Parliament of Tasmania - Dean Winter MP Inaugural Speech
House of Assembly Members Inaugural Speech
Dean Wintrer MP
Inaugural speech: 24 June 2021
Mr WINTER (Franklin - Inaugural) - Mr Speaker, it is an absolute honour to stand in this place today. I have watched and listened to members speaking in this place since I was just a Department of Treasury and Finance cadet 15 years ago. To stand here and make a contribution myself is an honour. It has always been a great privilege just to watch from the gallery. While the Chamber itself has changed over time this is a historic and important place for Tasmania.
Mr Speaker, I would like to start by thanking the people who put their faith in me at the election. I grew up in Kingborough. I represented it for almost seven years as a councillor and, very simply, I just did what I thought was right over the time. That is how the affirmation of my community there, in particular, was an incredibly proud moment. I will be representing it with the same values and hard work as I have before.
Thanks also to those people from the Huon Valley and Clarence regions who decided to give me a go. Thank you very much. The three-week campaign did not give me a lot of opportunity to introduce myself, but I appreciated the opportunity to build my relationship with those communities and earn their trust as a level headed and reliable representative.
Some of you might have hear about my pre-selection for Labor. It was a little messy, I must admit, but people kept asking me if I was okay afterwards. I must be honest and say I have actually never been better. If you want to have people saying nice things to you for a couple of weeks you should try not getting preselected; it is fantastic. Everywhere I went I had people telling me how good I was and how terrible it was that I had not been preselected, and I was beginning to enjoy it, actually. Even some of my fiercest critics in my time at Kingborough Council started emailing me to complain that I had not been preselected, and I thought, 'Wow, this is going pretty well', then of course I realised later that maybe they just wanted to put me last on the ballot again.
I would even like to thank the Liberal Party for running those radio advertisements that said Dean Winter is a popular local mayor with a young family and he wanted to run for Labor. Thank you very much, that was wonderful. The first time I heard it I was in the car picking up my son from school. He heard it on the radio and said, 'Dad, you're the mayor'. It was good it finally sunk in with him. Being mayor has been one of the most rewarding jobs I have ever had and I worked with the most talented group of councillors I think anywhere in Tasmania. Our staff were absolutely outstanding. The work they do really matters and I loved being a part of it, but ultimately a lot of what I wanted to change are state issues, and that happens to a lot of local government members.
Managing growth is not just about local roads. Itt is about hard infrastructure like highways, buses and bus stops. It is also about soft infrastructure like health, education and police services. It feels like a lot of areas in Franklin have been doing the heavy lifting in terms of housing growth but we have not seen the corresponding investment in services and infrastructure.
The reason I wanted to run for Labor or not at all is because some time ago I really fell a little bit in love with the Labor Party. I loved its quirkiness and its innate ability to fight on no matter what, much like its members and supporters. Even when things look dire we keep fighting. I love the Labor people you meet. I meet them everywhere and I always love talking to them. They are great people. I love walking into Labor Party conferences where everyone is not equal, but not in a bad way. Where else but the Labor Party can you walk into a conference and an aquaculture worker from Geeveston has more votes than the shadow minister? That is the Labor Party for you, a party where they held so many quiz nights they once held a fundraiser which asked members to donate in exchange for not having to go to any more quiz nights. That is the Labor Party.
At my mother's funeral in 2012 just after I lost the division of Hobart election I stood at the door of the church as Labor member after Labor member, state and federal ministers and the state secretary walked through the door for a funeral of a woman they had never met, just to support me. What a family. That is the culture of loyalty, solidarity and camaraderie that I love and it is why I am so excited to be a part of as a Labor member. Labor values are collective and our party is inclusive. No one person gets to decide who has Labor values. That is what being part of a team is. It is about finding common ground and a joint purpose.
Labor's purpose and objective is to form a government. The Labor Party is a party of ideas and it is one of our greatest strengths. Principles of equality and passion should be at the heart of what we do, what we say and what we stand for. While the contest about the best ways to enact those principles is always alive, we never stop fighting for working people and their families. I have a theory that in anything you do, you want to follow someone who has done a bad job. You want to follow on from someone who has been a bit ordinary. You want to get a new job following someone who has been genuinely terrible at it. That has happened to me a few times in my life and probably more times than not.
