Ms TIERNEY (Western Victoria) — I too will make a statement on the government’s 2011 Victorian Families Statement, and I will begin by talking about what matters to families. I am going to concentrate my remarks on two paragraphs that are contained in section 1. The report describes how families are quite different from each other under the heading ‘Family life is central to many of the most important things we have in common’. The report states:
“It is about the necessities of a roof over our heads and food on the table, but it is also about working in a secure job that uses our skills, educating our children, feeling safe on our streets, knowing our neighbours and having a quality of life that allows us to spend time with our loved ones.”
I do not think there would be too many arguments in this house about that sentence. The problem I have is that the rhetoric is far from the reality and far from what Victorian families have faced since this statement has been in place. When it comes to things like a secure job, something that is mentioned in the statement, one only has to listen to the radio or read the newspaper. In terms of picking up just a few of the headlines in newspapers across my electorate, in the Warrnambool Standard of 14 March we have ‘Workers lose out as DSE shrinks’. The Geelong Advertiser of 9 March carries the headline ‘400 jobs lost each day in Vic’, and the Ballarat Courier has ‘300 jobs go across city’. The Hamilton Spectator of 1 March has a huge headline on its front page that reads ‘DSE job cuts’. And today we have a subheading in the Geelong Advertiser that reads ‘Premier won’t guarantee 800 TAC positions in merger’ accompanying the headline ‘Crash course in job cuts’. This is set against a background in which, as Ms Mikakos has already stated, Victoria has a higher degree of unemployment than any other state.
I also wish to inform the house that Geelong has an unemployment rate that is higher than the state average.
We have all become quite aware of the threat of 600 jobs being lost at Alcoa’s Point Henry site as well as the heavy maintenance workers at Qantas at Avalon being looked at very closely in terms of their ongoing employment. We also have the threatened loss of public sector jobs that I know is going to cause significant agony for the city and its future development. We talk about jobs being secure, but they are not; in fact we have seen significant job losses over the last 12 months, particularly in the last 6 months. It is almost like water going through our fingers. Jobs are being lost, and there does not seem to be any feeling for what is going on, let alone anyone rolling their sleeves up and getting a jobs plan together to make sure that Victorian families have a roof over their heads and food on the table.
When it comes to skills, we know there have been significant cuts to the VCAL (Victorian certificate of applied learning) program. The VCAL coordinators have gone, and we know that the VCAL program has been threatened.
In relation to educating our children, all we can say about that is that $481 million has been stripped out of the education budget and we know there is a growing list of schools that need to have classrooms redeveloped as well as a waiting list of schools that need to be built.
The statement talks about ‘having a quality of life that allows us to spend time with our loved ones’. Members only have to go to the debacle we had in this chamber last year on the issue of working on Easter Sunday. If this government were serious about families being able to spend more time in each other’s company, it would not have persisted with that piece of legislation. The next column on that page of the report goes on to state:
“Household budgets will be front and centre — but important too, will be how we travel to where we need to go, how safe we are walking down the street, how we stay healthy or manage an illness or a disability, and how much time we get with our friends, partners, parents and children.”
When we talk about household budgets we remember that it was this government that went to the November 2010 election promising families in this state that it would keep the cost of living — —
The ACTING PRESIDENT (Mr Eideh) — Order! The member’s time has expired.