State Budget

Appropriation (2017-2018) Bill 2017

11 May 2017


Ms Ryan (Euroa) — It is my pleasure to have the opportunity to give my response to and thoughts on the Victorian Labor government's appalling budget this year. I would like to begin by outlining a few of my observations in my capacity as the shadow minister for training, skills and apprenticeships, firstly, and then, secondly, discuss what this budget means or perhaps does not mean for my electorate of Euroa.

We all remember those on the opposite side of the house before the last election signing a TAFE rescue pledge. They promised that they would save TAFE. They promised that they would invest an extra $1.2 billion in TAFE. We now know that they have made promises not only that they have not kept but that I think they never had any intention of keeping. They have shamelessly used students as a political football, and now they are backtracking on that apparent $1.2 billion pledge with their so-called TAFE rescue. This budget impact cuts $45.5 million from the training, higher education and workforce development output. You do not need take my word for it; it is clearly outlined on page 167 of budget paper 3. What absolute hypocrites! They promised an extra $1.2 billion and now they are taking the axe to training and TAFE in this budget.

Last week, minutes before the budget was handed down, the minister chose to table 10 of the 12 TAFE annual reports. You would have to ask the question: if TAFE was a good story for those opposite, why would they choose budget day to table annual reports? This we all know is a good day to take out the dirty trash from the government — to bury stories. That is why they tabled 10 of the 12 TAFE annual reports. What did those annual reports show us? Firstly, there are 123 000 fewer students in government-subsidised training now than there were when Labor came to government. They inherited a training system with 443 000 students, and there are now 123 000 fewer in Victoria. Does that sound like a government that is growing enrolments, as Steve Herbert promised repeatedly before and after the election? I do not think so.

Yesterday the Minister for Training and Skills in the other place was asked about this; she was asked why there was such a drastic decline in student numbers in this state. What was her explanation? It was absolutely bizarre. She said that the coalition enrolled fake students, and that is why the numbers are now declining. Apparently we enrolled fake students and that is why the government now has a 30 per cent decline in the number of students enrolled in government-subsidised training in Victoria. Of the 10 TAFEs that tabled their annual reports, six of them in fact have an underlying structural deficit. I am very happy to provide those figures for the benefit of those opposite.

We have the Gordon in Geelong, which turned a $1 million profit. However, it received more than $22 million in additional cash, a bailout from the government in December, to ensure that it turned a surplus. It has an underlying deficit of $21 million. South West Institute of TAFE has an underlying deficit of $9 million. Melbourne Polytechnic, which posted a comprehensive result of a loss of $2.4 million — —

Mr Pearson — On a point of order, Speaker, I have been noticing that the member for Euroa seems to be currently livestreaming her speech, or her office is, on her Facebook page. I am not sure if that is in line with standing orders. I seek your advice.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Ms Ward) — Order! I thank the member. I will check. I will pause the house for a moment. My advice is that livestreaming via the Department of Parliamentary Services is allowed. If you are livestreaming from any other source, that is not allowed, and I would ask you to cease.

Ms RYAN — Clearly, I am not, Acting Speaker, since I am standing in the chamber. What a desperate stunt from those opposite not to hear the news that they know is true and are desperate to avoid!

Mr Pearson — On a point of order, Speaker, the point I am raising is that it is actually livestreaming on the member's own Facebook page. I appreciate the fact that the member is not doing it herself, but clearly someone in her staff or someone who has access to her Facebook page is livestreaming, and I do not believe that is in line with standing orders.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Ms Ward) — Order! If it is being broadcast through the Parliament, through Parliamentary Services, then that is okay. If it is being broadcast through any other means, then that is not acceptable, and I would ask anyone who is doing that to cease.

Ms RYAN — Thank you, Acting Speaker. What a fantastic little way to avoid hearing the news about TAFE, member for Essendon. Any stunt will do. Back to the atrocious results that TAFEs in Victoria have been posting. GOTAFE has recorded an underlying deficit of more than $12 million. Box Hill Institute has recorded an underlying deficit of more than $23 million. SuniTAFE in Mildura has recorded an underlying deficit of more than $1 million. That does not sound like a TAFE rescue to me. Acting Speaker, I do not know if that sounds like a TAFE rescue to you, but it certainly does not to me.

Why are TAFEs posting such appalling results? It is because they are now receiving less funding under this government to train students than they were receiving in 2014. The Gordon was receiving $57 million in 2014 to train students; it is now receiving $24 million under this government. This government is slashing funding to train students, and then through a back door it is channelling extra funds to ensure that they turn a profit. Seven of the 10 institutes that tabled their reports are now receiving less funding for student training in 2016 than they received in 2014, when this government took office.

Student numbers at Melbourne Polytechnic have halved. They lost 14 600 students last year. What do those opposite have to say about that after promising that they would rescue TAFE? It is a complete and utter sham, and they should hang their heads for their failure, their hypocrisy and their absolutely appalling use and politicisation of students before the last election.

