Ms TIERNEY (Western Victoria)— Could the Treasurer please explain how effectively Partnerships Victoria projects are being implemented and any recent improvements to the Partnerships Victoria framework?
Mr LENDERS (Treasurer)— I thank Ms Tierney for her question and for her interest in the procurement of major projects in Victoria, because under the Brumby government, and the Bracks government before it, we have invested in projects far more significantly than any other government in the history of this state. In fact we have boosted expenditure on capital works to $3.5 billion in the last budget, which is up from a figure of $900 million in the last budget presented by Liberal Treasurer Alan Stockdale.
Mrs Peulich interjected.
Mr LENDERS — I take up Mrs Peulich’s interjection about ‘On time and on budget’. I would say to her that if we want to talk about being on time and on budget, thank goodness that Greg Combet is in charge of defence procurement now under the Rudd government rather than its being done by its predecessors, who could not run a single thing on time or on budget.
But moving on from what Greg Combet as a member of the incoming Rudd government will do to improve defence procurement, what I can say to Ms Tierney is that the importance for us is how we can get best value for the taxpayers money on procurement. We have rolled out Partnerships Victoria projects so that we can actually leverage our infrastructure expenditure with the private sector to get a better outcome for Victorians. Again we are getting an ‘Oh, yeah’ from the other side of the chamber, but I advise Mrs Peulich that if the commonwealth had been a bit more innovative in its procurement, it might not have had the big sinking sea of red ink it now has in defence procurement and other areas.
What we are seeking is to do important things, whether they be in relation to roads, schools, water, hospitals — these particular areas — —
Mrs Peulich — How about the Dingley bypass?
Mr LENDERS — And, Deputy President, talking of bypasses, I had the privilege on Sunday of driving down the newly opened Pakenham bypass, which was opened by Tim Pallas, the Minister for Roads and Ports in the other house, and by Anthony Albanese, the new federal infrastructure minister.
We are seeking the best methods of procurement. What we seek to do is to get the best out of government procurement that we can so that, whether it be through traditional procurement or through public-private partnerships, we can deliver to Victorians the infrastructure services they need and expect. However, there has been some criticism of our public-private partnerships and about the openness or transparency of this project.
I am delighted to inform the house, if individual members of the house have not already seen it, that in the last sitting week we actually lodged on the government website the details of the biosolids plant in Geelong. Under our disclosure regime we locked in the first project summary for a Partnerships Victoria project and published it online in accord with the government’s election commitments. Gordon Rich-Phillips will be delighted that we are delivering on our election promises. This is but one example.
The project is for the Plenary Environment Group to build a $77.6 million biosolids plant for Barwon Water. I know that Ms Tierney will know about this, because it is an important area in her constituency, but we are delivering a very efficient procurement method for biosolids in Geelong. The new Partnerships Victoria disclosure regime will require that a project summary regarding each PPP (public-private partnership) be published within three months of financial close, which it has.
Mr Rich-Phillips will be delighted that the government’s election commitments are being met. The summaries provide a range of information, including how the project meets value for money and public interest tests, as well as the allocation of risk between public and private parties. Again, it was a government election commitment made by Treasurer Brumby just before the last election.
While PPP contracts are currently published on the government’s contracts website, project summaries will better inform the public about the nature and outcomes of these projects.
Openness, transparency, accountability and government contracts published on the website — and now further information on Partnership Victoria projects, as promised — will add far greater transparency than ever before. This government is delivering on capital projects, whether they be roads, like the Pakenham bypass; water, like the many water projects we are delivering; hospitals, like the new children’s hospital, the plans for which the Premier and Minister Andrews unveiled just a few days ago; schools, like the 131 government schools announced in the last budget; or any of the other massive infrastructure projects that this government will deliver. Those projects will be delivered in an open, transparent and accountable manner absolutely in line with the election promise made by then Treasurer Brumby at the last election.
This makes Victoria an even better place to live, work and raise a family, particularly with a sympathetic federal government that believes in cooperative federalism.