House of Assembly Members Inaugural Speech

Madeleine Ogilvie MP

Madeleine Ogilvie MP

Electorate: Denison

Inaugural speech: 7 May 2014


Ms OGILVIE (Denison - Inaugural) - Madam Speaker, Tasmania, our beautiful island state, sits awash and offshore in the Southern Ocean. We have here in Tasmania a collective love of the sea. It is the ocean that has brought many of us here: for half of my family, five generations ago by boat, not on a date of their choosing, and the other side of my family again arriving by boat after World War II. We are all boat people and we understand the love and lure of the sea, both in relation to our industries and our sporting pursuits including, of course, our international yachting event, the Sydney-Hobart.

It is no surprise to me that we are so willing to welcome refugees, yet we are newcomers to this island home. With 60 000 years of human history existing here, it is important to recognise the original peoples of Tasmania and the important and continuing role they play as custodians of a living tradition here on our island. I wear today as a mark of deep respect a shell necklace made in the traditional Aboriginal manner and was very touched that the maker thought it appropriate that I do so today.

It is also fitting that one of the oldest cultures in the world should be remembered in one of the most cultural cities in the world, a place of astounding natural beauty. Behind this classic building in which we stand today is a mountain that helps define Hobart and gives the city a landmark that is always present in the hearts of Tasmanians wherever we go.

It was a dynamic and interesting election and it is fair to say that the count for Denison provided a great deal of suspense, entertainment and interest for followers of politics. Hare-Clark elections never fail to stimulate discussion. As it transpires, I have become my election slogan - New Labor - as the new face on the Opposition team. I am pleased to be here, delighted and humbled to be granted this opportunity by the people of Denison. I intend to do my utmost to represent my constituents, always with a mind to making Tasmania a better, more prosperous and kinder place.

I arrive in this place by way of a wonderful childhood growing up in Hobart, one of the many benefits of living here, and an accidental international career initiated by the need to move interstate in the 1990s to obtain employment in my chosen field of law. That career has allowed me to live and work in places such as Central Java working on telecommunications infrastructure, Paris with UNESCO working on international cultural heritage, Silicon Valley in IT, and Boston on innovation, all possible due to the education I received from Claremont's Roseneath Primary School, the Friends School and Hobart Matriculation College.

My career developed from the start as an intellectual property lawyer, then as a senior commercial manager, leading on to becoming a general manager with one of Australia's largest telecommunications companies. Along the way I attended the University of Melbourne, Ormond College, the University of Tasmania and the Australian Graduate School of Management. Strangely, I also managed to collect some project management qualifications and to this day I am still not sure how.

My qualifications are in arts, law and business, and they have taken me everywhere and have brought me home to Hobart, with my family, where I established my business. People know me as a local barrister and solicitor and it seems that I have merely swapped one sandstone place of work for another, from applying the law to creating the law. The honour and responsibility is not lost on me.

Someone said to me in jest that with Labor in opposition the light on the hill has dimmed, but it is not so. We have a new light for a new digital age. The light I refer to is the access to information and knowledge that can now be delivered to every school desk, handset and phone through advanced telecommunications technology. The explosion of social media has had a positive impact on politics, allowing each of us to connect more directly with constituents. It is Rousseau's social contract, but applied.

Information, data and knowledge is now coursing through the green optical fibre cabling that has and continues to be laid across our nation and our island state. When I think of the light on the hill I also think of our mountain and the car headlights which are visible as people head up the free and accessible road at night to take in the views of our beautiful nighttime city. Equal access is important. It is with a care and regard for our love of the mountain that, to my mind, any development affecting it must be handled sensitively and with appropriate probity. Development proposals for our people's mountain are sensitive issues for the people of my electorate in Denison. Proposals that may require new restrictions on entry to our people's mountain, toll roads or government expenditure on private tourism developments will be scrutinised carefully by the people of Denison. It seems to me that proposals which may interrupt the vista, such as the view of the Organ Pipes from Hobart, are unlikely to be acceptable to the voters of Denison. I will stand by them in this regard and ensure appropriate levels of governance are applied to proposals.

We enjoy the people's mountain as a special privilege. It is true that Pinnacle Road, which opened the mountain to all people back in 1937, was a Labor project led by the then premier, A.G. Ogilvie and his brother E.J. Ogilvie. It was an employment-generating community development project, it was an economic development project and it continues to deliver social and economic benefits to this state. I have a deep respect for the men who worked on building the road - and it was men back then who delivered the road - that opened access for all to our mountain, a people's road to a people's park. As it was then so it is now - we want development. We need development but we want good development with heart and soul, a long-term vision that will continue to provide benefits to the Tasmanians of 2090.

