Tuesday, 7 March 2023

Address to Parliament

Governor’s speech


Address to Parliament

Governor’s speech


Debate resumed on motion of Martha Haylett:

That the following address, in reply to the speech of the Governor to both houses of Parliament, be agreed to by this house.


We, the Legislative Assembly of Victoria assembled in Parliament, wish to express our loyalty to our Sovereign and to thank you for the speech which you have made to the Parliament.

Natalie SULEYMAN (St Albans – Minister for Veterans, Minister for Small Business, Minister for Youth) (14:44): I continue on to thank the constituents of St Albans – a place that I was born, raised and live in – for their support and the great honour to serve St Albans.

Earlier in my contribution I was talking about our commitments and what we have delivered since being elected in 2014. The first thing that we did in 2014, the minute we were elected, was to remove the deadly and dangerous level crossing at Main Road and Furlong Road in St Albans, and we have seen a community that has connected and a local economy that really has continued to grow, but most importantly we have saved lives.

Another thing that I have been proud of is our commitment to and delivery of education. All of our state schools, as well as St Paul’s Primary School in Kealba and Sacred Heart primary school in St Albans, have received significant investment by the Andrews Labor government. I know that major works are underway to upgrade University Park Primary School, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the principal and the school community for all their hard work, because we know that having good facilities complemented by good teaching is the way forward in a child’s journey. I am also proud to report significant funding for Jackson special school. Close to $10 million has been invested, and we will see a whole rebuild for the students and families at that particular school. There is St Albans Heights Primary School, and Furlong Park School for Deaf Children – a first when it comes to investing into our schools for children who are deaf and of course for those who need extra support. There is no doubt that the Andrews Labor government is making sure that every school, regardless of your postcode, has the first-class facilities to match first-class teaching. Just on Monday – yesterday – I was at St Albans Secondary College, which has been rated in the top 20 this year, and I am very proud to report that and the excellence in teaching. Principal Kerrie has done an outstanding job when it comes to making sure that education and the delivery of education have been absolutely superb. This is not only for St Albans Secondary College but Keilor Downs secondary college and Victoria University Secondary College, and for many more primary schools, because we know that making sure that our children get the best start as early as possible is the way forward.

So of course when we come to looking at kinder and making sure our littlest learners start kinder for the first time, they will be able to receive their brand new bags from the Andrews Labor government. Most importantly we have started, this year, free kinder, which means a lot to my community in St Albans and to families. That means any family with a three- or four-year-old will pay nothing, and that is really important. Not only is it encouraging participation but it is assisting families with the budgetary expectations as well. We also know that the first 2000 days are critical to a child’s life and their learning, and what better way is there for our government to be able to not only provide free kinder and invest in this particular service but transform early childhood education across St Albans and of course the state. We know that kinder is an exciting time for local families, but it also can be a time of anxiety for families, so we want to make sure that childcare fees are minimal. That is why we are introducing free kinder for working families. So what does that mean in dollar value – $2500 per child, per year. That is a great saving for families in St Albans.

It also gives me great joy to talk about the brand new kinder that will be built at the same site as St Albans Meadows Primary School. We know the value of having a one-stop shop, as I will call it – having kinder and primary school on one site makes it convenient for families and parents who are dropping off one child to kinder and one child to primary. So that is really exciting. I know that we were able to deliver this in the last term for Ardeer Primary School. They now have a one-stop education precinct – a kinder and primary school – and it really has assisted and connected families and the school community together. Providing those best foundations for our kids right through to adulthood is absolutely critical and integral. Regardless of where you live, we must make sure that the best foundations are developed and all opportunities are available for kids. Free TAFE for younger adults and young people to have that free TAFE pathway for skilled, secure and well-paid jobs is another opportunity that we have provided.

Most importantly, I am really honoured and humbled to receive the support of the St Albans community. As a lifelong local it gives me great joy to see so many investments and opportunities created by the Andrews Labor government. We have not wasted a single moment when it comes to building the Joan Kirner Women’s and Children’s Hospital, improving and building on Sunshine Hospital – a brand new emergency department at Sunshine Hospital – and in the coming weeks I will be attending the official opening of Sunshine Private Hospital, which makes it a triangular health precinct in the heart of St Albans, and I am extremely proud of that.

There is so much happening in St Albans, from education, free TAFE and free kinder to better health and wellbeing opportunities. St Albans is transitioning and, as I said, as a lifelong local I have been seeing these improvements in the last eight years. I know my community have made it very clear with their support in November for me and for the Andrews Labor government. We will continue to deliver to the electorate of St Albans. There is a lot more work that needs to be done. We have got great objectives and pathways. Whether it is building on our schools or making sure that our projects and our election commitments come to fruition, we will make sure we get on with the job and deliver just like we did when we first were elected. We removed that dangerous level crossing at Main Road and Furlong Road. Many people said it would not happen, but it did under our government.

Members applauded.

Meng Heang TAK (Clarinda) (14:52): I am delighted to rise today to make an address-in-reply to the Governor’s speech. Firstly, thank you to the voters of Clarinda. I am extremely humbled and proud to be re-elected as the member for Clarinda. Together we have achieved a lot over the past four years, and I will talk about that in my speech. I am very excited and grateful for the opportunity to continue delivering for our community, delivering a strong and positive government agenda. Thank you to everyone that came out to participate in the democratic process – voting, campaigning, observing and otherwise. I also would like to take this short opportunity to speak about the conviction and imprisonment of the opposition leader in my country of birth just last week.

Coming out of the election there are some really exciting new commitments for our district, and I am very eager to start working on these initiatives. A $12.45 million upgrade to Clayton South Primary School will see a rebuild for the main classroom wing and a new playground. This builds on the almost $400,000 invested in Clayton South Primary School over the last four years. Clayton South principal Dean Napier is a fantastic advocate for his school and his community, and this is a very well-deserved commitment and one that will make sure that local families have access to the best school facilities, supporting kids to do the best in the classroom. I was delighted to meet with Dean together with my good friend the member for Mordialloc to make the exciting announcement, and I look forward to working together to deliver the world-class classrooms that the kids of Clarinda deserve.

Clarinda is also a very proud sporting district. Leading up to the election I was delighted to announce the Andrews Labor government will invest $1 million toward a master plan for a sporting precinct in Kingston known as Kingston Fields, delivering a new sport and recreation facility that the whole community can be proud of.

Sport is the lifeblood of so many people in Clarinda, bringing families together, neighbourhoods together and, most importantly, for our youngsters. Our local clubs work hard to fundraise for better spaces and better facilities. In fact I was on sausage sizzle duty on Sunday for the Kingston basketball club. These clubs and their members and volunteers, like Nicole Flynn at the KBC, work very hard to fundraise, and it is important that they have a government that backs them in. I am extremely proud of our record of investment in our local clubs, delivering better sportsgrounds and facilities. We have delivered better courts and grounds, new scoreboards, lighting upgrades and change facilities for clubs across the district. I am very much looking forward once again to working with the community to help deliver the vision of Kingston Fields in Clarinda.

There are also some really exciting commitments around our community spaces. Clarinda is a wonderfully diverse and multicultural electorate, with more than half of our community born overseas or with parents born overseas. This includes our Vietnamese community, a strong and proud community that has made an enormous contribution to our state. I was delighted to announce $250,000 towards delivering upgrades for the Hoa Nghiem Buddhist Temple for Victoria’s Vietnamese community in Melbourne’s south-east.

For so many Victorians from multicultural and multifaith backgrounds community groups offer important connections to culture and heritage. These groups deserve the best possible community spaces to celebrate and share their culture and traditions. That is why we are delivering these upgrades as part of a $50 million investment to build, upgrade and renovate new community infrastructure for multicultural and multifaith communities. This is a fantastic investment, backing Victoria’s multicultural communities not just with words but with action.

We are also investing in the South Eastern Melbourne Vietnamese Associations Council, SEMVAC, so they can keep supporting community members across the south-east in many of the issues that we are facing. For years SEMVAC has supported thousands of members of the Vietnamese community across the south-eastern suburbs, providing assistance with housing, employment, health and much more, including mental health. They are a vital resource for our community, and by continuing to invest in what matters we will secure the future of this important community group.

Another very important community group is the Hellenic Community of the City of Moorabbin Ltd, and we have committed $100,000 to help renovate the existing facility there. This is another great outcome for the community. And I had the honour with our colleague from the other place to make that announcement during the election campaign.

It does not matter where you come from, what you look like, what you believe or what language you speak, in Victoria we are proud of our cultural diversity. We welcome diversity and we also celebrate it. So I am extremely proud of our investments celebrating that diversity; $400,000 for the Springvale Lunar New Year festival to celebrate the food, music, dance, art and culture of Victoria’s Indochinese community is another example. For the past 20 years, the Springvale Lunar New Year festival has delighted and entertained, with thousands of people coming together to enjoy the entertainment and attractions, and we will continue to support this wonderful celebration of culture and tradition.

There is so much more. There is more support for the Keysborough Learning Centre, another fantastic local organisation that provides a wide variety of community programs, including emergency food relief, a men’s shed, community outreach and social inclusion programs to improve the lives of those in need and their families. It is another well-deserved commitment and one that I am really happy to support. Finally, there is further investment into the Alex Wilkie and Alex Nelson reserves: an investment of up to $220,000 towards the upgrade of the wetlands feature to deliver a better public space that Springvale South in Clarinda and the whole community can be proud of and enjoy.

My community will also reap huge benefits from the strong and positive agenda of the Andrews Labor government statewide, with positive investments in education, jobs, roads, public transport and health. In fact on health alone there are massive upgrades planned for both our hospitals in the south-east. Our south-eastern suburbs are booming, so the local hospitals need to grow as well. We are delivering upgrades at Dandenong Hospital and Monash Medical Centre, making sure locals get quality care closer to home. An investment of up to $295 million will upgrade Dandenong Hospital, including an expanded emergency department expected to treat an extra 12,000 patients every year, a new intensive care unit and a new outpatient clinic. This brings our investment up to $982 million, delivering better care closer to home for locals in Clarinda. We will also deliver a bigger and better Monash Medical Centre to provide world-class care for families, with a massive upgrade valued at up to $560 million to build new operating theatres, create a new intensive care unit and deliver extra beds. To make sure we have not only the infrastructure but also the staff Victorians need we are training and recruiting an extra 24,000 healthcare workers into our workforce. We have also invested more than $8 billion in our ambulance service and hired almost 2200 paramedics.

Education – from kinder to a great local school and all the way to TAFE and uni – changes lives. That is why we are making kinder free, so our kids get the very best start in life. That is why we have created free TAFE, to ensure Victorians can get the skills they need for the jobs they want. That is why we are building and upgrading schools, so you can count on having a great local school. That is why we are upgrading specialist schools all across Victoria and transforming support for their students, parents and, most importantly, carers. These are the strong and positive investments that our state needs, and they are what we will deliver.

As I mentioned, the Clarinda electorate is extremely diverse – we come from countries all over the world. I would like to take this opportunity to thank and congratulate the many candidates in Clarinda who put their hand up to run at the last election. Although we may have different ways of doing things, finally the local community made up their mind. However, unfortunately, for many of us pluralist democracy, basic fundamental freedoms and basic human rights are not guaranteed in our countries of origin.

In my country of origin, Cambodia, just this week the Cambodian opposition leader His Excellency Kem Sokha was found guilty of treason and sentenced to 27 years imprisonment. The court indefinitely suspended his political right to vote and to stand for election. As context, Kem Sokha is a former president of the dissolved main opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party, known as CNRP. Since his arrest in 2017 Kem Sokha has been subject to arbitrary detention, mistreatment in custody and a ban on participating in any political activity. His party, which was the main opposition party, was dissolved and 55 elected members of Parliament and more than 5000 elected councillors were banned. All of this has taken place in the lead-up to Cambodia’s national election in July. Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, came out last week and stated:

It was obvious from the start that the charges against Kem Sokha were nothing but a politically motivated ploy by Prime Minister Hun Sen to sideline Cambodia’s major opposition leader and eliminate the country’s democratic system … Sending Kem Sokha to prison isn’t just about destroying his political party, but about squashing any hope that there can be a genuine general election in July.

I echo this sentiment and condemn the arrest of Kem Sokha in the strongest possible terms, and I call upon the Australian government and our international community to do more in this space.

In my remaining time, as we know, elections require the whole village, from campaigning and doorknocking to letterboxing to handing out on election day and also celebrating on the night. I would like to take this opportunity to thank my campaign team Peter, Joel and Declan; Sony, Tree Keo, Sethy You, Kong Meng, Sokhen Sam, Bunlay, Kosal, Chanda, Salazar and Sophie Tan; Nara Lam, Maline Chea, Dara Teng and the many volunteers; Nara Mao; many of my community from the Vietnamese, Chinese, Cambodian, Filipino, Burmese and Myanmar communities; friends of India, Pakistan and communities, like Dr Sibas Chundri and Siddharth Matric; and Nancy, Natan, Orson, Angus, Ajdin, Ivan, Matt, Justin, Cameron, Sawwin, Kyaw and many of the local councillors that assisted in my campaign. I am sure there are so many more that I have missed, and I thank every one of you for your time and hard work to see the Labor government and also me getting elected. To my colleagues here in this place as well as the Clarinda local branch, thank you very much.

Lastly, thanks again to my family – my wife Manette and my three children Lawson, Mason and Sofia – for supporting me to be elected a second time. Once again, thank you to everyone that came out to participate in the democratic process – voting, campaigning, observing and otherwise. We are so lucky to live in a healthy, thriving democracy such as Australia and here in Victoria. I will continue to work hard to serve our community and deliver the support and services that we need for the electorate of Clarinda. I am very humbled, and thank you.

Members applauded.

Josh BULL (Sunbury) (15:07): I am delighted to have the opportunity this afternoon to contribute and respond to the Governor’s speech by way of the address-in-reply. I do so, as the fantastic previous member did, with a profound sense of gratitude and a profound understanding of the precious opportunity that is afforded to me as the local member and to members of this side of the house to be elected for a third term as part of the Andrews Labor government. I have a profound sense and understanding of the commitment of people of this great state for their support for three elections now to elect members on this side of the house to do what matters, to get things done and to work hard each and every day to make sure that we are a government that continues to invest in health, that continues to invest in education, in transport, in the environment and in all of the things that we know contribute to making this state a terrific state. There is no greater honour than to be on this side of the house in government. We will continue to work hard, as I said, to make sure that we do not let the people of this great state down.

I want to start by thanking the people within my local community, within the electorate of Sunbury, for backing me in for a third term and choosing hope over hate and optimism over fear, for choosing a real plan, a positive plan and a government of action. Whether people within my community voted for me or whether they did not, I will continue to be a member that represents our entire community, all of the electorate, and will continue to be a strong, positive, proactive voice within this chamber and in all of those responsibilities that we fulfil as local members.

We come to this place as individuals, and we have great honour in doing so, but we know of course that behind each and every member is an army of people who help us to be here and deliver for our local community. So first and foremost can I acknowledge and thank my outstanding wife Jas for her unwavering love, advice, support and commitment. These roles are not easy – they come with a large workload – and for all of her care and support and love I say thank you. I also want to thank and acknowledge our beautiful daughter Cleo, who is nearly four – going on 14, I should say. She is a wonderful little girl: kind, caring, fun, funny – certainly not like me – and happy. She is a wonderful, wonderful daughter. I do want to acknowledge both Cleo and Jas.

I am incredibly fortunate, as I am sure many members within this chamber are, to have a vast array of family and friends that have always been a huge part of the local Labor team within my community. I want to extend of course a thankyou to all of the members of my family, but in particular I want to acknowledge Mum and Dad and thank them for all the support and love and commitment that they have provided to me. Mum, thank you for your efforts, particularly on pre-poll. Dad, thank you for driving at least 5 million kilometres around the electorate towing the magical trailer sign and generally being acknowledged as the signage extraordinaire. To my sister Kirst, brother Dave, extended family, aunts, uncles and cousins, thank you for all of your support; it means so much.

We know, Acting Speaker Hamer – and I am sure you know it within your local community – campaigns are run by volunteers, and it is always a team effort. So can I acknowledge the countless volunteers, of which there are many. I will attempt to name them, but I am sure, as with previous members, there will be some that will not be acknowledged, so I do apologise. But I want to particularly thank Brad, Shalini, Dom, Tiny, Brad Y, Chantelle, Bob, Jean, Lyn, Ann, Cheryl, Kylie, Cameron, Glen, Ryan, Barbara, Rhonda, Peter, Cheryl, Lindsay, Dawn, Shammy, Beth, Sammy, Bec, Juan, Carlos, Paul, Jarrod, Will, Michael, Greg, Peter, Cameron, Gill, Darren, Steve, Ross, Doug, Peter, Craig, Ryan, Jeff, Cole, Rhys, Brick, Dallas, Tim, Dylan, Brian, Connie, Clint, Lauren, Phil, Liam, Maureen, Joan and many, many more. I am honoured to have such a passionate, supportive group of volunteers around me, and I do say thank you. This was a stunning victory, and I want to put on record my thanks for the hard work throughout the campaign. It was a tough fight, but every single one of you rose to the challenge. I also want to acknowledge the terrific field organiser Liam, a star who really brought the team together and fought hard until the very end. Thank you for all the work that you have done as well.

I do also want to take the opportunity to acknowledge my terrific staff. So thank you to Jana, Adam, Almendra, Josh, Sharon, Jesse and the outstanding team at ALP head office, the Parliamentary Budget Office and ministerial staff for their incredible work over four years in getting things done through an incredibly difficult period, through COVID, but also in delivering on our key portfolio responsibilities. We also should of course acknowledge the work done by the commission and all of the people that have made the election result possible.

As I said from the outset, this government, the Andrews Labor government, got elected because we get things done and we continue to do what matters. I am delighted to serve as the Parliamentary Secretary for Level Crossing Removals and Parliamentary Secretary for Transport. Both of these portfolio areas, as you would know, Acting Speaker, were spoken about extensively in the Governor’s speech.

Our Big Build program of course is supporting thousands of jobs – more than 18,000 people working directly on our projects. We are investing more than $90 billion –165 major rail and road projects in every corner of our state. More than $9 billion in fact is being invested in road and rail projects across regional Victoria, creating more than 5800 jobs; $27 billion in Melbourne’s west and north; $20 billion in the north-east; more than $14 billion in Melbourne’s east; and $25 billion in the south-east. We are removing dangerous and congested level crossings, building the Metro Tunnel, delivering the rail line to Melbourne Airport, expanding our train network and making unmatched investment in rolling stock.

We know, when it comes to roads, about the commitment around North East Link, a significant, important project that will absolutely provide that missing link for Melbourne’s major road network – a really important project. In the west the alternative to the West Gate Bridge, the West Gate Tunnel, removing thousands of trucks from local streets, is another significant investment only made possible by this government and our commitment to getting things done.

We know we are removing level crossings, and as Parliamentary Secretary for Level Crossing Removals I am really proud to be able say we are getting on and delivering our removal of 110 level crossings by 2030. We are also building, as I mentioned, the Melbourne Airport rail, the Metro Tunnel, the North East Link, Regional Rail Revival, the Suburban Rail Loop and the West Gate Tunnel. Since 2015 we have removed 67 level crossings, built 32 new and upgraded stations, delivered 50 kilometres of bike paths and unlocked around 20 MCGs worth of open space for local communities, but we know there is much more to be done. There is a huge pipeline of work within the Big Build, and we know that it is important that we continue to work with local communities to deliver these projects and we continue to provide the jobs, the skills and the opportunity to be able to deliver these historic projects for our state.

One of the other important projects I need to mention within the Big Build space is the Suburban Rail Loop, the biggest infrastructure project in Victoria’s history. It is yet another project – as you will very much be aware, Acting Speaker Hamer – that was voted for again by the people of Victoria, making sure that the radial train line will slash travel times to and from key destinations and providing better connections to universities, to hospitals and to key employment centres; 8000 construction jobs; and the opportunity to support another 24,000 jobs across our economy. It is an incredible project, transformative in its nature and visionary in many, many ways. We know that that forms part of a huge pipeline of works. I have pages and pages of notes, but time will not allow me to get through those. I did just want to take the opportunity to thank every single worker that is involved with our Big Build and every single worker that is involved with our public transport and transport space right across the state. These are people that do incredible work, and we know that the support and the commitment to making sure that our public transport is supported each and every day is something that this government takes incredibly seriously and is very important. I am very pleased and very proud to be Parliamentary Secretary for Level Crossing Removals and Parliamentary Secretary for Transport, and I will continue to work with local members and will continue to work right across the state to ensure that we are supporting every single Victorian to get where they need to go as safely and as smoothly as possible.

It is only this government that has been able to invest in record terms within my local community, and that is why I am incredibly proud that since coming to office we have got on and removed the Sunbury level crossing, a transformative project and something that I know people within my local community have benefited from each and every day. We have also signalised the Gap Road and Horne Street intersection, and we have signalised the Melrose Drive and Mickleham Road intersection. We have upgraded over 12 local schools, some of those being Sunbury and Macedon Ranges Specialist School, Gladstone Views Primary School, Sunbury College, Sunbury Downs, Salesian College, Sunbury Primary School, Sunbury West Primary School, Sunbury Heights Primary School, Tullamarine Primary School and many, many more – a significant investment to make sure that we are providing great facilities for first-class learning.

