

"The circumstances lead me to believe that a person or persons lit the fire to burn out the nearby forest platform which, since 14th December, 2011, was occupied by Miranda Gibson," he said.

"If that is right, it is a matter of intended homicide."

Ms Gibson ended her tree-top protest on Thursday, after spending 450 days living on a 60m-high platform, in a 400-year-old eucalypt tree.

But Senator Eric Abetz yesterday slammed the move as a media stunt.

"Why is it that tree-sitting protester Miranda Gibson, who claims to have been forced to abandon her protest in the Tyenna Valley due to the threat of an approaching bushfire, was so concerned about this that she managed to remain perched up the tree until Dr Bob Brown could arrive all the way from Cygnet with the media in tow?" Senator Abetz said.

"Tasmanian forests left on their own will ultimately succumb to fire. Nature has a way of harvesting forests. It always has and it always will.

"The question is whether humans should harvest some of the timber as a genuine renewable resource before wild fire simply destroys it."

He likened it to protests that stopped logging in Wielangta, only for the area to hit by fire.

hannah.martin@news.com.au


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'Take me away'

Written By miftah nugraha on Jumat, 08 Maret 2013 | 19.55

A MAN accused of the manslaughter of his best mate at a buck's party begged police to arrest him at the crash scene.

The Supreme Court in Hobart has heard Nathan James Carins, 30, of Clifton Beach, was very distressed after the crash which killed Luke Cripps, 29, on February 25 last year.

Mr Carins has pleaded not guilty to Mr Cripps' manslaughter.

The Supreme Court has heard the 29-year-old died when a ute he was travelling in the back of flipped in a paddock. He was due to be married the following week.

Senior Constable Anne Marie Edge told the court she arrived at the crash scene about 11.30pm and spoke to Mr Carins.

"He held his hands out. He said 'Take me away, I've just killed my best mate, take me away, I've just killed my best mate', she said.

"He was distressed. He had clearly been drinking. I could smell alcohol on him. His speech was slurred. He was quite distressed.

"He kept saying to me again and again 'take me away'."

Sergeant Justin Lawson had arrived shortly before Constable Edge.

He said he saw a number of people frantically trying to free Mr Cripps from under the ute.

Sergeant Lawson said he used a winch on his police vehicle to move the car off Mr Cripps and performed CPR on him for 10 to 15 minutes before paramedics arrived. He said there was no sign of life.

The trial is continuing.


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Carr champions women's rights

FOREIGN Affairs Minister Bob Carr will use his International Women's Day address in Hobart tonight to talk about Australia's work in advancing the rights of women overseas.

Earlier today, Mr Carr addressed girls from various Hobart schools at Ogilvie High in New Town.

He is meeting non-government organisations at Parliament House this afternoon to discuss Australian foreign aid

The former NSW premier's public lecture is at the Sandy Bay campus from 5-6.15pm today. All are welcome to attend the free event.

He will talk about what Australia is doing to achieve the goal of gender equality.

"Australia's aid program strongly supports gender equality through programs that lift women out of poverty," Tasmanian Labor Senator Lisa Singh said.

Silvana Fumega (Argentina), Durga Bista (Nepal) and Alice Gombanila (Tanzania), who are all Australia Awards scholars studying at UTAS, will meet Mr Carr.

Their scholarships are funded by the Federal Government.


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Roe to uphold athletic integrity

TASMANIAN sports administrator Brian Roe will head Athletics Australia's new Ethics and Integrity Unit.

The unit will deal with the fallout from the Australian Crime Commission's Organised Crime and Drugs in Sport report, which was released last month.

Roe, the outgoing president of Athletics Tasmania, is also an International Association of Athletics Federation official and an AFL Tasmania board member.

He will manage the new unit, which will include a pool of independent investigators who will be appointed on a case-by-case basis to ensure members of the sport correctly adhere to Athletics Australia's member protection, illicit drugs, match-fixing and anti-doping policies.

The unit will also look into any matters which might threaten the overall integrity of the sport.

Athletics Australia chief executive Dallas O'Brien said Roe was the clearly the right candidate for the role.

"Given Brian Roe was intimately involved in drafting those policies, and his long experience in both our sport and as a senior administrator and IAAF official, there simply is no one better qualified for this role," O'Brien said.

"Brian will work in conjunction with myself as CEO and report to the Athletics Australia Board through vice-president David Grace, QC, whose legal specialty includes sports law.

"David has been an arbitrator on the Court of Arbitration for Sport since 2000 and between he and Brian, we're confident that the Ethics and Integrity Unit will be in the right hands to safeguard our sport."

Roe will stand down as president of Athletics Tasmania in June after 10 years in the role.


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Miranda's epic tree-sit ends

Written By miftah nugraha on Kamis, 07 Maret 2013 | 19.55

Miranda Gibson is back on terra firma after a marathon tree-sit in a remote Tasmanian forest.

ACTIVIST Miranda Gibson has been hailed by supporters as a "hero of the forests" after ending her record-breaking tree-sit.

Smoke from a bushfire near the Styx Valley, about 100km north-west of Hobart, has brought an end to her epic 15-month protest.

The 31-year-old anti-logging campaigner was personally congratulated by fellow environmentalist Bob Brown when she made her descent today.

"Congratulations," he said. "You're our hero of the forests."

Life up a tree

Australian Greens leader Christine Milne, who visited the tree-sit earlier this year, praised Ms Gibson for the contributions she had made.

"I know this is a difficult decision for Miranda to leave the Observer Tree after 451 days, but I know that her campaign to protect our native forests will continue now she is on the ground," Senator Milne said in a statement.

"Miranda's global outreach has been a constant reminder that Tasmania's global reputation as an area of great beauty and wilderness is at risk if logging continues."

Ms Gibson has lived at the top of a 60m tree since December 2011 in a bid to stop logging in high-conservation value forests.

Her lofty vigil has attracted worldwide attention, with the former teacher appearing on news shows around the world.

She's also used satellite technology to speak at a number of environmental conferences and acted as a spokeswoman for the Still Wild Still Threatened conservation group.

Since taking up residence on a platform suspended at the top of a 400-year-old eucalypt tree, she has blogged about the experience and her ObserverTree Facebook page has been "liked" by more than 9170 people.

Ms Gibson broke the record for the longest Australian tree-sit back in July, topping the 208 days Manfred Stephens spent up a tree near Cairns in 1995.

Read more in tomorrow's Mercury.

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Conditions ease in fire fight

Fire crews worked overnight to save houses from the blaze near Risdon Vale.

FIREFIGHTERS using water bombers and bulldozers are working for the second day to contain a fire burning in rugged bushland near the Hobart suburb of Risdon Vale.

Milder weather conditions and light winds have aided in the firefighting effort and no properties are currently believed to be under threat.

The fire is still uncontrolled with 30 vehicles involved in fighting the blaze.

Tasmania Police issued a statement today, saying investigations had found the fire was not deliberately lit.

Check out the picture gallery

Do you have pictures of the blaze?
Send them to readerspix@dbl.newsltd.com.au

Heavy bulldozers were this morning cutting containment lines around the fire through gullies and along ridgelines near Downhams Rd to the east of Risdon Vale.