Our built and natural environments are not only special Tasmanian gifts, they are also the reason over one million visitors come here and spend over $1.5 billion each year. These dollars provide jobs for young and older Tasmanians, whether they are directly employed in the hospitality industry or in construction, the financial, food and wine, agricultural or associated industries. Our unique lifestyle and natural beauty will require us all to develop our major resources in a sensitive manner. We can offer something unique and benefit from it, both economically and in terms of our own lifestyle, if we get it right.

This sensitive and intelligent development position is at the heart of the vision which I and other significant Tasmanians laid down at the beginning of my election campaign. It has become a plan which drives my actions as a member of Parliament. At the heart of that plan is the need to reinforce Tasmanian pride. We do not need to accept second-best, whether in football or education. Tasmania can set new patterns of thinking and action which provide smart jobs and build on our natural advantages. Tasmanian pride is critical. Tasmania must again stand proudly in our great federation of states and territories, taking her rightful place as a leader. We can again be a strong contributor to the national conversation in modern Australia, particularly on the topic of human rights.

We will never become part of another state or territory. State pride is important because it prevents us from becoming an economic outpost where the jobs, opportunities, investment and profits end up in other capital cities, and specifically in relation to our call-centre industry, where we are right now seeing jobs being sent offshore. State pride is the reason I stood for the seat of Denison and why I am delighted to have the shadow portfolios of IT and innovation, small business, Aboriginal affairs, multicultural affairs, and corrections. I am passionate about providing improved hospice services in Hobart and will continue to work with community organisations to deliver much-needed improved care. Each of my shadow portfolio areas provides great opportunities to help improve what we currently do and how we invest in the future for all Tasmanians. We can adapt and adopt when it suits us. Being prepared to do it our way, preserving our natural and built environments, our special Tasmanian friendliness, strong sense of community, innovation and care for one another is at the heart of this.

I have until very recently been a small business owner and have given thought to what we can do to improve the lot of small business by way of some principles. The first of these key principles is to build alliances between small business and big business, university, unions and government organisations that cover such areas as marketing, fair contracts and a positive emphasis by government on building a sustainable economy in Tasmania. We want everyone to be working for Team Tasmania.

The second principle is to ensure all Tasmanians are skilled wherever they work and that our workforce is respected, properly paid and protected in the workplace. We are not the USA, where minimum wages are so low that even Wal-Mart has acknowledged that of its 1.3 million employees only 4 000 currently earn the minimum federal or state wage. Poverty is caused by a lack of money, nothing more than that. Nurses undertaking midwifery training ought to be paid properly, too. We must not seek to drive an economy based on the labour of the working poor. In Tasmania we need to remember that well-paid workers are also better paying customers for all Tasmanian businesses. We must leave no-one behind.

The third principle is to work together as a Tasmanian community. Tasmanians should buy Tasmanian wherever they can. Highly desirable projects such as the NBN should not be an avenue for mainland contractors to squeeze out local subcontractors. Governments must do more to ensure that Tasmanian business is better able to compete for business against larger interstate organisations and we can do this by working smarter.

The fourth principle is to ensure our education system is sharply focused on a whole‑of‑life service, a structure where young and old Tasmanians can use an effective and affordable education system at any time. People should be able to access education services easily in line with their needs at any given point in time. This will require decisive and strategic thinking about how our education system is organised and the type of services it offers. I am in favour of inviting some schools, and especially community colleges, to become business and IT hubs where the focus is on providing students with the skills and capabilities that employers say they want, to delivering the skills and adoptability required to thrive in a modern, technology-driven global economy.

The fifth principle is to tap into the Tasmanian diaspora to provide the benefits of their skills, personal and business networks and their experience. Many Tasmanians have gone to the mainland and overseas, and many have become success stories. Many are also wishing to come back here, perhaps as they have children, as I did, or are simply longing to return to a place they love. We are concerned about young people leaving. We should also welcome the fact that many are seeking a challenge and will ultimately return.

The sixth principle is to develop a digital economic development plan, a plan that helps drive new industries, such as content development and commercialisation, and the traditional industries, such as primary industries, through the application of new technologies. Our connectedness through high-speed broadband and development of application-specific systems which works with, not against, our natural advantages, will help. We can build and deliver business from here. Tasmania can therefore lead the way in a digital industry development approach that uses our new high-speed NBN capacity to attract engineering, creative and commercial groups that can add that commercialisation layer to our NBN advantage.

I aim to establish a business and innovation group, which will be an informal forum that can provide ideas and feedback to me so that my time as shadow minister for small business and IT and innovation is well spent.

In this industry development effort I will be following the footsteps of my great uncle, A.G. Ogilvie, first elected as Labor premier in Tasmania in 1934. It was he who abolished public school fees to keep children at school longer. He built the Pinnacle Road up Mount Wellington to employ people in the depths of the Great Depression. He also built schools to give better education access to country kids. He restored the wages of public servants who were crucial to his attack on poverty and he helped drive the HEC to be the creator of hydro-based industrialisation in Tasmania. Hydro-industrialisation gave us long-term, strategic advantage and cheap power for our homes. He also, flamboyantly, rebuilt the Royal Hobart Hospital and opened the state up for tourism. I note he did not need a 'Royal rescue' in that regard, he just did it.