To be able to support students within our local community is something that as the local member is very important to me, but in terms of the Education State it is something that this government takes seriously. We will continue to invest in our local schools at every opportunity. We have made record investment in the Education State, as I mentioned, but we have also made sure that we have got on and we have upgraded sporting precincts within the electorate, some of those being John McMahon Reserve, Eric Boardman Memorial Reserve, Leo Dineen Reserve, Diggers Rest Recreation Reserve, which is currently under construction, and many, many more. Ensuring that we are investing within local sport and local community precincts is also something that this government takes very seriously. It is incredibly important to work with local councils, to work with local sporting groups and to make sure we are investing in growth corridors. Like many members within this house, my community is growing, and ensuring that we are providing significant investment within the growth corridor is something that we take incredibly seriously. So we are making sure that we are providing those facilities. We know there is a significant increase, a great uptake, in female participation within sport, and this government will continue to invest through that fund and many other funds, the Growing Suburbs Fund being another. Within that space we will continue to make sure that we are providing local clubs and local people an opportunity to be their very best on the sporting field.

I did want to turn to health. One of the key projects within my local community is the upgrade of the Sunbury Day Hospital to the Sunbury community hospital. Members will be aware of that commitment, and this is an opportunity to provide great local health care to our local community. It is something that I know the community are very excited about. The project is under construction and I want to thank each and every worker that is involved with the project. It is a partnership with Western Health and it will make a huge difference to our community once it is delivered. There is also the $3 million commitment to upgrade Sunbury and Cobaw Community Health. They work very closely with Western Health and with what will be the new Sunbury community hospital. Making sure that we are investing in local health services in a growing community is of course something that we are committed to and something that residents within my local community are very excited about.

There is a whole range of other projects, and this is often one of the challenges within the time that is permitted to us – that we do not have the opportunity to speak about all of those. I did just want to briefly touch on our commitment to build a new multideck car park next to the Sunbury station. Within the Sunbury community it will be over 600 spaces. It will be an outstanding partnership with council and the Department of Transport and Planning, making sure that there is an opportunity for additional commuter parking but also shopper and trader parking, something that I know the community are very excited about. It ties in very nicely with both the level crossing removal and our upgrade to the Sunbury bus terminal, which will provide a better bus terminal locally as we get on and open, not too far away, the Melbourne Metro Tunnel, that direct connection to the Cranbourne and Pakenham lines and the Sunbury line – more trains, more often – an outstanding project. There will be five new stations, and to be able to connect and move more people around more often is something that is incredibly exciting to me as a local member and I am sure all members.

Whether it is investment in renewables, whether it is building world-class public transport, building the Education State, bringing back the SEC, creating free TAFE, creating free kinder – this is an Andrews Labor government that gets things done. This is an Andrews Labor government that does what matters. Big Build, positive reform – that is what this government is all about.

Members applauded.

Juliana ADDISON (Wendouree) (15:23): I am happy to be here and happy to be making an address-in-reply here today. Gee, it is good to be back in this house. It is good to be re-elected and representing my beautiful, wonderful community of Wendouree in the 60th Parliament. I am so grateful to the electors of Wendouree for the confidence they have shown in me and the Andrews Labor government’s agenda to make Victoria fairer, safer and better. Thank you to the Ballarat community for your strong support, and I promise to work hard every day to make Ballarat an even better place to live and work.

Over the last four years I have been supported by the most incredible and dedicated team in the office: Kallista Kaval, Matt Burns, Caroline – she has got this double-barrelled name, she has worked for me for four years and she will laugh if I get it wrong – Vanderklift-Stobart, Hayley Murphy and Issie Freeman. I have been just blessed with this incredible team in my electorate office. I am so fortunate to have worked with them. They are competent, they are clever and most importantly they are committed. My name may be on the door, but Kallista, Matt and Caroline have been the heart and soul of Team Wendouree. I am so grateful for their support and hard work and I welcome so much their advice and wise counsel. Caroline and Kallista are off to do other exciting things. But we have had a great four years, and they will be very much missed. I had to get that in in case I ran out of time at the end.

My wonderful electorate of Wendouree is located on the lands of the Wathaurong people, and I pay my respects to Wathaurong elders past, present and emerging and thank them for caring for and nurturing the land and waterways of Ballarat for tens of thousands of years. Our city’s name comes from two Wathaurong words: ‘balla’, meaning elbow or reclining on elbow, and ‘arat’, meaning meeting place. So Ballarat means a lovely place to rest on one’s elbow or recline on one’s elbow, and that is what it is. It is a beautiful place. And Wathaurong means ‘the water tribe’, and at the heart of my electorate is beautiful Lake Wendouree. Wendouree too is a Wathaurong term or comes from the Wathaurong language. It means ‘go away’ or ‘get nicked’. It was said to colonisers at Lake Wendouree when they first came to Ballarat. As we know, colonisation has had a devastating impact on our First Nations people in my community, in our state and in our nation. I wish to acknowledge the Ballarat Aboriginal community, many of whom were forcibly removed from country all over Victoria and interstate during the stolen generations decades and were brought to Ballarat, the place of a number of orphanages and children’s homes. Many of them have chosen to stay and make Ballarat their home. As a member of the Andrews Labor government I am proud of Victoria’s truth and justice process that is recognising and addressing historic and ongoing injustices, and it forms a key part of our treaty process.

My electorate of Wendouree comprises the suburbs Alfredton, where I grew up, where my mum still lives; Ballarat Central, where I currently live; Ballarat North; Black Hill; Bonshaw; Delacombe; Invermay Park; Lake Gardens; Nerrina; Newington; Redan; Soldiers Hill; Sebastopol; of course Wendouree; and Winter Valley. Following the Victorian Electoral Commission 2021 boundary redistribution Wendouree gained the suburb of Sebastopol. The Sebas community has previously been in the electorate of Ballarat West but for eight years was in Buninyong. I am so pleased to be able to represent this strong, established community that is an integral part of Ballarat. But I am also disappointed that as a result of the redistribution I no longer represent residents in Bakery Hill, Brown Hill, Ballarat East, Invermay and Mount Rowan. However, I know these constituents will be well represented by my Labor MP neighbours the member for Eureka and the member for Ripon. We are a proud and progressive community who are inclusive and accepting. We are an aspiring community who want Ballarat to be an even better place to work, live and study, a growing city that people from across the state, across the nation and across the world proudly call home.

Ballarat is the place where I am from, where I was raised and where I call home. Importantly it is the place where Mike and I choose to live and raise our daughters Johanna and Sophia. There is no place I would rather do this, and likewise I would be very disappointed if I finished this, with so much to talk about in my wonderful electorate, without acknowledging Mike, Johanna and Sophia – just the best. They are the best. They do everything at home when I am here. They support me in every way. These girls are little crusaders. Every time someone says something about the Premier they feel it is their job to defend him. I have told them that is not the case. But they are just absolutely beautiful girls with hearts full of social justice, and I look forward to them joining Young Labor Left in the very near future. I am only here because of my family. I know most people will say that as well, but particularly being a regional MP, being here 15 weeks a year is an additional burden on family, so I really do want to acknowledge them today for the incredible job they do without me and the way that they support me.

I wish to congratulate my dear friend the newly elected member for Ripon for her hard-fought campaign. I look forward to working with her closely, as well as with the re-elected member but first member for the district of Eureka, so congratulations to both of them. We are also very excited in western region to have Jacinta Ermacora in the other place, a fantastic woman from Warrnambool who will be a really, really strong voice for the western region, and of course Gayle Tierney in the other place re-elected – such a strong representative of our region, and she will now be able to continue her outstanding work as a minister in this government.

Wendouree – or Ballarat West, as it was previously known – is an important seat for Labor. It has been won by Labor at every election since 1999, first by local champion Karen Overington with a more than 5 per cent swing, a win that contributed to the end of the Kennett era and the formation of the Bracks Labor government. It is a seat that has been held by Labor ever since, with Sharon Knight holding onto the seat in 2010 despite the election loss of our government and winning again after a challenging redistribution in 2014. Because of the hard work of Labor Party members and supporters, we won Wendouree in 2018, and with a strong grassroots campaign and hard work by so many volunteers, we did it again with an increased majority in 2022.

Ballarat has enjoyed a period of unrivalled success and investment under successive Labor governments. We have welcomed unprecedented investment across our city and across our community. We have built the iconic infrastructure at our GovHub and Selkirk Stadium. We are redeveloping Ballarat Base Hospital, and we have completed the $500 million Ballarat line upgrade. On top of that, we have increased train services to and from Melbourne and upgraded Wendouree train station. We are keeping Ballarat moving, with $60 million being spent on our congested roads and on our busiest intersections; providing record funding for local schools; upgrading sporting facilities; and supporting the Ballarat International Foto Biennale, with the establishment of the National Centre for Photography. We are also building trains at Alstom, making the Ballarat railway station accessible and bringing the 2026 Commonwealth Games to Ballarat. Only a re-elected Labor government will put people first and deliver on our promises, and that is what we will do.

The people of Victoria have endorsed our bold social, economic and environmental agenda, including taking strong action on climate and investing in renewables, transformative mental health reform and record investment to address the scourge of family violence. We are moving towards treaty, legislating for gender equality, introducing free kinder, supporting multiculturalism and ensuring that every Victorian can be who they are, because equality is not negotiable. We are also doing what matters for Victorians, delivering positive change that is transforming our state, and in doing so changing opportunities, outcomes and ultimately lives.

Locally the Andrews Labor government is doing amazing things in Wendouree. Sport is such a big part of our community. It is in the city, but it is particularly in the regions. It is why we have invested in significant upgrades and improvements across the Wendouree electorate. We have delivered funding for world-class sporting facilities at the Wendouree West rec reserve, at Mars Stadium, at the Alfredton rec reserve, at Selkirk Stadium and at basketball stadiums at Delacombe Primary School and Phoenix community college, but there is more to do. That is why I was delighted to pledge that a re-elected Andrews Labor government would deliver a major upgrade of up to $8.4 million to the Marty Busch Reserve in Sebastopol. This is excellent news for Sebastopol Football Netball Club; Napoleons Sebastopol Cricket Club; Ballarat Sebastopol Cycling Club – road and track and BMX; Sebastopol fire brigade – CFA; Ballarat Ultimate Incorporated; St James Parish School; and local Sebas residents. This redevelopment is a great example of how the Andrews Labor government is investing in sports, making them more accessible, welcoming and inclusive, particularly for the growing number of women and girls playing sport.

Another election promise that I am very proud of is Labor’s funding commitment to the first Australian memorial to acknowledge all survivors of sexual abuse. A re-elected Andrews Labor government will contribute $500,000 to support the establishment of the Continuous Voices survivors memorial in Ballarat. The public art project will be built near a lake adjacent to Plane Avenue in Victoria Park, Ballarat. This place will be designed to recognise the pain and the trauma caused by all forms of sexual abuse and support healing and hope. I want to support and thank the 50 survivors and supporters who worked with the Continuous Voices community reference group and artists to contribute creative research that will inform the memorial design. Thank you to Blake, Ember, Trevor, Maureen and Sarah-Jane for joining me for the election announcement at Victoria Park.

A re-elected Andrews Labor government will provide $900,000 for the Ballarat Hindu Temple & Cultural Centre to help build and upgrade community space in Ross Creek. It was very special to join with the Deputy Premier, the member for Ripon and many, many friends from the Ballarat Indian community to hear that a re-elected Andrews Labor government will support the building of a temple and prayer room, a kitchen, a community garden and a playground. Ballarat’s growing Indian community deserve the best possible community spaces to celebrate and share their culture and their traditions. This project has been six years in the making, and I am delighted that a re-elected Andrews Labor government will make it happen.

The re-elected Andrews Labor government will also support the Ballarat Neighbourhood Centre in Sebastopol with an $80,000 grant, ensuring the hardworking and dedicated staff and volunteers can continue to provide the services that our community needs. This commitment shows our support for the Ballarat Neighbourhood Centre, which is a brilliant place that offers opportunities for education, training and community connection, along with a range of support services, in a comfortable, friendly and accessible environment.

One of the many highlights of the election campaign was to welcome the Minister for Women to Ballarat to announce that a re-elected Andrews Labor government will invest $79 million in women’s health, including $5 million to support the creation of a women’s health research institute to find new ways to identify and treat diseases such as endometriosis; $64.8 million to double the number of surgeries for endometriosis and associated conditions – that is about 10,800 extra laparoscopies over the next four years; $3 million to establish an inquiry into women’s pain management to examine the systemic issues and find solutions; and $4 million for research support services so lessons learned at our new women’s health clinics can be fed into the inquiry and used to improve patient care.

These are really, really great announcements for my community, and I am so proud of them, but we can only deliver them because of the incredible volunteers that I had by my side: first and foremost my incredible mum Trudy Dickenson, Andrew Boatman, Craig Fletcher, Pauline Burke and Donald Murtagh, Russell Burns, Roland and Loretta Kaval, Heather and Kevin Roche, Geoff Peck, Sue and John Hines, Terry Grange and Wendy Symons, Pennie and Michelle Roberts, Don Henderson, Mary Hollick, Dulcie Corbett, Leo Rennie, Dawn Glen, Bill and Heather Horrocks, Clinton Young, Peter Dwyer, Dave Brownlee, Kat Petrucco and Chris Harvey, Penny Murphy, Christy Bell, Ray Ferguson, Barry Harris, Patrick Porter, Stu Harridge and so many other people.

It is the greatest honour in my life to represent the community that I grew up in. I am so proud to be able to stand here and be a member of this government. I take the full weight of responsibility for the role, and it means that I will work really, really hard to make sure everything that we have committed to is delivered to the people of Ballarat and to the state of Victoria, because that is what this government does. We do what we say and we say what we do, and I could not be prouder to be a member of the Andrews Labor government.

Members applauded.

Steve McGHIE (Melton) (15:38): I listened intently as Her Excellency the Governor so succinctly outlined the return of the most progressive and efficient government that this state has seen in a long time, if not ever before. Another term of the Andrews Labor government is great for all Victorians. We have worked very hard to be at the crest of the global progressive wave. We have an ambitious agenda and the future of Victoria is looking very good. Certainly I am thrilled to outline exactly how much of that is happening in my electorate of Melton.

But firstly, I am sure you will allow me to express the distinct pleasure I have to be here in this place and to deliver an address-in-reply to the Governor’s speech. An incredible team helped me – it is a long list, and I will not read out all the individual names – but firstly I would like to acknowledge our local branch members of the Australian Labor Party at Bacchus Marsh and Melton for their tireless efforts during the campaign, during pre-poll with the terrible weather and on election day and for all their support between the elections. It has been fantastic. All the phone calls that were made, the doorknocking, the pre-poll and all the tasks that they did – it is a thankless job, but I appreciate all of their work. I would like to acknowledge our fantastic field team and all the volunteers that assisted with the field team, in particular Jack, who came down from Queensland, and others that travelled from interstate to support us. To all the ministerial staffers that took personal leave to help out during the campaign – I could not thank them enough, and they gave us an added boost when they joined the campaign in and around Melton. Their efforts squeezed every little vote in my direction, given that it was supposed to be a knife-edge election campaign in Melton, the way the press were writing it up. It felt very good on the ground, and I know that everyone that assisted me made it that way.

Of course, the mighty trade union movement – the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, the AMWU, the Victorian Ambulance Union, the Health and Community Services Union, the United Workers Union – were simply invaluable, and I cannot thank the mighty trade union movement enough. Victorian Trades Hall and all their supporters and volunteers – again, thank you for all of your support. I am honoured that they assisted in my campaign. Finally, the volunteers that came from the Premier’s office and took personal time out to assist, again, added another boost to the campaign at the right time, and I really appreciate that. All the ministers that came out to my electorate to assist, it was fantastic to see you out there.

Finally, my wife Janet and my family are the forgotten souls in all of this, in the jobs that we do. It is taken for granted that they just continue to do what they do back at home and in their jobs and things like that, but it is appreciated, all the support that they give. I particularly want to thank Janet for all the support that she has given me and all the nonsense that she has had to put up with from me over the years. Anyway, there are some stories there.

It is 100 years since women were able to stand for the Victorian Parliament. It was five years after the United Kingdom but almost 30 years behind South Australia. How often do we have to say that? It was mentioned earlier today in regard to International Women’s Day, and I would like to echo the comments from other members and in particular the Leader of the House. The rights won for women were only for some women and not all, and the rights of Indigenous women both to stand for election and to vote came, shamefully, much later. I want to make mention of Emily’s List, and I do hope you will continue to provide me this indulgence to acknowledge the work of Emily’s List. They are an incredible support network for progressive Labor women in Australian politics, and they provide candidate, political and financial collective action and unashamedly agitate for change on the issues that affect women.

This government, the Andrews Labor government, takes women’s health seriously, and it is not a niche issue. Women make up more than 50 per cent of the Victorian population. This returned Labor government shows that Victorians take women’s health very seriously. We are creating the women’s health research institute, modelled on the highly successful Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre. It brings together education, research and treatment and helps us to find new ways to identify and treat diseases, and it will help address the gender gap in medical research, where conditions unique to women do not get enough funding and women are not meaningfully included in clinical trials.

Three-quarters of people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in Australia are women. Women are three times more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than men and four times more likely to develop osteoporosis. Two-thirds of people affected by Alzheimer’s disease are women, and women are more likely to die of cardiovascular disease than men simply because the treatment protocols for cardiovascular disease are based on men. Acknowledging the health issues women face and providing the best care possible close to home are priorities for this government, and women in Victoria will have better access to sexual and reproductive health care through this government’s efforts in establishing women’s clinics and reproductive health hubs across Victoria, changing the way the health of women is treated. Under our government, women are not ignored. An issue such as endometriosis is no longer dismissed and is treated with the concern and importance that it commands, and an inquiry into women’s pain management and how treatment is accessed by those who need it will be held.

I am a major supporter of WomenCan and Team Teal, who campaign for funds and awareness for women with ovarian and other gynaecological cancers to assist the pioneering of gynaecological cancer research and prevention and education programs through the Australia New Zealand Gynaecological Oncology Group. They are a fantastic organisation that raises money for that research and prevention of these types of cancers. There are five gynaecological cancers that affect women, and the success rate is only at 49 per cent up to five years, unfortunately. It is something that we need to concentrate on and put a lot more effort into, these terrible cancers that affect women.

We are making fertility services more accessible across this state, and that is really important for those that are choosing to have a child and use those services. This government is also partnering with Victoria University, which is a great institution out in the western suburbs, and they have got a great innovation for the next generation of paramedics. It is my understanding that Victoria University will set up a centre of excellence for paramedicine with the capacity to train up to 1500 students per annum, which is more than the intake that we took in last year; I think it was about 700 paramedics that came into Ambulance Victoria last year. But we have already boosted the number of paramedics in this state by 2200 paramedics since coming to government. That is nearly a 30 per cent increase. I think now the ambulance service has got just over 6000 paramedics, so to increase the number by 2200 just in a short term is quite significant.

What we are also going to do is create a new role called a paramedic practitioner. This role – we will call it a world first but it is probably a first in Australia – and these paramedic practitioners will have advanced training and be able to make the clinical decisions and take pressure directly off the hospitals. They will be able to respond to people within their homes and be able to provide treatments that they cannot currently provide, which will mean that those patients will not need to be transported to hospitals. They could be treated at home by these practitioners. It is also possible that these paramedic practitioners will be able to prescribe some medicines, to suture wounds if need be, and there will be a range or a scope of practice that will be broader than what paramedics do right now. But again it is to ease the burden on the hospitals at the moment where some of these patients would go into hospital when there is probably not a need for them to go to hospital, but it is the only location where they can be treated; we will get these paramedic practitioners to them. These new positions will be on road by 2026 in both regional and rural areas and probably will also be delivered within metropolitan Melbourne in the longer term.

We are clearly delivering more paramedics, MICA paramedics in particular, who treat patients at the higher end of patient care, and of course we are spreading those additional paramedics out across the state. They can perform advanced airway management, manage more complex head injuries, administer intraosseous drug injection – that is into the bone, if people do not know what intraosseous is – and certainly treat paediatric patients with a greater range of treatments.

We are doing a review of the non-emergency patient transport. That was a part of the industry and ambulance service that was privatised by the Kennett government 30 years ago. There is a second ambulance station that has just been completed and will be opening this week, I believe in Melton West. It will be a fantastic asset for Melton and the surrounding community. That is the second ambulance station that we will have in Melton. I know there is a third one to come down in Melton South, but it will be fantastic for the local community to have additional ambulance resources out of the Melton West site.

The Andrews Labor government is continuing to deliver for Melton. The brand new Melton hospital will support our diverse communities of Caroline Springs, Rockbank, Melton, Bacchus Marsh and the surrounding district. It will ensure the people of Melton West get the care they need closer to home, which is important, but if people are hospitalised it means that their relatives are closer to them. It will be a fantastic asset with a 24-hour emergency department. It will have at least 274 beds. It will have an intensive care unit, a maternity unit, neonatal services, mental health beds, radiology and 100 medical and surgical beds. This will be a very important piece of health infrastructure, not only for Melton but for that western corridor.

It will have the capacity to treat up to 130,000 patients each year, and it will see 60,000 patients in its emergency department. It will be the first hospital in Victoria that will be all electric. It is a big thing, this hospital. We are committing up to $900 million to deliver this hospital in the Cobblebank area of Melton, and it will transform our blooming outer west, giving not only the Melton people but the people of the western corridor better healthcare facilities closer to home.

It complements the other health services that we have got: the new Footscray Hospital, which opens in 2025, the upgrading of the Sunshine Hospital, building the Joan Kirner hospital and upgrading the Werribee Mercy and Ballarat hospitals, and Bacchus Marsh hospital has had some renovations also. It just complements that whole western corridor of health services. People can complain that they have to drive 40 minutes or 45 minutes to a hospital, but we are going to have a fantastic network along that corridor.

