Mr BURGESS (Hastings) (15:04:25) — It is a pleasure to rise on this matter of public importance (MPI), but it really is just another shonky stunt by a shonky government — a shonky and failed government, a government that is full of spin, full of thieves and really never gets on with the job. All they are ever trying to do is push people around and bully their way through processes.
What have we got? This has come from the member for Werribee. This is an MPI from the member for Werribee, the Treasurer. Let us look at the Treasurer. What an absolute shonk. This is a man known for two things: he is known for a billion‑dollar mistake in counting, in adding up. He is also known as the man that said you can get past any law if you want to. He is so well‑qualified to be a Treasurer for this government, an absolutely failed government. He wants to talk about jobs, but this is a Treasurer that is focused on not being able to count and not being able to tell the truth. He is pretty much a good example of exactly what this government is about.
What have we got? That is typical of the approach that has got this government into so much trouble. You only have to pick up any newspaper in this state to see exactly what this government is about. They want to talk about job creation; they have destroyed thousands of small businesses across the state. Let me ask you: where on earth in this MPI is there any mention of or accounting for those losses? Where are they — or don’t you count those as jobs? When a person is running a small business, don’t you count those as jobs? Are they not jobs? That is the question because you have literally destroyed thousands of them across this state.
I feel sorry for some of the members on that side of the chamber because you are actually wearing the bad deeds of some of your members. But you knew about it. You could have put your hand up and said, ‘I had no part in it’, but you did not. Ben, you did not. You did not put your hand up and say, ‘I wasn’t a thief. I didn’t steal public money. I didn’t go in there and rort money from the community. I didn’t do that’, so you are all guilty. Every one of you is guilty. Instead of dealing with that, you come in here with some distraction that you want to talk about. You do not want to talk about honesty and integrity in your government because there is none. There is none at all.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER — Member for Hastings, through the Chair.
Mr BURGESS — You had every opportunity to say, ‘I didn’t get involved in that; that wasn’t me’, and you have not. You have kept quiet.
So what have we got? We have got a problem where the government comes in here trying another one of its tacky stunts. If you just for one minute bothered to compare the rate of jobs to what the federal government has produced both under us and under you, you would see the mistake or at least the tackiness of your approach, because when you look at the figures, you are failing on every measure. I want to know: where in this MPI is there any indication that you have even noticed the thousands of jobs that you have lost as far as small businesses are concerned? Do they not matter to you at all? Is there no caring at all about these small businesses?
Ms Thomas — On a point of order, Speaker, I am afraid that the member keeps referring to ‘you’, and I am worried about the reflections he is making on you in his contribution. I would ask that he adhere to the proper way of speaking in the chamber.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER — I do encourage the member for Hastings to speak through the Chair and to refer to members in this house by their correct titles.
Mr BURGESS — I have been, thank you very much, Deputy Speaker. They are certainly the titles that suit them. I will definitely speak through the Chair.
We have a real problem in this house, because clearly any distraction will do to distract from the fact that this government has destroyed thousands of businesses across this state, and do they talk about them once? No, they do not. Do they come in here and talk about the small businesses for the school cleaners? No. Do they come in here and talk about the small businesses they have wiped out with their ridiculous energy prices? No. Do they come in here and talk about the bus companies that they have put on notice and the assets of which they want to steal? No, they do not. Do they talk about that at all? No, they do not. This is a government that is a complete failure and does not want to deal with any of those issues. They would rather talk about statistics, manipulating them in the right way, as the Treasurer has said he is capable of doing. If you manipulate any law, you can get past it — they were his words.
With school cleaners, what have we got? We had hundreds of school cleaners doing great jobs across the community. We had a union go out and do a survey and come back to John Brumby, the Premier at that stage, but even he did not believe it. He did not act on it. But this same bit of information that was used then has now been used to sack hundreds of school cleaning companies across this state. It just destroyed those businesses. Does anybody on the other side of Parliament care about those businesses — those businesses that had mortgages and had loans to employ people and to buy equipment to service their local community schools? Those schools are distraught that they have lost those businesses. They have now got cleaners coming into their schools that work less, leave their schools dirtier and work for companies that actually underpay them. These cleaners are being paid less than they were being paid before.
How do you justify that? How can you justify getting rid of all of those small businesses right across the metropolitan area on shonky information that was never substantiated and information where nothing was produced, other than the minister saying that he thought this was a better way to go about it? That is not the way the schools see it, and it is definitely not the way the families behind those small businesses see it. This has really caused great angst out there, but under this MPI there is no indication of those thousands of jobs that have been lost — nothing at all, not even a comment about those thousands of jobs that have been lost. And yet this government comes in here and
tries to manipulate statistics to make it look like it is doing a good job. That is just one of the areas where that is occurring.
Young Street in Frankston — a great example — was supposed to be a 13‑week job. It took 77 weeks to get it done. I could take you for a walk through Frankston and you would see 72 empty shops; they represent 72 businesses and 72 families that no longer have an income. All of those businesses and those families now no longer employ people. There is no mention of that in this MPI. That is an absolute disgrace, and the local member would not even front up to talk to any of those people. Another disgrace and a mistake that members on that side make is forgetting that you are elected by your local community; you are not elected by this government. You are supposed to come to this place and tell your government what is going on in your community and what it needs, but you do not. You go back to your community and argue why your government is right, and that is an absolute mistake.
When these things have been brought up about these small businesses having suffered so badly, what has been the response? The Minister for Small Business in another place has had numerous questions raised with him about all of these small businesses. He was asked about the bus companies, the assets of which you tried to steal. What did he say? ‘Not my job’. School cleaners were raised with him and the fact that small businesses were being destroyed. He is the Minister for Small Business. He picks up a pay packet as the Minister for Small Business, and what was his response to the question, ‘Will you help them’? It was, ‘Not my job’. Regarding Young Street, when he was asked, ‘What will you do to help these small businesses that are suffering under this government?’, what was his response? ‘Not my job’. On Melbourne Metro rail and the businesses that have been absolutely destroyed by the way this government has gone about that project, bullying its way through, what was his response? ‘Not my job’. On Bolton Street in Eltham, it was, ‘Not my job’. On the forestry industry, it was, ‘Not my job’.
Energy prices right across this state were going to increase by 4 per cent when you forced Hazelwood to close. How has that ended up? We have had doubling and tripling of energy costs across this state. And what does the Premier try and do? He tries to blame privatisation. One of your heroes, Prime Minister Gillard, said that Victoria had done a great job and was a shining example for all other states, but now you are saying that privatisation is the problem and that is why prices have gone up. They were not up when you were changing this and when you were driving Hazelwood out of business. They were not up, but they are now, and it is this government’s fault.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER — Order! The member’s time has expired.