Budget Papers 2020–21 – Motion

Ms ADDISON (Wendouree) (17:37): It is an absolute joy to stand here tonight, a fortnight out from our next budget, to reflect on the amazing 2020–21 Victorian budget that was handed down in November.

The 2020–21 budget certainly does deliver for Wendouree, and the Andrews Labor government is continuing in its commitment to invest in Ballarat and my community.

I really wish to thank the Premier and the Treasurer and ministers, and particularly all their staff members who worked so hard to put together this incredible budget under some of the most difficult circumstances. The Victorian government’s top priority last year was to get the virus under control and then to support the Victorian economy to recover, and that is exactly what we have done in the areas of housing, transport, the arts, education, health and sport.

We are a government that is committed to every Victorian meeting their needs, achieving their potential and being optimistic about the future. This is a principle that has guided the decision-making of this budget. A budget for all Victorians is what we have really done.

We have got to reflect back to November 2020. The budget had been deferred by six months due to the global pandemic. It gave the government an opportunity to prioritise what was most important for Victorians to create a fairer and more inclusive state.

So this is a budget for its time, and one that is firmly focused on our state’s economic repair. The focus of the 2020–21 budget was to stimulate the economy, to help it recover post COVID by investing in infrastructure, services and sectors that Victoria needs, and all the while creating jobs.

This budget included significant announcements for Ballarat, both large and small. It included $80 million for Ballarat Health Services, $80 million for social housing within the City of Ballarat local government area, $10 million for the Ballarat Specialist School and $6.7 million for a new National Centre for Photography to be based in Ballarat, as well as smaller announcements: providing support for households with power bills and $200 vouchers to support children to play sport by helping local families cover the costs of sports equipment, uniforms and memberships, as well as encouraging households to embrace solar energy.

We are also supporting local businesses with small business tax concessions, deferral of payments, relief from taxes and fees, and cash grants in the hardest hit sectors, and that was certainly most welcomed by local businesses in Ballarat.

We are a government that invests in regional Victoria to build communities and create jobs, and this budget delivers in spades for regional Victoria when it comes to infrastructure and service provision. Most importantly when it comes to regional Victoria we have great funds like the Regional Health Infrastructure Fund. This budget allocated an additional $120 million, with funding announcements to come in June this year, as well as $156 million for the Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund—really important money—and more than $276 million to stimulate regional economies.

In the area of agriculture this budget delivered $65 million for a new Victorian agricultural industry strategy and, importantly, $50 million to upgrade facilities and learning spaces at Victoria’s agricultural colleges.

This is a budget that bolsters and supports regional tourism. Never has there been a better time to visit and holiday in Victoria, and that is why the Andrews Labor government is investing $465 million for Victoria’s tourism recovery package.

The list is extensive: $272 million to upgrade the Great Ocean Road and inland routes; $44 million to upgrade facilities and infrastructure along the Great Ocean Road; $23 million to build a new visitor centre and biodiversity sanctuary at Wilsons Promontory; $18 million for Gippsland’s tourism recovery package; $10.3 million to upgrade tracks and infrastructure along the Murray River Adventure Trail; and one of my favourites, $4.9 million to upgrade the Mallee Silo Art Trail.

Regional Victoria has so much to offer, and I really hope that the more than 5 million Melburnians come and visit the regions, because you are most welcome.

This is a budget that is also about creating jobs and setting us up for the future, with massive investments in infrastructure and community services as well as addressing the cost of living for Victorians. That is why the 2020–21 Victorian budget has $5.3 billion for the biggest social housing package in the state’s history and, as I already mentioned, $80 million for Ballarat. When we talk about rail in this budget—$2.2 billion for the Suburban Rail Loop, which in the future Ballarat line passengers will be able to access at Sunshine.

Mental health—$868 million to additionally boost mental health services across the state. When it comes to disability there is $1.6 billion to support students with disability, and there is $235 million for jobs in mental health, family violence, child protection and disabilities. This budget just keeps giving to jobs and infrastructure.

For parks and zoos in Victoria, there is $470 million to protect Victoria’s environment and to protect parks and zoos, and I am particularly excited about the $84 million to transform Werribee zoo into Australia’s leading open range zoo. I cannot wait to take my children on the 1.6-kilometre treetop sky safari gondola. It is going to be an absolutely huge tourist attraction for Victoria.

Ms Crugnale interjected.

Ms ADDISON: You can come, Jordan—of course.

When it comes to health we are a government that cares about the health and wellbeing of Victorian citizens, and after the pandemic we made the announcement that we would invest $155 million to set up a new national centre for infectious diseases.

There is $120 million so patients can recover from illness or surgery at home and $7.3 million for the Danny Frawley Centre for Health and Wellbeing. This news was most welcomed by many members of Danny’s family and friends who live in and around Ballarat. It will be a fantastic way to honour Danny’s legacy, so thank you very much to the Victorian budget and the Victorian government for doing that for Danny Frawley and his family.

We know that during the pandemic many families really suffered dreadfully economically with the loss of jobs. So what did we do? We made the announcement that kinder would be free for 2021. At a cost of $169.6 million every family in Victoria has access to free kinder, taking the pressure off those families.

This is a real saving, and people have stopped me in the street in Ballarat and said what a difference it is making to them and their hip pocket.

