2018 State Budget Benalla College Benalla Kilmore-Wallan Bypass Fire Services Levy Seymour College Raise the Roof Seymour Water North East Rail Kings Park Tell me your train story
2018 State Budget Response - Appropriation (2018-2019) Bill 2018
09 May 2018
It is a pleasure to rise today to give my contribution on the Appropriation (2018–2019) Bill 2018. I have to say from the outset that I think this budget presents a very, very raw deal for country Victoria and rural communities right across the state. It is of course the fourth budget handed down by the Andrews Labor government — a government which I think has become increasingly city-centric and focused on Melbourne.
As we heard the Leader of The Nationals say yesterday, the Premier does not open his chequebook beyond the tram tracks of Melbourne. The Euroa electorate is certainly no exception, regrettably. We know that the government has proudly trumpeted a $1.3 billion cash splash on schools, but in my own electorate Benalla
P–12 College has been overlooked again. I was there a couple of weeks ago with the federal Deputy Leader of The Nationals, the Honourable Bridget McKenzie, to have a look at the beginning of construction of their senior secondary centre, for which the bulk of the funding was provided by The Nationals and the Liberals when we were in government. We made a $15 million commitment in 2014 to complete that school, but since then we have had just $3.5 million from the Premier and progress has been slowed considerably. The sceptic in me would say that it has been slowed so that perhaps they will be cutting the ribbon on the project — largely funded by us — right before the November election but also to give themselves an excuse not to provide any more funding to that school.
Seymour College has also been underfunded. It received almost $7 million, but again that is a long way short of the $15 million to which we committed at the 2014 election. I spoke earlier today about the great disparity that exists between city educational outcomes and those of country Victoria. First-class modern facilities should be a basic tenet of trying to close that gap. Benalla P–12 College are working in classrooms that are mouldy and full of asbestos although we know the government made a commitment to a removing asbestos in every school. That has quite simply not happened. It is greatly disappointing to me that the full funding needs of both Benalla and Seymour have again been overlooked.
A lot of sports clubs across my electorate are greatly disappointed by this budget. We have a $225 million sweetheart deal with Labor — and I see the sports minister is at the table. Labor is providing $225 million to the AFL to renovate Etihad Stadium when country sporting clubs right across regional Victoria are crying out for funding.
Mr Eren interjected.
Ms RYAN — The Minister for Sport interjects that we will lose the AFL Grand Final if we do not fund Etihad Stadium. That is a pretty extraordinary thing, given that the grand final is held at the MCG, not at Etihad Stadium. The AFL is a cashed-up organisation that does not need the money, while grassroots football and netball clubs out there are desperate for funding.
I was speaking — and the Minister for Sport might be interested in this — to the Broadford Football Netball Club a few weeks ago, and they are quite close to folding because they are being slapped with fine after fine by the Riddell District Football League, whose power base exists a long way from Broadford, where they get little representation and where they are unable to field teams. As a consequence, they are getting hit with fine after fine. They said to me, 'Why does the AFL get all of this money when we as a community club continue to find it difficult to fundraise and find it difficult to field a team?'. Those clubs like Broadford deserve this support. They are looking for lighting upgrades. Their netball club does not have any female change rooms. They have nowhere to get changed after a game, which ruins the club environment. They are the kind of projects that are worthy of support — not $225 million to the AFL, which is already flush with cash.
I would also like to mention the Kilmore Football Netball Club — again, another very worthy project where you have got the junior footy club and the senior footy club keen to build new clubrooms. Kilmore Tennis Club has been in contact with me just today. Kings Park in Seymour is a fantastic facility — one of the premier facilities in the Shire of Mitchell. This sporting and events facility needs funding right around that park. I am very proud to make a $760 000 election commitment there, if we are elected to government, which unfortunately those opposite have done nothing about in the last four years.
Seymour Football Netball Club have a magnificent ground, but they have some of the worst change facilities in the entire Goulburn Valley Football League.
Mr Eren interjected.
Ms RYAN — I am glad that the Minister for Sport is at the table. The Ken Hall Pavilion is in desperate need of an upgrade. The Eastern Hill Cricket Club needs new nets. These are all incredibly worthy projects which the government should be funding over Etihad Stadium. Raise the Roof in Benalla is a fantastic project backed by the entire Benalla community to build a new indoor equestrian centre. I have been very pleased to meet with Melissa Mounsey and the others involved in that project. Again, they have been desperately talking to local Labor MPs, asking them for funding, and there has been no funding forthcoming at all. It is similar for the Benalla Junior Football Club. More than 400 kids are involved in that club, playing out of a tin shed in the middle of winter.
They are incredibly worthy projects — all of those projects — and they cannot get funding. They are approaching me, they are approaching council and they are approaching their local Labor member, who is doing nothing for them. Those clubs need support, not Etihad Stadium. The government has its priorities wrong.