As a 15-year-old working my first job at BP Kingston I was doing driveway service and I would walk out to the driveway, fill up the vehicles with fuel and do a few minor tasks like check the oil and that sort of thing. When he hired me, Rod Street - who is Nick's father, Mr Street - said, 'Dean, the most important thing to do is to put the oil cap back on after you fill up the oil', and he gave me a detailed description as to why not putting the oil cap back on would lead to a huge amount of work that he did not want to do, cleaning it up at people's homes. This was good news for me because it was a clear piece of instruction that I could not possibly be worse than the last guy.
In my second job as a 17-year-old deli assistant at Woolworths, there had been a controversy over a predecessor who had been stealing the ham. Mr Speaker, this is a high crime in the deli business and it was one that I was careful not to transgress on, but again it was a clear indicator to me that I could not be any worse than the last guy.
I stand here following on from someone who did a great job. I take my seat at the expense of the former member for Franklin, Alison Standen MP, who I know was widely respected in this place from speaking to people on all sides as a policy thinker, a hard worker and a genuinely good person. I know I have big shoes to fill in this role.
When any of us stand for election for a party we dream of beating the other side. To be elected at the expense of a fellow Labor member is not what I wanted on a bad night for Labor and there was not much to celebrate in it, and I still do not celebrate. Getting here does not mean much at all on its own. There have been plenty of members over time who have come in, sat in this place and left without achieving what they set out to do. Inaugural speeches are left unfulfilled. It is what you do when you are here that matters, what you stand for and what you achieve.
I know that none of the things I want to achieve can be done from this side of the House. Some of you may know that I am a bit of a geek when it comes to Tasmanian politics. I am passionate about Tasmania's future and have been a key observer of this place over the years and of the decisions made within it. I have watched, listened and have even since read most of the inaugural speeches of members here, if I was not there. They are always interesting and tell you a lot about what drives Tasmania's representatives. Inaugural speeches are a chance to understand the values of the member, their background and what they want to achieve. There are no bad inaugural speeches, or at least there have not been so far. They are hopeful, positive and display a passion for our state, and I do not plan to be any different.
These inaugural speeches demonstrate all the things that mean that this place did not always have to be what is so often seen on the news at the end of every sitting day, and of course it is not always like that. I have been around politics for long enough to know members from all sides of politics. I have never met one member who I did not think was here for the right reasons. Even the ones who have made me angry or sad, or whose views I could not disagree with more, I know that they genuinely believe what they are saying or what they are doing is in the best interest of our state. I love that about this place, but we could all do better collectively and so would Tasmania if we could find more common ground and present to our community, at least a little more often, as having found compromises, having worked together to find a solution.
In economics a presciente's dilemma is a situation where the individual always has an incentive to choose an option that creates a suboptimal outcome for the larger group. This parliament offers these individuals or a party incentivised to make decisions that are better for them but make the parliament look worse. Ultimately, it sees the parliament and our parliamentarians look worse and when we make those decisions we all lose. Of course we should have passionate arguments, hold each other to account and debate Tasmania's future, but surely we would all be a little better off if the general standing of parliamentarians was enhanced.
If you do not believe collaboration is possible, Mr Speaker, I would like to tell you a story about the time that the Deputy Premier, the Minister for Infrastructure, the Minister for Planning, Ms Johnston; Lord Mayor Anna Reynolds and Mayor Doug Chipman sat in a workshop to draft a vision statement for Greater Hobart. Seven elected members with more diverse views you could not find even in this place. I was frightened, Mr Speaker. This was going to be the worst workshop and meeting of all time and it was scheduled for three hours. How on Earth would this group agree to anything? I confided in my general manager on the way that I had never looked forward to anything less. But not much longer than an hour afterwards we emerged victorious, having agreed to a vision statement for our city that spoke to our aspirations and values of the city that we were confident to share with the public. It was quite an achievement. I was very proud of us that day. Of course, the bureaucrats got to it later and it never saw the light of day. I am not at all upset about it.
My story, my family and early life is that I was a pale and skinny kid. I started life with a pretty serious stutter. My parents, Murray and Margaret, drove me to Brisbane where we stayed in a caravan for a period while I undertook treatment for what was a pretty serious issue at the time. My father, Murray, was a New Zealander, who landed in Australia looking for work straight out of school. After a bit of travelling, he was convinced to come to Tasmania to work at Mount Lyell as a miner. Why was a miner with no mining experience recruited to work in Mount Lyell in Queenstown? A lot of people ask that question, but it turned out that the mine manager was also a Kiwi and he was tied up with the now defunct West Coast Rugby Club. It seems that mining experience was only secondary to your willingness to pull on the green and white West Coast jumper. My father ended up here, honorary Tasmanian, captaining and coaching the club in Tasmania for many years, along with a bunch of other Kiwis. It was a Tasmanian team with a uniquely Kiwi vibe about it. This was all thanks to the innovative recruitment of the mining manager at Mount Lyell.