One of the other things in the Melton is the removal of four level crossings – three in Melton and one in Truganina. I know my colleague from Kororoit will be very happy about the Hopkins Road removal. We are removing the Exford Road level crossing, the Coburns Road level crossing and the Ferris Road level crossing. The removal of level crossings is not just about the train services, it is also about road traffic management and safety. As an old paramedic I did do some incidents at level crossings where pedestrians were hit by trains, and unfortunately they are not a nice outcome – the train always wins. But we have seen with these level crossing removals many, many lives have been saved.

There is better traffic management. Two of these level crossing removals in Melton are near schools, and at peak times there is no movement because the boom gates are down for up to 28 minutes in peak periods. You have got to try and get kids to school. It is like a car park both at Ferris Road and at Exford Road. This will change the movement of traffic, the movement of people, so they can get to work, to school and to recreation within Melton, and that is a fantastic asset that we will have. With that we will have a new Melton railway station, which is well overdue. It is one that probably should have been done a few years ago, but it is now going to be done and the Melton people will notice a hell of a difference.

There is a lot more that I could say in regard to what this Andrews Labor government is doing for Melton and for the state of Victoria. I am proud to be a part of this government, and I look forward to these assets being built.

Members applauded.

Steve DIMOPOULOS (Oakleigh – Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events, Minister for Creative Industries) (15:53): It is always a great pleasure to speak on the address-in-reply and acknowledge the Governor’s speech. She is an outstanding Governor who I had the pleasure of seeing yesterday at the launch of the first runway of the Melbourne Fashion Festival.

It is a privilege to be returned to government. We have an ambitious agenda, as colleagues have outlined and as the Governor outlined at the opening of Parliament. We are going to make a bunch of improvements to the lives of people. We are going to change how the city moves, delivering the Suburban Rail Loop from Cheltenham to Box Hill. By the end of this term Melbourne will be arguably the largest city in the nation. Some say we already are; it depends how you count the border. This orbital rail loop will make that growth sustainable.

We are going to deliver the State Electricity Commission, the SEC, for reliable, clean and affordable energy, and that is welcome news to many, many families and businesses who are finding it unbearable to deal with energy prices. We did a lot of other work before the SEC, but this will be one of the most important reforms in the energy market in Victoria.

We are going to deliver free kinder so more kids can learn and play. This is something that 10 years ago people would not have thought of perhaps as important, but research has shown that it is fundamentally important to the success of people’s lives when they are older, the fact that they have done two years of preschool. We will also continue to provide 70 free TAFE courses and open up eligibility so Victorians can get the skills they need for the jobs that they want.

There is plenty to be excited about in my portfolios too, with a packed events calendar. Already we have seen a brilliant Boxing Day test and record crowds at the Australian Open. Coming up is what is called Mad March, which we are in now. We have the Melbourne Fashion Festival that I referred to at the beginning of this contribution, the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, the Golden Plains and Port Fairy festivals, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival – one of the three top comedy festivals in the world, and I would argue the best – and the Formula One Grand Prix. That is just to name a few. In fact if you look at the last weekend, between Ed Sheeran’s two concerts, Super Rugby at AAMI Park and the Avalon air show, we had half a million people attend those events. Of course moving into winter, we will see the RISING Festival take shape around the CBD; the FIFA Women’s World Cup, which will be incredible, the biggest female professional sporting event on the planet; and the Winter Masterpieces series at the National Gallery of Victoria, Pierre Bonnard: Designed by India Mahdavi. I had a glimpse of that the other day at the NGV – it will be fantastic. And it is only available here in Melbourne – not in Paris, not in New York, not in Mumbai, just in Melbourne.

There is one live music venue for every 8915 residents, according to a survey done immediately prior to the pandemic, in Melbourne. So on those numbers we are ahead of Berlin, New York and London on live music venues. In fact, if I am name-dropping a little bit, when I was hanging with Zac Efron and John Cena the other day on the set of Ricky Stanicky

A member: Taking some photos.

Steve DIMOPOULOS: Yeah, I did take some photos. The journos were talking to them about what their experience of Melbourne and Victoria is, and of course they defaulted to wine and food and coffee – right, that makes sense. We enjoyed that for a little while and then I said: did you know – exactly the stat I just said – we have more live music venues than most global cities that you would think would have more like New York and Berlin? They could not believe it. I gave them some tips about where to go from the iconic Corner and the Tote and others –

A member: Tips from the minister.

Steve DIMOPOULOS: Tips from the minister – and some of the big venues too, as in Ed Sheeran and the others. If you think about that, that is such extraordinary capital to have here. We already have enough talent to put on shows every night of the week. The concept of getting these international stars to come and play here is only one part of the equation, a compelling part of the equation, but only one part of the equation. Every night in Melbourne there are events to go to – normal gigs every night of the week from Monday to Sunday when Victorians and Australians get a chance – and we are going to bolster that chance for them because we have announced as an election commitment 10,000 gigs over the term to back local artists and venues where we will provide up to $1000 for them to perform. That is important for them because the music industry, parts of it, are still having to get a bit more confidence, I suppose, to put on a gig, particularly at that level, to come back out and put on a gig for a live audience. We are backing them with 10,000 gigs. That part of the ecosystem to me is just as important as Elton John and Billy Joel and Ed Sheeran being in Melbourne as they have been in the last few weeks.

There is so much to say about what we will do in a whole range of areas, and I might just touch briefly on a few. Mental health hubs – as someone who held the position of Parliamentary Secretary for Mental Health, that is something fundamentally important to all of us – we are rolling out those hubs. We are rolling out 12,000 affordable homes right through Victoria, from regional Victoria to Melbourne, through the Big Build with the leadership of the Premier and the former member for Richmond. Women’s health clinics right across the state – we will deliver more in this Parliament than many other parliaments, although we have got a big, big record in the last two parliaments. I am proud to be part of that government, that team, that agenda.

But I would like to thank a couple of people who have given me the opportunity to be here. Obviously my community, the incredible electorate of Oakleigh, the electorate I grew up in, went to school in, had a business in, worked in and now have the absolute pleasure of representing: I want to thank them for their trust in me a third time.

I want to thank my electorate office and campaign teams. They were incredible. Firstly, I would like to thank Tess, who did so well to manage so much during the campaign and helped us share our vision for delivering more for the people of Oakleigh. I would like to acknowledge and thank Mark Giles, the president of the Oakleigh ALP branch who helped build one of the best campaign teams that any candidate could want. There were a lot of other people involved who I have been close to for 20 years and have been extraordinarily important to me, and they know who they are.

I want to thank Kieran Boland for managing our communications and for decades of friendship and probably some of the most strategic guidance anyone could provide to me and Caroline Lucas for holding down the fort and helping to organise campaign events. Caroline has been with me since day one and with the Oakleigh electorate even longer. Her work outside of hours was just as dedicated as her work in office hours. I want to thank Aidan Wright, who was with me up until earlier last year, for his extraordinary support over the term. I want to thank Steve Staikos for his friendship and guidance and his excellent work with more than 300 volunteers across the polling booths, and of course we had a lot more polling booths to cover this time around. A sincere thankyou to Julie, Tenzin and Annie for all their work in looking after the constituents in the electorate of Oakleigh. We had over 300 volunteers doing so much, as many colleagues would know, standing at polling booths, making phone calls and working at street stalls. We were at the pre-poll, and I reckon our people outnumbered the opposition generally by two or three to one.

Martha Haylett: That sounds about right.

Steve DIMOPOULOS: The member for Ripon says that is about right. It is compelling candidates, member for Ripon, isn’t it? It is compelling candidates bringing out that support. But they believed in the potential of what we are building here: the potential of a better society, a society where the government is not just a bystander and where the government absolutely gets in and actually reforms.

There are a bunch of local electoral commitments that I was really proud to share with my community, including a $250,000 lighting upgrade at Lord Reserve and Koornang Park, both in the same precinct in Carnegie, and our $50,000 of support to Embrace Education, who do amazing work with asylum seekers and migrant communities in tutoring programs. I met with the young student leaders at Monash University who run that extraordinary program. Hughesdale kinder has been one of my pet projects for years, and I was really pleased to get $1 million for the refurbishment of that incredible kindergarten, one of the only parent-run kinders left in my area. We are also supporting the work of Radio Lollipop with $150,000 to provide comfort, play and entertainment for children in local schools. The St Kilda Mums Building Blocks partnership will see $13.3 million invested with Monash City Council to deliver six new, expanded and upgraded facilities for kinder. There is $200,000 invested in the Oakleigh Village traders, $100,000 for Carnegie traders and $100,000 for Clayton traders. I cannot wait to get started on the work with them.

With the privilege I have in being in this government as a member but also as a minister and the portfolio that I have been given, I want to thank obviously the Premier for his trust. I also want to thank my ministerial office team, led by Andrea David, for their extraordinary work. I want to thank my predecessors, Martin Pakula, Danny Pearson and Martin Foley. They have really made this job easier for me by their incredible work. We have so many excellent things in this space – so many excellent things. I cannot cover them all off now, but in terms of investment right through the major events calendar, if you look at our investment in terms of female participation in professional sport from AFL to netball to basketball and to a range of other sports such as football, the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the home of the Matildas at La Trobe University – $100 million there – there is an extraordinary investment by our government in supporting that agenda.

If you look at the success of the major events calendar – separate from professional sport, although they are obviously linked – it is an extraordinary story. Since 2014 we have seen tremendous growth in the major events sector. It has increased by 350 per cent since 2019 and even more since 2014. Now it generates $2.5 billion of economic activity and hundreds of thousands of jobs right across the spectrum. You could be pulling a beer at the Australian Open or you could be managing the Melbourne International Comedy Festival’s social media platform. There is so much work and depth in the talent pool of the Victorian major events staff and sector. The latest tourism data has shown, and this is iconic, that Melbourne is the most popular city in Australia for overnight interstate travellers – not the Gold Coast, not Sydney, not anywhere else, Melbourne.

Over summer Victoria hosted 10 out of 10 of the nation’s largest events. All 10 were here over summer, and that does not include a whole bunch of the big events that we have come to know – the Twenty20 clash, Ed Sheeran at the G, the Avalon air show as I mentioned before, and all those others. One of the most outstanding successes for me was the Australian Open. No Nick, no Naomi, no problem – we still had over 900,000 people attend. We left the next best tournament – New York, Flushing Meadows – behind. We are a country mile ahead of them. There are four grand slam tournaments on the planet and the best one, both in attendance and revenue, is here, with New York next. Why would you go to New York and Flushing Meadows when you could come to Melbourne? And that is what the world has done. I want to thank the trusts that run these great facilities – the Melbourne and Olympic Parks Trust, the MCG Trust, the Kardinia Park Stadium Trust and the State Sport Centres Trust. They do extraordinary work on behalf of the Victorian people and on behalf of this portfolio.

There is a lot more I could say, but I want to finish on the note that it is an endearing quality of the Victorian community that they choose optimism over pessimism, that they choose love over fear. I have not been negative once in this contribution so far, but frankly, if you are forced to call a spade a spade, the opposition – most of them, not all of them – have not learned any lessons from 2014 or 2018. This election, just like the other two, they fought based on fear. The content of the fearmongering changed. This time it was not African gangs, it was not crime; this time it was debt, that somehow we were being puppets of China. It was identity politics. They talk about us being into identity politics; I have never met a political outfit more into identity politics in the reverse.

Women have too many rights: I had people coming up to the polling booth, Liberal hander-outers, saying that – check this out, look at this ridiculous logic – we support full-term abortion. Then they went further. Some would say we support abortion after the baby is born. One of my colleagues said, ‘That’s actually murder. There’s already a law against that.’ It was just ridiculous things like that. Even the stuff we got on the netball deal that we did – on identity politics, the outfit on the other side have not learned their lessons. But the best part about that is on a third occasion in eight and a bit years the Victorian community said, ‘No, I don’t think so. I don’t think so.’ For all that was thrown at us in this government by News Corporation and effectively Channel 9 and the Age – not the entire outfit; I am not talking about every journalist, but the outfits generally – and the opposition, the Victorian people said, ‘No thanks. We support this government. We support the work they do.’

Members applauded.

Bronwyn HALFPENNY (Thomastown) (16:08): I rise to give my address-in-reply following the 2022 Victorian state election. I have contested a number of elections now, and I have to say that this was the hardest. The global pandemic has not been kind to any of us. Whilst we might all want to forget and move on, we have all been changed by it, some more than others. Some have been made worse off than others. The 2022 state election came off the back of the global pandemic and a world of uncertainty and change, and I believe that it is the policies, the actions and the commitments of the Andrews Labor government that best place us to tackle those challenges and the uncertainty ahead and to provide for a brighter future.

I would like to thank the voters of the Thomastown electorate for casting their ballots and being part of the democratic process. I also thank those who supported me as the Labor candidate, now member, and for electing our third-term Andrews Labor government, a government that will govern for all. Since we were elected to government eight years and three months, roughly, ago, I want to talk a little bit about the transformation that has happened within the Thomastown electorate and then talk further on about what I see as the government’s policies that really will help us with having a brighter future.

The transformation in Thomastown since we have been in government over the last four years is sort of broken into two. There are the established areas of the electorate that have seen the redevelopment and rebuild of most state schools, with some still under construction and a few yet to be done. We are building new kindergartens and upgrading existing ones. There are major road upgrades, such as the Childs Road road and bridge duplication, removal of the Dalton Road roundabout, the M80 upgrades and new ramps at Edgars Road. There are now bike paths and walking tracks. The removal of the Keon Park level crossing is underway now, supporting the beautification of the area through the Growing Suburbs Fund. There are improvements to playgrounds and parks, including the redevelopment of the Whittlesea gardens and our election commitment for a new dog park there.

We are supporting local sports clubs by contributing to pavilion builds and, most importantly, listening to what clubs want – and that is in many cases providing competition standard night lights for games as well as scoreboards. We are also adding gyms and basketball and netball facilities to schools so that they can be opened up to the local community for their use as well.

In the outer suburbs of Thomastown I think I am most proud of the partnership that brought the O’Herns Road duplication and freeway interchange some years ago. It was a great example of a community-led campaign joined by local MPs and our government working together, a project that was decided by residents and delivered by Labor.

The suburbs of Epping and Wollert have seen brand new, state-of-the-art schools with performing arts centres, ceramic rooms with kilns and music and music production studios. There are new kindergartens in the new suburbs and community centres where people can gather and celebrate and meet, although we are still working on the council to open a fully operational library.

We have created parklands and nature reserves in the electorate of Thomastown. There are more bike and walking trails in those new suburbs, not to mention our election commitment to new parklands and tightening planning laws to protect Edgars Creek and Merri Creek to protect wildlife and waterways for future generations to enjoy and of course to protect our biodiversity. We have got new bus services in those new areas, and the Epping Road duplication is now underway. Again, there is more to be done to meet the needs of these fast-growing estates and growing populations but certainly we have made the start.

Earlier I mentioned that I also wanted to talk about our future – and when I say ‘future’ I am talking about all Victorians and I guess in particular those living in Thomastown – because I believe that the Andrews Labor government, with the policies and commitments that it took to the 2022 election, were best placed to be able to provide for the best future. I know, for example, that the pandemic was a huge strain on our health system, and there are labour shortages across all occupations. There are supply chain disruptions. But, for example, the Andrews Labor government election commitment for the $1 billion hospital plan for the north provides for huge upgrades in the emergency department at the Austin, which many people from the Thomastown electorate attend, as well as a huge transformation of the Northern Hospital, where the emergency department will be increased by some 40 per cent. A new tower will be built to be able to treat another 100 patients, and this is on top of the recent opening of the mental health tower of some 30 beds at the Northern Hospital site. And even before that, within the last eight years Labor also funded and built the first tower at the hospital. So it is actually starting to look like a first-tier, important hospital.

I have to give a big shout-out to the CEO there, Siva, and all the staff, because they really work so hard. I still remember going when Jill Hennessy was the minister to announce the funds for that first tower, the first investment really in the Northern Hospital since it had been built, many, many years ago. When it was announced there were staff there that actually were reduced to tears – they were so thankful, but also it had been such a hard slog for them and they really had not been given the credit that they deserved or given the respect that they should have had. But now I think whilst the pandemic has been tough, there really is a sense of optimism at that place, at Northern Health, because we are investing. We are showing the confidence that the government has, and the population has, in that hospital and the staff there, and people are responding to that. Just look at, for example, the innovation that the Northern Hospital can be credited for like the virtual emergency department, where they are now able to talk to people and have consultations not over the phone but, for patients that may have been attended by a paramedic, by an ambulance, on a conference video with a specialist, with a doctor that is able to then triage that patient. They may avoid then having to go to the emergency department, where earlier in the piece they might have been then subjected to the virus themselves. They do not really have to leave their home, or they can go to another place where they are not waiting for many hours because it is something that might need emergency care but it does not need urgent care.

That takes me again to another innovation from the Andrews Labor government, and that is the priority primary care centres. I think the first one was opened by the now Minister for Health Mary-Anne Thomas just recently. In order to reduce the load of the emergency department at the Northern Hospital, patients are being diverted to this. Really it is a doctors surgery, a GP practice, that has partnered with the state government to provide care such as wound dressing, the treating of broken bones – again, those things that are emergencies but not life threatening – therefore reducing the amount of waiting time at the hospital. I think these things may be contributing. Recently in the paper they were reporting on the KPIs or the performance of various hospitals. There were two, Northern and Bendigo Hospital, that were actually the only ones that were meeting their performance criteria for the amount of time that it took a person in the emergency department to be treated. Again, these are innovations and initiatives that I would not have thought would ever be seen under a Liberal state government if that is the way that it had gone.

Now, I do want to talk a little bit more about the supply chain and shortages across occupations and, again, about Labor being the government that is addressing these things and is best placed to address them. Before I do that – because I often get to the point where I am running out of time – I want to be able to thank some people so I do not miss them before coming back to some of the work that is also affecting those people living in the Thomastown electorate. I have a lot of people to thank, and I would like to thank first and foremost Monique, who worked so hard and was so organised as the campaign manager. She never let us down. Her work was all the more amazing for the fact that she had never been involved in an election campaign before, let alone managed one, so I do not know how she did it, and came out the other end sane and organised as well.

To those in my office: the indomitable Yammi, who kept the office running and managed every crisis and organised every fundraiser; Holly, who was also holding the fort and helped out in the nights and early mornings; and Lara, who helped everywhere and anywhere working on two campaigns, and I thank her for her incredible insight and empathy for people while on the campaign trail.

Thanks to Gary, who kept telling me he cannot do another one but still did, and also to the AMWU crew: Tony, Mav, Sam, Bic, Chris, Lorraine and Tony. Every time we work together they have really got the campaign and booth organisation down pat. Also to the Electrical Trades Union – to Danny, Troy and the ETU crew – for helping out particularly on pre-poll and election day, and to all the ALP branch members and many members of community organisations that came out: thank you so much. To Chet and Yogi and Sally, Sharman, Naveed, Rana, Khalil, Brian, Munish and Gowri: thank you so much for all your help. There were other people that did a lot of work, and I thank all of them as well.

Getting back to the issues around occupation shortages or labour shortages in all occupations and supply chain disruptions, in addition to building things like hospitals, not only is the Big Build where we are building infrastructure for now to increase productivity and for the future generations, but these Big Build projects are also being used for social contributions, so using the government’s purchasing power to do things that are compassionate and good sense in terms of looking after people within the state. Perhaps it is providing free TAFE so that young people and women in particular take up free TAFE in order to maybe change the direction of where they are working or to get into some of the shortage areas where TAFE training often leads to much better, higher paid jobs; or using our procurement and purchasing power to make sure that we provide jobs for young people; or through apprenticeships for groups of people who perhaps find it more difficult to get a job and keep a job. We have Jobs Victoria, which funds all sorts of organisations to provide really top-notch employment services to ensure that in particular young people are really getting a go and are really shown the way to get into the workforce, how to keep doing the work, and what sorts of jobs there are and what they can expect. So these are the things that you can do, which only Labor governments do, things that have proper enterprise agreements so that not only are wages decent so that people can actually have a decent living standard but they also provide an equal playing field with a lot of businesses that have all contributed to the work.

In the Thomastown electorate there are a number of metal shops – metal fabrication, structural steel, construction businesses – all of these types of businesses as we know because they are so expensive are getting lots of work, and a lot of that is generated through the state’s program to not waste money on giving people a couple of thousand dollars to do a renovation but substantial things like level crossing removals and hospital buildings that really do actually improve people’s lives not just for the here and now but forever – for us, for our children, our grandparents, our parents. These are the sorts of things that really only Labor governments do.

I acknowledge that fewer people in the Thomastown electorate voted for Labor than in the past, but I say to them: I hope that in the next four years we can win back your trust and demonstrate our commitment to you. I of course pledge to work hard, advocate hard and listen.

Members applauded.

Gabrielle WILLIAMS (Dandenong – Minister for Mental Health, Minister for Ambulance Services, Minister for Treaty and First Peoples) (16:23): It is a privilege to be back in this place representing the people of Dandenong, and it is a privilege I do not take lightly. As we will all be aware, our boundaries changed this time, so it was particularly wonderful to be able to take in some new areas in Noble Park and in Keysborough and some new communities in those areas and to learn about their challenges and needs in the time going ahead, and also of course acknowledge that they were well served by the former member for Keysborough, who is no longer in this place. To that end I should also say it was a shame to lose some of the residents out of Endeavour Hills, but I know that they are in very good hands under the member for Narre Warren North.

