State Opposition Leader and Member for Braddon Bryan Green was spotted at Circular Head RSL recently, while travelling across various regions in Tasmania in a highly recognisable Labor party bus. He spoke with the Chronicle about life in the fast lane . . .
How are things going for you since you’ve been in opposition?
I think it’s sort of timely, the fact that Labor governed Tasmania for 16 years. The last four years were difficult, but from my point of view I’m trying to get people to remember the 12 years of majority Labor government where we were a progressive government that changed Tasmania forever. We concentrated on regions and regional services and we tried to diversify the economy so that we took the boom and bust out of it. So, through that period we had very low unemployment rates – the lowest in the country – the highest growth rates in the country and we had budget surpluses, so all of the things that people aspire to do these days, Labor achieved. We had a problem though with the global financial crisis and then a hung parliament and after 16 years, people that we affected stopped listening to us. But now it is timely that the Labor party freshened itself, reconnect with the branch members who have been defending us for a long time, and then connect with those people who traditionally voted Labor but shifted away from us last election for various reasons.
You’ve been a member in politics for 17 years. How is this situation for you as Opposition Leader?
It is different, but it’s re-enthused me. I can see that I have a responsibility as the 18th Labor leader in Tasmania to reinvigorate the Labor party, particularly the grassroots of the party to be strong. There are many issues and fronts that we need to fight on if we’re to maintain the values that the Labor party aspire to within the community generally, and I think most people when looking at Labor values – fairness and equity and all those things – would aspire to the same. As I’ve said, we recognise that the people of Tasmania changed government last time. We’ve got some great legacies but at the same time, we recognise that we need to freshen up and be contemporary and provide a good opposition, and then an alternative government.
You’re part the five elected members of Braddon, four of which are Liberal. Does that make things more difficult for you?
This is the first year I’ve ever been in opposition, I’ve only ever been in government in the past so yes, it is a bit of a wake-up call. It makes me realise that not having the power to make decisions limits your ability to do things within the community, so I’ve turned my attention to listening and developing policies. So it’s good from the point of view of policy development. On the other side of the equation though, I think the Liberals did promise all things to all people and they are finding it very difficult to deliver. That in itself is presenting them with many challenges. It’s alright to spruik all this stuff in opposition, all things to all people, but actually delivering it is a much tougher challenge. I think that people would be thinking now that even though they’ve got four Liberal members in Braddon, it’s not necessarily being reflected.
What are you focusing on in Circular Head at the moment?
Right at the moment I’m focusing on protection of regional services, the service delivery into this area and at the same time, making sure that I keep the government focused on continuing to provide the opportunity through infrastructure to develop this area. Jobs and wealth generation are still at the forefront of the Labor party’s mind so we will make sure we hold the government to account in that regard.