Budget papers 2018-19 – Richmond Electorate

Legislative Assembly
22 May 2018

Mr WYNNE (Minister for Planning) (15:24:06) — I am delighted to get up today to make a contribution to the take-note motion of the 2018–19 budget. In doing so, the Victorian budget will deliver on three fundamentals: new skills and good jobs, more schools and indeed better roads for every Victorian. It is a budget that has been framed in a way that ensures all parts of the state get a decent share of the budget for 2018–19. I am of course also reminded of the excellent forward estimates that the Treasurer has placed in the budget which speak so eloquently of the real strength of the Victorian economy going forward. I just want to commend the work of the Treasurer and the Minister for Finance and of course the Premier for the leadership that he has shown in framing what is, by any measure, a really excellent outcome for the Victorian community.

But I want to particular focus my contribution today, not surprisingly, on my own electorate of Richmond. Families in Richmond will have good schools close to their homes, with a share of the $1.3 billion for school allocations across the state. This year’s budget includes $500 000 to design a new senior campus for Collingwood College and Fitzroy High School on the Fitzroy Gasworks site. I do not need to remind colleagues in the house of the history of Fitzroy High School, except to indicate the Fitzroy High School was in fact the only high school closed by the Kennett government that actually reopened. Can I say it is going absolutely gangbusters in what is a unique relationship of twinning between Collingwood College and Fitzroy High School where there is a shared curriculum between the two schools.

It is a unique partnership and one that will be further consolidated by the opportunities that are going to be presented at the Fitzroy Gasworks site where $500 000 will be going to the planning of a senior high school. That will be conducted, as you would expect, through broad community consultation and conversation between the school communities as to what the framing of that senior high school might look like. It may be a senior high school that has year 10, 11 and 12, it may be a year 10, 11, 12 and 13 school or it may be a specialist school. That is yet to be determined, but it is a fantastic commitment by the government.

There is an extraordinary budget commitment of $8.28 million to upgrade facilities at Abbotsford Primary School. For those who know Abbotsford Primary School, it is a lovely little school tucked just off Victoria Street, and the beauty of this public school is that it is in fact a bilingual school. It teaches children in Chinese and Vietnamese as well so that when a child goes through that school from prep to grade 6, by the time they get to grade 6 they will be completely fluent in a second language. What a power to have. What a unique asset these children will have, being able to be not only bilingual in Chinese and/or Vietnamese but also to have a pathway through to extend their Chinese language skills at Richmond High School. I will come to Richmond High School in a couple of minutes. They will be able to transition right through from prep to year 12. Imagine the power that is going to be available to those young people coming out of secondary school and being able to look to the north — to our major trading partner in China — and to negotiate their way there. It is just an extraordinary opportunity in my electorate.

The budget also includes $200 000 for upgrades at Richmond Primary School, a whopping $1.08 million for landscaping works at the great Richmond West Primary School and $550 000 to upgrade and modernise facilities at Spensley Street Primary School. I was at Spensley Street Primary School on Sunday when they were having their harvest fete, and I have to say the —

Ms Victoria — Did you buy some jam?

Mr WYNNE — I did. I actually bought some very, very nice apricot jam — homemade — which I had some of yesterday and also a very lovely —

Ms Victoria — Chutney?

Mr WYNNE — No, not chutney — some tomato sauce that will see its way clear very soon. But again, it is a great public school. They are so pleased to have that $500 000, which will assist them with further classroom space as part of a specialist science program for the students there. I know that that amount of money is really going to have a fantastic impact on that school. We have also provided funds to purchase land to extend Clifton Hill Primary School, making sure that that great school can keep meeting the needs of a growing population.

I had the pleasure of being with the Minister for Education only yesterday at Richmond High School — a $44 million investment in a senior secondary school for boys and girls in Richmond — where in fact we celebrated what is called the ‘topping out’ of the school. The major construction of the school is complete, and now it will be clad and obviously all of the internals will be done. They are well on schedule with this, and the beautiful thing was that the first intake of grade 7 students, who are temporarily opposite in the sports facilities, came over with us to go for the first time up onto the roof of this spectacular four-storey facility and actually see the bones of what their school is going to be like. They were absolutely beside themselves. They were so excited to be the first group of school leaders to come and see what their school is going to be like. I have got to say that when you are up there on the fourth floor of that school it is unbelievably spectacular. It has views to the city that you cannot imagine — views to the MCG, to Collingwood and down to Richmond. I am just thrilled with the commitment that our government has made. It is an enormous amount of money — $44 million — but is there any better investment a government can make than in public education? So this has been a fantastic outcome.