Additional work was being done at the end of Flagstaff Gully Rd, in Warrane.

Firefighters said they would conduct backburning operations this afternoon ahead of an anticipated wind change which is hoped to push the fire back on itself.

Station officer Colin Attrill said residents needed to be alert to changing conditions and monitor the Tasmania Fire Service website for information.

Heavy smoke has blanketed the valley above and around Risdon Vale today, mixing with the sound of water bombers ferrying water from reservoirs to the firefront.

Residents were on high alert this morning in case the fire flared up again today.

The TFS said crews saved at least two homes when the blaze came perilously close to properties in Downhams Rd and Kings Rd yesterday.

More than 20 teams and four water-bombing helicopters fought to control the blaze, which began about 2pm in Downhams Rd and burnt 200ha as the temperature climbed to 35C in Hobart. Choppers were hindered by powerlines, prompting a call to Transend, which switched off electricity to 17,000 premises as far away as Coles Bay, Oatlands and the Tasman Peninsula.

Power was out for more than two hours because of the danger.

For power outage information, visit Aurora's website

Firefighters worked in rough terrain in Risdon Vale and to its east in dry conditions.

TFS senior station officer Phil Douglas said the fire was expected to ease in milder conditions overnight but was likely to pick up again.

"The fire is not controlled [but] the rate of spread should be minimal overnight," he said.

"We're asking people, particularly in the Downhams Rd and Kings Rd to monitor the area.

"We're asking residents to monitor our website."

The TFS did not tell people to evacuate but people without a bushfire plan, or those whose plan was to leave, were advised to consider leaving if conditions worsened and the path clear.

Embers, smoke and ash were predicted to fall on Kings Rd, Dulcot and Richmond overnight.

Downhams Rd was closed last night and remains closed to the general public today. Residents, however, will be allowed through.

Smoke is expected to continue to affect roads early today.

The Asthma Foundation of Tasmania advised people with respiratory illness to protect themselves against smoke and to call 000 in an emergency.

Meanwhile, crews were busy putting out smaller fires around the state and patrolling others that started weeks ago.

The giant blaze in the South-West, first reported on January 3, has covered more than 45,000 ha.

Get the latest fire info on the TFS website.

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New Chief Justice appointed

JUSTICE Alan Blow OAM has been announced as the next Chief Justice of Tasmania's Supreme Court.

Justice Blow will replace retiring Chief Justice Ewan Crawford in April.

Attorney-General Brian Wightman made the announcement today.

"Justice Blow is eminently qualified to take on this new role, having served as a justice in the Supreme Court of Tasmania since June 2000," Mr Wightman said.

"He has held many distinguished positions in a career spanning 40 years in the Supreme Court both here in Tasmania and in New South Wales."

Stephen Estcourt, QC, and Robert Pearce have also been appointed as Supreme Court judges.

"Mr Estcourt is a highly respected local barrister and Queen's Counsel who practices in both Tasmania and Victoria," Mr Wightman said.

"He served as a magistrate in Hobart from 1990 to 1994.

"He is a Commissioner of the Legal Aid Commission of Tasmania and was chairperson of the inaugural Resource Management and Planning Tribunal in Tasmania.

"He also has extensive experience as a lecturer and teacher in law.

"Mr Pearce was appointed as a magistrate in Launceston in August 2009 and his distinguished service in this role and positions including chairperson of the Disciplinary Tribunal ... has been rewarded by his elevation to the Supreme Court."

Mr Estcourt is also a well-known food blogger and a prolific Tweeter.

Mr Wightman also announced the appointment of Simon Cooper and Simon Brown to the Magistrates Court of Tasmania.

Read more in tomorrow's Mercury.

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Air crews fight Risdon Vale fire

Written By miftah nugraha on Rabu, 06 Maret 2013 | 19.55

Water-bombing choppers have been mobilised to fight a bushfire near Risdon Vale.

ABOUT 17,000 properties in Tasmania's south-east lost power today because of a bushfire at Risdon Vale.

The Tasmania Fire Service, which upgraded the blaze on Hobart's Eastern Shore to "watch and act" late in the afternoon, asked Transend to cut power about 4.30pm. Supplies were restored by about 6.30pm.

Check out the picture gallery

Sorell, the southern beaches including Dodges Ferry, the Forestier and Tasman peninsulas, Penna, Richmond, Colebrook and Campania were affected by the outages. The East Coast also experienced blackouts.

Areas as far as Oatlands and York Plains were also cut off but an alternative power supply was quickly organised.

Aurora said power was restored when it was safe for firefighters.

To check on power outages, visit Aurora's website.

The bushfire broke out near Downhams Rd, Risdon Vale, about 2.15pm today as the temperature soared to about 35 degrees.

TFS public information officer Phil Douglas said the fire was being pushed in a south-easterly direction towards houses and a business in Flagstaff Gully by a 15-20km/h north-westerly wind.

"The main area of concern is the quarry and Ansons Cement area, where people have decided to leave the area," he said.

Mr Douglas said the fire was being fought by four water bombing aircraft as well as ground crews.

He said it had been burning around houses in Downhams Rd, with choppers dumping water to safeguard homes.

Smoke from the blaze is visible from central Hobart.

For the latest updates, click here to visit the TFS website.

  • Do you have pictures of the blaze? Send them to readerspix@dbl.newsltd.com.au

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McKim's stately reply

Greens MP Nick McKim outlining his party's vision to State Parliament today. Picture: RICHARD JUPE

AN edited version of Tasmanian Greens Leader Nick McKim's State of the State reply speech.

2013: A watershed year

Key progressive policies and reforms that many in the community have worked hard to achieve over many years will come to fruition:

  • We will see the first stage of the state's battery-hen ban in place from the 1st of July;
  • The ban on sow stalls in force by the 1st of July;
  • The introduction of the ban on lightweight shopping bags to be completed by the end of October;
  • The state has already transitioned to the new four-term school year designed;
  • And the overhaul of the state's energy sector will be progressing including Full Retail Contestability by January next year.
  • Vital reform and restructure of the forestry industry to put it onto a viable and sustainable footing will continue, as a work in progress; and
  • This year has also already seen Tasmania become a national trial site for the NDIS.

While these are positive policy breakthroughs, there is more to be done to keep Tasmania moving forward, to ensure we are striving to fulfil our potential as a community. We can not, and will not, be resting on our laurels.

Legislative Agenda Priorities for 2013 

  • Introduce state Fair Protection for Firefighters legislation

The Greens will prioritise introducing our own state-based Fair Protection for Firefighters legislation.

Our proposal will seek to cover Tasmania's 250+ professional and volunteer firefighters.

It is almost a full year since Greens' Emergency Services spokespeople Paul O'Halloran MP tabled a motion in this place calling for, "the swift introduction of state-based protections to ensure Tasmania's firefighters are covered by the state's workers' compensation laws for occupational cancers."

Unfortunately, it has not appeared. Following the passage of Federal legislation, which had been spear-headed by Greens MHR Adam Bandt in 2011, South Australia moved on this last year, and the Victorian Greens have introduced legislation in their state parliament.