There is great news for sporting facilities in this budget as well, whether you barrack for the Cats, the Bulldogs, the Tigers or the Kangaroos—$40 million for the Cats for stage 5 of the Kardinia Park redevelopment in Geelong, $36 million to upgrade Whitten Oval in Footscray, $15.5 million to upgrade the facilities at Punt Road for the Richmond Football Club and $7.3 million for Arden Street upgrades and new change rooms for North Melbourne.

But it is not just about elite football and the AFL; this is a budget that is also very focused on community sports. That is why in this budget we invested $21 million for sports vouchers to get kids active, which is just so important. If kids can fall in love with sport when they are young, they will have a love of sport for the rest of their lives.

We are also protecting our environment and addressing climate change, and I was particularly pleased to see that we have made an announcement of $20 million for a zero-emission bus fleet business case. We have been debating the importance of that, and we are really putting our money where our mouth is when it comes to that.

Ballarat Health Services plays such an important role in our community and more broadly in our region, and the Andrews Labor government is boosting investment in the redevelopment of Ballarat Base Hospital to ensure that local families and dedicated hospital staff get the world-class facilities they deserve so that they can treat thousands more patients every year.

What is very important and much needed in our budget is the $178.2 million for the guaranteeing energy supply initiative, which ensures hospitals have capacity and reliable backup energy supply if there is a power failure in the electricity grid. As a part of this initiative the Ballarat Base Hospital will receive $80 million to build a new central energy plant, bringing the Labor government’s total investment into Ballarat Health Services to $541.6 million.

Ballarat Base Hospital is already experiencing significant and increasing demand for its services, and this will only grow, with the health services catchment area expected to expand by around 20 per cent over the next decade. This redevelopment is about meeting increased demand and making sure that members of my community have access to the healthcare services they need closer to home. Once completed, our new Ballarat Base Hospital will have the capacity to treat at least 18 000 more emergency patients and an extra 14 500 inpatients each year.

We are also boosting employment in the region, with more than 1400 construction jobs created and an additional 1000 positions at the hospital once redevelopment is complete. Early works will kick off next year, and construction of the central energy plant will get underway in 2022. The redevelopment is expected to be completed in 2027—just what our growing community needs.

One of my favourite announcements in the budget is the Ballarat Specialist School announcement. The 2020–21 Victorian budget provides $10 million for the Ballarat Specialist School to upgrade and modernise the school buildings. This investment means that we can fast-track the plans to deliver even better facilities for specialist school students, teachers and families.

I could not be prouder of this announcement, and we were all pretty emotional when the news was announced. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the principal, Karen, the leadership team, the teachers and the support staff for all they do to make the Ballarat Specialist School such an important place for education, applied learning and vocational training as well as an inclusive and welcoming space for everyone.

We all know that early childhood investment is vital for making sure that our children are ready for school and able to grow and thrive. That is why with this budget the Andrews Labor government is building and upgrading kindergartens across Victoria, including in Ballarat, creating thousands of new kinder spaces and hundreds of jobs as Victoria rolls out our funded, universal three-year-old kinder program.

One announcement that is very special for our community is for the Ballarat and District Aboriginal Cooperative. They are going to receive $900 000 to build a brand new early childhood service called Yirram Burron, meaning ‘morning children’. Yirram Burron will be a culturally welcoming, rich and safe early childhood education service that will deliver three- and four-year-old kindergarten programs within the heart of the Ballarat Aboriginal community, embracing and embedding Aboriginal perspectives into the service delivery, structural environment and education curriculum.

Ballarat and District Aboriginal Cooperative’s new learning service will create a space Aboriginal families will want their children to go to and where their children will not only learn traditional Aboriginal stories and cultural practices, they will also be given the best education that they can.

I look forward to the opening of BADAC’s 38-place early learning service, including the kindergarten and long day care, as it will inspire children and engage families into early childhood education from the vital early years. It will narrow the gap and will enhance educational outcomes for Aboriginal children.

Within this budget we have also provided money for an internal and external upgrade for Goodstart Early Learning in Alfredton, just around the corner from where I grew up, so I am very pleased that Goodstart Early Learning Alfredton will be receiving more than $230 000.

Excitingly as well—this is such a diverse and important budget—Ballarat is now going to be home to the National Centre for Photography. The 2020–21 Victorian budget includes $121 million in tourism and major events funding to provide for a range of regional tourism infrastructure projects to support jobs and local communities, and this is great news for Ballarat. I was absolutely delighted when $6.7 million was announced for the National Centre for Photography, which will become Australia’s leading photographic destination.

We are establishing the National Centre for Photography at the Union Bank building in historic Lydiard Street South, Ballarat, which will attract visitors, support jobs and strengthen the city’s standing as a leading cultural hub. With the Ballarat International Foto Biennale festival anchored in this historic new venue in central Ballarat, the centre will attract local, domestic and international artists to the region, which is very exciting.

I am also very pleased that we are extending the mental health focused hospital outreach post-suicidal engagement program, also known as HOPE. For my community, we have already piloted this program so we are going to see additional places for clinical capacity being created in Ballarat.

We are giving so much money to community sports because we know community sports are the social fabric that we all rely on. I recommend the budget to the house.


Click here to read more of my contributions in Parliament. To access further Hansard transcripts, head to the Parliament of Victoria website.