Regional Investment – Matter of Public Importance

Ms ADDISON (Wendouree) (17:12): I have never heard so many fallacies in my life—mistakes based on unsound information and unsound arguments that are being put forward that have no foundations in the truth, no foundations. It is a fairytale, what you have just shared, a fairytale full of fallacies. We are going to talk about facts, because fallacies and fairytales do not run a government. Facts and finances run it.

Mr Riordan: No, that’s true. They’re not doing a good job.

Ms ADDISON: You have had your go, and you have created this—

DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! Through the Chair.

Ms ADDISON: Sorry, Deputy Speaker. The member for Polwarth has had 10 minutes to have his go. I am now going to have my go for 10 minutes, and I am going to talk about why I believe that the 2022–23 budget is the most outstanding budget for regional Victoria. I am going to go through that, and what we are going to understand is we are going to actually talk about some facts rather than go into this lovely fairyland where we just keep saying the same thing over and over again.

I would really like to thank the Minister for Regional Development for submitting this matter of public importance (MPI), because it really is an opportunity to address fallacies and fairytales. That is what we are going to do. I agree wholeheartedly—

Mr Riordan: So let’s talk about the truth.

Ms ADDISON: Through the Chair, the member for Polwarth has had his go. It is now my turn, so he needs to listen, okay? I did not shout out once during his contribution. I was very restrained because I knew I was going to get my go. It is called rebuttal.

I wholeheartedly agree that the Andrews Labor government has invested more than $36 billion in regional Victoria—the largest investment of any government in Victoria’s history. It is also the case that the average annual investment under the Andrews Labor government is 2 1⁄2 times the average under the previous government. It is also the case that the 2022–23 Victorian budget is the second- largest investment in regional Victoria in the history of our state—even probably when it was a colony, prior to federation.

I reckon they never had a budget as good as this in colonial Victoria—even during the gold rush. And 35 per cent of the new asset infrastructure investment in the budget is in regional Victoria. They are facts, not fallacies, and that is what this matter of public importance is about. That is what I want to talk about. I want to talk about how the Victorian budget that was handed down by the Treasurer this year did provide a record of $2.9 billion in health infrastructure, of which more than $1 billion is invested in regional Victoria.

This is a great MPI topic, and I am delighted to have the opportunity to make a contribution following on from the Minister for Regional Development, the member for Macedon, following on from the member for Bendigo West and following on from the member for Buninyong—strong women of regional Victoria who are passionate advocates for their electorates and regional Victoria.

I too am a proud regional Victorian. I come from a long line of regional Victorians dating back to the 1850s and have ancestors buried in the north-east and the north-west and in Geelong and in Ballarat. I was born in Ballarat, and I have lived there for the greatest part of my life. It is a fantastic place to live to raise a family. I know this from firsthand experience. I am raising my own family, with Mike— our girls—in Ballarat because we think it is the best part of regional Victoria, the best part of Australia, to raise a family. My mum still lives in my childhood home, and I only live a couple of kilometres away.

I love Ballarat and all it has to offer. It has an energy and a vibrancy that continues to attract new residents and tourists from across the state, across the country and across the world.

Over the last two decades Ballarat has been transformed, going from being cold to being cool, with bustling bars, cool cafes and raved-about restaurants. We have Mars Stadium that can hold a crowd of 14 000, that hosts AFL games, A-League games, Super Rugby and NRL. We have a world-class basketball and sports and entertainment centre, a brewing centre of excellence, and a gin distillery, with another one coming. We have great schools: Federation Uni—TAFE and the university. We host a spectrum of events, including the Ballarat International Foto Biennale, and as it has already been mentioned, the Commonwealth Games are coming to Ballarat—who would have thought?

I have such strong memories, as I am sure a lot of people do, of watching the 1982 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane and could only have dreamt of Ballarat hosting them, but this is not an accident. Ballarat can and will host the Commonwealth Games because of the investments made by Labor governments. Ballarat will have the commonwealth’s greatest athletes racing at Mars Stadium because of the Andrews Labor government. We will have boxing at the Ballarat Sports and Events Centre because of the Andrews Labor government, and we will have T20 cricket held across Ballarat because of our commitment to rec reserve and community sport.

But Ballarat was not always like this. When I grew up in Ballarat it was far from this. It was known for being pretty old, bold and cold. I grew up in the suburb of Ballarat, and for the first 25 years of my life my community was represented in this place by members of the Liberal Party. Ballarat suffered years of neglect during the Kennett years and consequently, in 1999, local champion, Labor’s Karen Overington, won the seat, and it has been held by Labor members ever since. What a difference having state Labor governments has made to Ballarat.

Through the great leadership of Ballarat’s favourite son, Steve Bracks, of Bendigo’s Brumby and Wangaratta’s Daniel Andrews, Labor governments have invested in Ballarat and transformed it into a vibrant regional city and the capital of western Victoria. Under state Liberal and Nationals governments Ballarat did not get the investment it deserved. There was no Wendouree train station. There was no GovHub. There was no Goods Shed development at the Ballarat railway station. There was no shared bike path along Sturt Street. There were no traffic lights across dangerous Sturt Street intersections, including out the front of my old school, Loreto College.

It is the Andrews Labor government that has invested in these community infrastructure projects to create jobs and make Ballarat a great place to live and work. It is the Andrews Labor government that has invested $500 million for the Ballarat line upgrade, and we are delivering $60 million to the Keep Ballarat Moving project to upgrade bottleneck intersections and reduce congestion, particularly in our growing suburbs to the west. It is Labor governments that have invested $8 million at Ballarat High School, $15.5 million at Mount Rowan college and $11.7 million at Phoenix college.

The reason for Ballarat’s incredible transformation is Labor governments—and Ballarat is in the regions if you have forgotten that. We know that when regional centres like Ballarat and Bendigo and Shepparton and Geelong and the valley are thriving, then so is Victoria.

But there is more to do, and that is what we are going to do. We are going to keep delivering for regional Victoria and keep delivering for Ballarat. We are redeveloping Ballarat Base Hospital at a cost of $541 million to give patients and their families the world-class health care they deserve close to home.

We are building the X’trapolis 2.0 trains at Alstom in Creswick Road. We are lighting up Lake Wendouree so more residents can enjoy it on our dark mornings and our early evenings. We are building an early parenting centre, and we are establishing a food bank to address food insecurity. We are creating a safe space trial in western Victoria.

We are going to invest $3.2 million to make sure that LGBTIQ+ individuals who are most in need of support have a safe place to go, because that is what we do in the regions. We know that for people who identify as LGBTIQ+ it can be very difficult in the regions, so what are we going to do? We are going to invest in regional Victoria, and we are going to support them.

We are going to build a brand new animal shelter that will take pets in from Ballarat, from Hepburn, from Moorabool, from Golden Plains, from the Pyrenees, from Ararat and from the Central Goldfields, because that is what we do. We support regional Victoria. We support all of these different pockets.

It is also about making sure that we have fantastic services. It was a great honour to be a board director of Ballarat Health Services and the great work there. I had both my children there. It is a fantastic place, the Ballarat Base Hospital. I am so thrilled that in this budget we are investing $6.5 million to buy a surgical robot for Ballarat. It is great news for patients. It is great news for the recruitment of doctors. We are also replacing the old radiotherapy equipment to deliver better cancer care for our local community close to home.

This government is about supporting the regions. It is about supporting Ballarat. It is about building a community where people want to live. It is not about fallacies; it is not about fairytales. It is about facts. Come to Ballarat and see the facts. We are delivering for regional Victoria.

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