House debates

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Matters of Public Importance


3:13 pm

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

I have received a letter from the honourable member for Corio proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:

The Government's cuts to schools, health and infrastructure in Victoria.

I call upon those honourable members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places.

More than the number of members required by the standing orders having risen in their places—

3:14 pm

Photo of Richard MarlesRichard Marles (Corio, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Defence) Share this | | Hansard source

Can I start by congratulating Daniel Andrews, the Premier of Victoria, on the most remarkable victory on an incredible night on Saturday. He leads a serious, progressive, practical team, which in 2014 promised Victorians greater investment in schools, infrastructure and hospitals, and he delivered. In a no-nonsense way, he went to this election promising to do more, and that was rewarded in spades.

It was an incredible win for Daniel Andrews. It was perhaps best put on the night by this commentator who was quoted as saying:

"This Premier, Daniel Andrews, has embarked on the biggest infrastructure spend Australia has ever seen."

"He’s promised schools, hospitals and he’s building a big underground train network …

"In an era of no wage growth, no real wage growth, he’s offered free TAFE, free dental for schools, free three-year-old kinder, … and people love public expenditure on roads, hospitals, trains and schools."

"This is the genesis of the Andrews government’s success. The guy took a huge risk in putting this agenda out, and he’s been rewarded for it."

It shows that at least one member of the Liberal Party had his eyes open about what actually happened on Saturday, because those were the words of Michael Kroger, the President of the Victorian Liberal Party. When the question was being asked as to whether or not there were any federal implications of what occurred on the weekend, some other Liberals also understood what was going on. Denis Napthine, the former Liberal Premier of Victoria said:

If the federal Liberal Party doesn’t understand and learn from this, then they’re doomed to have similar results, and not just in Victoria but across Australia.

Perhaps it was most succinctly put by Andrew Katos, the Liberal member who lost his seat in South Barwon and who said very simply, 'The Feds killed us'. Then we heard from none other than the member for Higgins who made the point that hers was a party that was 'homophobic, anti women and climate change deniers'. But, when this was all then put to the Prime Minister, in a sense we waited with bated breath to hear how he interpreted the events which occurred over the weekend in Victoria. The Prime Minister said this yesterday in respect of a question in just those terms, he said:

… in Victoria an incumbent premier who has been presiding over a strong economy, which has enabled him to deliver services and infrastructure which the people of Victoria have clearly respected … has been re-elected.

What does that sound like? 'Our government is running a strong economy'? 'Our government is delivering infrastructure and services that the Australian people respect and want more of'? That is what we hear from the Prime Minister. Can you imagine being more out of touch than that? 'It's all tickety-boo. Everything is going completely fine.' It was added to by his deputy, who simply said, 'This was a state election fought on state issues'—basically, 'There's nothing to see here.'

When the Victorian Liberals, two of whom are sitting there, think about what happened on the weekend, has it got anything to do with what's gone on in this building in the last few months on their side of politics? 'Nothing to worry about. We've got no issues here at all.' In fact, more than that, bizarrely, the Prime Minister yesterday seemed to think that in fact what occurred on the weekend in Victoria was somehow an endorsement of the way he has been governing. That's what he was saying. It was like he was the national version of Daniel Andrews.

It is worth checking whether or not actually this is a government which looks like the Andrews government. In the area of education, the Andrews government was promising free TAFE, universal access for three-year-olds to kinder and 100 new schools over the last eight years. But I tell you what the Prime Minister's government has been about: cutting $14 billion from schools across the country and cutting $570 million from universities in Victoria. That doesn't sound very much like Daniel Andrews to me.