Our firies, full-time professionals and volunteers, bravely put their lives on the line to protect us, our livelihoods and properties, over and over again. This difficult and dangerous job is made even more dangerous by regular exposure to toxic chemicals and dangerous materials like asbestos on a near-daily basis. It is time we move to provide them as comprehensive compensation and rehabilitation as we can.

Strengthening Tasmania's Democracy Package

Mr Speaker, there can be no surprise that the Greens are determined to move Tasmania's democracy forward onto a healthier and robust footing.

MPs Numbers in the House of Assembly

The first step is to restore the numbers in the House of Assembly. This is long overdue.

The Greens will bring on for debate this year our Parliamentary Reform (Restore Assembly Numbers) Bill 2012, which seeks to restore the House of Assembly numbers to 35.

Legislative Council Reform – introduce a 'suspensory veto'

The Greens will prioritise the public debate examining which model of 'suspensory veto' would be appropriate to reform the Legislative Council powers, specifically to reconcile powers with accountability.

State-based political donations disclosure regime

There is no excuse for Tasmania to still not have a state-based political disclosure scheme in place for the next state election.

We will move to introduce legislation to implement a state-based scheme, as we recognise that the Attorney-General has had a consultation process underway but this needs to be prioritised to ensure it is in place by 2014.

Our proposed legislation would provide for: timely disclosure of donations received; lowered cap for donations disclosure; full disclosure of third parties' donations; ban on tobacco and gaming donations; and provide for public funding of parties and candidates, as a transparency mechanism to remove the secrecy of behind-closed-door donations.

Other Legislative Priorities

  • Greens' Bill to introduce a $1 Bet Limit on pokies to be debated

Mr Speaker, earlier I spoke of the damage inflicted on our democracy by the cut in numbers. There is another form of severe damage that both Labor and Liberal are culpable for turning a blind eye to for far too long.

For the calendar year of 2012, Tasmanians lost the shocking amount of $199,838,383 on pokies. Almost $200 million dollars. Lost to struggling families, not going to put food on the table, nor warmth in homes, or to pay other day to day bills.

Instead we see far too often reports of 'white-collar crime', as desperate pokies addicts resort to stealing from family, friends and workplaces, to get their fix or in a vain attempt to curb spiralling debt.

No more excuses. We will seek to introduce a $1 bet limit on pokies, by bringing on for debate in the first half of this year our Gaming Control Act Amendment Bill that is currently sitting on the books. 

  • Introduce state-based container deposit legislation

Again, no more delays. It makes good economic, environmental and social sense to move Tasmania forward, and introduce a state-based container deposit scheme. No more waiting for the national level. We will table our own Bill to introduce this scheme.


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Metro bus stoppages still on

A man waits patiently at a bus stop during last Friday's Metro drivers' strike.

DESPITE "fruitful" talks between Metro management and the bus drivers' union today, stop-work meetings are going ahead tomorrow and Friday.

Passengers should expect some disruption to bus services.

The two sides in the pay dispute met for several hours in Campbell Town today.

Metro Tasmania CEO Heather Haselgrove said she was very pleased with the discussions, although no resolution had been reached. More talks are planned late next week.

Rail, Tram and Bus Union branch secretary Samantha Simonetis said the stop-work meetings tomorrow and Friday were to let members know what had happened at the Campbell Town talks.

Bus drivers would meet tomorrow between 1 and 2pm and no services would be available. Services for one hour on either side of the stoppage (between noon and 3pm) would be disrupted as drivers returned to their depots. Metro advised passengers to make alternative travel arrangements during this time.

Bus drivers on the night shift would meet on Friday between 8 and 10pm and services in Launceston and Hobart would be affected from 6.20 to 11pm.

Planned overtime bans on Saturday had been dropped, meaning all services will operate as usual that day in Burnie, Launceston and Hobart.

When asked if there had been some progress in today's Campbell Town talks, Mrs Simonetis said: "I'd like to think so ... it's a start.

"They [Metro] are going away to crunch some numbers."

The union wanted a 3 per cent pay rise while Metro was offering 2 per cent each year over three years.

Ms Haselgrove said the management and union had "some really good discussions on a range of issues".

"One of the key points in negotiations revolves around what happens in the third year of the new enterprise agreement," she said.

"We are prepared to look at what happens in the third year if inflation rises at a faster rate than expected."

Ms Haselgrove said in return the union was willing to consider greater flexibility in the use of satellite bus yards to make services more efficient.

She rejected union claims that Metro must have some money to spare because its board of directors had received a substantial pay rise. She said that had been determined by an independent assessment of government business enterprises and it was not a Metro decision.


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Gunns goes into liquidation

Written By miftah nugraha on Selasa, 05 Maret 2013 | 19.55

CREDITORS have voted to liquidate failed Tasmanian timber company Gunns.

About 80 people owed money by the former timber giant attended a second creditors meeting in Launceston today, organised by administrator PPB Advisory.

"The creditors resolved unanimously to wind up the Gunns group of companies," PPB's Daniel Bryant told reporters.

Mr Bryant said PPB, now the liquidator, would examine whether recovery could include action against former directors.

Creditors had been offered little choice after a detailed report from PPB released last week found they were unlikely to see any money.

The report concluded Gunns has debts of about $3 billion and recommended liquidation.

It said workers' entitlements, totalling about $10 million, would be paid.

Read more in tomorrow's Mercury...


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State of the State speech

THE full text of Premier Lara Giddings' State of the State speech to State Parliament.

Premier's Address 5/3/13

PREFACE -- THE JANUARY BUSHFIRES

Mr Speaker, they say adversity brings out the best in people.

Never has this been more true than in the days following the terrible bushfires across the State early in the New Year.

The Forcett fire devastated communities like Dunalley, Murdunna, Boomer Bay and Connellys Marsh.

The Bicheno fire destroyed shacks and outbuildings at Courland Bay and Butler's Point.

The Lake Repulse fire destroyed farms, fences, livestock and crops.

There were further damaging outbreaks at Montumana, Molesworth and Lefroy.

On the 4th of January and in the following days:

• 203 homes and shacks were lost;

• more than 200 other buildings and structures were destroyed, including Dunalley's Primary School and Police Station;

• and millions of dollars of damage was done to farms and other businesses, either directly or indirectly.

Mr Speaker, when the fires broke out I was on the other side of the world but my first instinct was to get back home to support those affected.

It was heartbreaking to see families who lost everything: their homes, treasured possessions, and a lifetime of memories.

To meet farmers who saw years of hard work destroyed in minutes.

To visit communities that were torn apart.

But at the same time it was inspiring to be Premier of a State that responded with extraordinary compassion and generosity.

Tasmanians rallied around those affected.

They opened their wallets, their hearts and their homes.

They provided boats to evacuate people.

They lent a helping hand when it was needed -- like Mel Irons and her Facebook page, and those who responded to the calls for help through social media.

They provided feed for livestock -- like the Member for Lyons, Rebecca White, and the many volunteers across the State who collected and distributed countless truckloads of hay.

On behalf of all Tasmanians, I thank everyone who helped those affected by the fires.

