Regional Victoria - Matters of Public Importance
23 February 2022
I must honestly express so much gratitude to the member for Macedon for moving this delusional matter of public importance. She has done what no other member of the Labor Party in my time in Parliament has been able to do, and that is cause a dispute in The Nationals party room because we all wanted the opportunity to talk on this fantastic MPI, which just shows how incredibly out of touch and deluded the Labor Party is with the sentiment of regional Victoria.
Ms RYAN: You clearly know that you have an enormous problem in regional Victoria. The fact that the Premier of this state will not leave the city without very controlled media opportunities, without being completely wrapped in cotton wool, without telling anyone anywhere where he is going, is demonstrative of the fact that you guys know you are stuffed in regional Victoria, because people know your record, we can see it and we are living it on a daily basis. And the fact that you think that you deserve to be congratulated—
The SPEAKER: Order! I ask the member to direct her comments through the Chair.
Ms RYAN: The fact that Labor believes that it should be congratulated for a record on jobs, on roads and transport infrastructure, on tourism and major events, on education and on health is not just out of touch, it is absolutely laughable. COVID restrictions have killed businesses in regional Victoria. Look at the interstate migration figures. In the year leading up to June 2021, 18 300 people left Victoria, mostly to go to Queensland. Former mayor in my area Scott Upston, an amazing man dedicated to the youth in Benalla, ran a gym. He could not take it anymore. He left our community, and he has gone to New South Wales to escape this government and its decisions.
Victoria is the second worst anywhere in the nation for business confidence. Across regional Victoria severe labour shortages are crippling—absolutely crippling—our businesses, and meanwhile this government is applying a giant new housing tax in regional Victoria where housing affordability and land availability are virtually at crisis levels. What is that going to do to help people on the public housing waiting list? What does that do to renters? It drives up costs that people can ill afford at a time when they have been belted around the head by your restrictions with COVID.
You are closing the native timber industry. And then the member for Macedon—she has disappeared from her own MPI—comes in here talking about how proud she is of agriculture. Well, last week we discovered she was slashing 145 jobs from Agriculture Victoria, on top of the 47 last year that were mainly soil researchers that were described as being surplus to requirements.
Roads and transport infrastructure—do you really want to have a debate about that? I actually put this MPI up on my Facebook page last night because I thought some regional Victorians would like to have some input. Gemma says:
The roads are appalling.
David Bell says:
Regional Vic, I don’t even think the Labor party knows it exists …
Yes, congratulations on more regional potholes and ever increasing costs …
Can they come out and drive some of our rural roads? Hey maybe even just the Hume. Such a failure as a freeway!
They are delusional, never seen the country roads and state government assets in such a bad state!
OMG they are deluded! Where do we start? How about my buying a return v line ticket last Thursday as I needed to be in Melbourne, only to be left at the Euroa station with NO TRAIN.
Roads … there doing great.
… time for them to get off there backsides and have a look, but then again they don’t want to hear what country Victorians have to say.
Maybe bring up the nonexistent Victorian Youth Strategy the Victorian youth sector has been missing for well over a year after extensive youth consultation in 2020 …
All happen in melb but not country where it got to happen, just not good enough roads very dangers to drive on pot hole every where.
Do you really want to have a discussion about roads and transport infrastructure in regional Victoria? You are crazy if you do, because if you leave the city boundaries, which most of you never do, you will discover that roads across regional Victoria are falling apart. Our national freeway—
Ms Green: On a point of order, Speaker, I need some respite from the rant. Could you please, on the point of order, ask the member for Euroa to please refer her remarks through the Chair. She is just really being disrespectful to the Chair.
The SPEAKER: Order! I have asked the member to just refer her comments through the Chair.
Ms RYAN: Speaker, our national freeway, the Hume Freeway, is falling apart. There are ‘Rough surface’ signs and speed restrictions right across it, and you will find that anywhere you go across regional Victoria. If the Labor Party members actually left the city, they would realise the horrific state of regional roads. You have—they have, Speaker, the Labor Party have—cut the road asset maintenance budget by 25 per cent just last year. We have got critical infrastructure like the Kilmore bypass in my area, which we started on back in 2014. They have done nothing in the last eight years, absolutely nothing. We have got the Shepparton bypass. The federal government committed $208 million in April 2019 to the first stage of that project, and the state Labor government could not cough up the 20 per cent required of them to make a project that has been waiting for decades to happen. Where are they on that remaining 20 per cent? Nowhere to be seen.
They are so out of touch. Most of the regional rail work that is being done at the moment is funded by the federal government. All the state government has to do is manage it. Now, we had a situation recently where the upgrades on the Shepparton line were occurring. They scheduled them right in the middle of grain harvest, cutting off access to the GrainCorp silos, and when local farmers pointed it out, they asked them to ‘shift the grain harvest’. That is how much they understand country Victoria. You might as well hold back the tide. They wanted them to just ‘shift the grain harvest’. Are you kidding? This stuff could not be made up. It is bizarre.
Tourism and major events—what tourism? What major events? They have all been cancelled in the last two years. People are scared to schedule an event because they do not want it to get cancelled, because they risk losing thousands of dollars.
Now, education—the member for Macedon says that there are more schools in Victoria than anywhere else. Newsflash: you are the only state in Australia that has decreased the number of secondary schools—of any state or territory. It is written in the Productivity Commission’s report if you do not believe me. You are doing things like amalgamating schools in Shepparton, stripping that community of any choice whatsoever, and you think you are investing in education. We have the lowest state funding per student in Australia of any state or territory.
Ms Spence: On a point of order, Speaker, I am sorry to do it, but I am afraid the member for Euroa is not a quick learner. Again, can you please ask her to direct her comments through the Chair?
The SPEAKER: Order! I uphold my previous point of order.
Ms RYAN: Speaker, I am happy to refer to the Labor Party to remind everyone that this is their record. Labor is giving lower state funding per student in government schools than anywhere else in Australia. Mental health in students: there are 20 000 more young people in Victoria accessing Medicare for mental health services as a consequence of the lockdowns we have been through, and the Andrews government at every turn has opposed the measures that we have called for, which would deliver mental health practitioners in every school. We have more than 80 000 Victorians on the public health waiting list.
I very quickly want to go to ambulances. The member for Buninyong might spit her coffee over these statistics. Statewide the average response time when we left office, when they decried the performance, was 13 minutes and 24 seconds for code 1. Today it is 15 minutes and 11 seconds, and the ambulances are responding to less than half of the call-outs they were responding to when we left government. You are responding to fewer people in a much, much greater length of time. Spit your coffee over that. That is the record of those opposite. You think you are delivering a fantastic outcome for regional Victoria in ambulance services. The statistics say otherwise. The statistics say something else about public hospital waiting lists. I have story after story from my electorate of people who are suffering under the Labor Party.