Appropriation (2018-2019) Bill 2018
08 May 2018, Mr McCurdy (Ovens Valley): I rise to make a contribution on the Appropriation (2018–2019) Bill 2018 and a budget that I believe could have delivered for all Victorians, a budget that included the proceeds of the sale of the port of Melbourne and the Snowy Hydro.
But that did not happen for regional Victoria. I thought it was a chance for us to finally share this windfall. I thought this government would look past the tram tracks of Melbourne and look to regional Victoria, where 25 per cent of Victorians live, and again look past Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong. I thought this government might recognise Wangaratta, Shepparton, Wodonga and other great regional cities in Victoria and invest in the regions. Build it and they will come.
The Education State — what a great slogan that is. It is a pity this government poured the bulk of the windfall sales into Labor-held seats or the seats that they aspire to win. Never have we seen a more political government in Victoria. This is a budget built on margins, not on needs. Never have we seen such poor financial decisions, and never have we seen such rorting in the term that we have been through at the moment.
Let us hope on 24 November that Victorians send a clear message to this Labor government — enough is enough. We demand a tougher approach on crime, we demand the rorters be accountable and that the spin stop. This government has got away with so much spin, untruths and rorting.
They actually do not know where the truth lies anymore. Second residence rorting, red shirts rorting and ripping up a $1.3 billion contract that was not going to cost a dollar, if you listen to the Premier — and these have not been paid back in full.
That does not include that this government has been caught out spending $1 million of taxpayers dollars fighting the Ombudsman to suppress the rorting red shirts report and that it has increased public sector pay and jobs.
Let us look at the facts. Victoria, the Education State — that is a number plate slogan, not a fact. In this budget we see schools upgraded in Labor electorates, in Frankston, Monbulk, Ivanhoe, East Bentleigh and Ormond — millions upon millions of dollars. In fact $1.3 billion of capital was spent on education in this budget.
Let us look at what this budget has funded in Ovens Valley. We have got some planning for the Wangaratta District Specialist School that is in urgent need of an upgrade, and Tungamah Primary School got $100 000. Now how is that fair? How is it fair when you compare what has been spent in metropolitan Melbourne in Labor seats and when you look at Cobram Secondary College, which got absolutely nothing. Wangaratta High School got nothing, and it is the same with Yarrawonga College P–12?
Let us look at health. Sunshine Hospital, Footscray Hospital and Ballarat Base Hospital have all received funding. In the Ovens Valley Yarrawonga Hospital has received zero; Cobram, Northeast Health Wangaratta, Alpine Health, Myrtleford and Bright, zero — doughnuts, absolutely nothing.
If you are going to govern for this state, you have got to at least try to be fair. Show some respect to the communities who provide the cheap food, the fine wine and the fibre that you wear. Understand that the energy that keeps you warm in the winter and cool in the summer and that keeps your lights on is generated by the fine communities that Labor choose to ignore — communities like Mildura, Morwell, Wangaratta and Shepparton. Labor has given a raw deal to Victoria.
The strength of our state is usually that we care for each other and we look out for each other — that we are fair — but this budget is clearly not fair.
Of all the budgets and after two massive asset sales this should have been the one, but sadly we missed out again, as did our volunteers at the Victoria State Emergency Service (SES) and the Country Fire Authority (CFA). Let us go to the Macedon CFA, which got a $1.6 million upgrade, or to the Essendon SES, which got a $1.2 million upgrade.
Let us go to Cobram, which does not even have a headquarters. They do not even have a shed. They do not have a building. They do not have a home. All they were promised was the purchase of a bit of land. Is this a cruel hoax or just another slap in the face? We have seen how this Premier treats CFA volunteers, and we are getting a snapshot of what Labor will do if they are re-elected in 2018.
Is the SES the next to be bullied, harassed and dismantled, just like what Labor has tried to do to the CFA? They do not want to bite the hand that feeds them — the union dollars, the union votes.
The budget sees a massive $7 billion going to public wages. This is not all to the police, ambos and nurses, as they would have you believe; this is to bureaucrats. Some of these are the faceless people behind this unfair government.
How are they going to fund this? They will fund it with the 12 new taxes, stamp duty and fines. They are even going to fund it by generating interest from loans to grassroots sporting clubs. Can you believe that? A government that wastes $1.3 billion not to build a road and then gives a further $225 million to the AFL is now going to charge interest when the Tungamah Football Club needs an upgrade or the Bright Tennis Club needs new courts or Myrtleford needs new lights for its netball courts.
