Address-in-reply

Previous DocumentMrNext Document BURGESS (Hastings) (16:36:07): It is a pleasure to rise to speak in the address-in-reply debate and to follow the member for Essendon. It is always enlightening to hear him tell us all what a great orator he is while he is bagging out the person that ran against him at the previous election. It is really not the way you should be approaching these things. I will be thanking the people that ran against me, because that is just the general thing that we do in here, but the member for Essendon does not seem to have picked up on that in his approach to politics. Overall I would like to thank the people of the Hastings community for having shown trust in me. I will certainly be doing everything in my power to deliver everything I can that is important to my community—all the priorities that they have made very clear to me. I will be doing everything I can to hold this government to account and to make sure that my community gets the things that it needs. I would like to congratulate the Speaker on his re-election and also the member for Bendigo West on her re-election as the Deputy Speaker. I congratulate the new Leader of the Opposition, the member for Malvern, and his deputy, the member for Eildon. I am sure they will do a fantastic job in holding this government to account and leading the Liberals and The Nationals into this four-year term. I also want to thank the outgoing Leader of the Opposition, the member for Bulleen—it was a great honour to have served in the shadow cabinet under him—for his great leadership abilities, his ability to remain human while he was being attacked inhumanely and his good manners to people regardless of what was happening. I would like to thank him and his family—Renae and his children—for having given him up for such a very long period of time. I had the opportunity to watch him working from a very close distance. To say that he put in more effort than I have seen any other politician put in over that four-year period is an understatement. He is a very impressive man. Of course we did not get the result that we wanted, and as with all Liberals I am extremely disappointed about that, but I am probably more disappointed for Victorians for the government that they have now elected. It is very much like the 1988 election of the Cain government, when things are about to fall apart, when you are about to get a really clear view of what is going on but not quite yet. We know that the budget is out of control. We know that there is money being borrowed from the Chinese government. We have the information that the projects are all being bungled and are running over time and over budget, and the clarity we need in these things is only just becoming available now. For the Treasurer, just two days before the election, to stand up and say, 'Look, our children are going to be using this infrastructure, so they should be paying for it’, was an absolute disgrace. Certainly while I have been in here most governments have wanted to take what they were given and give back something better. This government is completely different. It really just wants to take what it can for itself and its union mates and give back something that has really deteriorated from what it inherited. That is a very unfortunate situation, and that is what I regret the most out of last November’s election. There is no doubt that this government is already showing its massive arrogance. In question time today it was just incredible to watch the arrogance and the incompetence on display, with ministers being asked questions and coming up with their possible parliamentary questions, just answering whatever they wanted to, giving answers that bore no resemblance to the questions they were asked. It clearly showed incompetence that they were not able to understand the question or not able to relate the answer to the question. It is certainly something that I thought showed the complete arrogance of this government. There is no doubt that, as with most things, when you get complete control, as the government pretty much has now, this arrogance will only grow and the incompetence will become more clear to us all. I also want to thank my staff for the enormous work that they have done. Barry Fay, who has been in my office since the day I started, has done sensational work. Phillip is new to my office but a great worker and has been doing a really, really good job. Kylie is doing a great job too—Kylie is our 0.5 person, but she works like she has a complete role. Sally and Barrie—with an I-E—have worked enormously hard to make sure that the Hastings office does a great job. I am very, very proud of the reputation that we have been able to establish throughout the electorate of being the place to go if you want or need something done. We will always fight that little bit harder and little bit longer and go that extra mile to make sure that we do the right thing by our community, and that is something that I take a great deal of pride in. Unlike the member for Essendon, I would like to congratulate my opponents at the last election—Simon Meyer, Georgia Knight and Nathan Lesslie. They all did great jobs in representing the parties that they stood for election for. They fought strongly and fairly, and I think that is the way politics should be. It disgusts me to have seen what went on at some of the electoral booths across the state. The bullying that went on at Carrum just takes your breath away—to have people come up and say the things that were said to the Liberal that stood for Carrum at that point. Really, those people need to have a very good close look at themselves. The candidates have done a sensational job in standing up. It is a difficult thing to do: to put yourself forward for public life. People should be complimented on the fact that they have stood up. Lots of people will tell you how you should do things and what you should be doing, but very few people will actually put themselves on the block, stand up and take that risk. They did that, and I congratulate them for it. More strength to them, and I would like to see them have another go. My resolve is going to be all the stronger, all the more determined, to make sure that my community, the Hastings community—a fantastic community—will get what they deserve, will get the things that they need. It is hard to fight from the opposition bench, but we have got a very good record in this area. There are a whole range of projects that we have been able to achieve from opposition just by political pressure. We had gates and bells put in at eight level crossings; they were not there previously. This is going back some time; it was under the Bracks and Brumby governments. We were able to get that through political pressure when the government did not want to put those level crossings in. If you work hard from opposition, you can get things