TIERNEY (Western Victoria) — My question is to the Acting Minister for
Industry and Trade, John Lenders. Can the minister outline to the house how the
Brumby Labor government is listening to and working with regional communities
and stakeholders, and more specifically how it is doing so in the Geelong area?
LENDERS (Acting Minister for Industry and Trade) — I thank Ms Tierney for
her question, and I understand the parochial angle of her question about the
city of Geelong and her pride in that great city. This government believes in
working with regional communities to deliver jobs for the ongoing future of
those cities. In the case of the great city of Geelong, we have a very different
view to that of the government from which we inherited office, which closed 12
hospitals and cut 179 schools in regional areas. We believe in working with
regional communities to rebuild.
I was delighted last week to go to Geelong at the invitation of
the Geelong people. I was there with a number of other ministers, including Lisa
Neville — who as well as being Minister for Mental Health is, like Ms Tierney,
a very passionate supporter of everything about Geelong — and Jacinta Allan,
the Minister for Regional and Rural Development. We had a roundtable with
business leaders in Geelong to talk about the future for Geelong, an
extraordinary area with low unemployment and strong jobs growth but one which is
facing some challenging circumstances resulting from decisions made by the Ford
Motor Company as well as some of the flow-ons from the global economic
What is important to note in the government’s work with Geelong
— with Ms Tierney and others from Geelong — is that since the day it was
elected this government has shown great interest in Geelong.
It is interesting that almost three years ago, in 2006, this
government made the decision to move the Transport Accident Commission (TAC)
from the central business district of Melbourne to Geelong. That was not an easy
decision for the government to make, because clearly it was a great institution
that was ensconced in Melbourne and had a workforce which was very attached to
where it was. This government took the workforce and the City of Geelong through
the benefits of the TAC moving to Geelong, which included diversifying Geelong’s
great economy by providing more allied health, insurance and finance jobs. Next
year we will see 600-plus jobs come to Geelong out of that decision alone,
diversifying Geelong’s economy.
My colleague Mr Theophanous has periodically
spoken in this place about Satyam, the IT company for which this government has
facilitated the move to Geelong. The fact that highly paid IT jobs have come
from Bangalore in India to Geelong in Australia is an extraordinary coup for
Victoria and for Geelong. There will be 1400 different jobs coming to Geelong as
a result of this.
Mr Guy rolls his eyes. Clearly Mr Guy does not think it is
important or exciting to have 1400 extra jobs coming into Geelong. Those jobs do
not excite Mr Guy as much as they excite Ms Tierney and me. If I am boring, and
if the opposition thinks it is boring to talk about 600 TAC jobs and 1400 IT
jobs coming to Geelong, they are truly the children of Jeff Kennett — who said
regional Victoria was the toenails of the state, not its beating heart! There is
another generation of children there. Mr Guy has recently become a father. I
thought that was all a cunning plan to boost the Liberal vote in the 2028
general election — but no, they are the children of Jeff Kennett!
The PRESIDENT — Order! I remind the minister of the standards
of the house and that it is inappropriate to overtly criticise the opposition.
Reference to members of the opposition as being the children of Jeff Kennett is
Mr LENDERS — In addition to these two very significant
increases in the number of jobs in Geelong, the government has invested in road
infrastructure, in rail infrastructure and in Deakin University. The short
answer to Ms Tierney is that this government will continue to work, as it did at
the roundtable last week in Geelong that Ms Tierney came to, on these decisions.
We will continue to work to make Geelong an even better place to live, work and
raise a family.