By contrast, I'll tell you what a future Shorten Labor government will do: it will put $804 million into Victorian schools over the next three years and uncap tertiary places, which will see 50,000 Australians getting access to tertiary education. In the area of health, the Andrews government promised 10 new hospitals across Victoria, including—indeed, in the electorate of Geelong, in my electorate, the federal electorate of Corio—a women's and children's maternal hospital. By contrast, what the Morrison government has been doing is cutting $183 million from hospitals from 2017 through to 2020. That is the equivalent of cutting 250 doctors and 500 nurses. Again, that doesn't sound a lot like what Daniel Andrews is doing in Victoria. There's not a great equivalence between Morrison and Andrews in those facts. I'll tell you what a Shorten Labor government will do: we'll invest $2.8 billion into health over the next five years and we will end the Morrison government's freeze on Medicare.

In infrastructure, the Andrews government famously has now got rid of 29 level crossings across Victoria in a much larger program; has promised to invest $16.5 billion in the North East Link, the process of which began yesterday; and has promised the visionary Suburban Rail Loop, which will literally transform public transport in Melbourne. By contrast, this is what the Morrison government has done in relation to infrastructure: cut a billion dollars from road projects in Victoria, from blackspots, from repairing bridges; and pushed off a range of new projects, such as the airport rail link and the Monash rail project. There's nothing like Daniel Andrews in those actions. But I tell you what: federal Labor, when we were last in government, doubled the infrastructure spend in Victoria. We invested in a range of projects, from the Regional Rail Link to upgrading the Geelong to Colac highway.

The truth is, Scott Morrison, this Prime Minister, looks nothing like Daniel Andrews. He is the polar opposite. The idea that the Prime Minister sees something positive for him in what occurred on the weekend simply shows how completely out of touch he and the team that he leads are. The truth of the matter is this—and everyone on that side of the parliament knows it: on the night of the Longman by-election, when they watched the collapse in the Liberal vote in that particular electorate sitting in the northern suburbs of Brisbane, they got spooked. To the extent that there was any thinking at all going on during coup week—but I'm not sure there was a lot of thinking going on during coup week on that side of parliament—when they ripped themselves apart and made this place an utter shambles for the whole nation to see, it was perhaps due to the idea that they could get rid of a Prime Minister who actually resonated in Victoria, as they well know, in the hope that they might get a Prime Minister who could, in some little way, project into Queensland.

I really don't know whether the hope to get that projection into Queensland worked, but I'll tell you one thing: I absolutely know that in coup week what this mob over here did was open up a massive flank in Victoria across the entirety of the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, where we were seeing 10 per cent swings across a range of seats like Aston, like Chisholm, like Deakin and like La Trobe. You all know it, and that's what you were all saying to your Prime Minister when you met with him at 9 o'clock yesterday. Of course, in Corangamite, on the southern part of Geelong, the Liberal vote completely and totally collapsed.

The reality is simply this: since coup week, the federal Liberals have been unable to speak Victorian. They have absolutely no hope of projecting into our state. By contrast, the Shorten Labor opposition is being policy big. We also seek to be a serious group of people who want to meet the challenges that are facing this country today, unlike the populist rabble that we sit opposite. We will be, if given the opportunity, a government which invests in health, education and infrastructure. We will do that in Victoria and we will do that across the entire country. If there was one lesson that we learnt on Saturday night, it's that that's exactly what Victorians want.

3:24 pm

Photo of Dan TehanDan Tehan (Wannon, Liberal Party, Minister for Education) Share this | | Hansard source

If there is one thing that it is certain that the Labor Party will do if they form government it is that they will tax the life out of the Australian people. They will spend like drunken sailors and they will place a debt burden on future generations of Australians the likes of which we haven't seen.

What we've seen here today from the member for Corio are exactly the type of lies that we saw during the last election campaign. Australians know that we have put record funding into education. We've put record funding into child care. We've put record funding into schools, whether they be state, Catholic or independent schools. We've put record funding into higher education. We've put record funding into health and we've put record funding into infrastructure. We will make the case strongly at the next election. You over on that side might be measuring up the curtains, but I can tell you we're going to put up one hell of a fight and we are going to make sure we retain government.