This level of support should come as no surprise, because Tasmania has always been a close-knit and supportive community.

But to see that community spirit in action was heart-warming and awe-inspiring and I hope it is a quality we never lose.

As Premier, I was incredibly proud of the efforts of our fire fighters, police and other emergency workers.

I was proud of the Aurora crews who restored electricity two weeks ahead of schedule, and staff across government agencies who responded so strongly during the fires and their aftermath.

The recovery process is now well underway and staff across government will continue this effort for the 18-months or so that it will take to get affected communities back on their feet.

On behalf of all Tasmanians, I thank them for their efforts.

I also thank the emergency workers who came from interstate and as far away as New Zealand, just as Tasmanians helped them during recent disasters in Queensland, Victoria and Christchurch.

Our thoughts are particularly with the family of Victorian fire fighter Peter Cramer, who died so far from home while helping Tasmanians during our time of need.

I thank the Australian Government, which in partnership with the State Government has distributed almost $9 million in financial assistance to residents, businesses and community groups.

I thank the Red Cross and everyone who helped to raise close to $7 million by donating or pledging funds to the official bushfire appeal.

And I thank the private companies that are helping to rebuild homes and communities -- like Hazell Bros, who are cleaning-up bushfire affected homes, with work at 76 properties already completed.

There is no doubt this summer's bushfires were the worst since 1967.

We must learn from these events to ensure we're better prepared in future, because climate change will result in more extreme weather, more often.

That will mean more bushfires.

Making sure that we learn what we can, and preparing accordingly, will be the focus of the inquiry to be held into this summer's fires.

I will soon announce who will undertake that inquiry, but today I release for public comment the terms of reference under which the inquiry will be conducted.

They include:

• the immediate causes and circumstances of the fires;

• all aspects of the emergency response;

• the adequacy of the transition from response to recovery;

• the preparation and planning by all levels of government; the effectiveness of the strategies and plans related to managing bushfire risk;

• the use and efficacy of various forms of social media during such events, and any other relevant matters.

We must get this inquiry right.

I encourage people to have their say on the terms of reference so we can ask the right questions and get the answers we need.

My Government is determined to ensure that through this process, Tasmania is even better prepared for future bushfires that we know are inevitable.

Introduction

Mr Speaker, I announced last December that my Government's agenda for this year would focus on: creating jobs; caring for people; and generating new opportunities for the next generation of Tasmanians.

Underlying this agenda are the principles of sound financial management and sustainability, and a focus on maximising our opportunities in Asia.

Why is this Agenda important? Because it's about the future.

It's about helping Tasmanians to get a job and build a life for themselves and their families.

It's about building communities where everyone has an equal chance to enjoy the opportunities offered by our great State.

The world is changing, driven by factors like technology, the transformation of the global economy and climate change.

The same factors are driving change in Tasmania too, but we shouldn't be afraid of it.

We can and must seize the opportunities offered by our huge natural advantages and our skilled and talented people.

We can build stronger communities and create greater prosperity for our children.

At a State and Federal level, our political opponents say they'll tear up the forest agreement and scrap the carbon price -- jeopardising Tasmania's investment in renewable energy.

They'll also scrap the NBN, and even the GST formula that ensures Tasmanians can enjoy the same quality of government services as other Australians.

That's not the future -- that's going backwards.

The future is what my Government is seeking to embrace by: investing in irrigation; making the most of our great natural advantage in renewable energy; supporting the digital economy; and working to maximise our opportunities in Asia.

We are helping Tasmanians to capitalise on our clean, green brand in dairy, wine, and aquaculture.

We are transforming the Tasmanian economy by making the most of our growing reputation for world class produce, products, and services.

We are seizing the opportunities offered by MONA, Barnbougle, our tourism industry, our outstanding University, our world class arts and cultural industry, and our status as a gateway to the Antarctic.

That's the future of Tasmania.

Jobs

Mr Speaker, the State's economy remains under pressure.

Too many Tasmanians are unemployed or worried about their job security.

Industries like forestry and manufacturing are going through tough times as a result of the strong Australian dollar and weak markets.

As I said during my recent speech at the National Press Club, what's happening with forestry reflects the broader transformation that we are seeing in parts of the State's economy.

As a result of market forces, jobs in forestry have halved since 2006, and just last week we had a third independent report that predicts more job losses ahead unless the industry adapts.

My Government is not prepared to sit back and let that happen.

We believe the industry can have a vibrant future, with secure market access and guaranteed supply from sustainably managed forests.

That's why, along with key stakeholders on both sides of the debate and the Commonwealth, we've made the tough decisions that were needed.

The challenge now is for the Upper House to allow this transition to happen by passing the Forest Agreement legislation when it next sits.

But while some sectors are struggling, there is strong potential for growth and job creation in others.

We're seeing rapid expansion in dairy, and 800 jobs created with the NBN rollout.

And just last week, we saw Vodafone's decision to bring 750 jobs back from Mumbai in India -- doubling employment at its Kingston call centre.

The changes that are taking place will result in a Tasmanian economy that's more diverse, more resilient, and more modern.

But I recognise that the transition we are going through is not easy.

That's why I said at the start of 2012 that jobs were my number one priority, and despite the ongoing challenges we achieved some important outcomes last year.

We helped to secure more than 2000 direct and indirect jobs in our major industrials, like Norske Skog, Pacific Aluminium and BHP TEMCO.

We made significant progress towards our goal of doubling Tasmania's irrigated farmland and growing jobs in the agricultural sector, not to mention the construction jobs created through projects like the Musselroe Wind Farm.

And we continued to reform the State's planning system to make it easier for businesses and home builders to invest and create jobs.

But there is still more to be done.

That's why just a few weeks ago I announced the $24.5 million Tasmanian Jobs Package, aiming to create more than 3000 jobs and leverage $375 million worth of private investment.

Supporting existing jobs and creating new ones through initiatives such as these will remain firmly at the top of my Government's agenda in 2013.

Clearing the way for major job-creating projects

Mr Speaker, one of the key contributions that governments can make towards boosting employment is clearing the way for major job-creating projects.

That's what our planning reforms, the biggest ever undertaken in Tasmania, aim to do by delivering a more streamlined system that gives investors and developers more certainty, clarity and consistency.

We are already seeing results, like: the $100 million worth of investment projects being progressed in Launceston under our new interim planning scheme, which would have been impossible under the old scheme; and the $85 million Claremont Golf Club housing re-development that was announced just last month.

Late last year we also took strong action to clear the way for the $100 million Parliament Square project, with the legislation passed by this Parliament supporting the creation of 400 jobs.

The Tasmanian company, Macquarie Builders, is already working on the site to remove asbestos, the designs are being finalised, and I look forward to the transformation of the precinct when construction starts later this year.

Mr Speaker, Tasmania has significant mineral wealth that provides big opportunities to create jobs and economic growth in Tasmania, particularly in the North West.

The Deputy Premier and I fought hard to persuade the Australian Government not to impose a blanket National Heritage listing on the Tarkine.

And we welcomed the decision made by the Federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke, which will allow the region's mineral wealth to be developed for the benefit of all Tasmanians.