Before I get into making a few comments about things I am proud of that this government has achieved and looking to the future of what we will achieve, I want to – so I do not forget or run out of time – thank at the outset my campaign team and also my staff in my electorate office. You do not win elections in the campaign period. For those of us who have had the privilege of serving multiple terms, you win it through the work that you do each and every day and through the trust that you build with your communities over time by delivering for them. I came to this place in 2014 being very clear that the function of my office is one of service and that we are there for them irrespective of whether they voted for us or not and that our primary reason for being is them. You cannot do that as a local MP without an incredible team of people who represent you each and every day, sometimes in very difficult circumstances, and over the last few years for all electorate officers on all sides of politics – but arguably particularly for those serving government MPs – it has been a very, very challenging time and one that I know has tapped out the energy reserves of many of our staff. So I want to say a particularly big thankyou to Stefan, to Mojgan, to Sofia, to Ariel, to Janaki and also to Derya – and others who have been in and out of the office over the years, but they represent a very significant core of my staff who have seen me through some very challenging times.

I also want to thank though a couple of people who have been exceptional throughout my campaign, starting with of course my campaign manager, Jordan Bassilious, who is a remarkable young man. Jordan is a man who actually did work experience with me when he was 15. He had extraordinary talent. I think he was more widely read at 15 than I am at 40. He had read every political biography at 15 that had been published, which was quite disarming but also quite remarkable, and to watch the young man that he has grown into has been an absolute joy. To have him run my campaign for me was such a great privilege, but to know that I was in the safest of hands was truly heartwarming, particularly due to the fact that I had only recently had a baby, come the election. My son Ruairi was born six weeks prior to the election, which meant I for most of the formal campaign was somewhat out of action and in the lead-up to the formal campaign was very heavily pregnant and dealing with all the vagaries that come with pregnancy, and to have a young man show such great sensitivity to my reality and to manage my time and try and keep me as stress free as possible was a great sign of his maturity, so a big thankyou to Jordan Bassilious. What a bright future that young man has.

But also thank you to Angie Venuto-Cole, who has been a stalwart of the Labor Party out in the south-eastern suburbs for a very long time. Her dedication knows no bounds, and her commitment to the cause knows no bounds. Her husband Phil is equally a stalwart of the party and somebody who is always by her side. Nothing is too much to ask of those two remarkable people, and I owe them a great debt of gratitude. I thank many other volunteers who manned a long and very tense pre-poll for a couple of weeks. I know I had volunteers that stood day in, day out, for hours and hours at a time and who have done this for decades for the Labor Party. I am loath to mention specific names, because I know that there are so many of them, but I do have to give a special shout-out to Jackie Weatherhead, who did extraordinarily long hours in very trying conditions at Dandenong Stadium. But there are many others like her, so I want to say a big thankyou.

Also, and this might be somewhat unusual in this place, thankyou to my opponent in the Liberal Party, Karen, who conducted herself at all times in our local election with great integrity. Unlike other booths we had virtually no incidents at the Dandenong booths and particularly in Dandenong pre-poll. I think that starts from the top, and if you have got a candidate that is respectful of their opponent and of other volunteers then that does seem to trickle down to the way volunteers conduct themselves. So it is in no small part a credit to her that things ran very smoothly at the Dandenong pre-poll.

I want to take an opportunity too to reflect on the community that I represent. We all think our communities are the best ones. That is why we are here. We are flag wavers and advocates for our local constituencies. Dandenong is I think one of the most unique places in Australia – home to 158 different nationalities, over 200 languages, around 100 different faith groups, all in the one community. We are a living, breathing example of how multiculturalism can work, and it has been an honour over the last eight-and-a-bit years to represent this community; to learn so much about its people, our people, and so much about what brings people to this country, to this state and to my local community; and to see firsthand how they bring their experience to bear in the way they live their lives here and ultimately how they go on to serve our collective good – and they do.

Dandenong is a great example of the wonderful opportunity that exists not only for migrant communities and particularly for refugee and asylum seeker communities but for us in receiving them. We are so very fortunate to have these people with their experiences, with their knowledge, with their compassion and empathy, living among us and teaching us to be better people. I firmly hold that view and always will.

There are so many things I could talk about in terms of what we have achieved in Dandenong and what we will continue to deliver on. I always had it as a key objective, from 2014 to this very day – and will always – that delivering for our local schools is important, and I am very proud to be able to say that almost every one of our local schools has been or is being upgraded. That of course also includes our local special school, Emerson School, which forms a part of our broader commitment to upgrade every special school in this state. It is very important that we do not impose any additional barriers to anybody achieving the best possible education or to unlocking their full potential. I am very proud of what we have achieved in our local schools in Dandenong and I remain committed to ensuring that they continue to have the facilities that enable the best possible models of education that we can deliver well into the future and create the opportunity that comes with it.

I have also been very pleased over the years to be able to have expanded the service options in Dandenong, whether it be through the Orange Door or a range of other facilities and services that we have boosted and enhanced in my time in this role. There are a range of other infrastructure upgrades as well, whether it be the Monash Freeway, the removal of level crossings at Abbotts Road, South Gippy highway, Greens Road, Corrigan Road, Chandler Road and Heatherton Road, and of course Progress Street and Webster Street level crossings are on the way out too. This is more than just removing an inconvenience for commuters, as important as that is – and it is – but in my part of the world, where some of these level crossings sit in industrial precincts, it actually goes to productivity of business and their ability to recruit workers into their businesses, because believe it or not, a 45-minute commute to travel 8 kilometres is a bit of a turn-off when it comes to looking for a job. So if we can make that a little bit quicker and safer along the way then those businesses are able to tap into some incredible expertise that exists within our community. We all benefit from that, and certainly our local economy does.

I also wanted to reflect on the fact that many of our statewide policies have been extraordinarily important for the community in Dandenong, from free kinder to free TAFE, to our power saving bonus, which I know has been extraordinarily important in a time of rising prices, and of course our sick pay guarantee for casual workers as well. We will as a government always ensure that we are delivering for those people who most need our assistance in the time that they most need it.

I also want to reflect in my last few minutes – I did not bank on taking this long in just talking about Dandenong but I could, as everyone knows, talk about Dandenong for a very long time indeed; it is a place I love, a community I love – on some of my ministerial roles. I only get a chance to talk about one in the time I have got, but it is one that is very dear to my heart and it is going to be a very big year for this portfolio and the agenda that sits within it. That is my role as Minister for Treaty and First Peoples. In coming months, by the end of this year, this state will be commencing negotiations on treaty between the state of Victoria and our First People. This is a truly historic undertaking. I do not think treaty is particularly well understood, either in here or out there. It is better understood on this side of the chamber, I should say, but still not well understood enough. It is underpinned by a really simple proposition which we should never lose sight of, and that is that putting Aboriginal people in charge of their own affairs leads to better outcomes. We know it because we have seen it where we have done it. We have done it in small ways, in small programs, and every time we delight in the fact that with those we have managed to move the dial a little bit. But we have got a big dial to move, and we have got a big dial to move across a multitude of systems. It is difficult work, it is challenging work, but I think what we have learned is we cannot just bandaid over many of these issues. We have got to look at structural reform, and treaty is our pathway to do that. It is as simple as that: treaty is about driving better outcomes.

So while I know my opposite, my shadow on that side of the house, has often had a caveat to his support of treaty, which has been ‘But we must be focused on closing the gap’, I think he is misunderstanding what we are talking about. We are wholly, 110 per cent focused on driving better outcomes for Aboriginal people. We just know that treaty is the vehicle to do that and to do that in a long-term way.

In talking about treaty and the work that is to come I want to pay a special thankyou to the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria for the partners that they have been in this process so far in all that we have managed to achieve. It has been very complex and detailed work, more complex and detailed than I could explain certainly in the 2 minutes I have got left but even in the 15 minutes I had to start with. It has taken great commitment and resolve to get this far, and it will take even greater commitment and resolve to get to where we need to be. A special thankyou to Marcus Stewart and Aunty Geraldine Atkinson as co-chairs of the assembly for the commitment that they have given, the time that they have given and the energy, effort and heart that they have given to this work. A big thankyou.

I am also really keen to be able to point out that an important part of this journey is the truth-telling journey. It really does set us up for the why of treaty. They say that the truth will set you free, and I think that this is particularly true for us as a nation and as a state. It is what we need – the freedom that comes with reconciling with our past and looking to our future confident in who we are but also unburdened by the shame of untold truths that we have been holding onto for far too long. It is important for us to be able to make that commitment that we will do things differently and we will not make the same mistakes again. That is a really important part of the truth-telling journey that we are on and the way that it folds into the treaty process which sits before us.

Finally, it is wonderful to have a partner in Canberra. Of course we know it is a big year on the national front as well with a referendum later this year, which is very much based on the same proposition – that our First Peoples deserve a voice, that they deserve to be heard on the issues that directly impact them – and that is a very simple proposition to have recognition in our nation’s founding document. I hope that as a state we do not let some nefarious voices confuse the simplicity of that proposition and that we do the right thing and vote ‘yes’.

I am sorry I have run out of time to talk about my other portfolios, but suffice to say I am very proud to be the member for Dandenong and hope I can continue to deliver.

Members applauded.

Tim READ (Brunswick) (16:38): In my address-in-reply to the Governor’s speech and specifically to the motion moved by the member for Ripon, I would like to begin by commenting that the Governor, as is the convention, set out the government’s plans for the coming parliamentary term. So her speech, unsurprisingly, was a reiteration of government election promises, just as we would expect, and one of the first of these was that the government will increase renewable electricity targets to 95 per cent by 2035. I must emphasise how important this is. The state currently has a renewable energy target of 50 per cent by 2030, and so this is a substantial increase to 95 per cent, even if it is five years later. Clearly, we will need to be well above 50 per cent by 2030 to get to 95 per cent within five years.

I recall moving to amend the government’s renewable energy target for 2030 from 50 per cent to 100 per cent four years ago. The Labor and Liberal parties did ridicule the idea and they blocked it of course, but last year the new federal Labor government declared their intention to achieve 82 per cent renewable energy by 2030. If we were to achieve that here in Victoria, that would put us well on the way to our 95 per cent target by 2035. It may be slower than I would like, but I do commend the government for moving this far. But why would we even bother to do this when we have so much brown coal – centuries worth of brown coal? It is obviously because of the climate crisis that is now plainly visible in so many ways – at least it should be obvious.

The Governor’s speech talks about public ownership of energy generation, keeping power bills down and creating jobs, all of it good and necessary, but there is not a whisper about climate change – no mention of global warming or the greenhouse effect, nothing about the climate emergency and its droughts, fires, heatwaves, sea level rises and the resulting ecological collapse in our forests and oceans, none of that. Surely the government has not forgotten. Perhaps the government believes their plans to own 51 per cent of a small proportion of the wind and solar generation in the state and call it the SEC addresses the problem, but that would be the problem. It only goes some way toward addressing the drivers of climate change. The climate crisis is caused by much more than coal. Weaning Victoria off coal is urgent, but burning coal to produce electricity produces less emissions now than the combined emissions from transport, agriculture and burning gas for heating. Of these the fastest-growing sector and source of emissions is transport, principally cars, almost all of which burn petrol or diesel. So we need to really look at how to address this urgently. The government has a number of big-ticket public transport projects underway, but there are some more cost-effective and perhaps more urgent measures that could be introduced very quickly at lower cost and that might – in fact would – have a greater impact on shifting people from cars into public transport.

I will start with buses. Buses are probably the most cost-effective public transport in terms of dollars per passenger kilometre, and I would urge people to have a look at the Melbourne on Transit blog to get a better idea of some of the improvements that could be made. For example, increasing the frequency of buses to every 15 or 20 minutes – and I am thinking, as an example, of the east–west buses that run across Essendon, Brunswick, Northcote, Clifton Hill – would increase passenger usage in this poorly served east–west direction. We have quite a good radial transport system in Melbourne with trains and trams running into the CBD, but the buses that intersect with those run less frequently, tend to stop around 7 o’clock at night and often barely run on weekends and not at all on Sundays, depending on individual bus routes. Simply increasing the frequency and the hours of those bus routes would increase passenger patronage and mean more people left their cars at home, and of course the best electric vehicle is an electric bus. I know the government has finally bitten the bullet and decided to start investing in electric buses – and good on them – but we should actually just stop buying diesel buses and go all electric straightaway. There is no point in a government buying something that burns petrol or diesel now that is still going to be burning petrol or diesel in 20 years time.

Other excellent electric vehicles I would like to recommend are trams and trains. Increasing the frequency of our tram and train services has been shown also to increase patronage and would be an important measure to encourage more people to leave their cars at home. Likewise active transport –some jurisdictions, some governments, spend upwards of 5 up to 10 or more per cent of their transport budget on improving routes for active transport – that is, walking and riding bikes. We need to do the same here. There is a big gap in Melbourne in infrastructure for safe bike riding and if we fill that we know that we will get more people using their bikes for short journeys, and short journeys constitute a large proportion of car travel and petrol use in Melbourne – trips to the shops, trips to school, journeys of less than 5 kilometres – and they can easily be met by bikes or e-bikes. This sort of investment will drive people onto or away from cars and reduce petrol and diesel consumption, but still a lot of Victorians are going to be using cars for a long time to come.

In fact Australians buy about 1 million new cars per year, and I imagine with a quarter of the population Victoria is probably buying about a quarter of a million new cars per year. When someone buys a petrol-burning car this week, it is still likely to be burning petrol in 10 to 20 years time. We must urgently dissuade Victorians from buying petrol and diesel cars. The best thing they could buy if they must buy a car is an electric one, so I urge the government to review its policies and see what adjustments could be made to encourage people if they are going to buy a car to buy an electric one or an electric bike or to take the bus.

The next sector and source of emissions I want to touch on is agriculture. The most important emissions are methane from cows and sheep, and the next most important are nitrous oxide from cow manure and nitrogen-based fertilisers. The solutions to these are a lot more complex, so I do not expect this problem to be solved in the short term. Nevertheless, we need to start now, and we know some of the answers. Regenerative agriculture will reduce a lot of the problems, as will using some feed additives and educating people to eat less ruminant meat and move to other sources of food.

I want to come back now to the SEC briefly. The former State Electricity Commission owned 100 per cent of generation and it owned 100 per cent of the powerlines that distributed the electricity and 100 per cent of the shops that sent out the bills. I do not think the former State Electricity Commission had a website; it might have been before that time. The new SEC will own 51 per cent of some of the state’s wind and solar generation, and there is talk of branching into storage as well. The biggest barriers to expanding renewable energy in this state are the lack of capacity in the powerline grid to carry electricity from northern and western Victoria into Melbourne and the lack of storage to supply power to our houses in the evenings, so this is where we most need investment, and who better to drive this than the new SEC. Of those issues, I believe fixing the grid is the most urgent need.

I will just touch briefly on electricity storage. We are already generating a large amount of solar electricity in the middle of the day, so demand from the grid is falling. Every year Victorian households are taking less energy from the grid at lunchtime, and that is largely because of home solar and increasingly due to solar farms, but that is not happening at dinnertime because the sun is low or the sun has set. Hence the need for storage, which can come in the form of household batteries or community batteries. The government has some plans to subsidise the former and build the latter, as well as some large batteries that are appearing on the Victorian grid – privately owned and public.

Pumped hydro is the technology that could do the heavy lifting. It is disappointing to see that Snowy Hydro 2 has had a major setback recently, but hopefully that will come online some time towards the end of the decade. What might come to our rescue, though, is another battery that is not getting a lot of publicity, and that is car batteries. A typical large household battery is somewhere between 10 to 15 kilowatt hours, but a lot of car batteries are up towards 60 kilowatt hours. A parked car could probably power two houses overnight and still have enough power on board for a long journey the next day, so incentives to have workplaces provide charging stations for parked vehicles during the day could be a major part of meeting Victoria’s energy storage needs.

Let us talk briefly now about methane gas. So-called natural gas, fossil methane, provides energy to about 2 million Victoria homes, most of that for heating, a fair proportion for hot water and just a few per cent – 4 per cent by a recent estimate – for cooking. It is also used by industry, and we should not forget public buildings – heated swimming pools. We need to start getting Victoria off gas, so we need subsidies and loans, we need help for people to pay disconnection fees and we need a program to start disconnecting our 2 million homes from gas. It will take decades, and we need to start now.

We are running out of gas in Victoria, and so we can drill for more fossil methane or we can import more or we can use less – or any combination of those three. Importing gas obtained by fracking is like burning very expensive coal. A lot of the gas provided in Queensland and planned in the Beetaloo Basin in the Northern Territory or in the Pilliga in New South Wales is going to be obtained by fracking, and large amounts of that escapes unburned into the atmosphere. Methane in the atmosphere is over 80 times more polluting than CO2 as a greenhouse gas. That means that if 3 per cent or more of that gas escapes unburned, the gas is just as polluting, just as damaging to the climate, as coal. Why would you replace Victoria’s polluting brown coal with something much more expensive but with a similar greenhouse impact?

I implore the government to resist the urge to allow a gas import terminal in Geelong. We need to use less gas, not import more. Drilling or importing more gas, exploiting coal reserves for brown hydrogen and trying to bury the carbon dioxide – these are all misguided fossil fuel projects at best, and in the future when we look back at this era we may be less forgiving than that. And so in response to the motion moved by the member for Ripon, I move:

That the following words be added at the end of the motion: ‘but respectfully regret that the speech fails to announce a ban on new coal and gas projects’.

Continuing to exploit new fossil fuel projects while we are already counting the rising costs of climate change is madness. I think some in the government know this, and I urge them to speak up.

Members applauded.

Kat THEOPHANOUS (Northcote) (16:52): It is an honour to stand here as part of a re-elected Andrews Labor government to represent Northcote once again. In doing so I recognise that long before our Parliament existed, the lands and waters we now call the inner north were nurtured and protected by the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation, and I reaffirm the Labor government’s unwavering commitment to walking alongside Aboriginal Victorians on the road to treaty.

Today the suburbs of Northcote, Thornbury, Fairfield, Alphington, Westgarth and Preston are a vibrant mix of creativity and culture. We are proudly diverse, we are hardworking, we are adaptive and we like to push the envelope. I have spoken many times in this place about my love and affection for the inner north, the place where I was born and raised and where I am now raising my own family. To be chosen by your local community to represent them and be their voice for a second time around is something truly special, and it is a responsibility I will never, ever take for granted – and as I reflect on the last four years I know that we never did. Each and every day our small, dedicated, hardworking team at the Northcote electorate office put our hearts, minds and bodies into supporting our community through some of the toughest years Victorians have ever faced. We took on cases big and small, gave voice to our constituents and businesses, relayed critical information, supported community groups and backed our local economy, all while we worked to deliver the major projects that Northcote needs and the critical reforms that our state deserves.

I want to thank the electorate officers who have worked side by side with me at various points throughout the last four years, including Samantha Newton, John Appleton, Johanna Sarakinis, Marion Dormer, Shanae Murnane, Sammi Turner and Campbell Hughes. You are remarkable people who care deeply about our movement, about helping people who need it most and leaving our world better than we found it. Thank you for being at my side, weathering the storms and celebrating the wins.

Our community is resilient. We showed courage, compassion and innovation at a time of great crisis, but we also felt deep impacts. We lost businesses, we lost opportunities. For some, we lost loved ones dear to us. And for a huge number of health workers in my electorate, many servicing some of Melbourne’s busiest public hospitals, the pressure was acute. We are resilient, but we are not invincible, and the impacts of the pandemic still reverberate in our suburbs.

We need to tackle inequality and cost-of-living pressure in the inner north. There are still far too many renters living in poor conditions, powerless to move. There are still far too many workers without job security, too many older people living without adequate support and too many people suffering with mental health issues as we work to reform a broken system. We need to invest in local, accessible health care. We must continue to work to build modern schools and career pathways that offer opportunity and security. We must create more livable, sustainable suburbs and work on reforms that bring better balance to our busy lives.

Across health, housing, education, transport, jobs and the environment, it has been my priority to push for initiatives and reforms that deliver real prosperity into our suburbs and change people’s lives for the better. This election was a critical one in our state’s history. Victorians had a big choice to make, and they chose comprehensively to back a Labor government and a future of hope not hate. Despite all the extreme campaigning we saw from our opponents, despite some of the awful narratives that have pervaded the last four years, Victorians chose the Labor government they know will be there for them. In an interview recently the Premier said it best: he said that as a Victorian community we are kind and generous and thoughtful, and our better selves know and understand that sometimes leadership is all about doing what is right, not doing what is popular.

The truth is that while our government worked hour by hour to overcome serious challenges and complex issues with the objective of saving lives, Victorians witnessed the conservatives busy themselves spreading dangerous misinformation while the Greens thrashed around trying to find more opportunities to solicit donations. I am not going to sugar-coat my experience of the election campaign because some of the language and behaviours that I witnessed were utterly appalling. And though it gives me great comfort to know that Victorians utterly rejected this polarising, aggressive, pessimistic outlook, I believe we owe it to our democracy and the value we place on peaceful engagement with that democracy to call some of this out.

In Northcote we faced an incredibly tough contest, contesting as we did not so much with a political party as with a marketing machine. Between the ultra right and the ultra left, we were up against vicious misinformation campaigns, hyperpersonal attacks, threats and intimidation, and outright racism. We had to take the Greens-dominated Darebin council to the Supreme Court because Victoria Police discovered they were unlawfully stealing our paid advertising billboards in the dead of night. Some of my volunteers were physically assaulted. I want to put some of these things on the record not to be negative but to highlight the vicious desperation of the effort that was pitted against us. But it did not work. Despite the Liberals teaming up with the Greens, it did not work. My community chose hope not hate. They chose action not words.

