Appropriation (2018-2019) Bill 2018
Mr J. BULL (Sunbury) (16:28:00) — It is my absolute pleasure to speak on the Appropriation (2018–2019) Bill 2018. This budget is all about getting it done, and getting it done we are. There is nothing more important than delivering on commitments we made to the people of Victoria and staying true to our word. Of course for the past three years we have been focused on those things that matter to each and every Victorian — things like better roads, better schools, higher quality and more accessible health care, better public transport, more jobs and a fairer, more decent and stronger Victoria.
At the core of the Andrews Labor government is the belief that every Victorian should have the opportunity to be the best version of themselves. This of course, though, requires a government that leads from the front. This budget, like those previous budgets, does more in one year than those opposite managed to do in four. I have heard a number of contributions this afternoon, and we know it is certainly no secret that the state is growing. If we look across every industry and every sector, we can see this. Victoria’s population was 6.36 million people in September 2017. The population of greater Melbourne at the same time was 4.7 million. What we saw in the year prior to September 2017 was 147 400 new people calling Victoria home. That of course leads to a growth rate of 2.4 per cent — the highest of all states and territories — and we know that what comes with this is the need for new jobs, new roads, new schools and new homes for over 100 000 new Victorians each and every year.
Without good planning and without consistent and strategic investment, we simply cannot keep up with the growth that has been occurring and will continue to occur. It is therefore incredibly difficult to see why those opposite failed to recognise this and failed to plan fundamentally for our state’s future. The 2018–19 budget invests more than $13 billion in infrastructure projects that will create thousands of jobs for Victorians, importantly including jobs in regional areas. The total infrastructure investment that I have just mentioned is expected to result in the creation of over 75 000 new jobs.
This government and its commitment to delivering this infrastructure will of course grow our economy, create and protect jobs and deliver benefits for Victorians not just tomorrow but well into the future. It is about ensuring those planning decisions are propelling us into the next decade and beyond. You have only got to look at the whole range of projects that are in the pipeline — projects that take quite a number of years to plan and quite a number of years to deliver, but importantly projects that create thousands of jobs — to see that we are keeping people in work and providing a way of life for people to learn new skills to be able to support their families and to enjoy a better way of life.
It is of course a two-way street. We know that when people are in stable employment and they are learning new skills this is good for the community and for society as a whole. There are literally hundreds of projects underway in the state. The list is extensive. A number of members have spoken about these in their contributions — level crossing removals, Melbourne Metro, the CityLink Tulla widening project, Mernda rail, 65 new high-capacity metropolitan trains, upgrades to the Ballarat line, the Chandler Highway upgrade, the M80 ring-road, planning for the north-east link, the Joan Kirner Women’s and Children’s Hospital and roads packages right across the state. It is important to ensure that that these projects are delivered to keep Victorians in work but also for the 100 000-plus new Victorians that we see each and every year. These are projects that create jobs, transform our state and change lives.
I have just mentioned the budget’s contribution to suburban roads. I was thrilled to be able to join the Minister for Roads and Road Safety to announce that we are building a better Sunbury Road. We know that more than 24 000 drivers rely on this road each and every day, and I am one of them. This is a vital road that has been talked about for years. It is a road that we would use often when I was growing up and, as I said, it is a road that I still use today. It is certainly one of those roads that requires duplication, and I am thrilled that the budget confirms that Sunbury Road will be widened from two to four lanes from Powlett Street to Bulla-Diggers Rest Road and there will be an upgrade to intersections and the creation of a pedestrian path, which is fantastic news. I do want to put on record my thanks to all those who wrote to me, called me or spoke to me in person to help get this done.
This comes on top of a $20 million upgrade to Melbourne-Lancefield Road, which was announced last year, as well as the signalisation of the Gap Road and Horne Street roundabout, which is currently underway. Driving through there this morning it was terrific to see construction workers on site, getting it done and finally making this intersection safer.
The budget sees a big overhaul of Victoria’s public transport system, with new funding to plan and develop detailed designs to enable high-capacity metro trains to run on the Sunbury line. I was thrilled to be able to join the Minister for Public Transport just a couple of weeks ago in announcing that the government will provide more than 300 new parking spaces at the Sunbury train station. This forms part of a $60 million budget boost. It is fair to say that for a long time there have been quite complex land arrangements in the train station precinct which meant finding a workable, long-term solution was complex. But in a few months the planning will be complete, and the project will allow for more than 300 new parking spaces. I would also like to thank those in the community who wrote to me, called me or spoke to me in person about our ability to invest in this project. This project is something that I am very thankful for.
