It is a great pleasure to stand in this place and speak in support of the Brumby
Labor government’s annual statement of government intentions, announced by the
Premier on the first parliamentary sitting day of this year. This is only the
second year that such a statement has been presented to Parliament, and I
believe it is a valuable, important and significant speech that displays the transparency of the Brumby Labor government
in how it governs the state of Victoria.
The statement of government intentions informs the community of
Victoria about what this government intends to do to continue providing
first-class services, including those in education, infrastructure, health and
safety, for all Victorians. It gives Victorians the opportunity to be informed
on the direction of this state and an opportunity to play a part by putting
their views forward and participating in the future of Victoria.
The statement of government intentions also informs the
opposition and minor parties of this government’s policy to continue making this
state the first-class state that it is.
Thus it provides an opportunity for members opposite,
particularly members of the Liberal and Nationals coalition, the opportunity to
be involved and to formulate policy of their own — an opportunity that is,
sadly, very seldom, if ever, taken up. In fact members of the opposition
asserted, when the first statement of government intentions was presented in
2008, that it was a waste of time, a media stunt and without substance.
Clearly the opposition has not moved on from the opaque days of
the Kennett era when, as we all know, services were being cut or sold off left
right and centre, and the community was largely kept in the dark. The Brumby
Labor government has proven the validity of its statement of intentions, with
each and every initiative mentioned in the 2008 statement either completed or in
the process of being completed.
As all members are aware, we are currently going through some
of the toughest financial times in history. That is why it is increasingly
important to have this statement of intentions. It informs the community, the
business sector and a whole range of stakeholders of the direction the
government is taking.
We are constantly told that many countries are in recession,
with the world’s powerhouse economies such as the United States and the United
Kingdom experiencing incredibly hard times and significant increases in their
unemployment levels. The global financial crisis is being felt all around the
world, with Victoria being no different from any other state or country.
However, due to this government’s financial management over the
past 10 years Victoria is in a strong position to buffer the worst of the global
financial crisis and to situate itself in the best way possible so that it can
take advantage of future prosperous times.
That was one of the key elements of the Premier’s speech on the
first day of Parliament this year. Through this time of financial hardship, the
Brumby Labor government will focus on five key platforms: the first being jobs,
the second being families, the third being communities, the fourth being the
environment and the fifth being building our next era of prosperity.
In the electorate of Western Victoria Region, which I
represent, a significant number of projects that were announced this year in
line with the commitment in the statement of government intentions are being
undertaken, have been completed or are in the process of being completed. I have
had the pleasure of speaking in this house on many of those initiatives,
including a number of Regional Infrastructure Development Fund grants — I spoke
this morning about one relating to the redevelopment of the Portland airport.
This fund has to date contributed more than $462 million to
projects throughout rural and regional Victoria, and I have had great pleasure
in announcing many of these exciting projects. RIDF grants go to the heart of
sustaining and improving rural and regional communities in Victoria. They help
to create jobs and provide infrastructure and services for communities as well
The Brumby Labor government has committed to a number of very
significant infrastructure projects in Western Victoria Region. These include
the upgrading of the South West Institute of TAFE in Warrnambool, $492 000 for
the Warrnambool airport, $26.2 million for stage 1c of the Warrnambool hospital
redevelopment and $5.9 million for a new bus interchange and improved bus
services for Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula — in fact next Tuesday I will
be at a briefing that will look at practical solutions for bus connections in
Other projects include the reintroduction of passenger rail
services to Maryborough in 2010, $8.8 million to start the Western Highway
duplication from Ballarat to Stawell, beginning with the section from Ballarat
to Burrumbeet and $9.5 million for the first part of the Western Highway upgrade
from Stawell to the South Australian border, which will include the construction
of a number of overtaking lanes, rest area improvements and planning of the
Under this government we have also seen the planning for
redevelopment of the East Geelong campus of the Gordon Institute of TAFE;
enhanced capacity works at the Geelong Hospital; $3 million for the
refurbishment of the Ford Theatre at the Geelong Performing Arts Centre as the
first stage of the Geelong arts precinct redevelopment; $20 million for a
coronary services and specialist care nursery at Ballarat hospital; and, as I mentioned previously, as recently as 2
August, $1.35 million for upgrading of the Portland airport.
All these significant infrastructure projects will create jobs
for Victorians as well as further improving the livability of Victoria and the
services this state has to offer communities and families. But there are also
many initiatives that provide for families and communities, such as hospital
redevelopments; the new cancer strategy, which has the goal of increasing
survival rates by 10 per cent by 2015; private breast screening services, which
will provide IT upgrades, allowing the service to send images for analysis; and
the continuation of the Brumby Labor government’s commitment to upgrade and
replace every single school in Victoria.
The 2009-10 budget also delivered a record $1.9 billion for
emergency services to protect Victorians.
This includes projects such as the upgrade of the Warrnambool,
Camperdown and Portland police stations, a new police station at Mortlake and
millions of dollars worth of equipment for Country Fire Authority and State
Emergency Service units around the state.
As well as facing a very difficult financial era, we are also
up against the issues of climate change and continuing drought. The Brumby Labor
government is committed to tackling these issues head on. We have produced
discussion papers, and a very thorough consultation process is being undertaken.
There was one in Geelong fairly recently — I think it was last week.
It is an extremely important issue that this government does
not shirk away from; it is embracing all sorts of views to come up with a suite
The Brumby Labor government understands what is at stake when
it comes to climate change and will continue to formulate policy, which will
lead to the best deal on these issues.
To conclude, I am particularly pleased to have the opportunity
to speak on the annual statement of government intentions. This government is
committed to providing all Victorians with full transparency, and shows that by
making the statement of government intentions at the beginning of each year. It
is a pleasure to stand in this house as a member of this government and support
the statement of government intentions for the first half of this year. We will
continue into the future to provide jobs for Victorians, deliver key services
and infrastructure for Victorian families, build stronger communities and lead
the way in response to climate change.