It was there he met my mother, Margaret, who was a nurse at the Queenstown hospital, where he attended after one of those glorious rugby games. Margaret Powell is a descendant of William and Susanna Powell who, after arriving in Tasmania around 1850, married and settled in Deloraine. Their son Francis moved to Queenstown in 1896 to work at Mount Lyell, before his son, and my grandfather Les also worked at Mount Lyell.
I am the first non-miner in a generation, and looking at me, you might be able to tell why. I am proud to have Lesley and Molly's son and daughter, my uncle Stephen and auntie Kathleen here with me today.
Back to the start of the story. Not long after returning from Brisbane, I started prep at St Aloysius in Kingston, and I was separated from my classmates into a special help group for kids with learning difficulties. I know it is hard to believe now, and hard for me to believe as well. I was a bit of a struggler, but I loved school and I loved my teachers, classmates and the environment I was in. With help from my parents and teachers and a lot of hard work, I was a lot closer to the top of my class than the bottom by the time I finished my time at St Aloysius. I was never really a leader at school.
I tried my hand at being the school captain at St Aloysius. I came second, and I am not bitter about that either, but I was beaten by Mr Nick Wolfe, who is now a pretty famous part of the Wolfe Brothers. I told this story to the leaders at St Aloysius a couple of months ago, and I thought they might have been surprised - but no, not at all. Quite right they said; he is way better than you.
St Aloysius was, and is, a special school and a special place - so special to me that it is where I am sending my own children, George and Harriet. It is a Catholic school which still oozes values of love, learning, compassion and friendship, and a community which is safe and allows families to thrive.
A quite different experience at St Virgil's College. Still great, but it toughened me up, I have to tell you. There is nothing like being the pale, skinny kid on a bus full of 40 other high school-aged boys to teach you the physical and mental lessons that will last a lifetime. For me, these lessons were mostly about avoiding confrontation - again, you might be able to tell by looking at me - but they did teach me about outsmarting less academic students, and about knowing my place, which is really important.
Diplomacy and politics, as I often point out to sports clubs, are often harsher outside of councils and parliaments. Like no other school in Tasmania, St Virgil's enshrines loyalty into its students. Loyalty to its school, to each other, and to its values. It is a place where students can thrive academically and athletically. Excellence is encouraged and rewarded. Their motto, 'By deeds, not words alone', is one I did not need to look up for this speech, because it is enshrined in the students and they are encouraged to live it.
Catholic education is not elite and it is not exclusive. People come from all walks of life to participate in it. Whether you are religious or not, the values of Catholic education are worth learning. Catholic schools teach students the freedom to choose between good or bad, right or wrong. They explore examples of when people make good choices and bad choices, and they are fundamentally good things to teach young people: how can you be a good person, or at least, how can you try and be better?
I am here because of my upbringing by the most dedicated and loving household you could imagine - a strong support network of family and friends, great schools and a safe community. It is hard not having my parents here today, but I will not complain, because Murray and Margaret Winter gave me and my siblings everything they had while they were here, and I will be forever thankful for that. I am their legacy and I will try to make them proud in this place.
I am passionate about Catholic education, but over the last 15 years I have had the great privilege of getting to know the local public schools in my area and I love going to them, attending them and talking to students and teachers. But how is it that I can attend, on the same day, one primary school where every student has a tablet device and then another school in another part of Hobart where most year 6 students tell me they have never accessed a personal computer? How is it that at one public school I can watch a student receive an award for winning the national maths competition - not the state, the class or the school competition - but the national maths competition, and then on the same day travel a few kilometres down the road where a staff member of another school tells me that many students in year 10 arrive without any lunch. The only way to make a meaningful impact on long term inequality is by giving every child an equal chance. I am not convinced every child in Tasmania does have an equal chance to be successful. Our collective aspiration in this place should be to change that.
After I left school I was very lucky to get a cadetship at the Department of Treasury and Finance. Treasury does not like doing anything political, of course, but they might have messed up with me. The Treasury cadet program gives students studying business or economics a chance to work at Treasury full time while they study part time. It was there that I met the former member for Clark, Scott Bacon MP. This is the only time in my life where I can or will ever genuinely blame someone for leading me astray. Being at a similar stage of our degree - although he was much older than me - we mostly did the same classes but we never went to class. If we went on campus at all, we would end up at the uni bar talking politics and laughing at anyone that showed the remotest interest in university politics, as everyone should.