A number of members have spoken about the increase in the number of people in their electorates, and I am thrilled that the budget confirms an additional $50 million for the Growing Suburbs Fund, an incredibly vital fund that supports our outer urban growth municipalities. This fund has already delivered important projects for my local community — $3 million for the Sunbury global learning centre, $2 million for the Sunbury warm water pool and $2 million for the McMahon reserve as well as upgrades for Boardman Reserve and the Sunbury tennis club. I am excited about what future projects will be made possible through this fund. It is a very important fund that allows local municipalities to partner with the government on projects to get them delivered at a faster rate, given local population growth. It is a very important fund, and I am thrilled that an additional allocation of money for this fund is contained in the budget.
I think, Acting Speaker Kilkenny, you are very supportive of Pick My Project, which is a $30 million commitment to, for the first time, provide locals with real choice about what projects are developed in their communities. What are the projects that they would like to see delivered within their local community? Most importantly, residents will get a genuine say in determining the project that will be built for their local community. I know that on this side of the house this is a well-supported project. I am excited and looking forward to seeing how it transpires over time.
I also want to touch on a very serious issue that I spoke about in my maiden speech, and that is the need for all governments to do more in the area of mental health. In 2016 we as a state lost 624 Victorians to suicide, which was twice as many lives lost through the road toll, and sadly some of those lives were lost in my community — men and women who could still be here with us today but tragically are not. This budget ensures Victorians with a mental health issue will get the treatment they need, thanks to a $705 million investment. This will mean more mental health support, extra regional rehabilitation facilities and new emergency department crisis hubs to help Victorians who are struggling with mental illness. This is an incredibly important investment. It is something that I am very proud of and something that I believe in very strongly.
The Andrews Labor government will invest $100 million in six emergency department crisis hubs across the state to help protect people with urgent mental health, alcohol and drug issues. The new hubs will be located at Monash Medical Centre, St Vincent’s, the Royal Melbourne Hospital and the Geelong, Sunshine and Frankston hospitals. They will take patients who are dealing with serious mental health issues or addiction issues out of emergency department waiting rooms and ensure they get specialist care from health professionals.
I am certain that that is something that will receive bipartisan support, and I am certain that that is something that will be very well received and very warmly welcomed in our local communities. We know that every year these dedicated facilities will provide an extra 3000 Victorians with the help and support they need, and this is something that I believe in very strongly. I do want to take the opportunity in the time that I have remaining to commend both the Minister for Health and the Minister for Mental Health for this significant investment.
We did promise to make Victoria the Education State, and as the local MP I committed to working closely with my community to find opportunities for the Victoria University site on Jacksons Hill. For years this was a site that had no plan, no vision and no funding, but this budget changes all of that. As part of our commitment we will not only buy the site but we will also invest $3 million to create Sunbury’s first community arts precinct as well as providing upgrades and expansions to two schools, which I will mention very shortly. This is outstanding news for my community, and I know that those in SCAN, the Sunbury community arts network, have fought long and hard to see arts funding for the area. I am incredibly proud that we have been able to deliver this $3 million commitment. I hope that the municipality of Hume will join us in creating an arts precinct that we are proud of. I and my office have had numerous calls and emails about how excited many in the community are for the new vision and new future for Jacksons Hill. I want to take the opportunity to thank the Minister for Planning for the work that has been done thus far. I am thrilled that we are taking decisive action to acquire the site, which will allow us to enact the master plan.
I am thrilled that since coming to office we have been able to invest more than $44.1 million in funding to schools in the Sunbury electorate. I would like to put on record my thanks to local schools: hardworking principals, parents, teachers and school council representatives, who of course form the broader network of parents and friends who make the school community. If we compare the $44.1 million to the $1.76 million that was allocated in the four years of the former government, I think the numbers speak for themselves. This investment will make a real and positive difference. I am so pleased to be part of a government that believes in our kids and is committed to making Victoria the Education State.
In the budget alone — and I did reference this earlier — there was $3.5 million allocated to Sunbury Primary School, $700 000 to Sunbury Heights Primary School, $1.5 million to Gladstone Park Primary School and $10.8 million for Sunbury and Macedon Ranges Specialist School, which is also on Jacksons Hill. Only Labor makes these investments and only Labor builds the education system that our state needs.
But it is not just primary and secondary education that is important. Life after school is vital for every Victorian. As our state grows we know we need the skilled workers to build the infrastructure that will propel us into those future decades that I mentioned. A friend of mine recently put it like this:
Whilst most of the buildings and infrastructure we use every day are designed by people who went to university, they were built by people who went to TAFE.
Many of my friends went to TAFE. Now they use those skills every day to earn a living, support their family and build a life. Over 14 500 people in the Sunbury electorate have a TAFE qualification. It is something that I know they are incredibly proud of.
Thirty priority TAFE courses and 18 preapprenticeship courses will be made free, and more than 30 000 new TAFE places will be funded across the state, which is outstanding. More local students will be able to finish school qualified and ready to work, and this is fantastic news. This government listens to Victorians and this budget responds to their concerns. We are making Victoria a better state, a fairer state. We are getting things done, as only a Labor government can. I commend the Premier, the Treasurer and the cabinet, and I commend the budget to the house.