I am announcing today I will be resigning as a Member of our State Parliament, the Leader of the Liberal Party and the Premier of Tasmania.
I have, this morning, informed my Cabinet colleagues and the Prime Minister of what was a very difficult decision.
I have been Premier for just on six years, and Leader of the Liberal Party for 14.
I have given the job, which is an enormous privilege and one I have loved, absolutely everything.
It is undeniable that it has an impact on my family, and I thank them for their amazing support for the 17 and a half years I have been a Member of Parliament – our children’s whole lives.
As we approach the halfway mark, with two more years of this term of Government, I believe it is the right time for me to allow for new leadership.
I have no doubt the team that I’ve had the privilege to lead, not only has the clear plan to keep our State moving forward in a positive direction, but to tackle the challenges that we have always acknowledged and readily accepted responsibility for and to seize the many exciting opportunities ahead.
And they are the team to best do it.
I leave the job with Tasmania now a much better place than when we started. We have turned Tasmania around.
For the first time ever our economy is the strongest performing in the country. Tasmanian businesses are the most confident in the country, and they are employing more Tasmanians.
There are now over 18,000 more jobs than when we came into government, and 1600 new Tasmanian businesses.
It just doesn’t happen by luck. We have delivered the most positive business conditions in the country for them to prosper.
I am extremely proud to have lead a Government that has played its part in the turnaround State.
We have delivered our plan: to turn around our economy from the worst to the best; to manage our Budget, taking it from deficits to surpluses; to invest more into health, education and essential services; and to invest in the infrastructure our growing State needs.
In addition to taking our State from economic laggard to leader, I am especially proud of what we have done to improve education results.
In the very first speech I made in our Parliament I spoke about the importance of education, to give Tasmanians their best shot in life.
Under my government our high schools now provide the years 11 and 12 our students need, we’re increasing access in early education for our most disadvantaged communities and delivering better support for students with disabilities.
There’s a long way to go, but we are making progress in this most important of reforms. Today, our retention rates and our TCE attainment are up by more than 10 per cent since 2014.
Because we have managed the state’s finances well, we are now able to invest more to improve essential services. Employing over 1000 more staff to work in our health system, and increasing access to more social and affordable housing, and an aim to reduce homelessness.
We’ve lead the country in our efforts to eliminate family and sexual violence.
And as Tasmania’s first Minister for the Prevention of Family and Sexual Violence I am very proud our Government is delivering an action plan that is now seeing a decrease in the number of high-risk incidents in our community.
It was under my Government we have invested an additional $52 million into our Family Violence Action Plan, with more resources, better coordination support services, and more early intervention and prevention strategies. It is described as nation leading.
These are just some of the important changes that have occurred under my Government, to improve the lives of Tasmanians.
But Tasmania is a much more confident place.
Our mighty tourism industry, which I have loved being its Minister for six years, has been at the centre of my government’s plan.
We’ve significantly increased the budget for marketing; invested in some of the world’s best events, festivals, eco-tourism attractions and at key destinations. There are more flights and more sailings of the Spirits of Tasmania.
We’ve had the highest rate of growth in international tourists in the country, and we’ve doubled the number of international visitors to the state over the last five years. Supporting local businesses and employing more Tasmanians.
And we’re sending more of our high value goods and services to the result of the world. Exports are up 34% from when we came into government.
Our brand has never been stronger. We are the first state in the country, and one of few places in the world, to establish a place branding authority to ensure we continued to stand out from the crowd. We are the only state that is GMO free, giving us a massive brand advantage
Our food production has grown over 10 per cent, fuelled by a nation leading investment in major irrigation projects – in partnership with the Federal Government and our farmers.
Infrastructure investment by my Government more than doubled in just six years, supporting record private sector investment, which is 66% higher now than when we came into government.
We’re investing in our road and rail networks, making transport more efficient, productive and safer.
With the Morrison Government, we are powering ahead with the energy projects of national significance that are estimated to inject around $6.5 billion into the economy and create around 2400 jobs, allowing us to continue to deliver reliable and low cost energy. And we have we’ve delivered the lowest regulated electricity prices in the nation.
Now, as we watch the horror of bushfires sweeping across the nation, Tasmania knowing too well the devastation they cause, through what is a nation leading fuel reduction program we have reduced the fire risk here to its lowest level in 15 years.
But as we face the reality of climate change, the fact is, under my government we are: delivering a Tasmanian climate action plan; we are on track to be 100% self-sufficient in renewable generation by 2022; we were the first state to reach zero net emissions status in 2016; and Tasmania has the lowest per capita emissions of all States and Territories, and is one of the lowest net emitters of carbon dioxide on the planet.
And Tasmania is ready to play a central part in Australia’s response to climate change, by becoming the renewable energy powerhouse for the nation.
I have been a Member of Parliament for seventeen and a half years. And I’ve served as Leader of the Liberal Party in Tasmania for nearly 14 of them.
I’ve had the strong support of my colleagues for all of that time, and I thank them for it, and their commitment to our team and our state.
I want to especially, thank the dependable and very genuine, very likable Jeremy Rockliff, who has sat beside me in Parliament and stood alongside me as my Deputy for those 14 years.
And the other member of our triumvirate, Peter Gutwein. An excellent Treasurer, but also a passionate, and intensely focussed member of our team.
We are the three survivors of the 2002 Election, when our Party was floored.
We persisted, and determinedly worked hard in Opposition, and 12 years later were entrusted to govern our state in 2014.
And in 2018, for only the second time in our state’s history, the Liberal Party again earned the trust the Tasmanian people to govern in majority for a second term.
And I can’t thank all of my Parliamentary colleagues I’ve had the honour to work with.
I thank the Liberal Party administration – especially former State Director, Sam McQuestin and Presidents Geoff Page and Rod Scurrah and their executives, who have also provided enormous support.
And many members of staff who have supported my office, through the challenging years of Opposition, and then with the heavy responsibility of government, my thanks.
To my Chief of Staff for eight years, Brad Stansfield. They called us the odd couple, but it clicked, and proved to be an effective combination. I can’t think of many I’ve worked with who were more invested, dedicated, and across the job than him.
And to Tim Baker, who stepped up to take on the responsibility; my thanks to him for his conviction and enthusiasm in what is one of the toughest jobs in politics.
And there is one person who been there with me every single day of those 14 years – Sandy Wittison. Sandy’s remarkable endurance truly comes from a genuine passion for making our State a better place, and she is a fine exemplar for anyone who works in public service.
To my DPAC Secretaries Jenny Gale and Greg Johannes, all agency heads, and especially my head of Tourism, John Fitzgerald, and State Growth, Kim Evans and their teams; and the members of the Tasmanian State Service.
I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunities and embraced all the challenges that come with this job.
And most importantly, my greatest support, my family.
My sisters, Ange and Tori who I suspect might sometimes wish I’d done something else, but have never complained about it.
Nicky, Will, James and Lily.
Our children have grown up with me in the public spotlight, and often it hasn’t been easy.
There is no denying that this job can have an impact on your personal life, but we have done it together and they have supported me all the way.
I have given the job everything.
But I believe it is the right time for someone else to do it.
Yes, as I always say; there is so much more work to do.
But we should never forget, nor take for granted, that our state is the greatest place in the world, and our best days ahead of us. My only wish is for the continued success of this state that I love so much.