I am delighted that the Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing has provided $22.4 million to fund the installation of smoke detectors, sprinklers and smoke separation barriers in the common areas of all of our public housing high-rise estates. As members would know, we have got 47 of the very high 20-plus storey public housing towers. Members will of course also be aware that there was in fact a small fire in the Napier Street towers in Fitzroy. Thankfully —

Mr Edbrooke interjected.

Mr WYNNE — I am looking at my colleague the member for Frankston. What the fire brigade did there was absolutely extraordinary. They were running into this fire early in the morning and just did a magnificent job. But we have learned the lesson of what we need to do in terms of ensuring not only that all of the flats themselves are sprinklered — the apartments — but that the common areas, the balconies and the congregating areas on the ground floor are sprinklered as well. That is a great initiative by Minister Foley. I know I can say, on behalf of my residents, just how grateful they are for that extra bit of security in the event of, God forbid, a fire occurring.

Mr Edbrooke interjected.

Mr WYNNE — Yes, it is absolutely life saving, as the member for Frankston indicates.

In relation to the Yarra River, this has been groundbreaking legislation. The landmark Yarra River Protection (Wilip-gin Birrarung murron) Act 2017 has obviously now passed the Parliament. We all remember what a great day that was when the Wurundjeri elders came in when we introduced the bill into the house and when they spoke in their own language. They were so pleased that the government were in fact listening to them and were respectful of their ambitions for the sacred Yarra River. In that context the act does enshrine a new statutory body, the Birrarung Council, to act as an independent voice for the river, and it enables the declaration of parklands and open space along the river as Greater Yarra Urban Parklands.

This is groundbreaking legislation. It is certainly the first in Australia and possibly one of the first in the world, and I am delighted that we have had the opportunity as a Parliament to ventilate these issues and to get bipartisan support for the protection of the Yarra River, acknowledging the voice of the Wurundjeri people who speak for the Yarra River. There is $1.25 million that has been put into the budget for the Yarra River Action Plan going forward, and there will be successive commitments over the out years as well.

Community sport did not miss out, certainly not from this government: $3 million for Ryans Reserve to upgrade four ageing courts and the old pavilion, $3 million for Yarra Bend Park to provide a pavilion to allow for netball courts and $2 million to upgrade facilities for women’s football at the spiritual home of the Magpies, Victoria Park, which is just fantastic. I know for women’s sport, having been down at Victoria Park only very recently for some local football and talking to the women who play down there, their facilities are a disgrace. Their change facilities are in fact the umpires room. It is just not acceptable, and I know just how important that investment has been, particularly for women’s football at Victoria Park.

There are so many places I could go here, but I just wanted to touch upon the record investment of $705 million that the Minister for Mental Health got in the budget to address mental illness and addiction. This is really a landmark commitment by the Andrews government. It includes six dedicated crisis hubs in emergency departments, including of course at St Vincent’s Hospital. I had the pleasure of being at St Vincent’s Hospital only a little over a week ago with the Minister for Mental Health, when we announced the mental health hub that will be part of the casualty ward at St Vincent’s Hospital. The reason for that of course is when you have got people who are coming in in severe crisis with psychiatric or drug and alcohol issues, you have to manage them differently to other casualty ward patients, so a whole area will be dedicated to ensuring that these people are in fact triaged in a way that addresses their needs but does not disrupt other patients who of course would be serviced in the casualty ward.

I will just conclude, can I say, with the extraordinary commitment to people, training and jobs: $172 million to make priority TAFE courses free, giving more residents — and indeed my residents — a chance to be able to train at TAFE and get the right skills they need for a good job. Thirty priority TAFE courses and 18 preapprenticeship courses will be made free — it is fantastic — with more than 30 000 new TAFE places to be funded right across the state.

This budget, I think, speaks to what is at the core of why we are the Australian Labor Party, because it talks to all the fundamentals that are important to our community, whether it is in education, whether it is in jobs, whether it is in training or whether it is in those crucial social safety nets, such as the funding that is being provided for mental health. These are the reasons why I am so passionate about this budget and so passionate about the fact that the budget strikes the right note: strong economic growth for the state, very strong surpluses going forward, net debt to gross state product very satisfactory and I think from our point of view a budget that is actually shared — shared in regional Victoria, in your part of the world, Deputy Speaker, as much as it is shared across metropolitan Melbourne. We know that this is a government that actually governs for the entire state, whether it is in the massive investments that are being made in public transport as well that link our communities together. I am so proud to be a part of a government that truly does govern for all Victorians.