done. Members of Parliament can make a big song and dance about what a great job they are doing when they are in government and achieving things, but most people can do that. Money is allocated in budgets for those things to happen. You really get tested when you are in opposition and trying to achieve what your community needs. In Hastings in particular we have got a great record. We were able to achieve things against an education minister for whom I had a great deal of fondness, Lynne Kosky. She did not want to build the Somerville Secondary College. In the end she had to build it because of community expectation and community fight and zeal. It was a very badly needed college, and we worked really hard and were able to get that done. There have been a whole range of things that we have been able to get done over the years just from doing the hard work and making sure that people understood that that was what was needed. We were able to fight back against the Labor Party when the Brumby government tried to force a bitumen plant on the community of Crib Point, just as the Andrews government is now trying to force a gas plant onto the same community. We were able to fight against that over four years and delay it, delay it and delay it until we were elected in 2010, and we were able to stop it. At the same time there were urea plants that were going to be put in there. The plans that the Labor party have had for Crib Point have never been good; they have always been destructive for the community, and I will not stop fighting against the AGL plant going ahead as well. You always get pushback from things like that. The Brumby government also tried to put two flat floating pontoons to replace the iconic and historic Hastings jetty, just to save themselves a couple of hundred thousand dollars. When we took over in 2010 we were able to build the jetty in the way the community expected, taking into account its historic significance, and we were able to do it for the funding that they were going to spend on two flat floating pontoons. It is about being able to manage money, but it is also about knowing what the community wants, needs and expects. There are a whole range of things that communities expect in those areas. There is another example of where community fighting can get it where it needs to go. The Pearcedale community fought really hard, and I fought beside them, to get flashing 40‑kilometre zone lights put in at a school where there are hearing-impaired children and where 700 children have to cross a very busy road that moves at a very fast pace. We asked for flashing zone lights to go in there. The government in the last term refused to put them in, saying that it did not satisfy the requirements, even though just about a kilometre or two up the road there was another school in exactly the same circumstances with exactly the same traffic flow which already had them. Those flashing lights have now been put in by the government, but that was thanks to the pressure that the Pearcedale community put on this government. They were able to maintain that pressure. We fought very hard. We committed to putting the lights in, and now the government has done that. The Andrews government has a history of opposing things that are necessary for Hastings. As soon as they took government in 2014, they refused to open the Somerville police station. They cancelled the development of the port of Hastings, sacked 110 people and clawed back $60 million that was there to develop the port. There are a whole range of things where they have just done something that would make it more difficult for my community. The Somerville police station was something that the Somerville community had fought for for over a decade. They had campaigned for it and held protest meetings. Letters and petitions had literally gone on for years. The community wanted its own police station, so in 2010 we committed to building that police station. When we were elected in 2010 we in fact built that police station. It took some time to find the correct land that the police department needed, but we built that police station. It was to open literally at the time of the 2014 election. I received a letter from Ken Lay, the then Chief Commissioner of Police, saying that it would be ready to be opened just after the election as a 24‑hour police station. It depended upon the staffing of course as to whether it was to be 16 hours or 24 hours. Once the Andrews government was elected of course political cynicism kicked in and they refused to open the police station. It has still not been opened. We have rising crime right throughout the community in that area. We have one divvy van. We have not had new police in the Hastings area for years, and crime, particularly the low-level crime, the crime that makes communities feel very unsafe, has grown and continues to grow, with monkey bikes, graffiti, vandalism, hoon driving and those sorts of things. When you walk through a street that is covered in graffiti of course it sends a message to a community that it is an unsafe place, that anything goes, that they are not safe. The message it sends to perpetrators is that they can get away with just about anything. That is the kind of environment that this government is leaving us in. Of course if you task police with going and doing things like breath-testing, while they are very necessary and important, or dealing with domestic violence, which again is a very high priority, but you do not give them the police to do that, then if you only have one divvy van between an area as big as Baxter to Flinders, obviously police cannot attend. So if the police cannot attend, the likelihood is the offence will not be recorded and of course your crime drops, and once police cannot attend several times, then of course the community stops reporting and again your crime drops. That is exactly what this government has done. Then it comes out and does press releases and crows about how it has driven crime down, even though it was still much higher at the end of its last term than it was at the beginning of the last term. They claim that they have driven crime down when in fact what they have done is teach the police and teach the community that it is almost useless reporting it. The same perpetrators end up back out on the street because this government has not handled its courts well, and that is a historic thing from Labor governments, but really the whole thing adds up to a state that is not in a great situation from a law and order prospective. Its police have got very low morale. They are very hardworking and very brave but, nevertheless, have very low morale, and it is making it very difficult for them to do the jobs that they know they need to do for the community. That is not the way a Liberal government would have handled things, and I think the Labor government is an absolute disgrace.