Public Sector Funding and Employment
I take great pleasure in joining the motion proposed by the Minister for Public Transport, the manager of government business in this place. She knows full well, being the Minister for Public Transport, what a legacy was left from those before.
Mr Battin — Acting Speaker, I draw your attention to the state of the house.
Ms Green — I am not surprised that those opposite do not want to hear about our concerns if they were to get back into office, about the cuts that they would make. The greatest predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. What occurred under the leadership of Ted Baillieu — of Tedward Scissorhands — was he cut ribbons on Labor’s projects with one hand and cut budgets with the other. What they were left with when they got in in 2010 — and I respect that the community had made a decision and they put them into office — we left them quite a pipeline of things to cut ribbons on: the South Morang rail extension, and the Plenty Road duplication up to The Parkway on the boundary of Mernda and South Morang. But once that pipeline of projects had concluded, what we saw — well, concurrently with that pipeline of projects that they were able to cut ribbons on — was they cut budgets to ribbons.
As the member for Narre Warren South has said, they cut the education budget to ribbons. They cut the Doreen secondary college. We had funded land in the 2010 budget to buy land for a standalone secondary college in Doreen, which was much needed in the 3754 postcode. The community of Mernda and Doreen, the population there, doubled on the watch of those opposite and on the watch of the Leader of the Opposition, who was then the Minister for Planning — and he actually represented the Yan Yean electorate in the other place as a member for Northern Metropolitan Region. As the planning minister and as the local member he could not say for 1 minute that he did not understand what was happening on the ground in the Yan Yean electorate. From 2011 to 2014 the population of Mernda and Doreen doubled. It went from 17 786 in 2011 to 37 757, with a 152 per cent increase in Mernda.
What we saw was not any proportional increase in spending and support for projects in my electorate. When my opponent — I cannot remember which one it was then — they put up fresh meat —
Mr Richardson — The Leader of the Opposition?
Ms Green — No, it was not the Leader of the Opposition, it was Jack Gange, actually — Jack Gange of the Silver Top taxi family — who wanted to develop his land, the family’s land, and get it out of the wedge between Diamond Creek and Eltham. We know that the taxi industry had put some money in there. They knew what they wanted out of the Leader of the Opposition. But what they promised at the 2010 election, they actually kept. They kept their promises in the Yan Yean electorate. They made zero promises in a growing electorate — zero promises — and they delivered in spades.
Then they gave my community a bit of an extra slap: over $60 million was cut from bus services and over 1000 bus services per week were cut. They closed the Greensborough TAFE campus. With a growing population we lost a TAFE campus. Just at a time when new communities needed local jobs and local training, those mean-spirited people on the other side of the chamber cut that TAFE campus. They put not one dollar into any arterial road or any Vic Roads road. They cut the roads budget and not one new road came into the electorate.
I mentioned the doubling of the population in Mernda and Doreen, and it remains one of the youngest postcodes in the state. It beggars belief that you would cancel a standalone secondary college, but the only reason we had any expenditure on schools at all was the collapse of a private college, Acacia College. The former government said, ‘Gee, we had better do something’, and miraculously they found the money that they had taken away from Doreen secondary college and said, ‘Let’s make it into a primary school’. So they put a primary school on that site when what was needed was a secondary college. Then when Acacia College collapsed they said, ‘Oh, whoops’, so they pinched some capital from another growing, adjacent suburb. They pinched money from stage 2 of a school in the member for Yuroke’s area and said, ‘We are now going to build a P–12 in Cookes Road, Doreen’. The only reason the former government did that — stole from another community — was a concerted campaign from mothers and fathers in the 3754 postcode. They and their children will never forget that they had to fight for a local secondary college.
I am pleased that we have funded and completed Hazel Glen College. It is a P–12 but only up to year 9 now and it already has over 2000 students and is heading towards 3000. I do not believe that is an optimum size for a school. That is the legacy you leave when you do not fund education in a growing suburb. We have also funded Mernda Central P–12 College, which includes a swimming pool, it include stadiums and it includes outdoor playing fields for community youths, and it is the same with Mernda Park Primary School. We have built several new children’s centres and we are building more schools, like Yarrambat Park Primary School in Doreen and Beveridge Primary School.
We know that the former government made cuts across the board: cuts to public transport, cuts to roads, and cuts to the health budget. There was nothing substantially done to deal with the growing need for hospital beds, and I am really pleased that we have funded almost 100 additional beds and additional operating theatres at the Northern Hospital. We know that if those opposite were to be on the government benches, that is what would happen.
I recall I would raise matters on behalf of my community. Time and again I pleaded with them for public transport, for roads and for schools. The then member for Polwarth, Terry Mulder, would sneer and laugh and giggle, as would the then Minister for Education, the member for Nepean. They would sneer and say, ‘Well, it is our turn now. You had your turn’. It is never about the individual MP, it is about communities, and governments should govern for the whole of the state.
I commend this motion from the Minister for Public Transport, who knows this full well. She inherited a portfolio that had not ordered any trains, trams or buses and had only proposed cuts. They had not done anything to deal with the increase in demand on V/Line or on our metropolitan services. I am really proud that we have put in additional bus services and we are building the Mernda rail extension, which is going like the clappers. We are upgrading the Hurstbridge rail line, removing level crossings and looking at an expansion of services. We have introduced route 343 and a whole new bus network around Mernda, Doreen and Whittlesea.
I just really hope that the community will not be hoodwinked by those opposite. We are only a year away from the election and we know that leopards do not change their spots. They will cut again and they will not deliver what the community needs. I am in full support of this motion and I commend it to the house.