Government Performance – Matter of Public Importance
Ms ADDISON (Wendouree) (15:22:44): It gives me great pleasure to contribute to this matter of public importance debate and reject the assertions of the member for Ripon about the Victorian economy.
Despite our electorate sharing a border, we do not have much in common on this topic. But I do agree with you, member for Ripon, that politics is about choices and it is about values. That is why we do what we do.
Victoria is leading the nation in terms of economic growth, and we have maintained our AAA rating. Victorians should be very proud of what is being achieved by this Andrews Labor government. Compared to our opponents, last time they were in government the economy stagnated.
I am proud to be a member of the Andrews government, which has a clear agenda, a responsible and accountable approach and a strong mandate that delivers for the people of Victoria. Yes, we are showing our values, we are creating jobs, we are delivering world-class health and we are investing in essential infrastructure like the Melbourne Metro and the West Gate Tunnel. We are doing school rebuilds, all the while keeping Victoria’s tax rate competitive. This is what a good government looks like, and this is what good management looks like.
We took our plan for a stronger, better and more inclusive Victoria to the people in November 2018, and the choice could not have been clearer.
We promised better schools, and we are getting on with the job of delivering 100 new schools and 1300 upgrades.
We care about Victorians’ health, and that is why we are delivering more nurses and more midwives.
We are supporting our paramedics because we know that when we support our paramedics, emergency response times continue to go down.
We promised to deliver three-year-old kinder, and we will give our best to the littlest Victorians so they have the best possible start in life and are school ready.
We have promised free dental for state school kids, and will be providing free dental check-ups.
As the Premier declared on that great election night in November 2018, we live our values, we keep our promises and we are getting things done. I am proud to be part of a government that says what it does and does what it says. Our election commitments are fully costed and fully funded. There are no new taxes or charges to pay for our election commitments. I am very disappointed with what is going on here—that is my best teacher look. This is yet another scare campaign from you guys, the Liberal-Nationals opposition—
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! Member for Wendouree, can you direct your comments through the Chair and remember to refer to members appropriately.
Ms ADDISON: Yes, Deputy Speaker. Rather than listening to what the community wants and taking on board the mood of the electorate, the Liberal-Nationals coalition opposition are misleading the community about our infrastructure plan and the Victorian economy.
Let us talk about growth. In 2017–18 Victoria’s growth rate was the highest of all states and was the fastest in the nation. It was higher than New South Wales, higher than South Australia and higher than Tasmania—all states with Liberal governments. Last year Victoria’s economy grew by 3.5 per cent—faster than the national economy, with a Liberal-Nationals government.
This is not by accident; this is by good management, because this is what this government is doing. Yes, we do have debt because we are investing in our state, but the government’s debt position is strong. As has been mentioned by other speakers, we have maintained our AAA rating.
I am so pleased that we are investing $500 million for the Ballarat line upgrade to improve our rail services, to offer more peak services and to increase reliability. This project is on track, on budget and being delivered within the funding allocation, as we said it would be.
We are also investing $100 million for GovHub in my community, a regional community. This is going to create jobs in Ballarat and build our region’s economy with well-paid, secure and permanent jobs.
I have to disagree with the member for Euroa that this government is not delivering for regional Victoria. I live in regional Victoria, and this government is delivering for my regional community.
In the May budget last year $461 million was announced for the redevelopment of Ballarat Health Services. This was music to the ears of the Ballarat community as the redevelopment will provide Ballarat families with better, safer and faster health care. The upgraded hospital will have the capacity to treat at least a further 18 000 emergency patients and an extra 14 500 inpatients each year.
Another great benefit to our community from this announcement is that it will create 1384 construction jobs, and once the redevelopment is complete there will be an extra 1000 full-time healthcare positions.
I am thrilled about the new emergency department, a modernised acute mental health facility, a new intensive care unit, a women’s and children’s hub and an expanded critical care ‘hot floor’. We are going to deliver an extra 4000 surgeries annually.
The alternative is not to invest in our community and not to provide quality health care to our community. Should we only offer substandard care to ensure we have buoyant balance sheets but no services? If we do nothing and spend nothing, we have no costs, but what is the human cost? We need to borrow to build and we need to invest in public infrastructure to help Ballarat and our state grow.
The Andrews Labor government makes no apology for our ambitious infrastructure plan, whether it be the removal of a further 25 level crossings, the north-east link or the Melbourne Airport link via Sunshine. As the member for Wendouree, I can tell you that the people of Ballarat are thrilled that they will be able to jump on the train in Ballarat, transfer at Sunshine and get to the airport. It is a fantastic project that is well supported by the community and worth investing in. I am sure there are many residents living in Ripon, in suburbs like Lucas and Miners Rest, who are also looking forward to catching the train to Melbourne Airport in the future. This $23 billion investment is transformative for Victoria and for future generations.
We are building the infrastructure that our state needs. We are not thinking about next year or the next election cycle; we are thinking long-term and being strategic and visionary for our children and their children. Unlike the opposition we have laid out a realistic and clear fiscal strategy to deliver the infrastructure that we have committed to. The benefits for Victorians clearly outweigh the cost, and I support our infrastructure build, which is growing this state and setting us up for the future.
I listened with a lot of interest when the member for Ripon raised the issue of energy. We are very committed to not only addressing the cost of power bills but also addressing climate change and showing our commitment to renewables. It is all part of our $1.3 billion Solar Homes plan. We are committed to renewables and we have ambitious targets because climate change is real. With our offer of solar hot-water systems, batteries and rooftop solar panels, we are pleased that Victorians are making savings of up to $895 per year.
I will remind the member for Ripon that under the Baillieu-Napthine governments Victoria had a record number of energy disconnections—the highest ever recorded, at over 64 000 disconnections a year. Let us contrast that with the Andrews government approach to this issue: we have strengthened the protections customers must receive from their energy retailer, we have more than doubled the threshold at which a customer may be disconnected and we have also taken strong action against retailers who wrongfully disconnect customers, including tougher penalties and increasing compensation.
I am pleased to say that on 1 January 2019 we introduced an energy framework for Victorians in hardship, a nation-leading approach to help people stay connected and stay out of debt.
We are also dealing with payroll cuts in the regions and tax cuts, including great stamp duty benefits for first home buyers. My friends Stephan and Sara just bought a beautiful home in Alfredton for their three kids. They are living the dream, and they did not have to pay stamp duty, thanks to this government. They love their house, they love their new life and they love living in Alfredton.
So what I want to quickly do is say ‘thank you’ to the Andrews government. Thank you for your management. Thank you for all you do for us.