Wednesday, 22 February 2023

Grievance debate

Opposition performance

Opposition performance

Dylan WIGHT (Tarneit) (16:46): It is a pleasure to rise to contribute to this grievance debate, and there is a fair bit to grieve about. I mean, how could we not grieve from this side of the house looking over the chamber at that ragtag bunch of misfits? We have got the Leader of the Opposition here who cannot even ask a question during question time that is in order. Have no doubt he will be put out of his misery soon enough. They are already doing the numbers against him. The member for Brighton was looking quite longingly over at that chair across the table. God help us if that ever comes to fruition.

What I would also like to grieve on, just to get back to the point a little bit more – what I think it is also incredibly important that we grieve on – is this opposition and the parties –

A member interjected.

Dylan WIGHT: The member for Wimbledon wants to have a go. I have not seen you on your feet much yet, mate.

Members interjecting.

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Tarneit will direct his comments through the Chair and will not use the word ‘you’.

Dylan WIGHT: Indeed I will. I am very sorry, Speaker. But to get back to the point, I am here to grieve about this opposition – and not just this opposition but this party’s absolute obsession with privatisation.

Members interjecting.

Dylan WIGHT: I have not seen you on your feet yet. They have not put much trust in you yet, have they?

The SPEAKER: Order! I have warned the member for Tarneit once. I will sit you down and you will not continue with your comments if you continue to disobey my rulings.

Emma Kealy: On a point of order, Speaker, the member for Tarneit is making reflections upon the Speaker, and I ask him to refer to people by their correct titles.

The SPEAKER: I have already warned the member for Tarneit twice.

Dylan WIGHT: Indeed. So as I have said, I am here to grieve about the opposition’s obsession with privatisation. To go through this grievance I think it is incredibly important that we take a little trip down memory lane. So in 1994 the Kennett Liberal government privatised this state’s energy supply. Indeed he privatised the SEC. Now, it was Kennett that did that. In my household –

Tim Bull interjected.

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Gippsland East is out of order and not in his allocated seat. You are warned.

Dylan WIGHT: They get very touchy, don’t they? As I said, former Premier Jeff Kennett under a Liberal government privatised Victoria’s energy supply and indeed privatised the SEC. Now, I will refer to former Premier Kennett by his correct title, but in my household he was referred to as something very different, and I will not use that language in this house. He privatised – or the Liberal government privatised – the SEC.

The SEC for some time – decades and decades and decades – had provided Victoria with safe and secure jobs, indeed jobs for life. If you were a kid that came out of school near my electorate of Tarneit where there was a large SEC depot or you came out of school in Werribee or Wyndham and you got a job at the SEC, it was like striking gold. It was absolutely fantastic. They provided good, secure, well-paid, unionised employment, and they also engaged their employees in significant training – a really important part of it. What have we seen since the SEC was privatised? What have we seen? Since the privatisation of Victoria’s power supply by the Liberals we have seen power prices increase year after year after year. We have seen less secure employment, and we have seen a less trained workforce.

Those opposite bang on and they bang on and they bang on and they try and hammer us on the cost of living. They try and talk to us about the cost of living, but how about we have another history lesson here, guys? Between 2010 and 2014 Victoria’s energy prices increased by 34 per cent. Where were you on the cost of living there? Nowhere. You were hiding. You were absolutely hiding.

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Tarneit is warned again. Through the Chair! You do not use the word ‘you’.

Dylan WIGHT: I am very sorry, Speaker. I am not meaning it. I am still getting used to the rules and the customs of this house. This is my first grievance debate as well.

The fact is clear that privatisation hurts people. The privatisation of our energy system in Victoria has done nothing more than hurt people. It has made their power prices go through the roof. It has meant less secure work for those working in the industry. It has been bad all around.

Members interjecting.

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Eureka is warned. The member for Narracan is warned.

Dylan WIGHT: It has been bad for Victorians all around. What is our solution to it? The Andrews Labor government, prior to the last election, said, ‘Do you know what? Enough is enough – enough of profits going to private energy companies, going to accounts offshore. We will bring back the SEC. We will bring back government-owned energy and we will drive down power prices in the process and increase Victoria’s renewable energy.’ It seems like a bit of a no-brainer to me, but what has the response been?

Richard Riordan interjected.

The SPEAKER: Member for Polwarth, you are out of order; you are not in your allocated seat.