I am so proud of the Northcote Labor team, who came together with energy, passion, our shared vision and our strong values. Together we worked every day over the last four years to make real progress in the inner north, and we put forward a real offering to our community for the future – one with true reform, tangible investment and genuine opportunity. People are always at the heart of our Labor movement, and I am so incredibly grateful to all of the members and volunteers who made phone calls, knocked on doors, hosted yard signs, letterboxed our streets, handed out cards on election day and spoke to thousands of locals. Special thanks also to my campaign team, including my campaign manager Joshua Pelach and field organiser Jean-Marc Kurban, and to my family, who I have put through far too much and who somehow never waver.

In Northcote the Greens primary vote dropped by almost 10 per cent – a very clear signal that our community is not buying what they are selling. Sadly it is no surprise across Darebin and Yarra that the Greens voting record and decision-making has left my community deeply wounded. Our real-life experience under these Greens councils demonstrates time and again that they will put their own interests over issues like social housing, multiculturalism, working-class people, small businesses, local sports and even the environment. As the member for Northcote I have gone head-to-head with them on these issues, and I will continue to do that because our community deserves more. We do not deserve to see services cut, our sports clubs closed or social housing projects stall or businesses fail or the most marginalised people become even more marginalised.

In Northcote Labor has a record of achievement and a tangible plan for the future. Locally we have a commitment to opening an early parenting centre in Northcote so that parents and babies can get the support they need in those tumultuous early years. We will also open a mental health and wellbeing local in Northcote, giving residents direct access to life-saving support they need close to home. Across our community our local schools are being upgraded, and I am looking forward to seeing progress on Thornbury Primary as we deliver on a $17.6 million election commitment for that fantastic and deserving school. Free kinder, TAFE and nursing courses are generating opportunities like never before, new social housing is on the way and there are plans to make our tram and train networks more accessible. Our neighbourhood houses, which deliver such critical services to people in my community from adult education to men’s sheds, playgroups, wellbeing programs and more, will receive additional funds to continue their work.

Northcote City Football Club, one of our largest clubs in the inner north, will receive $500,000 towards female-friendly change rooms and bathrooms at John Cain Memorial Park in Thornbury, something I know the Cain family are happy to see as we look to the future of this important sports precinct. Labor will also provide a $1 million investment to upgrade the sports pavilion at Deep Rock in Yarra Bend Park to provide modern, accessible spaces for the sports teams who use these grounds, including the Fitzroy Junior Football Club and the Edinburgh Cricket Club. At Merri station we are investing $1.5 million to design and deliver a new vision for Merri Common, co-designed with locals. We will work together to create a welcoming space where the whole community can come together, socialise and stay active.

Labor has also committed to introducing planning controls to prevent inappropriate development along our creeks. Our creeks are very important to us. We will back this with a $10 million fund to create wildlife corridors, protect our waterways and restore the natural environment. My heartfelt thanks to our hardworking Friends of Merri Creek, Friends of Darebin Creek, Merri Creek Management Committee and Darebin Creek Management Committee, who worked with me and Minister D’Ambrosio to get this commitment up.

Of course there are so many more projects underway in the north and across Melbourne. Our $1 billion hospital plan for the north will deliver upgrades at the Austin and Northern hospitals. At the Austin we will expand the emergency department to support an extra 30,000 emergency patients every year, ensuring the hospital can meet the needs of our growing population. This week my own family attended the Austin emergency room when my five-year-old daughter Ariana unfortunately broke her arm. The break was more complex than usual, and she needed surgery. For any parent or child this is a distressing experience, but I am so grateful for the care she received at the Austin. The hardworking nurses, clinicians and surgeons were wonderful. They made her feel safe and comfortable, explained things clearly and gave her the best possible care. Traumatic as it was, she is now back home and adjusting to her new normal as she heals with a cast on her arm.

Our investment in Victoria’s healthcare system is vital. As Parliamentary Secretary for Women’s Health I am looking forward to bringing new focus to improving women’s access to informed, timely, quality care, because despite centuries of world-changing research and medical advancement and unprecedented investment in our health system, infrastructure and workforce, there are still far too many barriers to women seeking, reaching and receiving health care, and every day the cumulative impact of this is borne out on women’s bodies. That is why Labor will open 20 women’s health clinics across the state and expand our existing sexual and reproductive health hub network to 20 sites. These new clinics will be one-stop shops for women needing treatment and advice on issues ranging from contraception to pelvic pain, polycystic ovary syndrome, endometriosis and menopause symptoms. We will also establish a women’s health research institute and a women’s pain management inquiry to help us find new ways to identify and treat diseases like endometriosis and improve patient care. The Minister for Health and I are incredibly passionate about this policy area, and I look forward to working at her side as we progress these critical reforms.

My community is proudly climate conscious, and one of the most incredible announcements our Labor government has made is the return of the State Electricity Commission. The SEC will not just be a publicly owned power company; it will be a 100 per cent renewable energy publicly owned power company. After years of failed privatisation and out-of-control energy prices, this announcement is a game changer, delivering cheaper power bills, lower emissions and putting power back in the hands of Victorians. It should leave no room for doubt: under Labor Victoria is a global leader in climate action. When we came into government in 2014 renewables counted for just 12 per cent of Victoria’s energy generation, and the Liberals’ huge exclusion zones had ground renewable energy investment to a halt.

In just eight years under Labor we increased renewables to over 30 per cent and we have completely outstripped our initial emissions reduction targets. We are now committed to going even further, to reduce emissions by 80 per cent in 2035 and bring forward net zero to 2045. Under Labor we will run our state on 95 per cent renewables in little more than a decade. I will say it again because it is truly remarkable: in 2014 under the Liberals we had 12 per cent renewables, under Labor we will reach 95 per cent by 2035. That is an extraordinary jump, and it does not happen by accident. It happens under strong and progressive Labor governments that knuckle down and do the work to transition our economy and, vitally, bring Victorians with us, because transition cannot be for some and not for others.

As the member for Northcote I will always fight for real climate action, and I look forward to the work we will do this coming decade as we dramatically ramp up renewables, build energy-efficient homes, transition industries off gas, introduce a container deposit scheme, ban more single-use plastics, restore vast areas of wilderness, set up neighbourhood batteries, invest in electric vehicles and infrastructure and protect our biodiversity, including by ending forestry for good. Whether it be in health, education, climate or social justice, Labor is unashamedly about delivering real change, real improvement and real opportunity in people’s lives. Victorians have made their voices loud and clear – rejecting the pessimism, opportunism, extremism and tokenism, and backing a Labor government to continue delivering a positive plan for the future. Northcote is part of that story, and there are many exciting things on our horizon. I am honoured to have the opportunity to work with my community again as we make our state stronger, fairer and more livable.

Members applauded.

Vicki WARD (Eltham) (17:07): Firstly, I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet today, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation, and I pay my respects to elders past, present and those emerging. I also pay my respects to the Wurundjeri for being the traditional custodians of the land on which I live and where my electorate stands, and I express my gratitude for living in such a beautiful part of our state.

I am also grateful to the people of Diamond Valley who make up the Eltham electorate. I thank them for their support for the work that we have been doing over the last eight years and the exciting projects that we have got ahead. Our community in Melbourne’s north-east is made up of deeply passionate and engaged individuals. I understand the great privilege it is to live and work in such a unique area which values community, and I absolutely understand the immense privilege of being elected to represent such a wonderful community.

I do not take re-election for granted, and I know that I will continue this hard work every day to achieve the best outcomes I can for our community, a community which is engaged and community minded, which is in a beautiful and unique location. Over the next four years I will continue to keep working with my community, as I have done for the last eight years, to ensure that the people of Eltham district are delivered the services, support and infrastructure that our community needs.

Before I get to the wonderful local investment that will be coming to our community, I want to celebrate the announcement last year that a re-elected Andrews government will bring back the SEC. The SEC will be 100 per cent renewable and 100 per cent publicly owned. It will be Victorian for Victorians. The State Electricity Commission will initially invest $1 billion towards delivering 4.5 gigawatts of new renewable energy projects by 2035, the equivalent replacement capacity of Loy Yang A. Through these renewable projects we will push wholesale prices down and lower bills.

Acting Speaker Taylor, I know that you are as excited as I am by the announcement that there will be another round of the power saving bonus, round 4 which begins on 24 March. It is hugely popular, and I see from the noise of the colleagues that are in this chamber today that our communities love it. They understand what it is. They understand what is meant by it. It is not just the fact that you get a $250 payment to help you with your bills, it is that you can actually work on changing your bills and making your bills cheaper in the future as well. With the SEC back in public hands the State Electricity Commission will not be run for shareholder profits but for all Victorians. The SEC will help deliver our nation-building renewable energy and emissions targets of 95 per cent renewable energy by 2035 and net zero by 2045. It will help increase gross state product by about $9.5 billion.

We have committed to establish an SEC centre of training excellence, backed a $424 million energy and training package to help workers upskill and to create 6000 positions for apprentices and trainees. Our clean energy programs and policies, including the SEC, will help create 59,000 jobs. And our tech schools will be a part of this skills creation – wonderful news for Banyule Nillumbik Tech School at Melbourne Polytechnic TAFE, the one the Liberals closed and wanted to flog off. I am looking forward to my role as parliamentary secretary, and I thank the Minister for Education who is here at the table for her amazing amount of work. I am so looking forward to working with her, the work that we can do together and the work I do supporting the new six tech schools the Andrews government will deliver. Of course free TAFE continues to grow, helping to remove barriers to accessing education and training.

I can tell you that parents and early childhood educators alike are enthusiastic about free kinder for all three- and four-year-olds in Victoria, and Acting Speaker Taylor, I reckon your community would be thrilled with this as well. We are helping to provide for these extra kinder kids through our great Building Blocks grants. Not only will this help our kids have the best start in life, it will also help families save an average of $2500 a year, which is important to begin to help to address the cost-of-living pressures that families are experiencing. We committed last year to investing $400,000 in Research Preschool, further improving this wonderful kinder with fantastic educators and terrific kids. We are also helping to improve the lovely Eltham Woods Childcare Co-operative with an investment of $1.5 million.

Yesterday I was at Montmorency Primary undertaking the sod turn for the wonderful new build about to be undertaken at this great school. The old, dilapidated castle has gone and will be replaced with the brand new science, technology, engineering and maths centre, as well as new outdoor learning areas and a music space for all the wonderful performances and musicians, and maybe even an appearance by Pevan & Sarah. I had the fantastic opportunity to speak with Monty Primary School captains Joel Koolstra and Celina Tong and vice captains Amelia Bradley and Gus Natoli, as well as Monty’s energised and enthusiastic and engaged SRC – Olive, Willow, Nina, Lucas, Esther, Eva, Aaron, Lacey, Luca, Sabine, Riley, Sarah, Osha, Sam, Neve and Julian – terrific kids who are fantastic leaders and representatives of their school.

We are also in the middle of building a new gym at Greenhills Primary School, giving the school a space where basketball can be played and students can enjoy a much larger space that is fit for purpose. But there is of course more to be done with our local schools, and I know that is not just my electorate that is keeping the Minister for Education busy. At Eltham High School we have committed $8.94 million to support the school to rebuild their science block. This is an excellent school, and I thank principal Vincent Sicari and his team for all of the work that they undertake to support our students and be one of the most, if not the most, inclusive school in our state.

I want to talk about our fantastic local community health service HealthAbility. Recently their Baby Makes 3 program won VicHealth’s outstanding health promotion award. This is a fantastic program which delivers important mental health and wellbeing benefits to more first-time parents across Victoria, particularly those from vulnerable, marginalised and hard-to-reach communities. I send huge congratulations to HealthAbility and their wonderful staff. It is fantastic that at last year’s election we committed $100,000 to HealthAbility, supporting them in the wonderful work that they do. Baby Makes 3 is just one example.

I do not think any of us can thank our healthcare workers enough. Like the member for Northcote, I have also recently been to Austin emergency, and the care I received there was terrific. I look forward to the Eltham area community hospital, one of 10 community hospitals we are continuing to build across Victoria, delivering for our communities. It will deliver both hospital and primary healthcare services, including unplanned urgent care, general medical and specialist appointments, day surgery and chronic disease management.

Acting Speaker Taylor, my community is about to go through seven weeks of intense round-the-clock work on the Hurstbridge line upgrade stage 2, and I think your community is experiencing a bit of their own work at the moment. We are delivering new stations for Montmorency and Greensborough, which includes a duplicated track, pedestrian crossing at Diamond Creek, additional morning peak services, new train stations and greater frequency of trains. Crews have already dug more than 200 piles through 320 cubic metres of concrete, installed 1369 sleepers, fixed 155 tonnes of structural steel and built walls using 220 blocks made of recycled plastic and stone mix.

A member: That’s a lot.

Vicki WARD: It is a lot, Minister. There will be approximately 700 workers per shift working along the corridor 24/7 to deliver more trains more often on the Hurstbridge line when the new Monty and Greensborough stations open on 30 April, and with more trains more often, with increased accessibility and services for commuters in the north-east, who can commute through public transport rather than on our roads, we will be even closer to achieving our government’s increased emissions reduction target of 75 to 80 per cent by 2035 and bringing forward our most ambitious net zero emissions target by five years to 2045. We are also seeing the shared user path between Greensborough and Monty underway, and I am very excited that last year we committed to linking the Plenty River Trail to the Diamond Creek Trail through extending this shared user path from Monty to Eltham. Finally, Greensborough station will have all-abilities access, as well as heating and cooling in the waiting room. It is amazing because I tell you what: it can be a very cold station. Greensborough and Monty will also receive new art installations, a great outcome.

Speaking of Monty, the Monty bowling club is a fantastic community sporting club which is not only highly competitive and successful, but they are also fantastic in building a community and looking out for each other. Last year we committed half a million dollars towards refurbishing their rooms, allowing more space for their growing club. Another wonderful local club is the 2nd Eltham Sea Scouts. Thanks to the re-election of this government they will receive $70,000 towards the upgrade of their facilities. I live in a community where dogs are absolutely loved, and that is why it was great news to know that our government will support improvements to the Diamond Creek Dog Park.

So much is happening right now in Eltham district at the moment. The gateway project is underway, restoring a forgotten part of the entrance to Eltham as well as installing a beautiful art piece by sculptor Maureen Faye-Chauhan. I want to thank all of those involved in this project, including Nillumbik, the friends groups and Sue and Dennis for their work, and I want to give Sue an especial shout-out for her environment work over many years, revegetating our area wherever and whenever she can. Fitzsimons Lane is nearly done, and the Ryans Road intersection upgrade is about to get started.

Where I live is incredible, as are the people who live there, and I really want to acknowledge and thank some very important people, those who work in my office and support our community above and beyond. Over the last four years this includes Josh and Adele, and especially over the last 12 months it includes Katherine, James, Jennie, Tim, Darcy, Michelle and Jack. They are an incredibly dedicated team, and I am especially grateful for everything that they do. In addition I would like to thank Rhonda, John, Garry, Sandra, Terry, Tim, Laura and Ann. I thank you for all of your work during the campaign.

Thank you to the phenomenal Eltham branch of the ALP, who are a machine that just keeps working and working, always doing all they can to support Labor and the good, important work that Labor governments do. I thank Jimmy James for his amazing work as campaign manager and Emily and Katherine for the phenomenal support they gave. You guys worked so hard. I am incredibly grateful, and our community has benefited from your kind hearts, tremendous work ethic and questionable humour. Thank you to Biden, Dog President and campaign champion. Thank you to Danielle Green, Kate Thwaites and Rob Mitchell for all of their support.

A huge thankyou to the hardworking machine of Young Labor, including Young Labor Left, who volunteered in Eltham, smashing those hills, knocking on as many doors as they could and making a huge amount of calls. I thank the whole Young Labor movement for their work across our state, helping to deliver a Labor government that will continue important reform, a Big Build agenda and ongoing social justice reform for Victoria. I love that we are supported by young Victorians who value the contributions that this government is making on education, on environment, on health and on infrastructure.

To every volunteer who helped at election day, at pre-poll and in the lead-up to the campaign, thank you. It takes a lot to stand out in the streets in rain, hail or shine. It takes a lot of effort to deal with the variety of people that we had on pre-poll – their attitudes, their different personalities and some very challenging behaviour at times. I know that in Eltham we did not experience the depth of challenges that were experienced in other electorates, and I do hope in future elections that we see better behaviour on our polling booths and particularly at early voting, because some of the behaviour, particularly the sexist and misogynistic behaviour, was uncalled for, unwanted and unnecessary. So to all the volunteers that helped on election day and in pre-poll, particularly from the Labor Party but across all parties – those who behaved well – I say thank you, because democracy is important, and it is only through the help of our volunteers that we are able to communicate our messages, that we are able to get out there and talk to people and that we are able to really strengthen our desire to be activists. For those people to step up their volunteer hours, to get out there and to help is really incredible, and I am so grateful, as I know everybody in this chamber is – particularly those Labor volunteers. They are investing in our community’s future. I thank them for their commitment to Labor and the Labor cause.

I cannot finish without thanking my own family. I thank my partner Mark for all of the work and support that he gives me. I thank our two girls who, despite the fact that they live locally, that they have grown up, that they know friends from school, are still there helping me at pre-poll, are at polling booths and are wearing my T-shirt, no matter how embarrassing that must be, and I am very grateful for the support and the patience that they give to me. I also want to thank my mum and dad for their ongoing love and support. It is wonderful to have people in your corner who are always there for you and who do support you. I know that I am not only lucky, I am very privileged to have such a lovely supporting family around me.

I think we have been in government now for 3015 days. I could be wrong; I am happy to be corrected. It might be one less, it might be one more.

Gary Maas interjected.

Vicki WARD: Thank you for the confirmation, member for Narre Warren – South, North?

Gary Maas: South.

Vicki WARD: South, thank you. It is amazing to be a part of this government. I thank the Premier for his leadership. I thank all of our ministers for the work that they do. I thank all of my colleagues. We are an exceptional team, this Labor caucus. We want to get out there and do really good work for our communities because we love this state, we love the justice that this government creates, we love the opportunities that this government creates and we are extremely grateful to be here in this place. As the member for Essendon often says, every day in government is a good day, and it is exceptionally good to be a part of the Andrew Labor government.

Members applauded.

Jordan CRUGNALE (Bass) (17:22): I rise to give a big shout-out to Bass and everyone within it. It has been wonderful to hear everyone’s contributions thus far. Now in our third term I guess a lot has been delivered. Progressive reform has taken shape across many big areas and much is in progress. There is always more to do, and I am absolutely energised and excited to be given this opportunity to represent the people of Bass in season two and to work with and for them and all our amazing communities for the next four years. From better health care to modern schools; secure jobs; recreation and cultural facilities; safe and secure housing; a cleaner, greener economy; roads and rail; parks and open spaces; and protecting our precious environment, our community is at the heart of what we do. It is a partnership and we get on with it.

I was thrilled and relieved that our Andrews Labor government was returned for this third term and we can continue to build on this progressive and positive program and agenda for all Victorians. It is important that our big reforms like rebuilding the mental health system and transforming our kinder system will not be dismantled and that locally our election commitments will be delivered regardless of the local outcome – which was two weeks in the making – and that we will continue to support, invest in and deliver the services and programs, infrastructure and funding that we need in Bass, because this is what we are as Labor. It was always going to be close, with or without a redistribution of the seat, and we never once took anything for granted.

We were out and about on the doors. We had an amazing team in Bass: volunteers, branchies, supporters, friends, and my kids as well. Member for Eltham – they loved wearing my T-shirts, I think. They also stood there in the rain and the hail and had their lines that they came up with themselves: bringing back the SEC, building stage 2 of Wonthaggi Hospital, delivering a rec reserve for Tooradin, all sorts of things. I would be absolutely lost without them. We were all out and about, on the doors, at the shops and markets, making phone calls and having conversations with community members at every turn. Our branch members, friends and supporters worked their absolute guts out. I promise I will not use any unparliamentary language this time around. They were helping in a myriad of ways. It was a team effort, and my family and I are very grateful for their support.

Each conversation we had was important and valued because we got an insight into what matters to people and their families and communities in the area. It is an opportunity to learn about what needs attention and to see if it already aligns with our social and infrastructure agenda or a funding program, support or service, and if not, we go in and fight for it. Across the electorate you find those commonalities too, those golden threads that bring us together as a community and as a society. There are challenges, especially around the cost of living, access to services close to home, housing and facilities that need a revamp to make them more inclusive and welcoming.

It is absolutely amazing and humbling to have been re-elected and a privilege and an honour to work with and for our community. I will continue to apply that same grit and determination and fight to be the voice for the people of Bass here in the chamber and around the government table and build on the momentum that we have already started and keep at it, because we deserve a whole heap more.

I want to take this opportunity also to welcome the new Bass communities coming in from the Tooradin to Pearcedale areas – the coastal villages of Warneet, Blind Bight and Cannons Creek – and Devon Meadows and Cranbourne South, and I really look forward to listening and walking beside the communities here and representing them as well, because they equally deserve the services, infrastructure, supports and programs.

I also want to thank the communities and people in Pakenham and Clyde North. In the redistribution I did lose 20,000 people in Pakenham and 15,000 people in Clyde North – mine being one of the largest electorates in the state. They were so welcoming. You know, they opened their arms, their homes, their schools, their clubs and their centres in welcoming me so that I could represent them and work with them to get some positive outcomes too. On a side note, it was great to be at Devon Meadows Cricket Club with the under-14 girls, who actually won their grand final.

Vicki Ward interjected.

Jordan CRUGNALE: I know. It was a great thing to do on the way to Parliament – to sit for a couple of hours and watch a whole cricket match at Devon Meadows. There was Kellie; she was like, ‘Hey, Jordan.’ She is one of the teachers at a Clyde North primary school, Grayling Primary School, and it was wonderful to reconnect with her. Although I have lost Grayling Primary School, we have gained Kellie and the community at Devon Meadows. Our paths will always cross, as do many of our projects and programs that go beyond those electorate walls, and the beautiful connections and friendships that have been made are long-lasting too.

