TRANSCRIPT: Doorstop, Devonport, Tuesday 17 November 2015







SUBJECTS: Cuts to services in Tasmania

SENATOR ANNE URQUHART: [audio cuts in]… Youth, Family and Community Connections we’re at today, just to talk about some of the programs that they do here on the northwest coast but particularly around the Devonport area, and also to talk about what funding impacts the government changes have made and are likely to make with the family payment cuts that they’re proposing to put through the Parliament.

JOURNALIST: What sort of services do they provide?

URQUHART: Well they have about eleven different funding streams, but particularly a lot of their focus is on drug and alcohol, on housing, and assisting youth particularly in terms of homelessness, and particularly drug and alcohol services as well.

JOURNALIST: So what’s the purpose of Tanya’s … [inaudible]

URQUHART: Well, it’s really just to learn about the impacts of what some of these changes might have and so that we can get a broader impact, or know what the broader impact is across all of Tasmania, but particularly here on the northwest coast where we have a high level of certainly youth unemployment, we have a high focus on unemployment, and what we want to do is make sure that, you know, services that are needed are given enough income to be able to provide those services to people on the northwest coast. Bodies like the organisation we’ve just been to are fantastic in providing services for young people to try and get them back into mainstream society and to help people cope with some difficulties that they might be having in life, and so the whole purpose of Tanya being here today is to learn what we these organisations do here, and how they may help to ensure that they can continue to have people being active in our society. We don’t want to lose our people through the cracks, and that’s the important thing.

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: It’s wonderful to be here today with my friend, Senator Anne Urquhart and Justine Keay, the candidate for Braddon. Justine’s been working very hard in the months leading up to the next federal election campaign to be a strong voice for the local community, and at her request, I visited this fantastic service today, to hear of the great work that they’ve been doing, but also the uncertainty that they face when programs are cut, and they miss out on funding. We heard descriptions of very successful programs working in schools, particularly disadvantaged schools with families that are having a tough time. That particular program: gone. When services like this have successful programs that are working, that are helping people, they deserve the backing of their government; they don’t deserve to see those programs cut. It’s wonderful to be here too, with Justine, because I know that she’s been working hard locally to draw attention to some of the other issues that the community here is facing – cuts to health, cuts to education, cuts to family tax benefits which will take up to $4700 out of the budget of a family with a couple of teenagers. And, of course, we’ve fought off the cuts to the full rate pension, but the Greens and the government have combined to cut the part pension, and so many people will really suffer from that in this local community. I used to love coming here with my friend Sid Sidebottom when he was the local member, and Sid showed me a lot of wonderful achievements here with the local community, great local businesses, working hard to employ people and return something to their community and services like this doing the same, working hard to give something back to their local community; they need a government that backs them.

JOURNALIST: How do you feel the federal government is servicing the northwest at the moment and what are your opinions on that and what would be Labor’s plan if they were elected?

PLIBERSEK: Well I know that the people of the northwest have a very strong sense of their local community, they’re proud of being Tasmanian but they’re particularly fiercely proud of being from the northwest of Tasmania. They’re very independent people, but they know that they have missed out on services because of where they are geographically in Tasmania. We’ve seen that with health services, we’ve seen it with education and other services, and so it is important to have people like Anne and like Justine who know this community and will stand up for it.

JOURNALIST: So from your perspective, tell us about the services you provide, and why it’s important to keep them going.

JUSTINE KEAY: Yeah, absolutely. Services like the one we’ve been to today provide really important support for families, and particularly in the northwest where we do have a need to support families in various ways. So we’ve been talking about some of the cuts that are proposed to family tax benefits, and what that could actually result in some of the cross-shifting from families to services if that were to happen. If not, there’ll be a huge gap for those families and who will then suffer. And we can’t afford to let that happen so it’s really important that not only do we support families through tax benefits, but also to organisations such as this one behind me that we visited with Tanya today to make sure the community are going to do as well as they can.