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Ryan Smith MP, Member for WARRANDYTE

Cost of Living

Budget papers 2018-19

7 June, 2018

It seems strange to be rising in this house to talk about the budget because I would hazard that we are probably the only people in the state of Victoria who are still talking about this budget. The budget has sunk into obscurity and barely a person knows what the government is actually offering in this election year. Those who are still talking about it probably do not believe it, because the government have ended as they started, with a whole pack of lies. No-one believes a word they say, no-one believes that they are going to deliver on what they say. The Premier has told so many untruths, hoodwinked so many Victorians, that people just no longer believe him or his ministers — including his Deputy Premier who, I may say, has been the subject of affidavits brought into this house from his community saying how he has lied to them.

This government has no credibility about what it is going to do for Victorians, none whatsoever. They said that there were shovel-ready projects, those that never got off the ground. Those that have got off the ground are going to be just barely able to be started before the next election, so that the government can actually point to something.

The public expected the government to keep them safe. Well, the crime rise that we have seen over this government's term has been incredible. There is not a person that you can talk to in this state who is not concerned about crime. The minister at the table, the Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation, interjected moments ago that I should get out more. I can tell the minister that if she got out to her community more, indeed to the whole of western Melbourne and western Victoria, she would find that everyone is very concerned about the incidences of crime. They are talking about home invasions, they are talking about carjackings, they are talking about crime being up by 22 per cent and they are talking about patrols that they are having to put out in their own communities to deal with crime issues. They are very concerned about crime. I have to say that if the government wants to continue to put the blinkers on, I welcome it — because that means that when Victorians get to the election, they will point to the government of today and say, 'These people did not protect us and these people will not even admit there's a problem'. Incidences of carjackings and home invasions — crimes that we had not seen before this government came to office — have become prevalent and people, as the police minister herself has said, are scared in their own homes.

The cost-of-living issues for business and households have been raised in this place over the last few days in question time. Time and time again people are talking about business costs and energy costs rising by 10 to 20 per cent — sometimes 100 per cent, sometimes 200 per cent — and the pressure on household budgets is just extraordinary. But this government and the Premier who presides over it have been completely uncaring in the way they have addressed these issues. It does not help these businesses or these families to have the Premier get up and say, 'Oh, well, we'll do an assessment for you' or 'We'll give you some financial assistance'. Even if that was true — and I am not so sure it is — how did it get to this situation?

How did it get to a point where power bills under this government's watch have risen by multiples of 10 per cent over the course of this government? How is that possible? How is it that the government thinks it can sail in on a white horse six months before the election and say that it will fix all the problems — problems that it created itself? We should not be in the position where people are being bribed with a $50 payment to go to a website to have a look at other ways that they can have their energy supplied; $50 is not anywhere near enough to actually support these families and the kinds of imposts that they are now having to face each and every day.

The government recently ditched its slogan 'Getting things done and making things fairer'. It might be the first sign that the government are actually being truthful, because they are neither getting things done nor making things fair. And if I can make a comment about their most recent slogan, 'Delivering for all Victorians', I will give a tip to the government and I will give a tip to the Premier: the people in the electorate of Warrandyte are part of Victoria. This budget has not a dollar, not a dime, for those people, and the electorate has had barely a cent over the last four years. This government is one of the most political that has ever sat on the Treasury benches.

In the course of the previous government my electorate received over $72 million. There was a new police station, a new railway station, an $800 000 new kindergarten and major funding to four schools in my electorate. There were grants. Two sporting clubs were rebuilt. In stark contrast to the $72 million that the previous coalition government was able to use to support the residents in my electorate — residents who pay their taxes and work hard to pay their taxes but are seeing nothing back from this government — this government has delivered over four years a scant $2.5 million. There was funding to Heatherwood School, which is very welcome, and funding to one of my other primary schools, but that is it for four years, and it is shameful of this government to come in here and pretend that it is delivering for all Victorians when I have never seen such a political bunch in my life.

