BUDGET PAPERS 2015-16
25 June 2015
Mr WYNNE (Minister for Planning) — I rise to make a contribution to the debate on the 2015–16 budget papers. I am delighted to commence my contribution while standing next to my colleague the Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence. There are so many aspects of this budget that one could talk about. The leadership role that the Andrews government has played — nationally, in my view — in putting the prevention of family violence at the heart of our government’s initiatives and appointing the member for Northcote as the minister with specific responsibility for and to be the guardian of this issue speaks absolutely to the social justice credentials of this government.
In the 2015–16 budget the government committed to an $81.3 million package. That includes funding for the Royal Commission into Family Violence to continue investigations into our national emergency. As members know, the royal commission will report back to the community in early 2016. The Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty, is a magnificent advocate on these issues. She is a person of extraordinary courage and commitment. This will be one of the emblematic policies of this government. I know that under the guidance of my colleague the Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence the government will commit to funding all the initiatives that will come out of the royal commission’s work. This is a huge commitment by our government going forward, but, as the Premier has indicated, family violence is a national emergency — and Victoria is absolutely leading the way in addressing it. The government has also committed $16 million for family violence support services until the royal commission has completed its work.
The second matter I want to touch on briefly is the east–west tunnel.
An honourable member — Dud tunnel.
Mr WYNNE — This dud tunnel is something that I have fought for seven years, from its very earliest iteration. There has been much embroidering around the place about what the Eddington report said about the east–west tunnel. People have said it was a project supported by the then Brumby government. That is in fact not the case. The project was put forward under Eddington, and in all my submissions to government and the subsequent panel hearings and inquiries under the previous government I said this project made no sense economically and that it would do nothing to resolve congestion issues in my part of the world. As everyone knows, more than 70 per cent of the traffic exiting the Eastern Freeway wants to go into the city or further south or north. It never wanted to cross the city. They are the simple facts of it.
Quite mischievously, members of the previous government were purporting that the project would provide an economic return to the state. Subsequently, when we came to government, it was discovered that the return to the state would be 45 cents in the dollar. The project was flawed from the outset, and we knew its fundamental flaw was that it relied on that shonky side letter that underpinned the project. It spoke volumes about the desperation of the previous government to try to get a project such as that up and away.
As the now Prime Minister indicated, last year’s election was a referendum on the east–west tunnel. You bet it was a referendum on the east–west tunnel! Guess what? The people spoke. The federal members or candidates out in the east who think they will get some sort of leverage by trying to crank up the east–west tunnel are fooling themselves.
Unambiguously, members of this government are in the space of public transport. An extraordinary project, the Melbourne Metro rail tunnel, will change the face of this city for the next 50 years. That $9 billion project will double the capacity of the city loop, and it will carry 20 000 extra passengers in peak times. This is an extraordinary investment by this government. It will also open up extraordinary development opportunities. The Metro will start in South Kensington, come around through North Melbourne and go up to Melbourne University, then continue through Swanston Street and out through the Domain onto the metropolitan network.
If you think about the area in North Melbourne, where there will be a train station at Arden Macaulay, which is near the North Melbourne football ground, you realise it is very downgraded warehousing and so forth. This is an enormous opportunity to plan that precinct well. It will have a train interchange station, and you will see in the next 10 to 15 years a complete resurgence of that part of Melbourne. That is why these sorts of investments are so important. They are city-changing projects.
The commitment of the government towards LGBTI communities is another very welcome initiative. The budget provides $10 million towards ensuring that LGBTI Victorians have the respect, inclusion, health and happiness to which we are all entitled. The budget invests $3.2 million to establish and resource Australia’s first dedicated equality portfolio within the Department of Premier and Cabinet. It includes the creation of a gender and sexuality commissioner, an LGBTI task force and a program of reform to remove discrimination from our laws and services. And who better than the member for Albert Park to be steering that initiative? It is a fantastic thing.
In the couple of minutes I have left to speak I want to point out that it would be fair to say we have a set of challenges in the planning portfolio. The previous government left us with 26 central city planning permits to be resolved and more than 150 planning scheme amendments which are yet to be finalised. That is two years worth of planning scheme amendments that were sitting in the previous minister’s office. That is why I am delighted that a further $1 million was provided in the budget for me to, frankly, restock the public service, because 25 per cent of the planning staff were stripped out by the previous government, and I now have the task — —
The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr McCurdy) — Order! I ask the minister to speak through the Chair.
Mr WYNNE — As I said, 25 per cent of the planning staff were stripped out and we have to rebuild the capacity within the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.
In terms of local initiatives, I am absolutely delighted that the government has fulfilled the commitment to Richmond high school. This is an initiative the community has been calling for for years. It has a long history, with its genesis in the closure by the Kennett government of schools in Richmond, which meant that boys had limited access to high school education in the Richmond electorate. With the booming population we have in the area — —
The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr McCurdy) — Order! I ask the minister to speak through the Chair.
Mr WYNNE — I am speaking through the Chair, Sir.
The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr McCurdy) — Order! The minister has his back to me. I am asking him to speak through the Chair.
Mr WYNNE — With a booming population within the Richmond electorate, I know just how welcome this $10 million commitment by the government to a new Richmond high school is. It is very welcome.
There is also a commitment to partner with Clifton Hill Primary School and the Brotherhood of St Laurence on a contiguous parcel of land next door to the primary school, which is booming. We will have an opportunity in the future to partner with the Brotherhood of St Laurence in the redevelopment of its nursing home there, so there is potential for further construction of school facilities for the primary school as well.
Thirdly, we have reversed the cruel cuts to fundamental programs such as the feeding program at St Mary’s House of Welcome in Brunswick Street. This is a major win for our community because this is a frontline service that deals with the most vulnerable people in our community, homeless people — people who, if they did not have St Mary’s House of Welcome, would be sleeping on the streets with no support, and eating out of garbage cans. That is why the commitment of this government to redress a very bad decision by the previous government through contracting out was a very welcome initiative.
My colleagues have talked about netball courts — fantastic. There is funding for 64 additional netball courts for the inner suburbs of Melbourne. This is a $9.6 million initiative. There is also a $10 million fund to build and upgrade women’s changing rooms and facilities at sports clubs. This is very welcome and a fantastic initiative going forward.
Ms Williams — Hear, hear!
Mr WYNNE — My colleague, the member for Dandenong, spoke about Good Money. Again, this is a great social justice initiative of this government.
This is a really balanced budget. It is one that I am immensely proud of. At its core is not only good economic management but also a consistent stream of fairness and social justice. Only a Labor government will commit to those fundamental principles, and that is why we are on this side of the chamber.