Dylan WIGHT: What has the response been by those opposite? Indeed the response has been that they are going to tear it down. The opposition leader has already said that if elected – and let me say it is a very big if – he will tear down the SEC. It is a new opposition leader, but it is the same old privatisation agenda. As I said, privatisation hurts people, and it most certainly has hurt people in our energy sector.

The Leader of the Opposition admits that the private sector companies do not want greater competition in the sector. They do not want greater competition from the SEC. They do not want an abundance of renewable energy in the system driving power prices down, because it is pretty simple stuff. I am no economist, but if there is more energy in the system, prices will be lower. That is why we are getting on with it. In fact I have got a quote from the Leader of the Opposition:

Business and potential leaders in renewables are not crying out for government competition …

I wonder why.

A member interjected.

Dylan WIGHT: That is right. And privatisation is all about making money. It is not about the people of Victoria.

One of the amazing components of this policy from this side of the house and from the Andrews Labor government is the increase that we will have in Victoria in renewable energy. It has been clear for some time – and I think even most of the climate change deniers on the other side have come around, and I will get to that soon – that renewable energy is Victoria’s future. What the SEC will do is increase our renewable energy target significantly, and we will be powering our state, the vast majority of it, with renewable energy. On this side of the house we are on the right side of that argument, and we always have been.

A member interjected.

Dylan WIGHT: That is right. We have always understood that renewable energy is the future, whilst we have had some on the other side of this house saying that we should ban wind farms – I am looking at the member for Polwarth. It is an incredibly important part of this policy.

We might go to a little bit of what has been said by those opposite about renewable energy. How about we do that. We had better not miss that. The member for Caulfield seems to have finally woken up over the last four years to the demographic shift in his seat and is now a champion of everything that is progressive – he is a champion of everything that is progressive and he is a champion of renewable energy – but in 2018 through his Twitter account the member for Caulfield said:

Greens v Labor over renewable energy target to battle for inner city seats – The loser is Victorian households with higher power prices. target Prices Reliability #springst

He has changed his tune now and he is all for it. I think he has finally woken up. Hansard is also a beautiful thing. The member for Caulfield, indeed the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party, claimed that solar rebates for Victorians were government intervention and red tape and that market intervention, not energy companies, was responsible for energy price increases:

We have seen energy prices triple under the Andrews Labor government, and it has largely been because of government intervention. It is because the government have gotten involved where they should not have and pushed the price of energy up.

‘The market will fix everything. We don’t need government intervention in anything.’ I mean, they want government to be so small, I am surprised that they run. I am surprised that they rock up here every day – indeed I would note that the member for Bulleen has not been doing so very often. They want government to be so small, I am surprised that they even turn up.

The member for Eltham made an amazing contribution prior to me, and I have touched on the fact that so much of what the SEC provided was good, secure jobs but also a pipeline of training. There have been announcements made in the last couple of weeks, and that is exactly what the future SEC will be able to do as well. It will provide apprenticeships, traineeships and highly paid, highly skilled jobs for school leavers, university leavers and Victorian workers. With our free TAFE system, with the TAFE system that we rebuilt after the Liberal government closed campuses all over Victoria, that is exactly what we will do. The creation of the SEC will create a pipeline of tens of thousands of highly skilled jobs in this state, and we will train them at our fantastic TAFE colleges in Victoria that we had to reopen. We have had to reopen them over the last eight years because you closed them.

A member: You closed it a year ago.

Dylan WIGHT: Pardon?

The SPEAKER: Order! Through the Chair.

James Newbury: On a point of order, Speaker, as much as it pains me to stop Chris Brayne here, who we thought had left the chamber, the member for Tarneit has repeatedly ignored your ruling in relation to standing order 108 in terms of referring to people by their correct titles, and it is making it highly difficult for the house to maintain order with his constant references to ‘you’ and his poor behaviour.

The SPEAKER: Order! I have not heard him repeat that warning but –

James Newbury interjected.

The SPEAKER: Order! I did say to the member for Tarneit to direct his comments through the Chair as you were standing up to make your point of order.

Dylan WIGHT: Indeed, thank you very much. As I was saying, the creation of the SEC, just as it did all those years ago before the Liberal Party privatised it, will create an enormous pipeline of tens of thousands of well-paid jobs that school leavers, that university leavers, that young people in Victoria can look forward to.