There is nothing here for local schools. We talked about many local schools in question time in the previous sitting. How many schools are falling down around the students' and staff's ears is just extraordinary. I have raised issues about two of my schools — Beverley Hills Primary School and Wonga Park Primary School — just in the last few days in this place, but they are not the only ones that have been craving attention for many years. In fact this government really needs to step up and do something about them, but of course because they are so political in nature, so mean and so cruel, they will never direct money to the seat of Warrandyte. The people of Warrandyte know that, and they will never, ever trust this government, because there is nothing there for schools.

The member for Yuroke talks about TAFE: 'Isn't it great that there are free courses at TAFE?'. Did you stop to think for a minute how that might affect community houses and neighbourhood houses? Did you stop for a moment to think how these focal points of our community — the neighbourhood houses and learning centres — are going to be affected? How do they compete with free courses? How do they possibly compete with this government's policy? But this government does not worry about consequences. It puts out a media release, it pats itself on the back and it trumpets to the world how awesome it is, but the reality is that the consequences are there for all to see. The community houses in my area are going to face some very difficult times ahead because this government has disregarded them entirely.

In terms of the bus services in my area, the government has re-signed contracts with Transdev. The government, over three and a half years, has not been able to deliver an efficient and reliable bus service. The amount of complaints I get about the bus service in my area just mounts day after day. I have sent letters to the minister, who comes back and says, 'Well, we're looking at services, we're doing this, we're doing that', but the services never improve. For a community that is only serviced by buses, not trains or trams, the least that people could expect to ease the congestion on our roads is to actually be able to get on a bus, but the buses are completely unreliable. Under this government it has been just a completely botched mess.

There are no grants to sports groups in my area at all. Sporting clubs are the heart and soul of our communities. When I look at clubs like Warrandyte Football Club and Park Orchards Football and Netball Club — clubs that bring in children, give them great role models and keep them active and generating support for those clubs until those kids reach the senior divisions — not one dollar has come from this government to any of those sporting clubs. That is again, as I say, in stark contrast to the previous government, where we had major rebuilds in my electorate as a result of actually paying attention to all Victorians, but this government certainly does not want to do that.

Let us have a look at the way this government has conducted itself over the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC) budget hearings. For a start, I do not know who the genius was to have it stretch out over so many weeks. Maybe it was a ploy to give the ministers time to actually get across their portfolios and understand what it is that pertains to their portfolios and their electorates. But, my goodness, the member for Essendon is sitting there, and if the member for Essendon can look at me with a straight face and say that the Minister for Roads and Road Safety discharged his ministerial responsibilities in a decent way, he is kidding himself.

Mr Pearson interjected.

Mr R. SMITH — The guy looked at line items. He said black was white and he was not going to move from those discussions. It was unbelievable. If the member for Essendon thinks that the minister for roads did a good job, then the member for Essendon is setting a very low bar for those on the front bench. He should seek instead to bring his great intellect to the front bench. It is not going to happen until some of these people move, mate. You might want to actually highlight the ones that are doing a pretty poor job, because that was a disgraceful effort, overshadowed only by the Minister for Sport.

The Minister for Sport's efforts today were laughable to the point where the Leader of the House actually sat him down in so many words, and the Minister for Sport was not even bright enough to pick up that he should not get out of his seat again because he was performing so incredibly poorly. You only have to sit on this side. The member for Essendon would not see all the faces that we see, sitting over here. When the Minister for Sport actually started his contribution in answering the question, if members opposite were not shell-shocked, they were studiously looking at some suddenly very important messages on their phones. It was a joke — an absolute joke — when I saw that minister today and indeed when I saw him in the PAEC hearings along with his esteemed colleague the Minister for Roads and Road Safety, who was just appalling in the contribution that he gave and the evidence that he gave to PAEC.

