MATTERS OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE – INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS
I take great pleasure in joining the debate on this matter of public importance (MPI). I am particularly going to go to the points just raised by the previous speaker in the 7 minutes that I have allocated. The member for South Barwon said that there was nothing in this matter of public importance for regional Victoria.
Ms Britnell — He said for Geelong.
Ms GREEN — Well, for Geelong, but the regional rail revival is germane to other regional cities including Warrnambool, including the Ballarat line, including the Shepparton line and including the north-east line.
The regional rail revival is upgrading every regional rail line across Victoria, creating more than 1000 jobs in construction. Unlike those opposite, we did not wait two years; we did not sit back. The former Minister for Public Transport and then member for Polwarth was in the electorate next to that of the member for South Barwon, and the previous Premier, Dr Napthine, was on the line beyond that. There was one thing they did. They did a passing loop at Warncoort near Birregurra and Colac. That was the one project that they did on regional rail. We lobbied hard, and they did that connection and that passing loop but they did not order any trains.
The member for South Barwon was saying, ‘What is it with staff sickness?’. Well, you actually get an older workforce when you do not recruit any new people. When you cut V/Line by a significant amount of money and when you cut services and do not invest in new drivers, the age profile of your driver workforce goes up. As people get older, they have more sicknesses. We are really fortunate that many of those current drivers at V/Line that were not replaced by younger drivers have actually stayed on beyond retirement age so that we can keep them going. It takes more than a year to train a train driver, and that is something that those opposite did none of.
We have invested $850 million in new regional rolling stock and 87 new VLocity carriages, funded from our very first budget. Unlike those opposite we are not simply talking about the population growth, which is being driven largely by migration. You would think those opposite would be talking to their counterparts in Canberra and saying, ‘Migration is actually having a good impact on Victoria’s economy; however, you lot need to stump up some cash to fund infrastructure’. We do not hear that. We do not hear that from the other side. We do not hear them talking about the short-changing of Victoria by the federal government. But we have not sat back on our laurels and waited for them to fund it; we have actually got out there — $1 billion in the northern roads package, $1.2 billion in the south-eastern suburbs, the western roads package and over $1 billion in rural and regional roads. We are actually doing that.
Those opposite might make a lot of noise, but the previous member for South-West Coast used to stand up and say, ‘I have some of the worst roads in the state in my electorate’ and what did he do about it when he was Premier? We know that there are a lot of roads that need to be fixed in this state, and we have actually gone out and spoken to the community and we have prioritised them. We are actually —
Ms Britnell interjected.
Ms GREEN — Member for South-West Coast, if you would like to have your own turn, pipe down!
All the previous Minister for Planning did in my community when he represented the north was expand the urban growth boundary hugely. Not one cent was spent on infrastructure: no extension to Mernda of the South Morang line, not one dollar on an arterial road in the north under the Leader of the Opposition’s watch, no upgrade to the Seymour line to assist those moving into Wallan or into Donnybrook, no duplication of Yan Yean Road, they cancelled the declaration of Yan Yean Road to arterial road from Kurrak Road to Bridge Inn Road, there was no duplication of Bridge Inn Road, no duplication of Plenty Road and no $600 million rail extension to Mernda, which is delivering a huge number of jobs in construction and will create a town centre. It will mean people do not have to leave the area to go to work. They will be able to work locally. There was no investment in schools in my electorate under the former government.
As the member for Eltham said earlier, 87 per cent of people in the Shire of Nillumbik, in the electorate that we both share, leave the municipality to go to work. They do not have a choice. There are no local jobs. The Leader of the Opposition as planning minister let that continue. They did nothing. The east–west link, only 45 cents in the dollar, would have soaked up every bit of money for roads for a generation and done nothing. It would have cut off seven access points to the city. They actually would have had to tell people that 70 per cent of them would have to go onto a congested Hoddle Street. They did not upgrade the Hurstbridge line, as we are doing. We have done two sections of it. We are doing the planning for the next one.
There was nothing that happened under those four years. They cannot deny it. We are now getting on with the job. We will continue to do the job. Those opposite have no plan and no answer, except their internal blueing and their inexorable race to the right. There is no way members like the member for Brighton would even get preselection now. It is a great matter of public importance, and I support it in the utmost.