Ms TIERNEY (Western Victoria) — I also rise to speak on the budget papers for 2011-12. I, along with many other Victorians, looked forward to seeing the much-awaited budget of the first Baillieu government. One of the reasons we were looking forward to it was that we were wanting some indication about how this government was going to govern.
When this government took office there was a round of parties that seemed to go on incessantly. A number of Liberal 500 Club events were held, but there seemed to be a severe lack of media releases, media interviews and press conferences. Indeed there was very little, if anything, in terms of legislation before the house. The government was attempting to find its way, and its way was to get other people to do the work.
Then there are all the reviews being conducted — not 1, 2 or 3 reviews but something in the order of 100 reviews; perhaps 1000 flowers have already bloomed in Victoria since the November election. Victorians are looking for an indication in this budget of how the government will fulfil its election promises and how those election promises fit into a plan for government — a plan in terms of delivering an education system and a health plan for all Victorians. We also wanted an indication of how the government was going to create new jobs. The government promised Victorians that it would bring down the cost of living. We wanted to see what impact the budget would have on working families and how the government was going to achieve that. We had some serious expectations of this government, and were very interested in what its members were going to say in terms of the fight against climate change. When the previous government put out its climate change white paper the opposition at the time supported the government’s position, but there is nothing in this budget that gives any indication of what government members are doing about it.
At the end of the day we have a budget with no plans for job creation or the education system, no improvements for health services and very little in terms of transport. Instead of making life easier for families, government members have decided to rip from 100 000 families the $300 School Start bonus. Where does that line up in terms of the government’s commitment to those Victorian families? Government members have not come up to scratch. I am still looking for the part that tells me that this government is governing and not sitting back and doing very little.
Many people, be they politicians or members of the media, have said that one thing stood out about Kim Wells’s budget speech: an absolute lack of any mention of job creation or employment opportunities. The issue fell off the map completely, and I am very concerned about it because we all know that in many ways employment not only generates feelings of self-worth for individuals but also pays the bills and puts food on the tables of many families.
Job creation and employment do not seem to be within the scope or the parameters of this government. We also saw an enormous cutting back of JobWatch, another important security blanket for Victorian families.
Returning to climate change, I note that there was very little in the budget about how it would be tackled and what impact the new wind farm policy will have on renewable energy initiatives in this state. Will we continue to see industry investing in this state?
In terms of health, perhaps I can be so bold as to concentrate on the electorate of Western Victoria Region and in particular Geelong. This government promised $165 million for hospital improvements in Geelong, part of which was for a second hospital in South Geelong. I put out a challenge to those on the other side, particularly members who represent western Victoria: what are they doing about the second hospital?
In the budget the government has allocated only $8 million of the $165 million, and I want to know whether the rumours in Geelong are true — that what we will end up with is a big neon sign in South Geelong that says ‘Hospital’, but we will be very lucky if it is a super-clinic, from what I am told. I understand there will be no inpatient beds whatsoever, and I am more than happy for government members to stand up and correct the record on that. I do not believe government members are going to do anything at Geelong in terms of the second hospital, which contrasts with what the previous Labor government did for Warrnambool.
The Bracks government went to Warrnambool at the 2006 election and promised a whole redevelopment of a hospital — $110 million. Unlike this government, we made that commitment, and every brick, every window — everything — has been committed because — —
Honourable members interjecting.
The ACTING PRESIDENT (Mr O’Brien) — Order! Through the Chair! The level of interjection is getting quite loud.
Ms TIERNEY — The money has been committed because we have to build our promise from 2006 now, and that hospital will be open later this year. That has happened because the people of Victoria — including the people of Warrnambool and Geelong — know that Labor actually keeps its commitment.
In relation to education, as everyone knows, the previous government’s commitment to education was enormous — it was a no. 1 priority. When I look at what this government has done in relation to education, in particular in western Victoria, it gives me much heartache.
Apart from the matter I raised last week — that is, funding for Portarlington Primary School, which needs $60 000 for a schematic design — this government has also promised $10 million for the Apollo Bay P-12 College, but the college received only $700 000 in the budget. The Baillieu government promised whatever it takes in terms of the Colac Secondary College. Labor promised $13 million, but only $10 million was put aside by this government. No schools in Geelong or on the Bellarine got anything in last month’s budget.
Who can forget the government’s promise that teachers in this state would be the highest paid in Australia? The government walked away from that commitment almost from the day it was elected. This is on top of the $338 million the government has stripped from the education budget.
In terms of the Regional Growth Fund, as the shadow Treasurer pointed out, it is a matter of treachery because you have to get the other half of the money in the fund by electing this government again. It is a little bit like tied aid to foreign countries.
The other failing is that the government committed $10 million for the Princes Highway duplication and only delivered $5 million. The government has not provided one cent to the Geelong arts precinct. With all the huff and puff in the newspapers for months leading up the election, the government has not put one cent into radiotherapy in Warrnambool.
It promised $14 million for the duplication and upgrade of Pioneer Road, yet there was only a meagre $5 million to supposedly fix up this major safety hazard. Of course there was no money for the promised helipad at the Ballarat hospital.
All we have is failure, failure, failure to commit to western Victoria. Most of the election promises made by government members were only half-hearted attempts. In terms of fixing the problems, we have not seen too much of it. There has not been a plan or a vision. Beyond the reviews upon reviews that we will continue to hear about until the cows come home, Victorians — particularly those in the west — require this government to stand up and do a whole range of things that government members cannot and, I suspect, will not do for the future of this state.