For more than 700 days we have had no scrutiny of the finances of Federation Training in this Parliament. That is absolutely staggering. We have not had an annual report from Federation Training in Gippsland in two years. We have not seen their 2015 report; we have not seen their 2016 report. That is absolutely appalling.

I would like to take the remaining time that I have to make a few comments about what this budget has or has not delivered for my own electorate. In actual fact I would have to say that the rorting member for Melton has received more from this budget than most of the communities across my electorate, because most of them did not receive a cracker. This is a Melbourne budget; this is not a Victorian budget. This is a Melbourne Premier not a Premier who knows how to govern for all of Victoria.

The north-east rail line, which runs through many of the communities that I represent, did not get a cent under this government. Jacinta Allan is happy to stand up here day after day and pretend she cares about regional Victoria. She was not willing to invest a single cent in the north-east rail line — —

Mr Scott — On a point of order, Acting Speaker, members should be referred to by their correct titles.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Ms Ward) — Order! I uphold the point of order. The member for Euroa will continue to refer to members by their title.

Ms RYAN — Those opposite are a bit touchy today, are they not, Acting Speaker? They are pretty desperate to run out time on the clock. They do not want to hear about their budget and how little it delivers for regional Victoria. The federal budget handed down on Tuesday night delivered five times the amount for the north-east rail line. It delivered $100 million. When the Minister for Public Transport was running around the state trying to spend federal government money that she did not even have, she was only willing to chuck 1.3 per cent of her regional revival package, completely unfunded, to the north-east line. Now the federal government has come out and invested $100 million in that line and she has nothing to say about that.

Mr Richardson — On a point of order, Acting Speaker, we are back on live stream now. We have gone from being live streamed to not being live streamed. Now we are back livestreaming. The member for Euroa is again breaching the rules of the Parliament by going back to live streaming.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Ms Ward) — Order! Just to clarify, member for Mordialloc, your point of order is that the member for Euroa or her staff has continued to live stream?

Mr Richardson — In defiance of parliamentary procedures and in direct defiance of the Chair. They are back on live stream right now.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Ms Ward) — Order! If it is being streamed via Parliamentary Services, then this is allowed. If it is not being streamed via Parliamentary Services, then I ask whoever is live streaming to cease.

Ms RYAN — This is a ridiculous farce. It shows how little those opposite care to hear about their own budget. The live stream is clearly from the Parliament's website. I think if you look around here, you will not see anybody holding a mobile phone live streaming from inside the chamber. It is clearly from the Parliament feed. This is a pathetic attempt to deny regional Victorians — my constituents, the Euroa electorate — from having a voice in this debate. It is absolutely pathetic.

The Premier came to Wangaratta several weeks ago and said that he was not willing to invest in new trains for the north-east rail line until the federal government put up money to fix the track. Well, they have. So my question to the Premier is: when are you going to buy new trains for the north-east rail line? Because you have spent three years planning, designing, planning, designing to avoid any kind of investment in the north-east line. It is now time for the Premier to stump up and show us the colour of his money. That is what my electorate demands, and that is what we now expect. The community of Euroa has been seeking investment for some kind of funding — —

The ACTING SPEAKER (Ms Ward) — Order! The member for Geelong on a point of order.

Mr Watt interjected.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Ms Ward) — Order! I take offence to the member for Burwood's comments directed at me. I ask the member for Burwood to withdraw.

Mr Watt — I withdraw.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Ms Ward) — Order! I thank the member for Burwood for his respect for the Chair.

Ms RYAN — I just want my constituents in the electorate of Euroa, who probably have tuned in via the live stream, member for Mordialloc, to know that those opposite are denying them the opportunity for a response to the budget by taking completely frivolous points of order.

Euroa demands some investment from this government in providing public health care. That has been denied for the last two and a half years by this government. We have seen ambulance response times across the Shire of Strathbogie get longer, not shorter, as ambulances are tied up ferrying patients to and from Goulburn Valley Health. The Minister for Health knows that there is a sensible economic and social argument to be made by funding Euroa Health to deliver public health care, but this government refuses to provide the investment that that community needs. Fundamentally this is an argument about social justice.

Residents in the Shire of Strathbogie demand the same level — deserve the same level — of access to public health care as any other community around this state, yet they have been denied that access. They are the only shire in the entire state which does not have access to publicly funded health care. I think it is a real disappointment to my communities that that has again been overlooked in this budget, and that we have seen no positive reaction after two and a half years of lobbying the Victorian health minister for an investment in that service.

Schools in my region have again been completely overlooked. Benalla P–12 College and Seymour College had a funding commitment of $15 million each from the coalition before the last election, and Labor has not delivered for them. This is not the education state. This is not a Premier who cares about regional Victoria. He is willing to put money into Labor-held seats, but he will not invest in country communities. He will not invest in the education of children outside of metropolitan Melbourne, and I think that that is an incredible shame.

On public transport, the Minister for Public Transport has had a proposal for more than six months to provide additional bus services in the town of Heathcote. She has done nothing with that proposal. Heathcote has the longest main street in rural Victoria. It has very limited services connecting it to Bendigo, and it is time that the public transport minister got on and did something about that. This is a terrible budget for regional Victoria.

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