For me, the context is different but the outcomes sought remain the same: a prosperous Tasmania for all. I support the retention of sensible penalty rates, especially in the hospitality services and retail industries. It is critical that workers who are already on low wages have motivation and are treated fairly. Labour cost is but one of the many costs a business must manage. Why are rates, rent, water costs, power costs and material costs not the initial focus of the conversation? If we want a fair society then policies that support reducing fixed costs are required. Nobody will mind paying another 50 cents for a coffee if the people serving you have a commitment and are not being exploited. Nobody minds paying penalty rates to cleaners or nurses in hospitals who are working unusual, family-unfriendly hours.

Tourists do not mind a Sunday or holiday surcharge provided that shops are open and service is professional and friendly in a way that is a feature of Tasmania. Well-run businesses will amortise the cost of penalty rates across the year in any case.

We need to examine ways in which innovative use of information technology can help drive services, products, marketing and production in small and big business. Critical to that task will be the way we train our younger and older Tasmanians to be IT-literate and to be smart users of IT rather than just consumers of product. That will mean a major rethink of the way we provide education across the board. Is it easy to access IT and business training? How can small businesses, especially in the trades-based area, have a genuine say in what the education system provides? How can we use the NBN to give small businesses a genuine advantage? How can we lift the level of business and IT knowledge amongst the teaching and learning professions so that we have the most IT savvy workforce whether it be in transport, logistics, service and repairs and the traditional trades in government and semi-government services? There is hardly a professional trade that can avoid using IT in the workplace but are we preparing our students and adult trainees in that vital skill set?

Through my own experiences as an owner of a small business and as a former manager of significant IT and telecommunications projects I am acutely aware of the need to build capacity and skills here. In doing so, we can create employment and develop a critical mass that attracts other companies because of that dedicated and skilled workforce. We must get our economic settings right to achieve this and it is this approach that has helped us to develop our call-centre industry in the current national management obsession with offshoring of IT. Call-centre jobs must be turned to Tasmania's advantage where we must get our economic settings right and bring those jobs here. Let us expand our digital development capacity and not step back from those challenges.

Companies know that the service is better from here. Customer satisfaction ratings improve when jobs are put here. Everyone makes more money and that is why those roles should come here and, of course, I stand with the people at Qantas and M2 and all our centres who are feeling the pressure of offshoring.

Tourism is another area where Tasmania excels. Over 50 cruise ships in Hobart last year, the iconic genius of MONA, the Glenorchy Arts and Sculpture Park, with which I have had a connection going back to its inception, the Taste of Tasmania, our mountain and all the history that tourists find so attractive is a superb start.

I have mentioned before the need to rebuild Tasmanian pride and it is natural that this happens in parallel with our tourism boom. What greater way to do this than to have a Tasmanian football team in the AFL. We are the only state which does not have its own team in what some dare to call a national competition. It is not a national competition without a Tasmanian team.

As vice-president of the Southern Football League I have long called for Tasmania's full inclusion in the AFL. I and others have looked closely at the economic benefits that would flow from having a home-grown team. I supported this in my election campaign and was very pleased to see many people supporting my call for a renewed push for a Tasmanian AFL team, ably supported by the Mercury newspaper. I can say also that the work to restructure football in Tasmania is well underway so that a proper franchise within Tasmania supporting a true Tasmanian AFL team - a team sporting the green, gold and magenta - can now be achieved, particularly if the Hawthorn deal is not renewed.

The establishment of the Tasmanian Football Council provides the commercial structure - the Tasmanian football DNA - through which the power of 35 000 community-based players can be harnessed and twice that in members and volunteers. This new structure has been ably led by the current president of the Tasmanian Football Council, Mr Johnson. So far the AFL has made sympathetic noises and has graciously accepted the Tasmanian Government's generous funding. It is not enough. Tasmanians want, and know they can have, their own AFL team because we are an AFL powerhouse. I am already working with people of a similar mind and a wide range of expertise to ensure that, sooner rather than later, the AFL becomes a true national football league and that we will see both in Launceston, a beautiful city, and Hobart, a pride-driven Tasmanian team in its traditional colours running onto the field. And as you can see, it is not just about football, it is about jobs, tourism revenue and Tasmanian pride.