My academic transcript is effectively a tale of a decent student and then a clear delineating line where I met Scott Bacon. We joined the program by the more studious Richard Dowling who later became the chief economist at the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The chamber doesn't seem to have quite the same zest for balanced budgets and economic reforms it did when Richard was there but, you never know, he might come back.
The work at Treasury was fantastic and I hope the program continues for many years to come. A 20 year old student wearing a $50 suit should not be the room when the Basslink deal is being negotiated, but some how I was. I was able to work within the State Revenue Office, the Economic Policy Unit, the intergovernmental policy, the Economic Regulator - it was real, fulfilling work, and it was while I was there that I, with Mr Bacon - we may have been in a local establishment bar at Salamanca - met Mr Michael Aird, the then treasurer of Tasmania, who is here today.
It wasn't a dynamic encounter, I must admit. It was about 10 pm on a Friday night and we may have accosted him and had a chat. He was disinterested, to put it mildly. He said, 'Look, I have a job coming up and you should apply'. So, I did. Not long before, I had joined the Labor Party - and I told him that. I talked through my credentials as a Labor type person although I was working in the public service. I told him the story about how I had just run for the president of Young Labor. I lost unfortunately. My colleagues will be shocked at this but the Left candidate won that one as well.
Working for Mr Aird was a great job. As a local member who was the treasurer of Tasmania, he wasn't always as available to see constituents as other members might have been. There was no training to be an electorate officer but they gave you the keys to the Electorate Office and sent a 20 something year old young man from Kingston out to New Norfolk and Bridgewater. It was quite an experience. My favourite moment at that time was after we held a community barbecue - this was my idea - to launch our new office. I said, 'We should have a barbecue, Michael'. He said, 'Let's celebrate this opening'. He came out and we launched the office, and unfortunately he wasn't available all that much over the next 12 months and I said, 'Look, boss, why don't we do a one year anniversary of that great barbecue day', and he said, 'Okay, I'll come out'. He arrived, he was late as always, out of his limo in Bridgewater - that's how you do it - and I saw him from a distance and he got out of the car and he bolted straight into the library which he thought was his electorate office. I was the unofficial member for Derwent for quite a period of time and I loved it.
Luckily the Treasury was safe. Mr Aird was a great boss though. After he won his seat in 2009, I was able to get more involved in portfolio matters and the general workings of government. Michael could see that I had graduated from community barbecues and constituent work and I needed a new challenge. It was probably him more than anything that has got me here today. It was an unglamorous time working in budgets. As those on the other side know, there is nothing particularly pretty about putting together a budget but they are so important. If you pick the wrong priorities, if you under fund critical areas, or just as egregiously over fund areas that are not priorities, then you are not delivering effective outcomes.
After all of this, there was a singular time that really gave me a great opportunity and the was the organisation TasICT, the industry body for the ICT sector in Tasmania. They grabbed what then looked like a very Labor looking resume and said 'we will take you on as an advocate for our sector'. It was a brave move, which I would not have said at the time, because I had to work with both sides of politics. I absolutely loved it. The industry is, and was then, an absolutely critical industry for our state and the people within in it do amazing things and they did not and still do not sell themselves well enough in terms of their contribution to this state. When we talk about traditional industries in Tasmania, we need to remember that it is the ICT sector that is driving the innovation within it. I would like to thank them for putting me on, of course, but I would like to thank in particular the presidents Darren Alexander, Joel Harrison, Jarod Hill, in particular who I was able to work with while I was there. All three have been significant influences and mentors to me and they are people I have a lot of respect for.
As you can see, I have not timed this very well, so I am going to move on.
Mr FERGUSON (Bass - Leader of the House) - Mr Speaker, I move that we grant the member another 10 minutes.
Mr WINTER - Mr Speaker, as a 25-year-old, I ran for the Division of Hobart in 2012 and I believe I hold the unenviable record of being the first and only Labor candidate to be beaten by a Green in a single member electorate in Tasmania. I launched the campaign by attacking the Chamber of parliament that I sought to represent - the other place - I called it a 'retirement village for former town mayors'. I am pleased to have instead made it to the House of Assembly, a much better Chamber, as a retired town mayor with so many of my fellow former town mayors here.