Mining currently accounts for some 56 per cent of our international exports, delivering almost $1.7 billion in income.

We're seeing record levels of mineral exploration and mining investment.

Mining and exploration operations on the West Coast have identified in ground resources worth more than $11 billion in current values.

The Minister for Energy and Resources recently approved Shree Minerals' new mine near Balfour and Venture Minerals' Riley Creek iron ore mine west of Tullah.

Venture is also finalising planning for its Mt Lindsay tin and tungsten mine, which is worth close to $200 million and will create 1000 jobs during construction.

Projects like this are also creating indirect jobs across the State -- in small companies like Welding Works in Rocherlea, who I visited just last week, a family-owned business with 20 employees that supplies Caterpillar Underground Mining.

But we must ensure that in clearing the way for job-creating mining projects we do so sustainably -- that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past that saw rivers polluted and hills stripped of vegetation.

We will continue to ensure that all such projects adhere to the strict environmental guidelines required by both State and Federal laws.

And it's worth noting that despite the strong growth in the mining industry, all of the current and proposed mines in the Tarkine still add up to just 1 per cent of the region.

Building business and consumer confidence

Mr Speaker, unlike our political opponents, on this side of the House we aren't interested in talking the State down for our own political ends.

In fact, one of the best ways we can support jobs-growth is to help restore business and consumer confidence, and that's one of the key goals of the Tasmanian Jobs Package.

We will continue to implement the measures in the package in the coming months, but we are already seeing results.

Just a few weeks ago I met an inspiring young Tasmanian in 22 year old Kayla Brabazon from Somerset.

I stood there watching with Kayla as Wilson Homes started work on building her new home, which she can now afford thanks to the $15,000 grant through the First Home Builders Boost in the Jobs Package.

Rising prices have made it increasingly difficult for young people like Kayla to break into the housing market.

Many are forced to keep living with their parents or spend their savings on rent instead of paying off their own home.

But Kayla was determined to build a home that she could put her own stamp on, and by helping her to do that we are also helping to create jobs in Tasmania's construction industry.

Each new home requires input from up to 30 small businesses, from plumbers to plasterers, and from electricians to kitchen installers.

I've had positive feedback from local builders who say this initiative is generating strong interest and has given them confidence for a brighter 2013.

Our Payroll Tax Rebate is also boosting confidence, with 72 businesses already registered for a scheme expected to support the creation of some 850 new jobs.

Vodafone's decision to employ an extra 750 Tasmanians is in no small part due to our willingness to waive up to $14 million in payroll tax over five years, along with an $850,000 contribution for infrastructure upgrades and the Australian Government's $4 million commitment.

The fact that Tasmania has been able to attract Vodafone jobs currently based in India, reversing the long trend of jobs lost to cheaper overseas markets, is a huge bonus for this State.

It shows that Tasmania is open for business.

It shows that Tasmanian workers have the skills and experience to deliver an internationally competitive service.

It shows Tasmania is an attractive place for investment, and that we have a State Government prepared to open the doors for that investment to occur.

We worked hard to attract Vodafone to Tasmania in the first place, and we worked with the company to help it expand its operations at Kingston in 2009.

The 750 new jobs announced last week are a great return on that effort, and I hope they will help to silence those who have nothing to contribute to this State but negativity and criticism.

More importantly, I believe they will help with the task of rebuilding business and consumer confidence that is at the heart of the Tasmanian Jobs Package.

Mr Speaker, sound financial management has been a hallmark of successive Labor governments since 1998, just as it is a feature of the Government that I lead today.

When I became Premier in January 2011, the loss of $1.8 billion in GST and State tax revenue left us with no option but to seek savings across Government that were both difficult and unpopular.

The challenge we faced was so serious that every option was on the table, including the unthinkable prospect for a Labor Premier that we could not rule out forced redundancies.

I always said we'd do all we could to avoid going down that path, but it was a tool of last resort if our other savings strategies didn't work.

We could have shirked it, as the Gray Liberal Government did in the 1980s, and led the State deep into debt.

But that would have jeopardised Tasmania's future and we were not prepared to do that.

Now, just two years later, and as a result of the strong budget decisions we have made, Tasmania is forecast to be the only State in the country that is both net debt free and in surplus by 2014-15.

The measures we announced in 2011 have slowed the growth in expenditure and are returning the Budget to a sustainable position.

Twenty two thousand public sector employees and their unions have accepted agreements that help us limit wages growth to 2 per cent, as have Senior Executives and Members of Parliament.

Agencies and staff across government have also responded to the challenge and worked with us towards their savings targets.

As a result, today I can announce that we will now rule out the possibility of forced redundancies.

There has not been one single forced redundancy over the last two years, and indeed there have been no forced redundancies since Labor was elected in 1998.

And now there won't be any while I'm Premier of this State.

But while Labor can stand on its record, Tasmanians are right to be increasingly concerned about what plans our political opponents have when it comes to public sector jobs and services.

We've all seen what Liberal Premier Campbell Newman did when he came to office in Queensland.

In opposition, Mr Newman used the same 'small target' tactics that his Tasmanian colleagues are copying now -- he promised to be all things to all people, and said there was no need for public sector job cuts.

But once elected, he sacked 14,000 public servants.

He also removed permanency for all others apart from police.

That won't be happening while I'm Premier of this State.

Growing Tasmania's natural advantages

Mr Speaker, Tasmania's natural advantages are the envy of the nation and indeed the world.

We have abundant water, unmatched renewable energy resources, a moderate climate, fertile soils, clean air and a stunningly beautiful environment.

Making the most of these assets is one of the keys to job creation and future prosperity.

Tasmania is just over one per cent of Australia's landmass but has almost 14 per cent of its water.

We're working to make the most of that advantage through a series of major irrigation schemes, driving investment and jobs growth in food and agriculture.

Overall, this $400 million program is expected to achieve an extra 37,000 hectares of irrigated farmland -- a 40 per cent increase on the current area.

In the process, it's also creating indirect jobs for local companies like Mitchell Plastic Welding in Castle Forbes Bay.

They recently received a grant through my Government's Innovation and Investment Fund so they could buy new machinery and employ 11 extra staff to take advantage of the growth in agriculture and aquaculture.

Australia doesn't need Tony Abbott's plan to make the Northern Territory the country's food bowl.

Here in Tasmania we're already achieving that vision, with support and investment from farmers and the current Australian Government.

It's widely accepted that high-value agriculture will be the next industry to benefit from the strong growth in demand from Asia.

When that happens, Tasmania will be ready to seize the opportunity.

The plans and investments we are working on with Tasmanian producers will double dairy production, double the aquaculture industry, and quadruple wine production over the next decade.

You've heard me talk many times in this place about the expansion in dairy that's creating hundreds of new jobs, particularly in the North West.

Next week I will again be in Smithton for the opening of Tasmanian Dairy Products' new $80 million milk processing facility, which will send 90 per cent of its powdered milk to Asia and the Middle East.

Industry research shows 40% of dairy farmers plan to expand production in the coming year, with an extra 550 on-farm jobs expected to be created over the next 3-5 years.