We had some big commitments in the electorate of Bass, and we actually kickstarted the whole Labor campaign in the electorate of Bass at Wonthaggi Hospital, where we announced up to $290 million for stage 2 and the paramedic practitioners program as well, and I will talk about that in a second. We have also $6.7 million for Wonthaggi Primary School; $5.3 million for upgrading San Remo; $16.7 million for jetties and boating facilities, including two new jetties at Warneet and an expansion at Cowes; upgrades to boat ramps and car parks at Inverloch, Lang Lang and Tooradin; $2.15 million towards a new modern pavilion and revamped skate park at Tooradin recreation reserve; 200 grand towards Corinella Boating & Angling Club’s new community clubrooms; and of course three new schools in the Clyde area.

I might just talk in a bit more detail, I guess, about some of those commitments if time allows. I am a little unprepared because this was a very last-minute thing. Our commitment in San Remo – one example – was back in November, and there were streams of happy tears rolling down the faces of all of us, joined by Harriet Shing MP, school council vice-president Kelly Woolford, Amy, Lucy, Gus and Harvey. We can now get on with delivering this and get them modern, light-filled, accessible and permanent classroom spaces. I so love that school, and four years in it is great that we committed to this one. The school does need a little love too, but its reputation reverberates across the region. The principal, Karen Bowker, is so well regarded and respected. Their teachers and education support team are dedicated, talented and all heart, and they work crazily hard. The school community themselves have their arms wrapped around each other, and the kids are divine, creative sparks of energy, community-minded and kind. It is a dynamic school with outstanding educational opportunities – descriptive superlatives, really, at every turn.

We also, as I said, mentioned Wonthaggi Hospital. In 2018 we funded $115 million in stage 1, and this time around, with our Premier and also the Minister for Health we went down and committed up to $290 million. Well, here we are, and this is what is in the mix: there are new wards, 64 beds; a new birthing complex; a new outpatient clinic, which means more dialysis, chemo and specialists, complete with medical imaging unit and refurbished allied health spaces; more car parks, of course; training areas; and heaps of construction jobs. Our community has rallied behind and walked beside Bass Coast Health and their professional, dedicated, all-heart and amazing staff for decades.

Recently we had a tour of Wonthaggi Hospital, and the great thing too when we look at stage 1 is that it already contains a section in that stage 1 building for a future expansion, because we do think ahead of ourselves, which means it is actually ready to be fitted out. There are two shells, and I am certainly advocating for some early works funding there to get maternity up and running. At the moment we have got 300 women that birth outside the catchment, and it would be great, with a higher level of maternity support, if we can have them birth closer to home, surrounded by their family.

Wonthaggi Primary was a $6.7 million announcement, and here we have come to upgrade several buildings that are bursting at the seams and need a lot of love too. The community there, with the school president Caroline Moore, has been very active and a big cheers to them and all involved.

Locally the new builds have been Bass Coast College, Wonthaggi Secondary senior and also the junior campus in San Remo, and that is an $80 million investment. Those two new schools are just gold, really, for our community. There is always more to do, obviously, with upgrades. I will certainly be working with my community to get the Dudley campus upgraded as well.

Back to Tooradin, I tell you what: Sally, the amazing sports physio who works at Tooradin football club, was very happy with the news of $2.15 million into the recreation reserve there towards a new pavilion and a revamped skate park too. The Corinella Boating & Angling Club, 32 years strong, with 200 members and growing, is one big family that loves all things fishing I visited them last year to make the announcement of $200,000 towards their new community clubrooms. I did not win the meat tray, but they were very happy with that announcement. They have been relentless in their quest for a club, a community space that is welcoming and inclusive, and are super keen to run programs, fish days and fish comps – all things fish – but also have space for local playgroups, gatherings and other activities. They are a great crew there with Murray Wannan, who is the president, treasurer Sally Van Hees, the committee and the members.

Statewide we are really happy with the V/Line fare capping as well. We have got a couple of buses that come down to Bass – the V/Line bus – and that will make a huge difference for our local community. The SEC was obviously a massive announcement of statewide government-owned electricity, and it turns out that after that announcement there were quite a few people that came to my office in Wonthaggi mentioning that my electorate office was actually a former SEC office, so that was quite brilliant too.

Mary-Anne Thomas interjected.

Jordan CRUGNALE: Yes, we were very happy about that.

On specialist school support – and I am going to run out of time – I was doorknocking in Wonthaggi and I was speaking with a woman who has a child that goes to the local specialist school. We were talking about the supports, and she said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if there was before- and after-school care, if maybe specialists could come to our school. It’s just really hard sometimes as a single mum.’ The very next day – yes – there was the statewide announcement, so the day after that I went back and I got the biggest hug in the world when I mentioned that a re-elected Andrews government would transform the schools for kids with disabilities, including through after-school care, holiday care, specialists coming to the schools and NDIS navigators for each of our specialist schools across the state. It is certainly a hug that I will remember forever, really.

Free nursing and midwifery – when you are out doorknocking, you talk about some of the things you are doing and want to do. I was out doorknocking and I met Brigitte. Brigitte had just finished year 12, and Brigitte was very happy with the free nursing because she had just got into ACU to study and under a Labor government it is free. I was playing basketball against her team recently, and she was very excited – she was coming up for orientation week. She loves it. Her mum, who is a nurse, loves it. Her sister Alice loved the fact that her big sister could study nursing – and we all do. It is such a great program for future jobs as well in our health sector.

We have got a lot of things – I am really going to run out of time again. I do not do this every time, but I know with the budget replies I have done it every time.

Members interjecting.

Jordan CRUGNALE: I know, I know. Just keep going. There is so much to get on with already. I just want to thank the people of Bass really for putting their trust in me.

A member: Because they are smart.

Jordan CRUGNALE: Well, you know, it was hit and miss there for a while, but we are here. I am going to fight for you. There is a whole heap of stuff that we want, and I am going to keep fighting till we get it.

Members applauded.

Mary-Anne THOMAS (Macedon – Leader of the House, Minister for Health, Minister for Health Infrastructure, Minister for Medical Research) (17:37): I want to begin by thanking the people of Macedon for once again electing me to be their representative. There is no greater honour than being an elected representative of this fabulous community that I call home. The Macedon Ranges of course are extraordinarily beautiful. I am sure you would all agree it is the most beautiful electorate in the state of Victoria, and we really relish the environment in which we live and work very hard to care for that. As the elected member I work hard in turn to ensure that I am delivering for the people that I represent. In my third term as the Labor member for Macedon in a third-term Andrews Labor government, it is a great honour and privilege, but the thing is, in order to win the trust of the community, you have to deliver and you have to talk to that community about the things that matter to your community. It is not just good enough to talk; you have to deliver, and that is what our government has done time and time again.

Standing on pre-poll, doorknocking in my community, making calls and so on, I was able to talk to people about the issues that were of concern to them. Not only that, there was a track record of delivery to back in the promises that our government was making. Looking to the eight years that we have been in government, I was able to talk to my community about the investments and the reforms that have been delivered in education and in health in our community, the jobs that have been delivered, the family violence reforms and the really hard work that is underway to implement each and every one of the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System. Unlike our opponents at this election, we had a strong story to tell, one of delivery but also of promise, of more initiatives, more reforms to be delivered. I think we all agree in this place that until you have done pre-poll, you have never quite experienced anything like it. Unless you have done it for the 11 days, it is hard to explain to other people. But I must make the observation that while I was able to talk about the things that mattered to the people of my electorate, my opponent only had one negative message, and that was to get rid of Daniel Andrews. Well, the people have spoken, and they spoke to deliver a government that would keep delivering the services and the reforms that matter to them.

One of the most popular initiatives, I have got to say, was bringing back the SEC. I have spoken in this house already about my family’s connection to the SEC, and I have got to say there are people of a certain demographic, myself included, who understand exactly what the SEC meant. Not only did it mean cheap, affordable power, it meant great jobs and opportunities for young people, highly skilled jobs and so on, and that is exactly what we will continue to deliver.

Cheaper and fairer V/Line fares capped at $9.20 – I have seven V/Line stations in my electorate, and I can tell you that this announcement was very warmly received by the people of Macedon. This represents massive savings for those in my electorate, many of whom commute to Melbourne. You know, those on the other side are always banging on about the city of Melbourne and so on, and let me tell you that these cheaper V/Line fares will see people return to our city and take advantage of the fares. It is so much cheaper to commute now on V/Line rather than drive. But it works in reverse. We look forward to welcoming visitors from the city. There is no excuse, people. If you have not been to savour all the fantastic delights that my hometown of Kyneton has to offer in terms of restaurants, wine bars, gin distilleries and so on, it is a $9.20 return fare. I look forward to seeing you all there.

Paul Edbrooke interjected.

Mary-Anne THOMAS: And no driving, exactly. Of course I will be able to talk about our women’s health agenda, and I have got a little bit more to say about that later.

As a former teacher, I fully understand the life-changing potential of a well-supported public education system, so I was really proud that our government was able to announce $5.83 million to build a new trades hub at Gisborne Secondary College. This will enable that school to build on existing reforms that we have made, not just to VCE but through our program that enables our young students to do an apprenticeship while they are still studying, Minister for Education.

Natalie Hutchins: Yes, it does.

Mary-Anne THOMAS: This has been really well taken up in my community in the high schools of Kyneton, Gisborne and indeed Daylesford, so delivering a trades facility there is extremely welcome.

Of course everyone knows that sport is at the heart of so many country communities, and our government has had a particular focus on ensuring that we are getting the balance right and that we are providing support to the sport that more women and girls play than any others sport in our state, and that is netball. So $1.5 million was announced. I was able to announce that myself – it was very exciting – at the Kyneton Football Netball Club, and that will deliver new courts and women’s changing facilities for the girls and women of Kyneton to play netball. And that is on top of $1 million that had already been committed to build new netball courts and spectator shelters for the Woodend-Hesket Football Netball Club. Ensuring that we are making an investment in girls and women sport is really vital, and it speaks to women in the electorate of Macedon about the value that we put on them and their recreational activities, their health and their education. We have a story to tell, and I have got to say that is in contrast to those on the other side.

Not everyone wants to play team sports – we know that – so it is really important that we make sure we have got a diversity of activities available for kids in country communities. So half a million dollars will enable a redevelopment of the very tired and worn-out skate park in Romsey. And what I love about this commitment is that we were able to deliver it in partnership with the Lancefield Romsey Lions Club. Now, the Lions club got in there and raised funds to develop a design, which they have been lobbying council with, but it was the Andrews government that came through and delivered the goods in terms of making this $500,000 commitment which will ensure that the skate park will be a reality. It is in a great location. It has already got toilets, a barbecue and so on. It is on a site that is in view of the community. It is going to be fantastic, and I know that the people of my community are really looking forward to it.

Before I talk about some of the statewide commitments that have been made in the health portfolio, I do want to take this opportunity, because I think it is really important, to acknowledge the Labor Party volunteers in my electorate, who worked so hard and have continued, time and time again, at each election, state and federal, to support Labor candidates to get up – and congratulations of course to Catherine King, to Lisa Chesters and to Rob Mitchell, the three federal members that cover my electorate. But if I may, I thank Marg and Eric Dearricott, Barry and Janet McDonald, Margot and Greg Clarke, Marg Leahy, Mary-Beth O’Brien, Terry Larkins, Lyn Richardson, Louise Johnson, Danny McDiarmid, Chris Gingell, Christine Barker, Chris Byrnes, Lisa Ohlmus, Jan Maplestone, Kevin Fothergill, Dennis Franklin, Jill O’Callaghan, John and Rita Benson, John Frearson, Julie Smith, Jim Ingemann, Hamish Brown and Dave Wauchope. Can I also acknowledge some up-and-coming young activists: Sasha, Ethan and Sean. I look forward to continuing to work with you all and delivering for you all, and I thank you for all of that support.

I talked a little bit about our women’s health agenda. Indeed I will have opportunities to do this again tomorrow, I suspect. Our government was able to take a comprehensive package to women of all life stages to talk about in the election campaign. So for the first time ever a comprehensive package that is a real game changer for women’s health will be delivered here in the state of Victoria, and I am so proud to have been asked by the Premier to continue in my role as Minister for Health in order to deliver on this agenda.

We have already got a great record in this area. We are investing in women’s health, funding Australia’s first clinic focused on women’s heart health and of course the state’s first statewide sexual and reproductive advice phone line. We made pads and tampons free in all of our schools, and we are extending that now into community centres because we want to end period stigma and we want to ensure that girls and women feel supported to talk about the particular health challenges that they face.

We are going to deliver a $71 million package that is going to see 20 women’s health services established right across Victoria. They will deliver a one-stop shop for women needing treatment or advice on issues from contraception to menopause to pelvic pain – you name it, symptoms that are particular to women – and we will deliver the health services that women need. We will also work with our Aboriginal health organisations to deliver a dedicated Aboriginal-led women’s health clinic, because our government is committed to self-determination. We understand the need to continue to invest in sexual and reproductive health hubs. We will establish an inquiry into pelvic pain and of course we are working to establish a women’s health research institute, because what we know is that women have been under-represented in so much medical research that in fact a lot of conditions that are particular, once again, to women are either undiagnosed or women are not believed when trying to explain their symptoms. It is time that this ends, and it will end under an Andrews Labor government.

We know, and I think I made a point of this many times during the election, that there is so much more to our health system than building buildings. We are building many of them; in fact, the nation’s largest health project will see new towers for both the Royal Women’s and the Royal Melbourne hospitals down at Arden. But more important than that investment is the investment in our workforce. I was so proud during the election campaign to attend so many events, standing side by side with proud members of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation. Our nurses and midwives were backing our government in because they know that we will stand with them, that we listen to their ideas and that we implement their ideas. It is from that engagement with the nurses union that we were able to make so many fantastic commitments to support our wonderful health workforce, be that our $150 million package delivering for our nurses, delivering a sign-on bonus, stronger nurse-to-patient ratios or more nurses and midwives in the public system.

More than 10,000 students are already set to have the cost of their nursing or midwifery undergraduate studies paid under our government if they work in our public health system for a period of two years. We are also delivering a $5000 sign-on bonus for student nurses and midwives who graduate from 2022 to 2024 when they enter the public system. This is fantastic. This is sending a very clear message to our healthcare workers about how much we value them. Of course we are supporting postgraduate nurses. There are scholarships for enrolled nurses to become registered nurses, and we have provided an election commitment to boost the number of GPs practising here in Victoria. We will fund more nurse practitioners and more paramedic practitioners.

Only the Andrews Labor government delivers for our health workforce. Only the Andrews Labor government delivers for the people of Macedon and the people of Victoria.

Members applauded.

John PESUTTO (Hawthorn – Leader of the Opposition) (17:52): It is with pleasure that I give what I think is an inaugural address, but there could be some debate about that with my having served in this Parliament before. I thought I would begin by just thanking the people of Hawthorn. On 24 November 2018, as members may recall, I lost the seat of Hawthorn live on national television. It was, to be completely candid with members of the house, a very tough and painful experience. One of my siblings said to me the following day, ‘Oh, this will make you a better politician, John.’ I struggled to believe that; I thought I was already perfect!

But we all benefit from growth, and we all benefit from experiences, including setbacks, and I want to begin with that because I think it is important for young people in particular, with all the pressures they face in the world today, to understand that setbacks do not define you. There will be times when you have good days and bad days, and you just have to trust in yourself and back yourself that if you just keep going, the sun will shine on you eventually. For all the young people out there, whether they go into politics or any other field of endeavour, do not be deterred if you trip at first. The people of Hawthorn have given me a second chance, so I come back into this house with that very much in mind: that everybody deserves a second chance if they want it and are trying. And it has defined what I would like to do in this second innings.

I want to acknowledge John Kennedy for his service as the member for Hawthorn between 2018 and 2022. I have seen his pictures of him and Bronwyn overseas travelling. I can assure all members of the house that he already looks younger than I do. I wish him and Bronwyn and their family all the best.

I would hope, before I turn to some other matters, that the government might consider some of the commitments that I made on behalf of the Liberals and Nationals in the seat of Hawthorn. I know some of those were matched, and I trust that they will be honoured. But I would just quickly like to go through some specific local commitments and ask that the government, in the spirit of goodwill, look at honouring those commitments if possible. First of all, a number of schools are in dire need of support: for Camberwell Primary, $9.1 million was committed; for Canterbury Primary School, $7.8 million; and for Glenferrie Primary, $5.5 million.

We made a commitment to remove the Glenferrie Road and Tooronga Road level crossings, and I would urge the government to elevate both level crossings up their list of level crossing removals and also put on the list Prospect Hill Road and Riversdale Road level crossings for future work.

We also committed $8 million for the iconic Anniversary Trail, a really worthy investment, and I hope that the government will look at that. Four other commitments that I hope the government will look at are Canterbury Sports Ground, $1 million; Auburn Bowls Club, $600,000; Camberwell bowls club, $100,000; and $500,000 towards Boroondara’s Gardiners Creek master plan. All are worthy projects in my view, and let us remember these sports facilities that we fund are not just for the immediate users of those facilities but also for the wider community and the groups that rely upon and use these facilities for their own use.

I will quickly just do what I think ought to be done very quickly, which is to thank all of those who helped me return to this place and to resume my work as the member for Hawthorn. Can I formally put on record my deep and sincere thanks to the Hawthorn electorate conference committee and broader membership, all members of the ECC who worked on that, and put on record some specific individuals who gave their all to help me get back here: Chantalle Abou-Haila, campaign director; Xavier Boffa; Ephie Bokas; Kate Beaumont; Kane Afford; Henry Corcoran; James Stevens; Charles Pruden; Chris Kounelis; Dean Dell’orso; Arthur Litsas; Natalie Litsas; James Sutherland; Tim Rose; Ben Tialan; Sam Smeele; Sam Smith; Ian Quick; Warwick Ball; Ros Harding; Liz Sceney; Jan Dimmick; Allan and Jenny Lawton; Marg Puszka; Garth Fountain-Smith; and of course two locals, both former premiers of this great state of ours, Ted Baillieu and Jeffrey Kennett, who both helped out on the campaign trail; and to all Liberal Party members who helped with the Hawthorn campaign.

Can I turn to my family, to my kids, who despite being too cool for school I know were there all the way with me. While I cannot name them, I can just say how much I love and cherish our three daughters. And to my wife Betty: when I stood there on 25 November in 2018 it was Betty who stood there with me, and I would not be standing here if it were not for Betty campaigning with me. I remember for about six months last year Betty would go to work, she would finish, I would go and pick her up and we would go doorknocking together. Not exactly the most romantic way to spend an afternoon, but we spent time together and her indomitable spirit in that I will never forget, and I will always cherish that. So, Betty, I love you very much, and thank you so much.

Given what happened when I did succeed in winning the seat of Hawthorn back, as you know, I put myself forward for leadership of the Liberal Party. I just have to say to all of my colleagues here and those elsewhere in the building, thank you. There is not a second which goes by where I am not alive to the heavy responsibility and great honour each of you has given to me in this role, and I will strive to do everything to make you so proud of the decision you have made.

I now want to share some of my thoughts and to share my vision for Victoria, one that is based on opportunity and responsibility; a vision where Victoria is a leader in our federation, one that is driven by an enterprising culture both in the private sector and in government, a culture that values taking opportunities, a culture that values ingenuity and that supports innovation, particularly from younger generations that are coming through; a state that is inclusive, where diversity is upheld and radiates like a beacon of hope and opportunity for our First Nations people and all peoples who have come here and want to make Victoria and Australia their home and to be part of the Australian family; a vision of Victoria that sees us as a shining destination for businesses global and national to invest here, a state where we are a leader and a driver of reform and constructive debates in our federation.

That is how I see our state, but to achieve this Victoria will require leadership to overcome many of the challenges that we face. In dealing with our economy we face serious headwinds. Most obviously we have higher interest rates, with a 10th interest rate rise today. We have inflation, which is eroding real wages for Victorians and Australians, and we have labour and supply chain shortages. At the macro level, Victoria’s economy whilst it has always been diversified is not doing enough to make the most of the opportunities we should be able to seize. We are an economy which even today is heavily reliant on the property and construction sectors and related sectors, and whilst we want those sectors to continue we need, in a competitive environment not just nationally but regionally, to be an economy that is diversifying even further. We need to work hard as a state, and we need leaders who are prepared to work hard if we are to make Victoria a magnet for investment into our state.

Our economy first of all needs to be prudently managed, and that is not happening in my view. We have spiralling government debt – which went up further today with higher interest rates that add $400 million, I understand, to the level of our debt alone in that 25 basis-point increase – and out-of-control spending. We know from recent budgets that spending growth continues to outstrip revenue growth in our state. This will not deliver benefits for Victorians, who deserve good services from the government that is supposed to lead them. This mismanagement of debt and spending has an adverse impact on cost of living and the quality of life we all aspire to. If spending is not delivering results, then that is a critical failure of government. In health we are told that investments are being made, but response times and waitlists are deteriorating. In education we are told we are a leader, but this state spends the least amount of all other states and territories in the country on public education. It costs more in Victoria to send your kids to a government school than in any other state. And we know that many schools are struggling with staff, and they are having to pay a lot to recruit staff – not in terms of their wages but in terms of the fees for trying to find the principals and teachers they need to fill their classrooms.

This mismanagement of our economy, debt and spending is also fuelling uncertainty, which adversely affects investment and creates sovereign risk. Investors are less likely to see Victoria as a destination for their capital if they cannot rely on the government that is supposed to lead us. I want Victoria to be an exciting place that people invest in, where we are out there competing for global headquarters, not just in terms of Sydney and Brisbane in particular but throughout the Asia-Pacific region. We want global companies which have large workforces and enormous amounts of capital to invest to see Melbourne and our regions as the most attractive place to invest.

