Mr BURGESS (Hastings) (09:49:10): Local residents in my electorate are fed up with rising local crime and the complete lack of support by the Minister for Police and Emergency Services and this government for our hardworking and dedicated local police. Our local police are stretched far too thinly with the huge range of things they are tasked with that they simply do not have time to do the things local residents need them to do. Domestic violence, which is the number one priority of our police, can take as much as 50 per cent of an officer’s time. While it should be our first priority because people’s lives are at risk—the argument is not that it is the wrong priority—the argument is that up to half of police resources are taken up by that one area, despite increased population and rising drug use and associated offences. Zero additional numbers of police have been provided to the Hastings area since the election of the Andrews government. There simply are not enough police officers to adequately protect my community. It does not take a genius to work out that if you do not have enough police to attend and take a report, there often is no crime recorded and the police minister’s stats go down. Great work, Minister. The truth of the claims by the Premier and his minister of lessening crime just do not equate to the lived experience of Victorians, and there is no question about that being the case. Premier and Minister, my community is not going to accept the high crime rates. Over the last two months there have been a number of very well-attended meetings in my area around my community in response to growing frustration by local communities. They are sick and tired of being surrounded by crime and being told it does not exist. I have told my community that vigilantism is not on, but that is not the only action communities can take into their own hands. In fact by letting police know what their expectations are they can then measure police and their performance against that.
Mr BURGESS (Hastings) (11:49:00): (259) My question is directed to the Minister for Education. I am seeking information on behalf of the Somerville Rise Primary School community about the provision of new shade sails for its playgrounds. It has been a number of years since both the junior and senior playgrounds were last protected by shade sails. The metal frames that supported the old shade sails are still in place, but the school cannot afford to replace the sails due to the high expense. A recent quote received for new shade sails for the school’s junior playground was $15 000. Parents are concerned that that the school’s playgrounds have no shaded areas for their children to sit or play under and therefore there is nothing to protect young and vulnerable skin from harmful UV rays. Currently the only shade protection available to the children outdoors is the school’s bike shed. It is estimated that in Victoria 40 000 new cases of skin cancer are identified every year. Australia has the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, with two in three people diagnosed by the age of 70. When used in conjunction with protective clothing and sunscreen, shade structures are the best defence against UV radiation as they offer great sun protection with ventilation and cooling.
Mr BURGESS: I have been approached by a Somerville constituent who is deeply concerned by the steep increase in his land tax bill, which has almost doubled in just two years—from $1605 in February 2017 to $3175. Victorians are facing higher land tax bills every year under the Andrews Labor government, who have shamefully removed the power of local governments to undertake land valuations and have instead shifted the process to the valuer-general, who is re-evaluating them every 12 months instead of over the years—yet another example of the complete lack of care this government demonstrates when dealing with Victorians’ money.
Mr BURGESS (Hastings) (09:44:29): On 23 February the Somerville community joined to witness the unveiling of the portrait of local pioneer Annie Sage at the iconic Somerville Community House. The event commemorated Annie Sage’s work with the Australian Army Nursing Service, for which she was made matron-in-chief of the Australian Imperial Force (Middle East) in May 1941 and was then appointed a member of the Royal Red Cross for exceptional administrative ability and gallant and distinguished service. In May 1942, back in Australia, Annie Sage was elevated to deputy matron-in-chief at Land HQ in Melbourne. In May 1943 she was promoted to the rank of colonel. Affectionately known to the community as Sammie, in 1952 she unsuccessfully sought Liberal preselection for the federal seat of Flinders but continued to be a strong advocate for her community. In 1956 Annie Sage became a partner in a local grocery shop in Somerville, with well-known and loved local Maisie Lewis, that traded as Sage & Lewis. I congratulate the organisers and all who attended this historic local community event.
Mr BURGESS: I was very pleased to join the federal member for Flinders and Minister for Health, the Honourable Greg Hunt, local councillor Julie Morris and the local Somerville community on Monday, 11 March, to celebrate Somerville Family Day. This event gets bigger and bigger every year, with rides, stalls and attractions. There is something for everyone. This year I was thrown in the deep end, quite literally, along with intrepid local councillor Julie Morris, as we were dunked many times, all in the name of fun and supporting the local community. I cannot imagine why locals would line up and pay money just to drop us into cold water. Thanks to the fantastic local organisers, including Cally McNulty and Chrissy Kouvaras, for another wonderful day, and their committees of course.
Mr BURGESS (Hastings) (11:40:22): (406) My question is directed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. I am seeking information on behalf of my broader electorate community regarding the reintroduction of the police in schools program. The wonderfully successful police in schools program continued for 16 years until axed in 2005 by the then Labor government despite a Department of Justice-commissioned Monash University study into the program in 2004 which found the program was effective and recommended its continuation. The program also allowed local police to establish positive relationships with local young people by visiting the schools regularly and getting to know them and letting them know that police are on their side and that they are their friend, not their enemy. Up until the program was axed there were 75 police on the ground around Victoria regularly visiting 650 primary and secondary schools, speaking on the dangers of drugs and alcohol, leading anti-crime and good citizenship initiatives and developing critical early links with young people. By removing that relationship-building opportunity between impressionable kids and those who are responsible for minimising criminal and antisocial behaviour, the Victorian Labor Party contributed directly to a worsening situation of a lack of respect for authority and combative relationships between police and our youth.
As the very proud Patron of the Western Port Festival, it gave me great pleasure to join the Hon Greg Hunt and Cr Kate Roper in judging the winning float the parade, last Saturday.
Congratulations to all winners and the entire committee for their work in organising a wonderful festival for the community.
State Member for Hastings, Neale Burgess is encouraging young people aged 16 to 25 to make their voices heard as part of the annual YMCA Victorian Youth Parliament.
Users of the Port of Melbourne are alarmed that the Ports Minister the Hon Melissa Horne failed to explain in Question Time on Wednesday, why access fees charged by the major cargo handling companies have increased from $3.60 to $80.00 per container over the past 2 years.
Mr BURGESS — Over the past four years I have visited the majority of electorates across Victoria, many of them numerous times, to meet and talk to many hundreds of small and medium‑sized businesses. Often it is not what they say that you learn from; it is what they do not say. Numbers of these businesses described how they had met with their local MP and a few had even met the minister, but the feeling they were given was that they were expected to sit there and listen while the MP and/or minister spoke.