Let's have a look at school funding. What are the facts? The government will boost our investment in public schools from $6.8 billion, which is what it was in 2017, to $7.4 billion this year, to $10.8 billion in 2023 and to $13.7 billion in 2029. There are no cuts. That is an increase year upon year, making an absolute mockery of what they on that side were saying. Let's have a look at what we're doing for Catholic schools. It's exactly the same—$6.3 billion invested in 2017, $6.6 billion in 2018, $8.6 billion in 2023 and $10.2 billion in 2029. For independent schools it's the same—$4.4 billion in 2017, $4.7 billion in 2018, $6.6 billion in 2023 and $8 billion in 2029. That is an increase year upon year, making an absolute mockery of this idea that somehow when you invest more and more each year the Labor Party can call that a cut.

What about health? Health is exactly the same. The government will invest $130.2 billion in public hospitals, an increase of $30.9 billion, with record funding each year for each state and territory. Our government's funding for public hospital activity will increase from $99.3 billion between 2015-16 and 2019-20 to $132 billion between 2020-21 and 2024-25. Commonwealth funding for public hospital services will more than double from $13.3 billion in 2012-13 to a record $28.7 billion in 2024-25. Commonwealth funding for Victorian hospitals has increased from $3 billion per year in 2012-13 under Labor and will increase to over $7 billion in 2024-25, at the end of the new hospital funding agreement.

The pattern is also clear in Medicare services. Investment in Medicare services to Victoria has increased from $4.6 billion under Labor to over $5.5 billion under the Liberal-Nationals government. And the same is true when it comes to medicine. The last Labor government reversed the policy of the coalition to list all medicines approved by the independent PBAC. In fact, they deferred the listing of seven medicines due to their financial mismanagement.

Photo of Alan TudgeAlan Tudge (Aston, Liberal Party, Minister for Cities) Share this | | Hansard source

They couldn't pay for it.

Photo of Dan TehanDan Tehan (Wannon, Liberal Party, Minister for Education) Share this | | Hansard source

Yes, because they couldn't pay for it. They deferred the listings of seven medicines because they stuffed up the budget.

Photo of Alan TudgeAlan Tudge (Aston, Liberal Party, Minister for Cities) Share this | | Hansard source

How many people were affected by that?

Photo of Dan TehanDan Tehan (Wannon, Liberal Party, Minister for Education) Share this | | Hansard source

How many people, indeed? And they are probably still affected, sadly. For Victoria, Australian government funding for schools and hospitals has increased. The opposition should not say anything else.

When it comes to infrastructure, it is the same story. Since coming to office in 2013, we have committed $17 billion to land transport infrastructure projects in Victoria. I must confess that my electorate of Wannon has been a beneficiary. There is the Murray Basin rail project of over $400 million, reopening the rail line between Maryborough and Ararat. When it comes to passenger rail, there is an investment of over $100 million in upgrading the Warrnambool-to-Melbourne line. I must say that—and this is one of the great ironies—during the state election campaign in Victoria, the state government members were out there claiming this as their own investment. It is $100 million by the Commonwealth to upgrade that line, and they were making up that it was they who did it all.

We will give you the facts on a daily basis between now and the next election and we will not let you get away with these lies. Funding for schools has increased. Funding for child care has increased. Funding for universities has increased. Funding for health has increased, whether it be hospitals or Medicare. And funding for infrastructure has increased.

It's worth knowing that the Labor Party will promise a lot, but how are they going to pay for it? This is something that the Australian people will become more and more aware of over the coming months. They will pay for it by increasing taxes by $200 billion. They are going to tax the life out of the Australian people and they are going to spend and spend. And we know this because their track record says that they will do this time and time again. They will place this nation back into debt. How long is it since we've had a budget surplus?

Photo of Michael SukkarMichael Sukkar (Deakin, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I think it was Costello.

Photo of Scott BuchholzScott Buchholz (Wright, Liberal Party, Assistant Minister for Roads and Transport) Share this | | Hansard source

About a decade.

