Budget in Reply 2019 – 2020

You can watch the video here.

ACTING SPEAKER: The Member for Wendouree.

Ms ADDISON: Thank you Acting Speaker. I am so pleased to rise today to talk about the many great benefits that the Victorian state budget will bring to the electorate of Wendouree. From Brown Hill to Alfredton, from Redan to Mount Rowan and all the suburbs in between, this is a great budget for Ballarat. I wish to congratulate the Treasurer on the 2019 Victorian state budget, a budget that keeps the promises we made to the people of Wendouree and across Victoria as well as delivering a surplus. We are funding the projects that Victorians voted for and the projects that we need as we continue to grow. This budget speaks of the values and aspirations of the Victorian community. The Andrews Labor government has an exciting and ambitious agenda for the Wendouree electorate, with further upgrades to schools and sports reserves, investment in health care and very important upgrades to some of our busiest roads to ensure that we keep Ballarat moving. Members of our community will benefit from all the investments that are coming out of the statewide announcements, from school dental vans to our Solar Homes packages, and I am very excited about Melbourne Airport rail that Ballarat passengers will be able to access at Sunshine.

Victoria is the Education State, and the recent state budget is great news for Ballarat students. This is our biggest schools funding budget ever. As a former teacher I am committed to ensuring that every student gets the best out of their education.

As part of the massive $1.8 billion investment in schools around the state, Ballarat has done well. Mount Rowan will receive $3.6 million to complete their amazing 21st century redevelopment, building on more than $12 million that has already been provided for that important school in my electorate. There is $650 000 just to start the planning and early works for a new gymnasium at Delacombe Primary School. Urquhart Park Primary is delighted to be receiving $1.5 million to replace an older building with a new architecturally designed permanent modular building. And there is $800 000 for further upgrades to Ballarat High School.

The budget also prioritises important funding for our health services for our community, because every Victorian deserves quality health care wherever they live. We as a government are investing for 500 000 extra appointments with medical specialists for patients in regional Victoria. This is good news for Ballarat patients.

The Andrews government—this is one of my favourite announcements out of so many—will establish a new parenting centre in Ballarat as part of a $213 million budget investment, which will help make sure that mums and dads can get the advice they need, including support with sleeping, feeding and extra care for babies with additional needs. This is so important because it means that new parents can get the support they need close to home. They will not have to travel to Melbourne when they are sleep deprived and anxious about their little one. I remember what it was like during those first few months with a newborn, and I am sure this will be most appreciated by new parents.

This budget is also great news for business in Ballarat and our local economy. It is a win for local jobs because this budget again cuts tax for businesses, with the payroll tax-free threshold to be increased by $50 000 to $700 000 by 2022–23. I know that Ballarat is a great place to do business, and we want to encourage more businesses to come to our part of the world. That is why the regional payroll tax rate will be cut to 25 per cent of the metropolitan rate by 2022–23 so that eligible regional businesses continue to benefit from the lowest—the lowest—payroll tax rate in the nation.

And there is the Wendouree West recreation reserve. This budget delivers big-time for the people of Wendouree West. The community have been crying out for an upgraded facility at their local recreation reserve, and I am delighted that the recent budget will deliver this project. The Andrews Labor government is delivering a bigger, better Wendouree West reserve, with $7 million—$7 million for one reserve—allocated in the state budget. But this is not just any reserve. This is a passion project of mine because I know the community will benefit greatly from the new sporting and community facilities. We are talking about a new pavilion, a community hub, new soccer pitches, lighting for night games, as well as basketball, skate and BMX facilities for local kids. Not only will this deliver a great sporting facility, but it will include great community spaces.

The investment will go towards the new Wendouree West Men’s Shed and a new ReCranked Shed. This is wonderful. ReCranked is a service which takes unwanted bikes, fixes them and gives them back to the local community. The redevelopment—it is going to be amazing; I will invite you all there as soon as we have got it all done—will include a new inclusive, accessible play space for local kids, new barbecue shelters for local families and a brand-new dog park.

With this investment we are going to make a strong community even stronger. We are also upgrading the Alfredton Recreation Reserve, with $3.7 million to be invested to ensure local sporting clubs have the facilities that they deserve. Improvements will also be made with extra parking and storage space for clubs to keep their equipment safe, precinct fencing and a new digital scoreboard. This will be welcomed by the Ballarat Football Netball Club players, coaches and supporters. A bigger, better Alfredton sporting precinct will benefit the Ballarat-Redan Cricket Club, the Ballarat Memorial Sports Bowling Club, as well as other local schools—including my former primary school, St Thomas More—and community groups that use the reserve. With so many young families choosing to live in Alfredton and get involved in local sport, it is fantastic to see the Andrews Labor government delivering the facilities our community deserves.