I will always be a passionate Kingborough person and I will go to my grave saying it is the best place on earth. It is God's country as my father would say. I have been genuinely offended throughout my life by anyone who criticises - and I have accidently found myself being deeply offended as I am sure Mr Street has - if anyone upsets our patch, we are not happy. So, when I got the opportunity, Mr Street and I sat down and had a coffee and said 'I think you should run for the Kingborough Council, I am running for mayor, why don't you run for councillor. Former member Paula Wriedt is running with me, we will do this great joint ticket and we will try to bring about some change to Kingborough Council.'
I received 683 votes at the election, just over 5 per cent of the vote. I was elected ninth out of a field of 23. It could be argued that this was even worse than my 2012 tilt at Hobart. I must admit that at this stage I had to say a political career was not going to amount to much for me. I thought maybe sitting on the adviser tables might be more my go. But I walked into Kingborough Council thinking local government was probably the most over rated form of bureaucracy on earth and that I alone could fix it. Some would say that was misguided. Others would say the only problem was that it was not ambitious enough. But, what I found was more enjoyable than I could have ever expected. I loved being involved in the cut and thrust of Local Government politics. I do not think they had ever had anyone that considered themselves an actual politician. In fact they insisted they were not politicians on Kingborough Council at that time. They certainly realised we were by the time I had finished with them.
What I found after I became mayor was that it was much more enjoyable being on the government side of council. The enjoyment of working with the staff at Kingborough Council was great. Working with the elected members was even better. Sometimes as mayor I listened to the debates and thought to myself, 'How lucky am I?' We had this really great group of people who were all in it for the right reasons, as ever, but it was amazing the camaraderie that we could build with a group like that over a few cheap beers and a couple of bottles of wine after a meeting. We had a genuinely good working relationship and I absolutely loved it.
I want to thank my deputy mayor and now acting mayor, Jo Westwood, in particular for her steadfast support during that time. Anyone who is in this line of work needs people around them that they can depend on. That is what I found with Councillor Westwood, who was and is the most reliable deputy mayor you could imagine. I cannot personally thank all the staff at Kingborough but I will genuinely miss them. They were exceptional in what they do and Kingborough leads in so many areas and it is because of them.
Mr Speaker, to wind up, I would like to say a few thankyous. I want to thank the individuals who got me here. Thank you to those who encouraged me and believed in me. Thanks to Paul Lennon, Lara Giddings and David Bartlett, who are three people who I got to work with while they were in office and three people who I always listen very carefully to.
David Bartlett in particular is someone I have been able to turn to for advice and friendship for many years now - in actual fact, a lot more during my campaign for Kingborough mayor in 2018 and recently in Franklin. I will never forget David's intervention, the clarity of commonsense and context on a really terrible day during that mayoral campaign. I suspect most members here have been in a position where it feels like everything is going wrong and everything is falling apart, and I hope everyone has someone like David Bartlett who can give you the pep talk you need to keep going and tell you that what you are doing is right.
I want to thank my union, the Australian Workers' Union, especially Ian Wakefield, Robert Flanagan and Kevin Midson for going in to bat for me. The AWU is a union that has fought for workers for 135 years and I am proud to be one of its thousands of members.
I want to thank the former member for Franklin, Daniel Hume, for his help and advice during the campaign, and Senator Catryna Bilyk for her steadfast support of me as mayor and now as an MP.
By the time I was preselected, volunteers had been fought over and campaign teams set up. I had to reach into some of the contacts I had made all the way back in the 2010 Scott Bacon campaign. I asked Karen Bayliss to come onboard to my campaign team and she dropped everything to help me. There is nothing like a bit of old-school campaigning and without Karen's help I am not sure what I would have done.
I would like to thank the dozens of volunteers who came out to help me, some of whom I had never met but they just wanted to give me a hand.
I would like thank, last but not least, my wife, Allison, who is here. We have been married for seven years on Monday. The thing I like about Allison, though, is that she might not have known that because I have not reminded her. Marriage is a partnership and I married someone with a completely different set of strengths and weaknesses to me, which makes us a great team. She is the best thing that has ever happened to me and my greatest support.
I have not brought my children, George and Harriet, here today, and that is for everyone's sake. They are six and four and, frankly, the idea of them being here for a period like this is a scary thought. I hope they watch this one day, though, and I hope in the first instance they are embarrassed and then maybe when they get a bit older they can be a little bit proud. Dad is no longer in charge of building playgrounds but hopefully we can build something even better.
Thank you, Mr Speaker.