Government Business Program: Business of the House – 2 February 2021

Ms ADDISON (Wendouree) (13:22): Deputy Speaker, I too would like to wish you a very happy birthday. I hope you have a really, really lovely day.

I stand today to support the government business program that has been introduced by the Leader of the House this morning, and I thank the opposition for their support of the program for this week. It is a very positive way to start the new parliamentary year and hopefully a sign of things to come—of working cooperatively, the eternal optimist I am. The member for Scoresby is shaking his head—not Scoresby, Rowville. I am showing my interest in his previous seat name.

I am absolutely thrilled to be back. It is great to see the member for Mildura here as well as so many people in the house today. It is starting to feel a bit like normal, and that is fantastic because it is such an honour to represent my community of Wendouree and something that I never take for granted. It is very special to have had two years of being able to deliver for my community—for Wendouree and the broader Ballarat suburbs—and I am going to be working very hard over the next two years to make sure that all the promises that we made to them are delivered on in full.

Talking about commitments that we have made to the people of Ballarat, I would really like to thank the Leader of the House in her capacity as Minister for Transport Infrastructure for joining us for the Ballarat line upgrade—a $518 million investment in the Ballarat line upgrade, which means 125 new services on the upgraded Ballarat line, 45 during the peak. This was a commitment that the Andrews Labor government made in 2017, and we have delivered it on time.

It was really great talking to the health and safety rep the other day—Kennedy Kembo, a guy who works for the Regional Rail Revival. They have had no lost-time injuries on the whole project in over 1 million hours. I note that the Minister for Public Transport has just walked in, and he is equally delighted about this—but we are going to talk about the government business program, because that is very important.

We are getting on with the job of delivering for the good people of Victoria, fulfilling the commitments that we made in 2018 and introducing important reforms in this house. As already mentioned by the previous speaker, we are looking at three important bills to be debated this week.

The Summary Offences Amendment (Decriminalisation of Public Drunkenness) Bill 2020 has been a long time coming. We heard from the member for Mount Waverley that the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in 1991 said that this issue needs to be addressed. It has been a long time coming, and it is so important that we take a healthcare approach to public drunkenness and that we care for people who are disadvantaged and vulnerable. Public drunkenness needs a health approach, not a criminal approach. I am really, really proud. This is another landmark reform from our government for this state that says that we care and we put people first.

Another important bill that we are debating today that I am also very proud of is an election commitment, the Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Amendment (Provisional Payments) Bill 2020. We have listened; we know this is important. Mental health is such a significant issue for this government—so significant that we called a royal commission into the area of mental health because we knew the system was broken and we were not going to wait another day to address that. It is far too important.

Mental health is an issue that impacts families all across this state. It impacts very young children to the very elderly. We need to make sure that we get this system right, that we save lives and that we support families and individuals who are struggling with their mental health.

As a former teacher—I have not been able to do the professional development to renew my VIT registration this year, so I am officially no longer a member of the Victorian Institute of Teaching—this is an important reform that we are doing for the Victorian Institute of Teaching to show that we are very, very supportive.

We are building an Education State, and that means we are not just going to have the best schools and the best buildings for our million students that have started and for our 84 little preppies that have started this week, but we are going to have the highest quality of teaching and learning happening in our classrooms. For that to happen we need to make sure that our profession, the profession of teachers, is topnotch. We want every student in school across Victoria receiving the very best education. I know with the leadership of the Deputy Premier that is happening, because we are the Education State.

I commend the government business program to the house.


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