We need to make more of our tertiary sector. We have the highest-ranking tertiary sector in this country, but do we do enough as a state to build the partnerships necessary to capitalise on innovation and international investment? I do not think we do. In manufacturing and design, are we making the most of the opportunities that come with robotics, machine learning and artificial intelligence? I would say not. For so long we thought that Victoria could not compete in manufacturing and design and innovation because we said our costs were too high. Well, technology is putting paid to that. We have just got to be hungry as a state, with leaders who are out there proactively seeking and seizing those opportunities to draw investment into our state.

Take defence technologies – an obvious example where Victoria, with its innovation hubs, with its tertiary sector, should be leading the nation, yet we see Queensland and New South Wales running rings around us. Even South Australia is outbidding us on work from international investors in that space. So there is a lot more we can do. In the life sciences we should be competing much more and harnessing all of the partnership opportunities that exist in Victoria. Our strengths as a state must also go beyond Melbourne, and that is where we differ perhaps from the other side of the house. We want the entire state to share in the prosperity of our state’s growth – regional as well.

In terms of state financial relations, our population growth and the challenges we face mean that Victoria should be leading the debates I spoke about in terms of vertical fiscal imbalance – this government has done nothing to lead the reform effort on that front – and horizontal fiscal imbalance.

On energy and climate change we do have a difference with the government over the SEC, but we want to see more detail. Who is allowed to invest? What is the rate of return? Will taxpayers underwrite that rate of return, particularly in the early loss-making years? These are long-term investments; they need to be supported and they need to be explained before you can ask the Victorian taxpayer to pay for it.

Home ownership and housing affordability is a critical area for us. It is slipping from the grip of Victorians, and more needs to be done. On the demand side you can only do a limited amount. You have to work on the supply side and look at all of the costs which go into construction in Victoria. We should not give up the fight on housing affordability and home ownership. We do not on this side. I have created a special portfolio just for that purpose.

I also wanted to talk a bit about the non-economic forms of opportunity. Criminal justice reform is an important part of what we stand for. It is about giving young people in particular but all people, I guess, across the board that second chance I spoke about to prevent them from falling into the clutches of the justice system and to give them that sense of esteem that will see them get onto a productive pathway in their life. It is not just about the laws. It is not just about fixing broken bail laws that were brought in in 2018. It is about saying to young people ‘We will invest in you’ and investing in the programs that will keep them out of the justice system and put them on a fulfilling pathway.

The final thing I wanted to touch on is integrity and standards in this state. None of what I have said matters unless we have a government that will lead with standards and principles. Whether it is the catalogue of IBAC and Ombudsman reports or whether it is evidence of a minister sitting around a cabinet table making decisions that affect shareholdings of that minister, integrity and governance matter. So my vision for Victoria is that we will have a state that will make Victorians proud because of the principles we uphold and the standards we demonstrate in all of our activity.

I come back to this Parliament with enormous gratitude to the people of Hawthorn and enormous gratitude to my colleagues and supporters who have helped me get here. I will not waste a moment having had that second chance to make sure I make everything count from here.

Members applauded.

The SPEAKER: Order! Before I call the member for Preston, can I acknowledge former members the Honourable Luke Donnellan and the Honourable Christine Campbell in the gallery.

Nathan LAMBERT (Preston) (18:08): It is an honour to rise as the sixth Labor member for Preston. I would like to begin by acknowledging the Wurundjeri people, upon whose land we are gathered. And I would like to begin by thanking the people of Preston and Reservoir for electing me as their representative. Elections are this wonderful opportunity for all of us to have this great, big collective discussion about government. We knocked on about 5000 doors, and we were lucky to have a remarkably diverse set of conversations about all of the ways in which the words and actions of government touch upon the lives of the people of Preston and Reservoir.

I would like to give a shout-out to Steve and Laura in West Preston, who talked to us about climate change. I would like to give a shout-out to Amalia, also in West Preston, who really, really liked the idea of bringing back the SEC, and a shout-out to Nicole in Keon Park, who talked to us about the challenges of crossing the railway line. For reasons that I do not fully understand, when they built the railway line in Reservoir they built about a 2-kilometre stretch that has no rail crossings. I do not know if any other members have a stretch that long in an established suburb with no crossing, but it is certainly a long way for those who perhaps live on one side and have their child zoned into a school on the other. You have to go all the way down and back again. It is known sometimes locally as the Berlin Wall for that reason, and for a long time historically the problem was that those crossings as a result were very congested.

Anyway, I am very proud to be part of a Labor government – and indeed the first government in a hundred years – to do something about that problem, which is that we have made it easier to cross at Reservoir station, fixing one of the worst intersections in the north, and we are in the process of making it easier to cross at Keon Parade. And of course in doing so we are also making it possible to run more trains more often and build a more public transport-oriented city.

A shout-out to Cath from Newlands Friends of the Forest who, as you may guess, lives in Newlands and talked to us about the forests, but who also very thoughtfully and very seriously let us know about the passing away of her close neighbour and our friend the local Labor legend Lily Coy. Vale, Lily Coy.

A shout-out to Tim in Reservoir East, who reminded me that the Bolte Liberal government had a plan for quite some time to put a freeway across the top of the Merri Creek and a freeway across the top of the Darebin Creek, the infamous F2 and F6 as they were to be. We are very lucky that those plans did not go ahead, and I should make it very clear that this Labor government’s policy is the exact opposite. We are going to increase protection for those creeks, and we are going to plant trees and shrubs and ground cover so that they are more natural for the next generation, not less.

A shout-out to everyone in Preston and Reservoir who lives in public housing. We made it a particular priority to doorknock public housing dwellings, and we will continue to do so. A shout-out to all the young kids who translated for me on behalf of their parents, which is just always amazingly cute but also, I feel, sometimes very hard. There was one young man down near Clements Reserve whose mum was very, very animated about public housing rents. I do not know if Guleid is here; anyway, thank you, Guleid, for bailing him out.

A shout-out to Janya, Sylvia, Mauricio, Mark, Gwenda, Caroline, Christina, Genevieve, Zheng, Chris, Maria and the approximately 300 or so other people who talked to me about Preston Market. I thank the minister for the generosity of her time in allowing me to convey their thoughts to her in quite some detail. For those of you who do not know, Preston Market is the second-largest market in Melbourne. It is a great market. It is privately owned, and the current majority owners would like to move it into the south-east corner of that site and put 19-storey apartment buildings on top of it. One way perhaps to think about that for those of you who are not familiar with the area is to imagine this building, which actually sits on a very similar 5-hectare site next to a train station. You could if you so desired demolish this building, move all of us into a small, more modern, more efficient building in the southern part of the site, and then you could put up 19-storey buildings where we stand today. Planning people would tell you that that would positively activate East Melbourne. I did actually share that with some planning people, as the minister knows, and they took it a little too seriously, but I would like to think for those of us who know and love this space that we would see that that activation certainly came at a great cost and that basically you were really saying you valued apartments more than the Parliament. For those of us who live near Preston Market and love it, we do feel that the proposals that have been put forward very clearly say that the people who wrote them value apartments over the market. I will not go on about it at length, but there are other proposals about, including from the Save the Preston Market group who have an alternative proposal that many of us think is much more reasonable.

I would like to thank the Labor Party, its affiliated trade unions and the broader labour movement. There is a bit of a tradition in these speeches to try and whip through several decades of camaraderie in about 3 minutes, and in the spirit of the member for Bayswater I am going to try and do that now. I will start on Monday 19 August 1997, when David Dyer, a fellow student at the University of Melbourne, encouraged me to attend a meeting the next day with a 20-year-old young campus activist known as Lizzie Blandthorn, who is of course well known to this place as the former member for Pascoe Vale. I can tell you that at age 20 Lizzie already had extraordinary judgement, great Labor values and was pretty much ready to walk into this place. I say that because in very stark contrast I was not. I probably was not really ready to take on anything, and I think if we are honest, Lizzie only signed me up because I happened to have some very specific technical skills – desktop publishing, as we called it back then – that were useful in a student election campaign. I look back now and I was certainly a young man with a lot to learn, and I am doing these thanks in chronological order in part because the people who had to work with me early on did have a lot of work to do.

In that spirit I would like to thank Jesse Nonneman, Mandy Coulson and Ann Smith. All three of them will have totally forgotten who I am, but a long, long time ago they called me out for various stupid things that I wrote and said in campus newsletters and the like. They were right, and 24 years later I have their emails still with me to this day.

I want to thank the wonderful 2004–05 Jacinta Collins Wantirna South electorate office team: Helen Cooney, Gabby Staffa, Lizzie, Johnny McLindon and Senator Collins herself. I would like to thank the head office team of 2005, including Sel Sanli, Alison Vaughan, James Pawluk, James Raynes and the inimitable Bruce Cohen.

I would like to thank Robin Scott and the late Michael Leighton. I am grateful to them for introducing me to Preston and Reservoir many years ago. My brother had actually before that worked as a police officer in Reservoir. He was the very first person who said to me in about 2001 that I should stop saying ‘Reservwah’ and say ‘Reservoir’. But Robin and Michael were a great support to me for many years when I was still a relatively young man. I can remember at that time that Michael used to send me emails from question time on his BlackBerry, which I found amazing in every possible respect. Of course it is more common now, and perhaps possibly a few people may be even doing it as I speak.

It was also about the same time – circa 2006 – that I had the opportunity to meet and begin working with Michael Donovan. Michael has been an immense source of support and mentorship to me, as he has been to many others, and I hope his influence continues for a long time, because it is an influence that always acts in the interests of his union members and the broader labour movement.

Thank you to Jamila Rizvi, Andrew Anson, Cecelia Burgman and Sebastian Zwalf. Thank you to Bob Korbel, Andrew Navakas, Annette Hurley, Trevor Nichols and the data team of the federal election 2013. Thank you to James Merlino and my old boss from whom I learned a great deal, the Treasurer. A shout-out to Steve Kamper, the member for Rockdale, and to Curtis Pitt, the member for Mulgrave – the Queensland member for Mulgrave. There are pros and cons to having moved around a lot and doing a lot of different things, but I learned a great deal from working on their Sydney and Cairns campaigns respectively.

A shout-out to Paul Smith and Deb Hall and my former colleagues in forestry and climate change at Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, who the member for Macedon knows well. They are very strong public service team, and they taught me a lot about how to get things done in the public service. As the member for Footscray knows, Deb Hall was also part of a famous Western Oval mixed netball team back in the day.

Thank you to Senator Don Farrell, David Feeney, Dean D’Angelo and Adele McBride. Adele could not be here today, but I know she will be watching – I do not know which camera to look into, but hello, Adele. A huge thankyou to Emily Sagolj and Rachel Davies, who, along with Adele, ran our local Preston campaign. I started this chronology in 1997, and it is always disconcerting to me that both of them were not born then. But they are incredible women, and in various different ways I actually see a little of the young Lizzie Blandthorn in them. We had an amazing local campaign. Thank you to Arya, Reggie, Nidzam, Spencer, Guleid, AJ and Finn – also none of whom were born in 1997. Thank you to Susie Byers, Daniel Scouller, Ranjan Jayalath, Geraldine and Gillian Wood, Peter Kemp and pretty much the entire Kemp–Wood dynasty up our way. Thank you to Maureen Wilson, Michelle Zhung, Jim Shen, Louise Kenney-Shen and Mick Ricardo. Thank you to Tracy Bouchier for liking all of my Facebook posts.

Thank you sincerely to our scrutineers. Ideally you do not need to thank your scrutineers for scrutineering for 11 days straight, but thank you to Cam Petrie and Laura Blandthorn for leading that effort.

Thank you to three women – the member for Northcote; Ged Kearney, the member for Cooper; and Senator Jana Stewart. In our part of the world, in Darebin Labor, they are our leadership, and they have taught me and many others a lot. We have just moved house, but we lived a few doors down from Jana and Marcus. I really think it is one of the great things about Preston and Reservoir that you have a very significantly above average chance of running into one of our state’s great First Nations leaders while you are in the Murray Road Woolworths in your tracksuit pants.

Finally, a big thankyou to the Premier. The Premier has a very deserved reputation as someone with an amazing track record of implementing Labor values, but he also should have a reputation as someone with an amazing track record of advocating for Labor values. When the Premier speaks about truth, justice and treaty, when he speaks about multiculturalism being our greatest asset and when he speaks about equality not being negotiable, a lot of people in Preston and Reservoir are listening, and if you know our demographics you will understand why. I will certainly join the Premier in making those comments for as long as we need to make them, both in order to support those who we need to support but also because there are still out there people, like myself back in 1997, who are not bad people in any way and have not done bad things but who still need to hear that sort of stuff in order that they can be good actors in building an inclusive society.

Finally, I would like to thank my family. The last eight months have been a real challenge for us. We were lucky enough to be joined by Hannah – hello, Hannah – but Hannah spent her first 37 days in hospital, and she has a genetic disorder – hereditary sensory and autonomic neuropathy type 3, also known as familial dysautonomia. Good luck, I suppose, to the Hansard team in transcribing that one. It is not a great thing; you do not want to google it. I hope one day that Hannah will be able to tell her own story, but for the time being, as her parents, we are very grateful to the staff at the Mercy, the Austin, the Northern and the Royal Children’s, and thank you to Kufumam and Leenu, who were helping us out at the Northern on Saturday night.

I am immensely grateful to our friends and family for getting us through that period, which of course overlapped with a tough election for all Labor candidates and also overlapped with us getting an eviction notice. Noah’s parents Danny and Esther and her uncle Jack have been immense, and we are very lucky to have them. My brothers Andrew and Marcus were also a great help. They came out and doorknocked on the campaign, and as brothers tend to do, they were nervous for about 15 minutes and then they started telling me how I should do it. I know the minister will be particularly pleased to hear that my brother was very big on the power saving bonus. He loved it, as well he should. I have learned something from him.

I need to thank my mum Marion. My mum grew up on a farm between Sea Lake and Nandaly at a time when farming in the Mallee was pretty tough, and through a farming accident she was involved in things were probably tougher, but mum is an amazing woman who never let any of that hold her back. She has had such a rich life. She is such an inspiration. She taught everywhere in the Victorian education system, and then when some people suggested that it was time to retire from that she moved instead to Abu Dhabi so she could continue teaching there for another four years and then to Chiang Mai and then to Legazpi in the Philippines and so on. Mum looked after Zoe for hundreds of hours, but again in the way that mum operates, she saw me going out doorknocking and said, ‘Hey, why don’t I come out and do that?’ And with the fullest respect to our great young Labor team, after a few minutes mum was one of the best doorknockers we had.

Thank you to my uncle Rod Lambert who could not be here but was very generous with his support of the campaign early on. Thank you of course to my dad. My dad is a very community minded person. I like to think I inherited that. Hello, Dad. My dad though is a very black-and-white engineer, and I also inherited that. I would not have it any other way, but it is quite an interesting combination. I would like to thank Zoe for being Zoe. Hello, Zoe. Zoe is not listening.

And finally, I would like to thank Noah. Noah and I have been an absolute team all the way through this. Many of you would have received texts from me complaining about some local issue and they would have been lighthearted and funny, and that would have been because Noah wrote them. I would have written a first draft, and then she would have taken the phone out of my hands and reminded me that our friends are our friends, and they are more likely to do things for you if they like you. Probably one of the reasons that this speech is a little patchy and also – sorry, Speaker – over time is because I did not give Noah enough time to look at it. Noah is an incredible person in many ways, but her ability to stay positive over the last eight months has carried me through it. Seriously, Noah could have been on the Titanic and she would have made jokes about it. I think we have had one argument in that time, and that was over the question of whether it is legitimate to put butter on pasta. But I have checked with the member for Monbulk, De Martino, who said that it is, which some of us think.

I have three things to say to Noah. The first is I love you. The second is a fun fact: last year Noah was in the top 1 per cent of Wiggles listeners on Spotify, and anyone who knows that world would know what an extraordinary achievement that is. That is literally thousands of hours, and I hope Zoe is grateful. Finally, I want to say to Noah: I think we should get married. I will not bring a ring out now because I am not allowed to have any props, but it is securely stored at the moment, and I am planning in fact to bring it out very romantically tonight in the roughly 10 minutes between the kids falling asleep and us collapsing in exhaustion.

Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to speak a little bit today about myself and my family, but I would like to conclude by saying this will be the last time. From hereon in it will be about the people of Preston and Reservoir, and for as long as they want a local hardworking Labor member who listens and follows things up, they will have one.

Members applauded.

Anthony CARBINES (Ivanhoe – Minister for Police, Minister for Crime Prevention, Minister for Racing) (18:30): There will be no renewing of vows tonight, but I can say: my great and hearty congratulations to the member for Preston in particular because, having been born at Preston and Northcote Community Hospital and attended Bell Primary School, the neighbouring electorate of Ivanhoe is Preston. I grew up in West Preston, and to know it is in the great hands of Mr Lambert and his great passion and to have him as a neighbour is a great thrill for me and for the community of the neighbouring Ivanhoe electorate. West Preston and Preston in general are in great hands.

Moving to the mighty electorate of Ivanhoe, Speaker, can I firstly congratulate you on your election as Speaker of this place. Can I also acknowledge First Nations people. Most days I remember to wear the Aboriginal flag in my work. When, after 11 years and one week in this place, I was sworn in as a minister in the child protection portfolio and aged care, carers and disability portfolio, I wanted to make sure that I was reminded each day – and that others who raised questions with me understood that it was a clear priority of not only our government but of me personally in my role as a minister and member of this place – to advocate for and advance the interests of First Nations people in our community. That is not just for our efforts to advance treaty but our efforts to advance the Voice as well on a more national scale. I want to start my remarks there.

Furthermore, I also want to acknowledge that Victorians always get it right, and we saw that at the election last year. They always get it right, and I said that in this place with you, Speaker, in 2010, when they got it right and you and I were sitting in a different part of this chamber. They got it right again. and they handed those opposite their heads on a plate for the second time in very overwhelming numbers. They did that because we promised, I felt, with purpose, with principal and with clarity not necessarily what is always popular but what we felt was right and what we felt needed to be done to support our community. I want to touch on the fact that equality is not negotiable. I want to touch on the fact and reaffirm again that Safe Schools matter, that the Big Housing Build matters and that bringing back the State Electricity Commission matters to people in the Ivanhoe electorate.

I want to say also that we want the job for the work. That is what the Premier has always said: we want the job for the work. Those opposite at different times want this job – they want government – to keep it away from the Labor Party. They want to keep it away from those who want to represent, advocate for and advance the interests of working people in our community.

We have heard all but one of the speeches – and I am looking forward to hearing from my former work colleague the member for Broadmeadows, who will speak shortly and round out our inaugural speeches in this place – and I want to say to all the new members: we do reflect on our own time when we give that reflection and on the social compact that we have with our electorates, our commitment. We learn something more about not only our colleagues but the work that we want to reaffirm ourselves – the additional work that we need to do to redouble our efforts to be as passionate, committed and hardworking as our first day in this place. I want to thank and congratulate all those who have given their reflections and their commitments to their community in this place.

I want to touch on the fact that in the Ivanhoe electorate we saw a swing to Labor of just over 0.5 per cent in two-party preferred terms, up to about 13 per cent: a 42.7 per cent primary vote. The Liberal primary vote was down 1.4 per cent. Less people voted Liberal at the state election in the Ivanhoe electorate than the time before and the time before that and the time before that.

I want to acknowledge Emily Bieber, the Greens candidate – there was a 19 per cent primary vote for the Greens in the Ivanhoe electorate – and Sonja Ristevski, the Animal Justice Party candidate, with their 2-and-a-bit per cent, for their work and advocacy in the community and the work that we will do together to advance the interests of the vast majority of people in the Ivanhoe electorate who have re-elected an Andrews Labor government.

I want to say also that when you live in your electorate, when you went to school in your electorate, when your parents taught in your electorate, when you raise your own kids in your electorate – when you live there – you are accountable. You are accountable every day for the work that you do. When you get up in the morning and you walk out the door, you are accountable to people every day of your life when you live there. There is no substitute for people who live, work, raise their family or have been educated in their electorate. It is a great opportunity to be able to represent the electorate where you were born and raised – or pretty close to it, when Preston was only up the road. That too is something that those opposite should think about, and the tricky nature in which people try to make the claim that they live locally and get caught out on that each and every time. You cannot fool local Ivanhoe people, I can tell you that much.

I want to go also to some of our election commitments – there is the Austin Hospital emergency department expansion of $250 million to $300 million for an extra 30,000 patients. It was Labor that built two hospitals on the one site, the Mercy Hospital for Women and the new Austin Hospital. It was Labor governments who built those hospitals, and it was Labor MPs who were elected to this place when those opposite under Kennett sought to sell the Austin Hospital and privatise it. The ‘toenails’ of the state – we do not forget these things. We do not forget the cuts to the education maintenance allowance. We remember these things. The voters in the Ivanhoe electorate remember them. They are not forgotten.

Macleod level crossing removal – just as we removed the Rosanna Lower Plenty Road level crossing, we have committed to remove the level crossing at Macleod. Just as we duplicated tracks between Heidelberg and Ivanhoe in past Labor governments during our time under Premier Daniel Andrews, we will continue our investment with a half a billion dollars of works further up the line between Eltham and Greensborough.

Heidelberg Primary School – there is $14 million for a new gymnasium and learning centre at that primary school in my electorate. Ivanhoe Bowls Club – we are giving them $350,000 to renew and expand their change room facilities. We have also seen our ongoing commitment to the North East Link to get some 15,000 trucks off our local streets and roads in the Ivanhoe electorate.