I am also honoured to be the Labor Party's spokesperson on multicultural affairs. Just as we remember the original custodians of this land we also welcome the long line of newcomers who have helped make Tasmania what it is today. From the original Irish, Scottish and English settlers and convicts to the immigration of Greeks from the 1890s and the early Chinese miners to the English, Italians, Dutch, Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians and Poles who came out from a war‑ravaged Europe. Tasmania has welcomed and benefited from their work ethic, skills, cuisine and culture. Many were refugees fleeing from persecution in their own lands just as today we have welcomed a new wave of refugees seeking asylum. Unfortunately, for the latest arrivals their entry into this country has become a humiliating and dangerous exercise.

I have worked with asylum seekers and I feel ashamed at the treatment that has been meted out on a national basis to people Tasmanians have made feel welcome. I have visited the Pontville centre many times, have met with and represented asylum seekers, yet I have failed to establish a local asylum seeker legal aid service that is properly funded. I pay tribute to those in my profession, the legal profession, who have stepped up to provide pro bono legal services in this area of human rights. It is unfair, unjust and not right that our most marginalised community members are unable to work or access their most basic rights.

It will be my role to ensure the name Tasmania stands for generosity of spirit, a helping hand and a chance for a new and productive life. So it is with compassion I again call for the women and children held on Christmas Island to be brought here, where we can care for them properly. I also call for an immediate international effort to rescue the abducted Nigerian school girls and efforts to secure the safety of all children at school.

I have made a submission against the removal of section 18C of the Discrimination Act as I oppose allowing racist commentary to flourish here at a time when a growing acceptance of racism appears to be spreading across our nation. The retraction of the legal rights of the people most affected by racism must be opposed. I encourage those who are interested to read my submission in full.

As shadow minister for Aboriginal affairs I will be consulting widely and it would be presumptuous of me to make detailed comment until those discussions have taken place. However, there is one important area where I do need to indicate an action plan is urgently needed. That is in the further protection of intellectual property rights for Aboriginal names. It is my firm view that the wonderful place names belong to the Tasmanian Aboriginal community and they should never be appropriated by those who have no connection to that community. I will be talking about this again after discussions with the wider Aboriginal community, a discussion I hope will cover an area ranging from intangible cultural heritage rights, education through to health, employment and beyond.

My shadow ministry for corrections is a difficult one. Crime, punishment and redemption are age‑old themes in our literature and films, yet they are part of our human condition. Being tough on crime can sometimes win votes, whereas thoughtful policies which try to reduce the number of people in prison and which help criminals to rehabilitate themselves are generally not big vote winners. For many, prisons are out of sight and out of mind, if not out of town. In my former life as a barrister and solicitor I visited clients many times at Risdon Prison and I have a true sense of the task at hand. For those who have not been there I suggest a visit. All things seem simpler in theory.

No person lives in isolation; we are all in it together, living in a community that can be affected by our failure to combat crime and its causes. We must resist the urge to use the criminal justice and prison system as the dumping ground for our own failed social policies. It is we who are charged with leading in our communities and it can therefore only be our own failure to address the issues that cause crime in the first place. We must take this collective responsibility for our society.

Options such as suspended sentences, therapeutic jurisprudence, restorative justice and related transitional assistance back into the community must be considered an essential part of the system. We desire rehabilitation as our primary aim because it keeps us all safe and it is better for us. I am unashamedly supportive of the independence of our judiciary, the doctrine of the presumption of innocence and the separation of the powers, which keeps each one of us safe in our democracy. With these things in place we can be confident of a fair trial.

Finally, I wish to pay special thanks to those people who did so much to assist in my election to this House. Firstly, to the electorate of Denison for giving me this opportunity. I am honoured, humbled and I will do everything in my power to represent your interests. Secondly, my husband Liam, my children Thomas, Amelia, Charlie and baby Violet, my parents Frances, Albert and stepfather Peter, siblings Jeannie, George, Sarah, Lucy, Sophie and William, their husbands, wives and partners - there are many of us, many aunties and uncles, cousins, second cousins of whom there are just too many to name, but my core team Terry, Jo, Scott, Tim, Ann, Ned, Steve and Jenny. Many others too numerous to mention by name but whom I continue to thank in person every time I see them.

Importantly, I particularly thank Senators Catryna Bilyk and Helen Polley and the former senator, Mr Terry Aulich. I also recognise and thank my parliamentary colleagues Bryan Green, Michelle O'Byrne, Lara Giddings, Scott Bacon, David Llewellyn, Rebecca White and Craig Farrell, who have been so welcoming to the new Labor member. In a very modern and particular way, let me also thank the thousands of Facebook friends who got behind my digital campaign and whom I draw on for advice constantly. The webcast of this speech will be watched by friends and relatives scattered around the globe, in County Kerry, Dublin, Manchester, The Hague, Brussels, Sydney, New York, Derwent Park and Bonnet Hill. We live in a truly connected world.

Madam Speaker, I congratulate you for being the first woman Speaker in the House of the Tasmanian Parliament. It is indeed an honour that should be acknowledged by the whole Tasmanian community. I support the motion.

Members - Hear, hear