I would also like to talk about one of my favourite subjects in this place, the north-east rail line. There is no commitment and no money on the table from those opposite to replace the rolling stock. They have put no money whatsoever into replacing the trains on that line. We have had a member for Northern Victoria Region, Jaclyn Symes, in the other place, saying in the local paper in Benalla just today:
It would be irresponsible to order new trains and have them sitting on the sideline while the track is upgraded.
North-east passengers will get their trains, we just didn't need to buy them now.
How extraordinary is that. Those opposite say they have been planning for new rolling stock for four years. They have been in government for 15 of the last 19 years and yet still we have trains that are 30 or 40 years old that break down continually. They want to sheet all of the blame back to the federal government, but it is not the federal government's fault. There is some responsibility for the federal government to invest in and improve the line, which they have agreed to do. The Premier, when he was the Leader of the Opposition, stood in Wangaratta in April 2016 and said, 'If the federal government invests to improve the track, I will buy new trains'. The federal government has invested twice over, with a $140 million commitment from Darren Chester when he was federal infrastructure minister and now further funding to bring the total to $235 million, and yet there is no commitment on the table from the Labor government at all. They never intended to make a commitment to that. They are shoving the community off, delaying, delaying and delaying because they have absolutely no intention to build it. They have completely betrayed our region. Jaclyn Symes as a local Labor MP has completely betrayed our region by failing to stand up for our community and failing to hold the Premier to account on that commitment. It is a complete disgrace.
In the spirit of the commitment that I have given to my community that I will raise their stories every single week in this place, I would like to tell you about Harry Daley from Violet Town. Harry wrote to me a month or so ago, and this is what he said. He caught the train from Violet Town to Broadmeadows:
QUOTE AWAITING VERIFICATION.
The journey was a booked seat for my wife and myself for … 29 February 2018. The service was the 0811 departing service and was due into Broadmeadows at 1000.
The purpose of the trip was to catch the 1215 flight from Tullamarine to Newcastle to see my critically ill mother.
The train didn't arrive at Broadmeadows until 1140 approximately, over an hour and a half late. As a result we missed out flight and had to stay overnight in Melbourne and catch the flight the next day.
Our flight arrived on time in Newcastle on 1 March 2018 and on the way from the Newcastle airport to the hospital I received a call telling me that my mother had just died.
The delay the day before resulted in me not seeing my mother and being with her when she passed away.
I have put in a report to PTV but heard nothing back at this time.
We have people in our region who rely on that train service. They rely on that train service to get where it needs to go on time and reliably. We do not have a service that does that and this government is wilfully and blindly ignoring that. It is time. The time was four years ago for them to invest in that. We will not continue to be put off, and quite frankly I am sick of having to tell stories like Harry's in Parliament every week that this government wilfully ignores.
The Kilmore-Wallan bypass — $20 million for planning a project that would have been complete by the end of December 2017 had we been re-elected. The money was there. We left the money in the budget, but the government has redirected that. Now, on the eve of an election, six months from an election, they have chucked us $20 million for planning and for acquisition of land. I find it to be completely cruel that they have not put any forward funding in the budget for that project but instead are going to go ahead and acquire people's land with no guarantee that that project will ever get built, because, again, they quite simply do not care about anyone outside of the city. Again, quoting a member for Northern Victoria Region, Jaclyn Symes:
… but the project isn't shovel ready yet.
That is what she said in the North Central Review. How extraordinary. After years and years of planning she reckons the project is not shovel ready yet. That is a complete and utter disgrace. The government has ignored the need to revitalise Kilmore's main street. They have rejected applications under the Growing Suburbs Fund, which they cut in half. Kilmore has again been overlooked.
I just quickly want to touch on the ticking time bomb that is the fire services levy in this budget. We see that it is being held flat this year, but over the next four years it will rake in an extra $229 million. That is quite clearly to pay for the union demands that Peter Marshall is making of the Premier in return for the assistance that was given to the Labor Party before the 2014 election. Guess who is going to pay for that? It will be landholders in rural and regional Victoria. They will be effectively funding the election win of Labor by paying off Peter Marshall and his demands — extra career firefighters in country Victoria — in return for the help that he gave, which he has boasted about, at the 2014 election. It is rural landholders who are going to suffer.
I just quickly want to touch on water as the shadow minister for that portfolio. I will leave my comments on TAFE and training for debate on the matter of public importance this afternoon. I thank the government for giving me an extra 15 minutes to debate that; I am delighted. The East Grampians supply pipeline has been funded in this budget. It is pleasing to see that the government has put funding in, but it is very disappointing that the Minister for Water seeks to use that as a political football. She is now out there trying to use it as a wedge against the federal government. The time lines for the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund have been well known for a very, very long time. They have been publicly available. The minister had the business case. She did not submit an application for funding because she wanted a political wedge against the federal government in an election year. She said last night that she could not make an application to a fund that was closed when in fact expressions of interest (EOIs) for capital projects under that fund are accepted on a rolling basis. If the minister had looked up the federal department's website, she would have seen that quite clearly. Applications are accepted continually and applications are open for EOIs from state and territory governments. She is seeking to play a base political game over that project and the future of landholders in the East Grampians region. This is an incredibly disappointing budget.