Tell me, Premier: how is this a fair budget? Victoria is the highest taxing state in Australia, yet our sporting clubs will need to borrow the money to fund their own progress. Premier, this is simply not fair.
Victorian debt is set to double over the next five years — yes, double. There has been the sale of the port of Melbourne, the sale of Snowy Hydro and the commonwealth government handing out more and more dollars than ever before, and yet this government will be doubling our debt in the next five years. It is a raw deal, and it is simply not fair.
Where is the money for new trains in the north-east? The Premier said if the commonwealth produced the dollars to fix the line, they would provide the new trains — another broken promise. We have this capital spend with windfall sales, and still the Premier will not commit to new trains and carriages.
In December 2015 the Premier and Jaclyn Symes in the other place were saying, 'It will be a new year's resolution to get new trains and carriages', and here we are in 2018 and there is still no commitment to new trains or carriages or rolling stock.
The coalition has committed $633 million to replace all of the long-haul trains — the entire fleet — throughout regional Victoria. They will be operating in the next term of government, not on the never-never like we hear from this government.
They promise something and it will be a long time coming — if ever. Trains and carriages do not get made overnight. There is a lag time, so you need to order those trains now to match up with when the rail line is completed.
This budget does not fund the Myrtleford CFA. The way in which Labor have attacked the CFA, trying to dismantle our volunteers, is nothing short of disgraceful.
CFAs like Myrtleford, Katamatite, Bright, Almonds, Peechelba or Killawarra proved again this summer that when the siren sounds, it is time to support the community. Another four years of Labor and it would not surprise me if they started taking the keys out of the fire truck.
We all know the saying, 'It takes a village to raise a child', but somebody needs to support that village. Somebody needs to help the village to prosper and progress.
Only The Nationals and the Liberals in government will support those villages. Our villages like Bundalong, Devenish, St James and Telford need assistance. They need to be treated fairly, and this government refuses to do so.
The cost of living is hurting all of us in Victoria. The number one issue I used to hear about all the time was the trains in the north-east, but certainly people have given up on the idea that this Labor government will ever commit to new trains in regional Victoria — certainly in the north-east. Now people are telling me that the cost of living is right up there as their biggest concern.
It is hurting people in Whitfield, Greta, Edi and all the way from Boweya to Muckatah — especially power prices. Victoria has gone from being a net exporter of energy to a net importer, and all Victorians are paying the price.
Since Labor tripled the tax on coal-powered energy without a replacement plan, our energy costs have gone through the roof. There is the new stamp duty tax on transfers between spouses, the stamp duty on new cars and the new stamp duty on off-the-plan purchases. People in the Ovens Valley do not want a raw deal; they want a fair deal.
Construction costs in Victoria are the highest in Australia. We know Labor cannot manage money. There is nothing new there. Labor committed to $20 billion in projects over the four-year term. The problem is that this cost has blown out by a further $25 billion, so instead of it being $20 billion, it is now a $45 billion spend.
Let us put that in perspective: if somebody comes to me and says, 'Mr McCurdy, we are giving you a quote to build a house for $300 000', and halfway through the job the builder says, 'Just for your information, that cost is now going to be $650 000', who in their right mind would accept that? I would not, but obviously Labor would. Why should we treat it differently just because it is somebody else's money? It is no excuse.
If you cannot be accountable or do better than that, do the right thing: call an early election and stop the damage. Put your hand up and admit that Labor cannot manage money. Labor cannot manage major projects. We know that Labor cannot even manage their own electorate budgets, and they certainly cannot manage their chauffeured cars. They will never be able to manage Peter Marshall.
In the best interests of Victoria, Labor should end this mess. The chances of this Premier admitting to any type of failure are absolutely zero. The people of Wangaratta, who taught you, nurtured you, helped you and respected you, now say, 'Enough is enough'. You have turned your back on the north-east. At least have the decency to apologise.
We did not ask for the world in this budget. We just wanted a fair deal. We did not expect the universe, but we ended up with a raw deal. Where will Peter Marshall and his United Firefighters Union mates be five, 10 or 15 years down the track? I expect they will have ditched this Premier and moved on.
But the people of Wangaratta will still be there. They will rue a missed opportunity — the four years that a local bloke had control of the chequebook of Victoria.
Our grandchildren will say, 'They must have been great years for Wangaratta', but we will have to tell them that we achieved less with a local bloke than we did with complete strangers.
What we thought was our time turned out to be Peter Marshall's time, and we will bow our heads in silence.
This budget is not fair. It is not fair to all Victorians, it is only fair to those whom Labor calls friends. It is simply not fair.