I want touch also on the Victorian Electoral Commission. We will pursue this further in the Electoral Matters Committee, asking why there were not ballots available on the pre-poll on the first day when the doors opened for those who wanted to be enfranchised and vote in the Ivanhoe electorate. You have one job to do, and it was not done. We can all have our platitudes about how tough a job it is, but that is the job that needed to be done, and it was not done. Questions will be asked about that because is not good enough.

We will also be asking further why people in West Heidelberg, some of the most disenfranchised people in the community, had to queue up for well over an hour and a half to cast their vote, to cast their ballot. That is wrong. Why is it that in other parts of my electorate there are half a dozen tables for people to cast their vote – in Eaglemont, in Ivanhoe, in east Ivanhoe – but in West Heidelberg there is one? People queue for an hour and a half and staff come out and say, ‘Well, you can come up to the front.’ What they do not understand is people in my electorate, whether they have mobility issues, whether they are aged, whether they are infirm, they know people in the queue, they live with those people, that is their community, and they are not pushing in. They would never do that. And so they waited patiently for their chance to cast their vote – to cast another blow for working people and for Labor – but they should not have to wait that long to do that. It is wrong. Why are all the pre-poll voting places the furthest from West Heidelberg they could possibly be, and why are they the people queueing up on the day with the least resources to cast their vote? It is wrong. Why is it in Viewbank that people did not have a ballot at 5 o’clock, because they had run out? That is wrong. It should not happen in a democracy, not here in Australia and in Victoria. The Electoral Commissioner will be held to account for that through the Electoral Matters Committee and the presentations that I will make and others will make in relation to those matters. Perhaps that is enough said for now.

I want to acknowledge in my role as Minister for Police our $4.5 billion investment in Victoria Police and the work that we have done to fund some 3637 additional police here in Victoria, the work that we have done to see a decrease of 4.3 per cent in the past 12 months – the lowest level of reported crime statistics by the agency since 2005. These things do not just happen. They happen because you have given Victoria Police the tools to do the job, and you have invested in additional police to go out on the streets and do that work. That is what our government is about. Not one additional police funded during their time in office, a cut of $100 million to the police budget – that is the record over there.

I also want to touch on the racing industry. There is $4.7 billion in economic activity in the racing industry across the state and 34,900 full-time jobs. Do not go knocking the racing industry. There is a fair chance the person you are talking to works in or knows someone who works in the racing industry in regional Victoria and in metropolitan Melbourne. It is a global industry. It is a great industry. Ethan Brown – we give our thoughts to him, who is recovering from his injury. Jockeys are some of the bravest people in sport in the world, but understand that whether they are racing at Boort or Burrumbeet or wherever it might be, it is the investment of $72 million in our Victorian Racing Industry Fund, it is the commitment to be in most country towns and places, whether that is any code – harness, greyhound and thoroughbred racing – that makes huge contributions to our state. The jobs that that creates and the employment and the history are critically important to our community.

I want to also rattle through, from my past roles in child protection and disability, the work that we have done on a new state disability plan; the work we have been able to do with the federal member for Maribyrnong in holding to account those who try to rip off and defraud our national disability insurance scheme; the work that we have done around some 1500 families, including over 400 Aboriginal families, that were connected to the family preservation and reunification response in the first 18 months of operation; and the work of the former member for Narre Warren North on Home Stretch and the work we have been able to do to build on that and to provide more than 750 young people up to the age of 21 the support they need to stay with the carers that look out for them to help them live independently.

I want to thank the people in my electorate who have done so much work: the Ivanhoe branch; my electorate office staff, Marie Trevithick, Helen Coleman, Bronwyn Jones and Sarah Yang, Seda Cinan and Jason Garufi; so many pre-poll volunteers; my campaign manager Bianca Sullivan. The work that is required from people on the pre-poll over a couple of weeks but also across the electorate is humbling.

We have a collective view about what our community wants, who we support, why we live in the Ivanhoe electorate, why it is the best place to live and why we want to be there. It is because of the people that come through the door in a pre-poll, the people who want to live there and vote there, the people who understand what is important not just to them but what is important to their neighbours, what is important to their broader community. They are there. It is why they come and vote and why it is important that they have got Labor representation in this place. They have very high expectations of Labor governments to deliver for them and the people they care about on the issues that are important to them. I can tell you they are a very accountable electorate. They do not miss anything. They have high expectations and high standards that they set for us. We do not always meet them, but we do our very best.

I could not be prouder and more thankful to represent the Ivanhoe electorate and have the opportunity reaffirmed more than ever before. More people than ever before have chosen a Labor government, Labor representation – not others – to represent in this place. There is no greater job interview for people in this place than to put themselves forward to the electorate and seek the affirmation of the community where they live to come back here and do it again and do it better and more effectively. I want to thank our new members of this place, who have really given the rest of us another kick along about what is important, what we need to be doing and to remind us to go back and have a look at what we committed to doing.

Have we delivered the North East Link? Have we delivered Viewbank College? Yes, we have. We did stuff at Kew High that others across the road have never done. It is not because it is in our electorate, but it is nearby and it matters and it is important, and we have got it done. We will continue to do things wherever you live across the state that are important for you. We will do things because our Premier Daniel Andrews has taken on the hardest job at the hardest time and he has delivered. He has done that and he has had the affirmation of the Victorian community, as we have on this side of the house, because we make the decisions that are tough, the things that are hard.

We talked about some of those in question time today. It is about what we can do to support people, what can we do to save lives, what we can do to enhance people’s lives and make people feel they are part of the decision-making in this place. That brings us back to where we started. It brings us back to voice, it brings us back to treaty. It is about making sure that more Victorians than ever before, that more Australians than ever before, feel that they have a say and a seat at the table, that they have a part in everything we do in this place. On this side of the house I look around and around at so many people representing so many communities from so many diverse backgrounds but driven by a collective and common goal about our values, about our desire to do what we can with what we have for others and to be their voice in this place for as long as those communities give us the great opportunity to form government in this chamber.

Members applauded.

Kathleen MATTHEWS-WARD (Broadmeadows) (18:45): To begin I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land we stand on here tonight, the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung. I pay my deepest respects to their elders past and present and First Nations people here tonight, including Sheena Watt and Uncle Andrew Gardiner.

While the Broadmeadows electorate has been my lifelong home, it has been the home of the Wurundjeri for over 60,000 years. Bordered by the Merri Creek to the east and the Moonee Ponds Creek to the west, the electorate includes the suburbs of Campbellfield, Coolaroo, Dallas, Fawkner, Glenroy, Hadfield, Jacana and Oak Park. Respected Wurundjeri elder Uncle Andrew Gardiner passed on to me that it is known as the Moonee Moonee Merri Merri area, after Wurundjeri-willam clansman and head man Moonee Moonee and the waterway which we love so much. At Minister D’Ambrosio’s announcement of the huge new marram baba conservation parklands, which will stretch from Campbellfield to Beveridge along the Merri Creek, Wurundjeri’s Emma Mildenhall spoke of the ancient songlines that run through the electorate. I love the thought of our footsteps and our children’s footsteps following these same ancient paths over our lifetimes.

As the oldest continuing culture on earth, First Nations people are resilient and proud, and I am so proud of Labor’s commitment to voice, treaty, truth and justice at both state and federal levels. Our nation’s truth needs to be told for healing and reconciliation to occur. I thank the first democratically elected body of Aboriginal Victorians, the First Peoples’ Assembly, for the incredible work they have done to progress this important work in Victoria.

I grew up on the steep hillside of the Moonee Ponds Creek valley. It was an idyllic childhood, even if during our games of street cricket half our tennis balls ended up in the creek when we were not quick enough. I would enjoy exploring the creek with my brothers – and the yearly bonfire nights. My husband Joe even proposed to me on the banks of the creek at the Jacana Wetlands, and we scattered our stillborn son Tom’s ashes there over 16 years ago now.

I remember walks along the Merri Creek in Fawkner with my aunties and several of my 42 first cousins. I love being part of a big clan, and I am so honoured to be part of this clan of 71, the fabulous Labor team in the Victorian Parliament. I have had so much support from so many of you, and I thank my comrades here in this chamber and in the other place.

Big families are not uncommon in the Broadmeadows electorate, which ranks the highest in the state for women who have had six or more children. My dad was one of nine Wards who attended St Mark’s primary in Fawkner. His mother helped build the school and church by baking thousands of apple pies to sell at the Sunday cake stalls. My mum Moira was one of 10 O’Sheas, so there is no shortage of aunties, uncles and cousins and no shortage of love and fun – and luckily plenty of hands to help at election time.

Late last year we lost my mother-in-law Nora, who was the toughest, humblest and kindest woman, with a great sense of humour. Nora was raised on a dairy farm in Glenormiston and, like so many country kids, came to find work in Melbourne, where she met my father-in-law Max. During the Second World War, Max served on four ships in the navy and narrowly survived the sinking of the HMAS Canberra in the Pacific. He lost a brother at El Alamein, and another was taken prisoner of war. He carried the effects of this for the remainder of his life, as so many servicepeople do. Max and Nora were dedicated and loving parents and raised four beautiful humans, Andrew, Liz, Maureen and Joe, and I am so lucky to have them in my life.

My grandfather died when my mum was three, leaving my grandma a widow with 10 children in the days when there was no social safety net. Grandma did an incredible job of raising her clan, and I thank the Labor legacy of social welfare so that families do not now suffer, as they did.

My parents Moira and Gary Ward met at work in 1964. Both had left school in their early teens and Mum later went on to study nursing at the Heidelberg repat while Dad was conscripted to the army. Mum was well suited to aged-care nursing, with her compassionate nature and appetite for hard work, but always felt held back by a lack of formal education, so in her 40s she enrolled in a VCE bridging course at Broadmeadows TAFE. Along with her friend Rose, who was living at the Banksia Gardens housing estate, they studied their way through that bridging course whilst raising their young families. They both graduated with social work degrees some years later and have helped so many since. Never underestimate the power of TAFE to transform lives.

Education is my number one priority, and I thank Minister Hutchins and former education minister James Merlino for their support of local capital upgrades and the local education plan. We are also delivering a tech school and building two of the new, affordable government-run childcare centres in Broadmeadows and have invested over $12 million to expand local kinders.

Dad started working at the union just after I was born. Through my childhood I remember him travelling all over the state, working hard to represent members. He was out many evenings at Trades Hall, the commission and the tribunal, but we knew he was doing important work standing up for others and fighting for a better deal for workers.

The Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association have always been a big part of my life, and I thank them for their support, especially Michael, Mauro and Dean. We know from our brothers and sisters in the union movement that unity is strength, and I pay tribute to all those who have fought the good fight for workers’ rights and conditions.

Mum and Dad have worked hard all their lives, always giving of themselves and advocating and caring for others. In the last 18 years they have both shown incredible fortitude, since Dad became paralysed in 2005.

In the Catholic tradition they instilled in me a strong sense of social justice and a sense of duty to contribute positively to society. We were raised to stand up when we saw something wrong and speak up for those who were not being heard. The fabulous and dedicated teaching staff at local schools I attended – Corpus Christi Primary, and Sancta Sophia and Geoghegan College, which are now Penola ‍– never hesitated to reinforce this message. It was on a poster outside the school library that I first read the words ‘The pen is mightier than the sword’, which sparked my letter-writing activism as a teenager. I recall being so inspired when Tom Uren spoke to our school on Hiroshima Day. With his incredible capacity for forgiveness and his amazing legacy of service, he ignited my interest in politics.

I became a member of the Glenroy branch of the Labor Party when I was 18, and I recall fascinating discussions between members like Jim, Ilia, Mick, the Purcell brothers, and Wally the electrician, who always had cables hanging out of his pockets. While Labor values of social justice, solidarity and compassion for the vulnerable have always been a part of my life, here I found the platform that could make a difference to many.

In 2000 our local member, Christine Campbell, asked me to work with her. She gave me a masterclass on the true power of advocacy and what can be achieved locally with strong representation. The Premier once said, if he was a constituent, he would most want Christine to be representing him as an MP. Thank you, Christine, for your support and friendship. You inspired me to run for council, and I loved my eight years in local government with some fabulous colleagues. We worked collectively across party lines to get great results. We delivered new and upgraded parks, sporting facilities, neighbourhood houses, libraries and pools and continued to provide quality aged-care services and Meals on Wheels. I have former council colleagues here – Jo Connellan, Alice Pryor and Enver Erdogan – who I would like to acknowledge for their work.

I would like to thank Lizzie Blandthorn for her belief in me when she first asked me to work for her as her policy adviser and for her constant support since. Locally it has been such an honour to open the Glenroy Road level crossing with her, along with Minister Allan and Minister Carroll, and the amazing new community hub along with Minister Stitt.

I also pay tribute to the work and dedication of the former Labor representatives of Broadmeadows that have come before me: Frank McGuire, John Brumby, Jim Kennan, Jack Culpin and John Wilton. I am grateful for the support of Minister Carbines. I really enjoyed working as his adviser and learned so much from him. I have a special place in my heart for Luke Donnellan, a good man and an empowering boss. As his adviser for ageing during the worst of COVID, we went through a lot together.

I loved being part of the ministerial office team with so many fabulous people, including Drew, Jono, Kieran, Jana, Flora, Sandra, Molly, Tim, Jeremy, Angela, Paula and the Becs. I am proud of what we were able to achieve together, with significant investments in public aged care, improved training for palliative care, dementia and oral health, and the expansion of food relief during the pandemic, making sure that those who had no support from the Morrison government – like the temporary protection visa holders and international students – could access state support. During COVID we saw firsthand how dangerous insecure work is, particularly in aged care, and I am very proud of this government’s sick pay guarantee.

The Broadmeadows electorate may not have beautiful beaches or trendy shops, but it has the most wonderful inhabitants in all the world – unassuming, hardworking, generous and unpretentious. It is Josepina walking her shopping jeep down the shops and passing homegrown tomatoes and cucumbers over the fence. It is Jamuna, Rita, Jyoti and Nirajan looking after their mother as she passes on Dashain blessings to the younger generations. It is Birgul and Nilufer collecting donations to send over to earthquake victims in Türkiye and Syria. It is Yvonne, Bec, Roger, Tim and hundreds of others who volunteer their time so our kids can play sport. It is Nadia, Seemab and Saffa catching up at the park every day and supporting other local mums. It is Mariella organising food relief for local families doing it tough. It is Mary and Lou helping to run free meals from St Mark’s and Vaissy rehoming items and building community through the hard rubbish rescue group. It is Molla and Mohamed supporting community members at the mosque on Friday, and it is Eric running his informal support group at the coffee shop in Dallas. I just love the people of the north.

Living in Glenroy I have been part of every wave of migration to Australia since the 1970s and have personally witnessed the richness each culture brings. I love that my kids go to school with kids from over 30 countries who speak more than a dozen different languages, including Arabic, Nepalese, Urdu, Turkish and Assyrian, and that they learned some Sinhalese from our beautiful family day carer Sureka. It is such an honour to represent such a diverse multicultural and multifaith electorate.

With 46 places of worship, faith is an important part of life for over 60 per cent of our locals. For the most part everyone is respectful of each other’s culture and beliefs and the biggest tensions we have locally are over parking. The electorate of Broadmeadows showcases the best of diversity in Australia, and I intend to help keep it this way through dialogue, respect and greater understanding. Local religious leaders play an important role in our communities, and nowhere was this more apparent than during COVID. They stepped up without hesitation to help keep communities informed and safe, and we cannot thank them enough. Central to all the major religions is respect for others and encouragement of the universal human attributes of kindness, generosity and compassion, being part of a collective, something bigger than the individual, and giving many people a sense of purpose, community and belonging. It is these similarities that we should all embrace rather than the differences or the extremes, which feed on hate, polarisation and exclusion. The only antidote is inclusion, celebrating each human and their uniqueness.

My utopia is a world where everyone, no matter their age, ability, culture, religion, sexuality or gender, feels valued, safe and heard and feels a deep sense of belonging. I am so proud to be part of a government where inclusion is at the very core of the values we all hold, and that is where my focus will be – on programs and places that build communities, giving people connection and purpose.

The Broadmeadows electorate has the highest number of people living with disability, a high percentage of people who cannot speak English and over 40,000 people who have not completed year 12. We know that older people, people with a disability and those with low literacy are too often left out of the workforce. Everybody deserves the opportunity for purpose in their life and the dignity of work, and we all need to do more to address this. Their voices should also be heard in our boardrooms, on our councils and in this place. It is not just skilling people up or meeting quotas, it is making all decision-making bodies, institutions and our public services more accessible. In this Parliament we have people from a range of backgrounds – people who grew up in child protection, refugees, First Nations Victorians and family violence survivors – and we know that better decisions are made when different voices are heard.

According to the age discrimination commissioner, ageism remains the most accepted form of prejudice in Australia. And it matters. You might be surprised to hear that men over 85 have the highest rate of suicide in the country. Any person getting to the point of despair, isolation and hopelessness and concluding that suicide is the only answer is a tragedy. The commissioner for senior Victorians also found that over 40 per cent of older people experience loneliness. Loneliness is a growing problem for people of all ages, and there is much we can do. I will work to address transport disadvantage so that everyone can participate fully, especially those who do not drive a car, and will work with all levels of government to improve walking environments, expand community transport and, through the northern bus review, ensure our bus network serves people better.

The digital divide is also creating exclusion and isolation. On average nearly half of people over 70 are not connected and a quarter of people over 50 have limited digital literacy. It is worse for low-income and multicultural communities. One in five households do not access the internet in Broadmeadows. Programs that help people get online, like our recently announced library program for seniors, are fabulous, but we also need to make sure those who are not able to get online have alternative ways to access services and are not discriminated against.

I am proud of Labor’s commitments to the recommendations from the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System and the Royal Commission into Family Violence and the initiatives rolling out across the state, including a new refuge in the north. I just love our investments in the SEC, in kinders, in schools and in TAFE, like the $60 million Health and Community Centre of Excellence at Kangan Institute, which will upskill our next generation of healthcare workers, who give so much of themselves to keep us well and safe. But it was this government’s commitment to special schools that really made my Labor heart sing. Most parents can access after-school care and school holiday programs and can choose to work full-time with four weeks leave, but for families like Kate and Dean with their son Jake and like Nadja and Mark with their son Luca, who both attend Glenroy Specialist School, this choice has not been available. This policy is a life changer for them and for Jake and Luca, and I thank the carers across the state who helped advocate.

There are so many people to thank. So many have been part of my journey, and I express my sincere gratitude and my apologies to anyone I forget. I will start with my hardworking electorate officer team: Sam, Chris, Enass, Sahar, Nathan and Suad, so ably led by the very capable and hardworking Archit. Every day they are helping so many people in the electorate. I also thank the advisers and staff that support us all. We could not do this important work without the hard work, dedication and personal sacrifices you make to serve in government for a better Victoria.

My amazing and dedicated campaign team, led by my good and wise friend Alice Pryor, and the incredible contribution of the Young Labor folk, particularly Disha, Ayra, Luv, Ishita, Mehul, Kevin, Karan, Tarzon, Anurag, Allen, Tvisha, Kunal and Simar. My booth captains, pre-poll stalwarts and early morning helpers: Chris, Greg, Mick, Phil, Michael, Molla, Praveen, Nirajan, Karen, Basem, Zaheer, Ilia, Christine and Kevin and the wonderful Hosseini family. And the unstoppable Hassan Gul and the entire Gul family: Saman, Shaista, Shazad, Ashna, Inshira, Azel and Iniah, whose birthday is today. They helped in so many ways, fed us so often, taught me so much and covered half of Fawkner’s fences with my face.

To all the Labor members and volunteers who helped so much, including Kerrie, Janet, Jenny, Anne, Sue, Helen, Peter, Paul, Habib and so many others, and to all those who have been part of my Labor journey over the last 30 years, including in branches and on policy committees: thank you for keeping the light on the hill burning so brightly. To Enver and the Erdogan family for their support over many years: it is great to be working alongside you again, Minister. Thanks also to Minister Suleyman, Hakki and Mem. To the team at head office, particularly Cam, Kareem, Mikaela, Laura, Oscar and Nicola, who was there to help and advise at any time of day or night. To my friends, the Glenroy crew, and Jo, Liz and Veronica, and the whole Leyden clan, particularly Glenn, who even with terminal cancer was by my side on election day fighting the good fight.

To my wide circle of family: I am the sum of you all. My wonderful sister Liz and brother Dan; Matt and Anna; Sarah and my nieces and nephews, cousins, aunties and uncles; and of course Mum and Dad, for all that you are to me. And my beautiful Joe, who I could call my rock, but being an engineer, he would probably appreciate being called a girder more – the main support beam in any structure, without which I would crumble. Thanks for always having petrol in the car, carrots in the fridge, sangers in the freezer, kids at sport, water on the plants and a warm hug and cup of tea for me and anyone else who needs one. Loved by everyone who knows you, you are quite simply the best, and I am so grateful for all you do for us and so many around you. And my two gorgeous girls, the centre of my universe, even though I am sure it sometimes feels like you are not. I am proud of the kind, strong, resilient, funny and brave young women that you are, and I thank you for your support, your love, your forgiveness when I am home late and for always keeping me humble. I love you both dearly.

Lastly, to the best people on the planet, the warm-hearted people of the Broadmeadows electorate: thank you for the incredible honour of choosing me to be your representative. I will do all I can, every day that I am fortunate enough to be here, to amplify your voices, to make your lives better and to ensure your troubles and your stories are heard, and I will make sure your voices are heard directly too. Whenever I can get you a seat at the table, I will do so.

Members applauded.

Business interrupted under sessional orders.