I am pleased to rise to make comment on the 2008 annual statement of government
intentions delivered by the Victorian Premier, John Brumby, in February 2008.
From the outset I will say that it is a new approach, and many people have asked
me questions about the concept.
After discussing it with people and putting it into a form that
is generally understood, I have found that it has been well received. Many
people understand that it provides a framework and a context for the
government’s legislative intent. To liken or compare it to the practices in the
United States of America is quite laughable. That comparison I think stems from
the fact that when something is new sometimes it is much easier to criticise it
without understanding it first — to just attack the unknown. But I am actually
proud that we do not rely on the traditions of the US Congress or indeed the
practices of West Wing.
What we have here is a straightforward, simple document that
outlines the government’s intentions and the way it wants to legislate over the
year 2008. There are no magic mirrors, there are no high performances, and there
are no grand press conferences. It is just about getting on with the job.
It is also disheartening to hear criticism from the other side
of the chamber about things that the statement has not mentioned. The statement
is quite general; it does talk about improvements to the health and education
systems and about delivering on the needs of disadvantaged Victorians. It talks
about building stronger and more livable communities and focusing on transport
planning and community safety. In none of that can I see that somehow people
with disabilities or people who are becoming senior citizens are excluded from
the government’s legislative framework.
The statement has five key areas. The first deals with taking
action in respect of Victorian families; the second relates to taking action in
respect of Victorian communities; the third is about taking action in creating
jobs; the fourth deals with taking action on water and climate change; and the
fifth concerns leadership on reform. I want to particularly comment on taking
action on communities and creating jobs.
In respect of communities I take up the point that, I think,
Philip Davis raised when he said that there was only one comment in the
statement about regional Victoria. That is incorrect. The Premier’s statement
says it is believed there will be significant job growth in regional Victoria.
It also says on page 5 of Hansard:
- … a number of measures are planned to help farmers through the drought.
I look forward to that and to seeing what is being built in
terms of drought relief and the number of initiatives that are being put in
place to deal with the mental and physical health of farmers — and not only
farmers but their family units as well. There are a
number of other initiatives that I know are being talked about and that the
farming community is being consulted about as we speak. To say that there is
nothing in the government’s statement of intentions about country and regional
Victoria is a complete falsehood. In terms of country and regional Victoria we
have a government that is incredibly consultative. It is also about making sure
that regional and country communities are empowered and that they have some
input and control and can deliver on the priorities they consider to be
important to their communities.
I make mention of two such areas. One is the Small Towns
Development Fund. Most members in this chamber, if they had an honest
conversation with people who live in small towns and local government
councillors and officers, would acknowledge that to be a really fantastic
initiative this government is involved in — not just in terms of providing
monetary allocations but in how it provides capacity building for people to take
control of their communities.
The community building initiatives (CBIs) again build on that,
and there are a number of them in the electorate of Western Victoria. I will not
name all of them, but there are a number of CBIs in Portarlington, Lorne,
Terang, Warrnambool, Hamilton and Horsham. There are more than that, but for
tonight’s purposes that gives some idea of how this government makes sure there
is the ability for people who live outside of Melbourne to take control of their
lives and have a direction and a vision for their own communities.
In respect of jobs, in question time today in this house and
yesterday at Deakin University we witnessed the major announcement that 2000
jobs will be created at Satyam at Deakin University in Geelong, which is about
high-technology industries. The government statement also makes mention of
alternative energy, and again in the electorate of Western Victoria we have seen
a growth of employment in wind farm manufacture and in the area of carbon
storage. These will be growing industries, through which additional jobs will be
Not only that, we also have a government that is saying that it
will not forget manufacturing. It understands the importance of manufacturing
because it sees it as the cutting edge of making sure that industry by and large
has direction. That is why it is playing a key role in the automotive review
that is currently being undertaken, and indeed the Victorian government will be
releasing its own statement in respect of the automotive industry. The Premier,
when asked questions at Deakin University about the future of manufacturing,
said that it needs to be finetuned, that this government is committed to
manufacturing and that there will be a number of announcements we can look
forward to in the near future. I look forward to hearing those announcements.
To characterise this statement as not providing anything for
country Victoria is to say that somehow we must have two pieces of legislation:
legislation that covers only country Victoria and legislation that covers only
metropolitan Melbourne. That is absolutely ridiculous.
At the end of the day we are all Victorians. This government is
about governing for all Victorians, but also about making sure that people who
have specific needs, people who live in isolated areas, people who are
disadvantaged, people who potentially have difficulties in having their voices
heard, are heard and taken into account.
I am particularly pleased that the community cabinet will sit
in Hamilton on Monday. The Premier and all the ministers will also be in Dunkeld
on Tuesday morning for a community round table. We will then go to Halls Gap and
follow with consultations with community members in Stawell. From that it is
clear that this government is serious about hearing from people, wherever they
are geographically located in this state, and making sure that communities away
from Melbourne are heard and that their issues are taken up and incorporated
into government policy.
The statement of intentions gives us a sense of the practical
nature of some of the legislation that will come before us this year. It gives
us a sense of how it will be planned and some indication of its content as we
await pending legislation. In a practical sense it gives us an idea of the
legislation that will cut red tape and streamline acts by eliminating defunct,
outdated and cumbersome elements.
In terms of vision it provides for future planning. It is
serious about job creation and climate change, as we saw on 23 April when the
Premier convened a climate change summit here. I have talked to many people who
attended — people who are not necessarily of the Labor ilk — and all have been
very positive about the summit and believe that it is a good starting point in
making sure that climate change is at the forefront of government policy.
The statement gives us more of an idea about cooperative
federalism, and Mr Thornley gave some examples of that. It is about giving us an
idea about coordinating reform across states and making sure that we are
building a more mature, more sophisticated and caring society. It is about
reinforcing equity and ensuring that the disadvantaged are heard. This morning a
former Premier, John Cain, talked about a whole range of things which go to the
very core of Labor principles and values. He enunciated
and echoed the very core values and principles that the Premier raised in this
document, and I wholeheartedly endorse it. Instead of jumping at shadows and
criticising what is not there, I suggest that the opposition take off its dark
glasses, read the statement for what it is and let us get on with the job.
Debate adjourned on motion of Mr KOCH (Western Victoria).
Debate adjourned until next day.