Photo of Dan TehanDan Tehan (Wannon, Liberal Party, Minister for Education) Share this | | Hansard source

Costello. How long is it since the Labor Party delivered a surplus?

Photo of Barnaby JoyceBarnaby Joyce (New England, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

It was 1989.

Photo of Dan TehanDan Tehan (Wannon, Liberal Party, Minister for Education) Share this | | Hansard source

It was 1989. I remember Wyatt Roy say in this place that he didn't think he'd seen one in his lifetime. So we know you'll never be able to deliver a surplus. We know that you will place this country into debt. We know that future Australians will be saddled with a burden that will take years and years to pay off. That is what you are promising. It is the most radical change that this nation has seen since Whitlam was in power. No opposition has promised to increase taxes like you are, to increase spending like you are and to saddle this country with the debt that you will.

When it comes to our government, what we're able to do is, through sound economic management, deliver record funding for schools, record funding for hospitals and record funding for infrastructure. We know that, while we're doing that, we can deliver a surplus and we can start repaying the debt that you mounted up when you were last in government. That is going to be the contrast that we will put to the Australian people at the next election, and it will be a stark contrast: big-taxing, big-spending opposition policies versus sound economic management on this side. The Australian people will know that, through our delivering of a strong economy, when we make promises, we can keep them. When we say that we have record levels of funding for schools, for hospitals and for infrastructure, they know that it is there because of our sound economic management. They know that what you are promising to try to deliver we will never, ever see. It will never see the light of day.

We only have to look back at education, for instance. What happened with the Building the Education Revolution? Six billion dollars was wasted. It didn't lead to a better outcome for a student. It was $6 billion of waste. We know you are about big spending and big taxes. We on this side know about sound economic management that can deliver the programs, the education policies, the health policies and the infrastructure outcomes that this nation needs. I can't wait till we get that election campaign going, because you'll be there measuring up the curtains and we'll be making sure that you never, ever get the chance to put them there.

3:34 pm

Photo of Andrew GilesAndrew Giles (Scullin, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Schools) Share this | | Hansard source

What a fantastic note for the minister to end on. I welcome his invitation to join the battle at the next election. I think on this side we say: bring it on. We are ready to have our offer, our policies, contrasted to yours. I also took on board a really interesting contribution from another senior member of the government in question time today, the Deputy Prime Minister, who said, 'Life teaches us many lessons.' Well, the Minister for Education doesn't seem to have been heeding that maxim, although, of course, he should. Of course, so should his present leader, the Prime Minister.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister compared himself to Daniel Andrews. Let's be clear: the Prime Minister could not be more wrong in making this comparison, and this MPI makes clear exactly why. The governments which preceded him, led by the former member for Wentworth and led by the present member for Warringah, have a record for underinvestment across Australia and particularly in Victoria. There have been big cuts to health. It's a pity the Minister for Education is no longer with us in the chamber, because his comments about education and the record of this government are simply risible.

Can I start with one point: in question time, why can't he say the words 'early learning' when he talks about the education of three- and four-year-olds? Why can't he acknowledge that this is about more than just child care? Why can't he also offer more than just a bandaid when it comes to funding four-year-olds' kinder? Why can't he join us and join the Victorian government in committing to fund three-year-olds' kinder? Why can't he admit that he is short-changing 2.5 million kids in our public schools? He can talk all he likes about our record but the thing that he can't walk away from are the budget papers, which show the massive cuts to education under his budget.

When it comes to infrastructure, we know that Melbourne is the fastest-growing city in Australia, and we know the pains of that growth have been exacerbated by a federal government that's refused to give it its fair share of Commonwealth infrastructure funding and that has consistently played politics with infrastructure. The contrast could not be clearer with the Andrews government.