My Government is supporting this growth through the Tasmanian Jobs Package by providing $400,000 for dairy conversion planning, as well as through our investment in irrigation and funds allocated through our forestry agreement with the Commonwealth.

Mr Speaker, the outlook for our wine industry is equally positive.

Tasmania is Australia's finest cool-climate wine producing region, and our wine is highly valued.

Last year the average price per ton of Tasmanian grapes was $2 389 -- more than five times the national average price of $457 per ton.

The industry employs more than 1000 Tasmanians full-time and contributes $73 million to gross State Product.

Yet we still have less than one per cent of Australia's total hectares under vine -- currently just 1600 hectares -- and produce less than half-of-one per cent of the national grape crush.

The industry needs to expand to achieve economies of scale and reliability of volumes, and we're working with key stakeholders like Wine Tasmania to help achieve that.

Establishing new vineyards costs up to $50,000 per hectare and it can be six years before the first bottle of wine hits the market.

That makes it difficult to attract finance.

My Government will therefore fund a new $1.2 million Vineyard and Orchard Expansion Program, providing grants to support the planting of an additional 200 hectares in 2013.

This will result in a 12 per cent increase in land under vines, as well as an increase in orchards producing tree fruits, and nuts.

It will also generate an estimated $10 million in private investment and create more than 370 jobs.

Asian Century

Mr Speaker, our agenda for 2013 is firmly underpinned by our determination to ensure Tasmania benefits from the Asian Century.

Our Asian White Paper, building on the work done at a national level, will be released at the end of this month.

But while it's being written, we have not been sitting on our hands.

The investments we are supporting in dairy and wine, for example, are already delivering results, and we have a great opportunity to work with our tourism industry to maximise the benefits from the strong growth we are seeing in visitors from Asia.

This summer we also saw direct benefits from the Asian trade mission that I led last year.

In January, Tim Reid packed his first shipment of cherries for export to Beijing as a direct result of the talks we had with Chinese quarantine officials.

Around 100 tons of fruit are being sent to China by 10 local growers this season, but that's expected to grow to between 500 and 1000 tons within a few years.

Following our meetings with Chinese Antarctic officials, this summer saw the first visit by an ice breaker from that country, building on expected visits from Korean and Japanese vessels and consolidating our key role in Antarctic logistics and research.

And last month I attended the official signing of Hydro Tasmania's agreement with Shenhua Clean Energy Holdings, finalising the deal signed in Beijing during our trade mission.

Hydro has sold a 75 per cent share in the Musselroe Wind Farm for $89 million, along with the transfer of $270 million in debt, allowing it to invest in future renewable energy projects.

Along with the Asian White Paper, these developments will help to create jobs by securing Tasmania's role in the Asian Century.

People

Mr Speaker, the second priority area in my government's agenda for this year is about people.

It's about doing more to care for people in need, to reduce inequality, and to ensure no one gets left behind.

It's about giving all Tasmanians the opportunity to build a better life and contribute to their community.

It's also about intervening at the right time to give people the support they need.

That's what we're doing by tackling the social determinants of health through our Child and Family Centres.

The Minister for Health will also be progressing health and wellbeing strategies for children, young people and families, with a focus on nutrition, mental health and active lifestyles.

By investing in preventative health measures we're helping people to live healthier lives and reduce pressure on our hospital system.

That's what our nation-leading anti-smoking measures have been all about.

And that's what we're trying to achieve through initiatives like the 'Find Thirty Every Day' campaign, driven by the Premier's Physical Activity Council, and other public awareness campaigns that encourage people to eat better and be more active.

Concessions

Mr Speaker, my Government recognises that rising costs for basic needs like electricity have put pressure on all households, particularly low income families with the least capacity to pay.

That's why in the 2012-13 Budget we: boosted the country's most generous electricity concessions; further invested in initiatives to help people in need to eat well and stay warm in winter; and took action to halve potential electricity price rises.

We've also moved to put downward pressure on energy costs by introducing the biggest energy reforms ever seen in Tasmania.

But we need to ensure the most vulnerable people in our community don't get left behind through that process.

Today I advise the House that to further support Tasmanians in need, we will extend our $33 million electricity concession system by:

• introducing a new Medical Cooling Rebate for electricity concession customers who have a proven medical need for air conditioning;

• taking over from Aurora responsibility for the Life Support Discount, which will be rebased to take account of price rises since it was first set in 2002, and indexed to take account of future increases;

• and taking over from Aurora responsibility for its contributions to the Salvation Army's hardship program and the No Interest Loan Scheme.

These changes will directly assist low income earners, particularly those who are struggling to meet the additional energy costs that result from an illness or chronic condition.

They will also give customers certainty about concessions as we move towards retail competition through the Government's energy reforms.

SACS fair pay

Mr Speaker, the social and community services industry is another vital component of the support system for the most vulnerable members of our community.

Workers in the sector fought for many years to achieve a fair and equal wage.

The industry predominantly employs women, who for too long have been disadvantaged by low wages and the stress of struggling to make ends meet.

We supported them when their case went before Fair Work Australia.

We welcomed the decision in their favour.

And we were one of the first governments in the nation to announce extra funding to help the sector meet the additional costs.

In the 2012-13 Budget I announced we would assist the organisations that we fund to meet the extra salary costs by providing an additional $3 million, rising to $12 million in 2015/16.

I also said we'd work with the sector to determine the full impact on community organisations, and I urged the Commonwealth to contribute its fair share.

Since then we've worked closely with the sector to discuss their needs, and I can now confirm that we will receive $7.5 million over four years from the Commonwealth.

Today, I announce that the Tasmanian Government will provide an additional $7 million over the next three years, bringing our total contribution over four years to more than $37 million.

This funding will help service providers to pay salary increases to more than 9000 staff across Tasmania.

This is a red letter day for community sector workers, the organisations they work for, and the many Tasmanians they assist.

It's what progressive governments do.

By providing wage equity for thousands of hard working people on low incomes, we are also ensuring that disadvantaged people in our community will continue to receive a helping hand.

That's our Agenda for People, in action.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme

Mr Speaker, to ensure all Tasmanians have an equal opportunity to build a better life and contribute to their community, we need to help remove the barriers that hold people back.

Homelessness.

Disability.

Mental illness.

Illiteracy and poverty.

That's why my Government is such a strong supporter of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, which has the potential to transform the lives of people living with a disability.

When I was Minister for Health and Human Services, I met people living with a disability who wanted to take more control over their own lives and the decisions that affected them.

I met people who could contribute so much more to their community, if only they had the right support.

I met parents who were worried about who would look after their child when they could no longer provide their care.

Despite significant increases in State Government funding in recent years, too many Tasmanians with a disability still have unmet needs.

Through the NDIS, they will finally be able to access the support they need and deserve.

Tasmania's role as a launch site will allow nearly 1000 young people to take more control over their lives.

From the 1st of July, eligible Tasmanians aged between 15 and 24 will start to receive support through the first stage of the scheme.

By taking a lifelong view of a person's support needs, and focusing on their individual goals, the NDIS will provide certainty and dignity for people with disability, their families and carers.

It will be a huge step towards equality for some of the most vulnerable members of our community.