But with this budget, there is more, and we are lighting up Lake Wendouree. Lake Wendouree is an iconic walk, a place for exercise and a place for families. We are lighting up the lake with a $2.5 million upgrade not only to the Steve Moneghetti Track at Lake Wendouree but also by providing some lights around Victoria Park so people with their dogs and their kids can enjoy Victoria Park as well. This new investment will see lighting and safety upgrades around both running tracks so you can walk, run and jog all year round.

The budget also includes $11.8 million to boost community participation in sports in Wendouree, including extra funding for stage 2 of the Ballarat Sports & Events Centre. I had the privilege of opening BSEC two weekends ago on behalf of the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events—a $25 million six-court stadium. But we have got extra money. We are going to do further things with stage 2 for outside courts, for learning spaces and also conditioning to make Ballarat basketball even better. It is just great.

But the thing about Ballarat is that we are not just about sport; we love our arts and culture as well. That is why this budget is delivering $10 million to Her Majesty’s Theatre. In this great state budget the Andrews government is providing $10 million towards the urgent repair of our beautiful 143-yearold theatre, the oldest theatre on mainland Australia, to make sure that future generations can enjoy this beautiful theatre. The upgrade includes the restoration of walls, ceilings and floors, the installation of lifts to improve disability access and the extension and improvement of foyer spaces.

This budget has so many other great initiatives that will benefit the Ballarat community, including the fact that we are putting power back in the hands of Victorians, with $1.3 billion to install solar panels or solar hot-water systems on 770 000 homes over 10 years. I am also pleased that our solar package will be expanded to people in rental properties. We have done so much as a government to support people in rental properties, and this is a further example of how we are governing for all Victorians. We want to make sure that everyone can take advantage of this fantastic solar package. So I am really, really pleased that so many people around Ballarat who rent will not be denied the opportunity for solar power.

Then we have the dental program. We saw such beautiful faces at Box Hill the other night on the news with the Premier and Minister Mikakos talking about the Smile Squad—how fantastic. As a mother of two girls, I know dental bills can be very expensive. I can see some people around the house nodding. We know that the cost of living is increasing. We know that some families have to make the choice of whether or not they can get the kids to the dentist. We are going to take away this choice. We are going to say to kids, ‘You are going to the dentist, and guess what, the Smile Squad will come to your school’.

It is a really great initiative as well for working parents. Often it is really difficult for mums and dads to get out of work because the only dental appointment they can get is at 11.30 on a Tuesday. Parents actually have to leave work to go and pick the kids up from school to take them to the dentist and then return them to school. This initiative is great for productivity. We are going to see more and more parents being able to stay at work because the dentist is coming to their kids. That is so important.

There are no excuses: there is no excuse that you cannot afford the dentist, and there is no excuse that you cannot get the kids to the dentist. The Smile Squad will come to you. It has been really great talking to a lot of parents at different state schools in my electorate because not only are they thrilled about the hip-pocket savings they are going to get from the Smile Squad, but they know that it is going to be better for overall health. I believe that the number one reason for inpatient admissions to hospital after emergency is because of dental issues in a hospital. So the savings that we are going to make across the economy are very significant. As you can see, I am so excited about the dental program, and I know families across Victoria will be as well.

There is so much that we can talk about in this budget, but there is an additional point that I also wanted to make, and it is about the $120 million that we are allocating for treaty. Treaty is very important for us as a state and for reconciliation to occur. I am very pleased that this budget includes $110 million for us to move forward with the process of treaty. Once again this is a government whose budget is reflecting our values, and our values are about respect and inclusion. Our treaty process is all about that. That is what is at the centre of treaty: respect and inclusion. I am really pleased that this budget delivers for that as well.

Whether it is improvements to healthcare provision in my community or across the state, whether it is improvements to education or whether it is improvements to roads, I am very excited about the nine intersections that are going to be upgraded across Ballarat—across both electorates, including Buninyong and Wendouree. In some of our growth areas in the west of my electorate, where we have got growth of new suburbs, we are going to be putting in traffic lights and extensions to roundabouts to ensure that we keep Ballarat moving. With huge population growth in those suburbs we are planning for the future because we want Ballarat to continue to be a wonderful place to live and a wonderful place to work. That is why we are investing in our roads.

Roads, education, health care and three-year-old kinder. I am delighted about three-year-old kinder. Three-year-old kinder means that kids are going to be more school ready. We know that parents want to send their kids to three-year-old kinder but there are financial barriers. We are going to address those financial barriers and say that three-year-old kinder is accessible to all young Victorians. That extra year of kinder is going to make such a difference when it comes to those students being school ready. When we send kids off for their first year of prep, having done two years of the kinder program is going to mean that they are more independent and that they are ready for school. It is so important that they are learning and they can get the most out of their learning altogether.

These are the things that we said we would do. These are the promises that we made to the Wendouree community. These are the promises that we made to the people of Victoria, and we are keeping these promises and we are delivering for all Victorians. I have already been out and about talking to people, and this budget has been so well received across my community, but I just cannot wait to start seeing some of these amazing infrastructure projects taking shape and Ballarat being an even better place to live and work.