Victorian Industry Participation Policy (Local Jobs First) Amendment Bill 2018

Mr J. BULL (Sunbury) (16:23:21) — I am also very pleased to have the opportunity to speak on the Victorian Industry Participation Policy (Local Jobs First) Amendment Bill 2018. Before I go to the heart of the bill, I did hear a member from the other side earlier describe this government as a jobs-killing government. No doubt, Acting Speaker, both you and I have heard some things in our time, but I have to say that that was an outrageous statement. I understand the making of a political point and I understand the theatre of the chamber, but I ask members to not come into this chamber and make things up.

As I travel around my electorate and meet with industry leaders, with construction teams and with the hardworking men and women who are doing fantastic things in all of our communities, one thing is clear: people want and deserve a government that is committed to getting things done and is committed to delivering record infrastructure to make our state better, stronger, more prosperous and smarter. It is clear that peak bodies, industry leaders and hardworking men and women of this state see this investment happening each and every day with the jobs that are being created and that are moving the state forward. What we know is that we are the fastest growing state in the nation. More and more people want to move to Victoria each and every year, and we need a program of infrastructure, a program of delivery and a pipeline of projects that move the state forward, that cater for our increasing population and also create a record number of jobs.

I recall a conversation that I had some months ago with a local business in my community — the managers and owners of the local quarry. What these people told me was that in years gone by they would often have an opportunity to bid into a local government project. They might have been successful in that bid or they might not. They would then structure much of their business around whether that bid was successful or not. What they pointed out to me was that in the time since this government has been in office they have had the opportunity to bid into three, four or five projects each and every year. What that goes to show is that there is an incredible amount of confidence out there. There is an incredible amount of support for the projects that this government is delivering. There are opportunities for businesses, like this local business in my electorate, to be able to put on more people and create more jobs on the back of significant investment and on the back of all the key infrastructure projects that have been mentioned this afternoon by members on this side of the house.

We know that significant projects have been created and they will continue to create jobs. In my electorate and in electorates right across the state we know that these infrastructure projects help to upskill people, help people pay their bills and help them contribute to society. This government will never stop investing in these projects to ensure that we move forward as a state. We on this side of the house stand for getting things done. Whilst others talk, we do. You need to look no further than Sunday — and I heard a number of members discuss Sunday’s announcement — when the announcement of the airport rail link was made. That is a project that will transform the state, deal with the fast-growing patronage of Melbourne Airport and provide further opportunities for fast rail from our fantastic regions.

It is always a Labor government that delivers these projects, whether it is Melbourne Metro, removing the level crossings right across the state, building the north-east link, building the West Gate tunnel or upgrading our arterial and suburban roads, projects that are incredibly important to my electorate and electorates in the north-west. These projects are massive job creators and they do all of the wonderful things that I mentioned earlier in my contribution. The projects provide the skills and the opportunities that people need in their day-to-day lives.

It is worth noting, and I have heard other members discuss this in their contributions, that some of the really important skills that are created on some of these projects, whether it is level crossing removals or the like, are transferable. There may be an opportunity for someone to pick up a certain skill set. They may want to travel, they might want to move away to work on another project somewhere else or they might use the skills that they have right here in Victoria, their home state. That is incredibly important. With all of this growth and investment, we must ensure that locals come first and that locals benefit from these jobs. That is why this bill, this piece of legislation, is very important.

The Victorian Industry Participation Policy Act 2003 is the longest standing in the nation. This government committed to creating a bill in response to the clear signal at the Victorian Jobs Partnership of August 2017 that government reforms to the Victorian Industry Participation Policy in 2016 were positive and could be strengthened through improved legislation. It will meet the need for industry certainty across all governments. Additionally the bill will create an independent Local Jobs First commissioner, whose role will be to balance advocacy, engagement, facilitation and compliance.

The bill will strengthen the government’s Local Jobs First — Victorian Industry Participation Policy and the Major Projects Skills Guarantee by putting these rules into law. From now on, these commitments to local businesses, local apprentices and local jobs will be law. We know the importance of ensuring that this is enshrined in legislation in order to be able to make sure that all of the benefits that I have discussed earlier on in my contribution are then transferred to those who not only need it the most but deserve it the most. This provides certainty for industry and confidence in the Victorian people about government investments.

In the time that I have got remaining I do want to discuss confidence and state confidence. The bill will also establish a Local Jobs First commissioner, which I have mentioned, with the responsibility to enforce compliance with our local content. What we know is that the bill will mandate the local content requirements that must be set for government projects, including setting mandated minimum levels of local content for certain types of high-value strategic projects, including 90 per cent for construction projects and 80 per cent for a services project or a maintenance project. This will send a clear message to companies winning government contracts that they need to engage with local businesses.

Acting Speaker Couzens, I listened to your contribution, and I know that you know the importance of ensuring that local businesses have confidence in the government — the confidence to bid and the confidence to spend the time, effort, energy and money that it takes to put up a bid, knowing that if they are successful in being the winning bidder that this then leads to a growth in their business and of course the creation of more jobs. The bill enshrines that business commits to local content and that jobs are recognised and rewarded in the tender evaluation process through a 10 per cent weighting for local content and a 10 per cent weighting for jobs.

This government understands the power of investment. We understand the power of using all of those levers of government to create jobs and invest in infrastructure and services and that this creates confidence. Confidence is the key — confidence in government, in business, in opportunity, in new skills and of course in each other. This is a great state. It is a state made up of wonderful people — from the centre of the CBD to the outskirts of Shepparton. Each and every Victorian deserves the chance and the opportunity to get a job. This government backs Victorian jobs and it backs each and every Victorian. I commend the minister and his department. This is a critical piece of legislation that ensures Victorian jobs stay here. I commend the bill to the house.