Wednesday, 22 June 2022

Statements on parliamentary committee reports

Public Accounts and Estimates Committee

Public Accounts and Estimates Committee

Report on the 2020–21 Budget Estimates

Mr McGUIRE (Broadmeadows) (10:23): I refer to the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee’s inquiry into the budget estimates for 2021–22, and the contribution from the Minister for Economic Development on how Victoria is trying to strengthen economic performance through a range of mechanisms. I want to continue my contribution on how we look globally, how we look nationally and how we lead as a state in Victoria, particularly with research and development and innovation. It is really important to know and understand that this is a relentless pursuit. To give an international context, in two years China expects to have more research and development and to overtake the United States as the biggest investor. That is a critical understanding. This is what is going on globally, and this is what we need to address if we want to keep our leadership.

It was great this week to see that there are pay rises for our most needy workers. That is fantastic. You need money in your pocket to have a better quality of life. But you also need, from the government perspective, industry and the universities to be thinking, ‘How do we leverage our intellectual property? How do we create new industries and jobs, and how do we keep doing that?’. I think that one of the great initiatives of the Victorian Andrews Labor government is that we have created the Breakthrough Victoria Fund, with $2 billion to be invested to help these collaborations.

This is the culmination of a proud Labor tradition. I remember Barry Jones. As Australia’s longest-serving science minister he was always talking about the need—Sleepers, Wake! was the title of his book that defined the need—for innovation and the need to keep changing. We have had former premiers John Cain, Steve Bracks and John Brumby, and now the current Premier, and I want to acknowledge the Treasurer and the other ministers who have been involved in making this happen.

If you see what has occurred in research and development generally, of 133 countries in the world we rank 15th. We rank in the top 1 per cent of countries in the world in 15 fields of research, so it is all about knowing your competitive advantages and leveraging those. But it is in translating into products where we rank last out of 27 OECD countries, so this is the critical gap that this investment, the Breakthrough Victoria Fund, and other funds from throughout the Victorian government in the budget and the big-picture blueprint are trying to address. That is the challenge: how do we turn our research into products and businesses that change lives? This is a huge investment in research, and again the leadership nationally is coming out of Victoria. It has been my humbling privilege to be the Parliamentary Secretary for Medical Research, to formerly be the Parliamentary Secretary for Small Business Innovation, and to get to know the critical people and leaders in these fields.

This is the area where I do want to acknowledge that again Victoria has taken the leadership. We had the Prime Minister with the Premier making a new announcement on melanoma. Melanoma is known internationally as the Australian disease, so to have a new clinical trial centre right here in Melbourne that is world class—the investment is $152 million for a centre to bring together specialist researchers, clinical care and cancer patient treatment facilities under one roof, and it will drive innovation in cancer research and provide comprehensive skin cancer care services—is a wonderful result, delivered again by this government. It is backed by $50 million from the Victorian Labor government and will be located next to the Alfred hospital.

The new centre will be home to the Victorian Melanoma Service, the Alfred cancer service and the Australian clinical trial centre. These trials are really important. I do want to acknowledge that it is going to be named the Paula Fox Melanoma and Cancer Centre, named after the philanthropist Paula Fox, with her personal connection to melanoma. I remember when she showed me the scar; it was nearly 50 stitches down her back. It was like the sash on the Essendon jumper. That is a huge personal connection, and I think it is really interesting to bring philanthropists together, bring governments together and get this result. It is world-leading research, it will change lives, it will save lives, and it is Victoria at its best. The world is watching. They are wanting to connect—the Australian British Health Catalyst is coming up as well.