We can go on for the amount of people who this government has slighted over the three and a half years that they have been in government. The sky rail residents, who are furious at the lack of communication and consultation that they had from this government, were surprised one morning to find that they were going to get a significantly elevated railway through their backyards. They have not forgotten out there in Oakleigh. They have not forgotten all the way down that line the way this government ran roughshod over them, did not consult them, did not talk to them and in fact does not care that they have been living now for two and a half years with works going on at all hours of the night, constantly, without notification. If the government does not think that those people are going to go to the ballot box full of anger and ready to kick these guys out, then the government is kidding itself.

Taxidrivers' complete disgust and frustration with this government is completely palpable. Bus company operators were threatened with not being able to provide any services for the people of Victoria unless they signed away their assets at the end of the contract. Gee, the government backflipped on that one when we could prove with documentation that what the minister was saying was not true was in fact true. The anger of those bus service operators has not gone away either.

For those who have driven on our country roads, this government has let them fall away. One billion dollars extra, additional to the usual funding, was promised by this government for the maintenance of country roads prior to the election, and not one dollar more has been spent. In fact roads are deteriorating in the country at such a rapid rate it is appalling to see. Those who do not want to go past the tram tracks should really get out and drive on those roads, because the best thing you can do to save country lives is to fix country roads. You can put all the wire barriers you want up, you can put all the signs up and you can lower speed limits, but fix the road and you will save lives out in those areas. Some of those out in South-West Coast and near Polwarth have just been some of the most disgraceful that I have ever seen. It is absolutely appalling that the government has let them deteriorate to the point that they have.

The member for Yuroke talked about jobs. Coming just recently from the Latrobe Valley in the Morwell-Moe area, where some of my family live, jobs are a huge issue. There is a 15.6 per cent unemployment rate in Morwell and Moe. Is the government doing anything about that? Yes, they are; they are building a GovHub. It is going to be ready in 2022. That should be helpful for those who are out of work! One thousand people were put out of work by this government's policies that closed Hazelwood power station and taxed them out of existence — taxed them to the point where it was no longer viable for them to continue. Those people were out of work overnight, to say nothing of the associated businesses — the cafes, the restaurants, the newsagents — who all relied on that employment. Those people who are now looking for work and are having significant problems and that unemployment rate are things the government should be absolutely ashamed of and should be moving a lot quicker to deal with.

The fact of the matter is that the cost-of-living issues that we are seeing now and the unemployment problems that we are seeing out in the Latrobe Valley are a direct result of this government's policies, and it is absolutely appalling that they have done all they can to remove 22 per cent of baseload power from this state to make us for the first time a net importer of energy and to take away our competitive advantage that we have had commercially and industrially for so many years. That advantage is now gone, and the government should hang its head in shame. Not only has it contributed to that huge unemployment rate, but to put the burden on so many families, so many households and so many businesses is just completely unconscionable. The government, as I said, should hang its head in shame.

There are so many things that I could talk about in relation to the way this government has conducted itself — the lies, the mistruths and the misleading. It is just appalling. It is led by the Premier himself, who took this once proud Labor Party into the gutter during his years in opposition, wallowed around in that gutter during the campaign period and has really achieved not much more to highlight any redeeming qualities of himself or his government over the last three and a half years. People are suffering to an extreme level. People are less safe than they were three and a half years ago. People's bills are higher than they were three and a half years ago. People are sitting in traffic more than they were three and a half years ago.

While I hear the sycophantic backbenchers in here talk about how great the government's budget is, they might try getting out and talking to those who have been bashed — victims of crime and victims of serious assault — as the crime rate has escalated. They should talk to those who are sitting in their cars day after day on the Monash Freeway, on the Eastern Freeway, on the Western Ring Road and on the West Gate Freeway — those people who cannot move because this government spent $1.3 billion to scrap a road project. It is just unbelievable. They should also get out and talk to those people in their homes who are struggling every day with growing bills and who are really concerned about how they are going to get by day to day. This is a poor budget coming from a poor government, and throwing out sweets at the 11th hour just is not going to cut it.

Authorised by Ryan Smith MP, Suite 2, 1020 Doncaster Road, Doncaster East, VIC 3109 | © Ryan Smith MP 2014
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