We will also provide up to 70 new packages of care for people with severe and persistent mental illness to stay well in the community, with vital investment from the Federal Government.

And we will transfer delivery and management of mental health services to the Tasmanian Health Organisations, enabling greater local community decision-making through their governing councils.

Affordable housing

Mr Speaker, access to safe, affordable and secure housing is the foundation of any family.

With a place to call home, Tasmanians can feel confident about looking for work and building a relationship with local health and education services.

In recent years high interest rates and rising living costs have put many people on low incomes into housing stress, unable to afford the secure housing that most of us take for granted.

That's why the State and Commonwealth governments have invested heavily in boosting the supply of affordable housing.

More than 1400 new affordable homes were delivered between January 2009 and June 2012.

A further 1000 will be built over the next four years, funded by private and not-for-profit organisations as well as my Government, through projects like the $14 million Trinity Hill proposal in North Hobart.

We're also supporting initiatives like the Brighton Industrial and Housing Corporation, which is building new affordable homes for people like Adam and Angela Banks, who I met last July at the launch of a project that aims to deliver 400 new homes and generate $100 million in economic activity.

And we have made significant progress in reducing homelessness, with Tasmania's rate of 32 homeless people per 10,000 head of population the lowest in the nation.

But there is still more to do.

In 2013 we will continue the transformation of our housing services with the introduction of Housing Connect, a new one-stop shop that will make it easier for people to access the assistance and the services they need.

From 1 July, Housing Tasmania will partner with non-government organisations to provide 'front door' and specialist support services through offices across the State.

This new approach will require applicants to undergo a single assessment for their housing and support needs, rather than going to multiple services.

Shared information systems will ensure clients go to the service that best meets their needs, whether government or non-government, and allow better coordination of follow-up support.

We will also further progress our Better Housing Futures program, giving tenants more choice, access to more services, and new opportunities to own their own homes.

The program will see the community housing sector taking over the management of up to 35 per cent of our public housing stock by June 2014.

We're taking the first step this month, with Mission Australia to begin managing 500 homes in Clarendon Vale and Rokeby, along with land valued at around $6 million.

Opportunities

Mr Speaker, I will soon unveil more of the Government's agenda for investing in opportunities for the next generation.

Integrating government services for children from birth to 12, and developing skills to meet the needs of new and emerging industries, are vital to Tasmania's future.

We've already made a strong start on better integrating our services by building 12 Child and Family Centres across the State.

The CFCs will help children to get the best possible start in life by better coordinating health and education services in their local communities, and by giving parents better access to the support they need.

They will ensure the next generation of Tasmanians is as well-prepared as possible to contribute to their community and benefit from the opportunities that we have as a State.

Conclusion

Mr Speaker, I love this State.

I love the people who call it home.

I love the Tasmanian lifestyle and the supportive communities that we live in.

I love the shared sense of living in a unique and beautiful place that binds us all together as Tasmanians.

Tasmanians have an incredible capacity to debate and disagree over what we want for our State.

That's because we all care so deeply about our island, and I would be worried if we ever grow too apathetic to have our say.

Mr Speaker, Tasmanians will have the opportunity next March to have their say on who should govern this State.

When that happens, I urge them to think seriously about the choice they're being offered.

The challenge for voters is to differentiate between an Opposition that's all marketing slogans and no substance, and a Government that's been honest and upfront about the challenges we face and our solutions to them.

As my Government continues to prove, delivering real results requires the heavy-lifting of detailed policy work and a preparedness to make decisions -- even when those decisions might be tough or unpopular.

Leadership takes much more than 89 glib 'one-liners' and trying to be all things to all people.

The evidence is there, when you look around the country, that what the Liberals say before an election and what they do once in office are two entirely different things.

You simply can't trust their word.

That's why I believe Tasmanians will support the direction and the hard decisions my Government has taken to help create a better future for Tasmania.

All the ingredients are there: fantastic natural advantages, a wonderful lifestyle, strong communities, and skilled and resilient people.

The future is ours to grasp.

If we make the right decisions and choices now, Tasmania's potential is unlimited.

We are a resilient state.

This is a resilient government.

Together we stand ready to meet the challenges of the twenty-first Century head on.

Getting it right for the future is what my Government's Agenda for 2013 is all about.


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Premier details bushfire probe

Premier Lara Giddings delivering her State of the State address in Parliament today. Picture: SAM ROSEWARN

THE scope of an inquiry into Tasmania's recent bushfire crisis has been revealed in Premier Lara Giddings' State of the State address.

The premier started her speech today by thanking the many Tasmanians who had helped and supported fire-ravaged communities after fierce fires swept through the state in early January.

But she said there were always things that could be done better.

To read the full speech, click here

The terms of reference for the bushfire inquiry were announced, covering everything from the cause of the fire, the use of social media during the emergency, and the subsequent clean-up efforts.

Ms Giddings said the public had also been invited to have a say on the terms of reference "so we can ask the right questions and get the answers we need".

"We must learn from these events to ensure we are better prepared in future because climate change will result in more extreme weather more often, which means we will experience more bushfires," she said.

As expected, the premier promised no forced redundancies for the 27,000 Tasmanians employed in the state's public sector.

She also announced new energy concessions for Tasmania's most needy households, a one-stop shop for Housing Tasmania clients, and new funding to expand the state's wine industry.

For more details, read tomorrow's Mercury …


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Tassie job ads steady

Written By miftah nugraha on Senin, 04 Maret 2013 | 19.55

JOB ads in Tasmania dropped marginally in February, new figures from the ANZ show.

While in trend terms the number of job ads declined by 0.1 per cent from the previous month to 263, the seasonally adjusted figures were more volatile -- a 4.2 per cent drop to 251 ads.

Job ads in Tasmania have dropped by 24.8 per cent since last year, underlining the state's unemployment rate of 7.4 per cent – the nation's worst -- in trend terms.

ANZ head of Australian economics and research Ivan Colhoun said newspaper job advertising, which represented less than 4 per cent of total job advertising, appeared to have stabilised in Tasmania.

In February, the figures rose to their highest level since October 2012 with a 3 per cent rise.

"Rising Australian house prices, equity markets, consumer confidence, and to a lesser extent business confidence in recent months are important signs that accommodative monetary policy should support stronger domestic economic activity," Mr Colhoun said.


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Grudge drives arson attempt

A MAN with a longstanding grievance against his lawyer tried to torch a magistrate's car outside her house, the Supreme Court has heard.

Peter Stephen Bomford, 59, Chigwell, today pleaded guilty in the Hobart court to attempting to unlawfully set fire to property.

Crown Prosecutor Allison Shand said Bomford tried to set fire to Magistrate Olivia McTaggart's work car as it sat in the driveway of her Hobart home on May 26 last year.

She said Bomford had a longstanding grievance against Ms McTaggart's husband, prominent Hobart lawyer Bruce McTaggart, over a personal injury case.

A neighbour spotted Bomford splashing petrol from a yellow jerry can along the McTaggarts' driveway early on the morning of May 26 and soon after saw a flash.

She called police and the fire brigade while her husband noted Bomford's registration number as the offender drove away.

Arson investigators determined the only reason the car did not ignite was that too much petrol had been used.

Ms Shand said the attack came 26 years to the day after Bomford was hit by a motor vehicle, causing serious injuries.

He was unhappy that Mr McTaggart had not secured him a larger compensation payout, she told the court.

Police found the jerry can and lighters in Bomford's car the day after the incident.

He told them Mr McTaggart was "a creep" who "should go back to primary school".

Defence lawyer Kim Baumeler said her client has suffered terrible injuries in the accident and tendered to the court medical evidence testifying that he was able to understand the proceedings against him.

She said the attempt to burn the car was a spur of the moment decision and arose in part because her client was not receiving adequate living support.

Justice Alan Blow will sentence Bomford on Wednesday.

david.killick@news.com.au


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Second Metro strike averted

IT will be business as usual for Metro buses tomorrow, with planned industrial action called off and talks resuming between the company and the drivers' union.

The Rail, Tram and Bus Union has accepted Metro's invitation to meet for talks at Campbell Town at 10am on Wednesday, scrapping a planned stop-work meeting between 6 and 8pm tomorrow.

"We are going in with an open mind and without any expectations," said union state secretary Samantha Simonetis.

"We want this over as much as Metro."

Metro CEO Heather Haselgrove welcomed the resumption of talks, saying it was excellent news for passengers.

She said the proposed new three-year enterprise agreement, which included an offer of a 2 per cent pay rise, was fair and reasonable.

"This is our best offer," she said. "The only way we can consider any further increase is if the union and employees agree on offsets to cut costs and improve efficiency."

Further stop-work meetings are planned in Burnie, Launceston and Hobart on Thursday from 1 to 2pm and in Launceston and Hobart on Friday from 8 to 10pm, as well as an overtime ban on Friday and Saturday. The industrial action will depend on the outcome of Wednesday's talks.

Ms Haselgrove said Metro had received legal advice that it was unable to prevent industrial action through Fair Work Australia.

"There is little we can do," she said.

She said both parties needed to be prepared to negotiate.

"Perhaps in conversation we can come up with something that's acceptable," Ms Haselgrove said.

Mrs Simonetis said the union had been negotiating for a pay rise for five months and the talks had gone very well until about a month ago.

"Gone are the days when unions bang on desks," she said.

"Every time we have a stop-work meeting, drivers lose pay and many of them live day to day."

About 13,000 passengers -- many of them school students -- were forced to find another mode of transport on Friday when Metro drivers walked off the job during the peak morning period.


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Brigade 'family' holds the line

Written By miftah nugraha on Minggu, 03 Maret 2013 | 19.55

DEDICATED: Molesworth Fire Brigade - volunteer members of the Molesworth Fire Brigade, from left, Colin Mitchell, Peter Eaton, John Stephenson, Dean Metcalf, Bruno Rime and Rosemary Evenhuis.

"BLOODY hard" is how Molesworth fire brigade chief Terry Root sums up the summer.

Molesworth is one of 230 Tasmanian brigades that form what Mr Root calls a big firefighting family.

The small bush brigade's 13 firefighters joined thousands of other volunteers during January to fight Tasmania's worst bushfires since 1967.

"It's been really difficult. This mob are a really dedicated group," Mr Root said.

Mr Root, 69, was on duty for 21 days straight during the Lake Repulse and Molesworth fires, while many members also put in at least 10 days in a row.

Just as the crew went elsewhere to help battle fires, the community was helped by firefighters from as far away as Zeehan in the Molesworth blaze.

"It's a really big family ... everyone will go anywhere to help," he said.

Mr Root, a retired musician, said Molesworth's diverse community was reflected in the fire brigade's volunteer base.

Members included a teacher, a scientist, a computer game programmer, an engineer and a surveyor.

On high fire danger days, members took time off work so they could be at the fire station ready to respond.

Mr Root said regular training prepared volunteers to face frightening scenarios such as bushfires and road accidents.

"You get to know your limits, you can react without thinking, you take calculated risks," he said.

Mr Root said that, while firefighters around the state had been showered with praise after the bushfires, there was a better way to thank them than simple gratitude.

"If you want to help us, prepare your own land (for bushfires). That's the biggest gift you could give us," he said.

"This is a deadly valley. It will burn everything into Hobart if it goes."


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Polly proof of IT's integrity

TECH SAVVY: Local businesswoman Polly Venning is heavily reliant on technology for her work and in her social life. Picture: KIM EISZELE

POLLY Venning has her finger in many pies professionally and socially and would not be able to run her busy life without the help of her smartphone and other hi-tech devices.

The managing director of CEO Tasmania and a member of many boards, Mrs Venning constantly uses the internet for online banking, to work virtually using cloud technology, and for day-to-day interaction with colleagues, friends and family.

"Technology is crucial to the way we operate our business and I rely on it for many day-to-day tasks I do all my banking online," Mrs Venning said.

"Recently, I was interstate for work but by looking at the Tasmania Fire Service website, I could see the bushfires were approaching our house and I was able to notify our neighbours to make sure everything was OK."

Mrs Venning, whose husband works in the IT industry, said she depended more on technology than he did.


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Firefighters do us proud

UNSUNG HEROES: CFA volunteers back burn on a property near Ellendale.

IF there is one thing clear from Tasmania's horrific summer of fires, it's that the state relies heavily on its army of volunteer firefighters.

About 5500 across the state put in more than 20,000 hours to battle one of our worst summer of blazes on record.

At the height of the crisis in early January, many worked 10 days straight.

The unsung heroes represent one of Tasmania's biggest and most diverse volunteer groups.

Men, women, retirees, juniors, professionals, academics, farmers, small business owners, stay-at-home parents people from all walks of life are volunteer members of the Tasmania Fire Service.

Ordinary people that have been trained to do amazing things.

TFS volunteer strategy co-ordinator Lucas van Rijswijk said that, with just 280 career firefighters, the state relied heavily on volunteers to boost efforts during major campaigns.

All year volunteers are at the ready to respond to structure fires, traffic accidents and chemical spills, using up their annual leave and days off.

"Volunteers attend 90 per cent of incidents, they are a very, very important part of having a safer community," Mr van Rijswijk said.

"A lot of volunteer brigades are very close to their communities ... they fundraise for community organisations, they run social activities and with the support of landowners they may also help to do fuel reduction burns."

In early January when record heat fanned devastating fires at Lake Repulse, at Dunalley and on the East Coast, volunteers dropped everything to go wherever they were needed.

"This (summer) was a classic example of when a surge capacity was really important," Mr van Rijswijk said.

"We had people come from the North West Coast who were involved in the fires on the Tasman Peninsula. They came from all over the state depending on where they were needed we're also able to call on the mainland states for support."

Mr van Rijswijk said local volunteers were crucial first responders to emergencies in their area.

To be effective, they needed supportive employers and families.

"We really rely on the good will of people in the community, not just volunteers," Mr van Rijswijk said.

An independent review of Tasmania Fire Service's response to the January bushfire crisis is under way.

Mr van Rijswijk said the review was a chance to consider what kind of volunteer force would be needed to protect the community into the future, among other questions.


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