This is a tale of two governments, and it has serious implications for the formation of the next government in Australia. We saw a Victorian government that was rewarded by the Victorian people for being resolutely focused on the things that matter to Victorians. Daniel Andrews said on the night, 'Victorians overwhelmingly endorsed our positive and optimistic plan for our state.' And Victorians are looking very seriously at, and taking very seriously, federal Labor's positive and optimistic plans for Australia.

The Prime Minister yesterday, on the other hand—

Photo of Alan TudgeAlan Tudge (Aston, Liberal Party, Minister for Cities) Share this | | Hansard source

Don't get too excited!

Photo of Andrew GilesAndrew Giles (Scullin, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Schools) Share this | | Hansard source

No, we're not excited. We take nothing for granted. Isn't it telling that the Prime Minister talks about us being cocky when that is his demeanour to a tee? He struts in here and he shouts. He talks about the Canberra bubble, but all he can do here is talk weirdly and, quite frankly, disturbingly about some intimate conflict with the Leader of the Opposition. He cares about Bill Shorten—the member for Maribyrnong; the Leader of the Opposition. The Leader of the Opposition is focused on the Australian people.

We understand, as did Victorian Labor, that what we need to offer the Australian people is hope, not fear and not narrow divisiveness. One of the big reasons why federal factors were at play in the Victorian election was that Matthew Guy was telling the same narrow, nasty story as the federal government. He was appealing to the same base notes that the federal government have been appealing to, and I am hopeful that the Australian people will react in much the same way.

I think many government members, although perhaps not the minister at the table, Minister Tudge, are seeing things in exactly that way when they have commented on what happened in the Liberal heartland of the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. When Senator Hume said, 'Victorians sent the Liberal Party a message: shape up or ship out,' that is a message that should be heeded. When conservative members of the federal caucus acknowledge that pitches to the alleged base are actually alienating people who've been Liberal voters all their lives, members opposite have to pay attention.

What happened on Saturday should be a wake-up call for all of us in this place. But, on this side, we understand that both Victorians and Australians want a government that's on their side—a government with a plan for the future and with a real policy agenda to make genuine change, not nasty cuts and appeals to base motives.

3:39 pm

Photo of Alan TudgeAlan Tudge (Aston, Liberal Party, Minister for Cities) Share this | | Hansard source

It says something about the dishonesty of the modern Labor Party that the matter of public importance is:

The Government's—


cuts to schools, health and infrastructure in Victoria.

Those in the gallery and those listening should be aware that, far from cutting, in each one of those areas the government is actually adding record amounts of dollars each and every year—this year, next year and well into the future. It is adding record amounts of funding into schools, record amounts of funding into hospitals and record amounts of funding into infrastructure. Yet the dishonesty of the Labor Party today presents that as cuts. They believe that if they say that over and over and over again some people will be gullible enough to believe it. People listening to this debate should know that's exactly what they are doing, that that is their strategy. It is their dishonest strategy, and people should be aware of that, because we are investing record amounts across the board in each of those three areas.

I'd like to discuss my responsibilities as they relate to the matter of public importance, and that is in relation to infrastructure, particularly urban infrastructure, in Victoria and, indeed, in the city of Melbourne. Melbourne is our second-largest city and one of the fastest growing cities in Australia. We have a very significant record in relation to infrastructure dollars going into Victoria—over $20 billion since coming to office has gone into Victoria—and that includes some very significant projects which are under way or which have already been delivered. I'd like to mention three, though, because they go to the nature of what our government is doing to deliver citywide projects which have been on the agenda for many, many years, in many cases, and sometimes decades—projects where the government is actually putting the money in and getting things done.

The first project is the Tullamarine rail. Melbourne Airport is the second-busiest airport in Australia. That proposal has been on the books for probably five decades and never been achieved. It has taken this government to put $5 billion on the table to make that happen. Finally we'll get the rail link out to Tullamarine airport.

The second project is in some respects in a similar vein. It is the Monash-Rowville rail. Monash University is the largest single university campus in Australia. About 55,000 students go there every single day, yet we don't have a rail link out to the largest campus in Australia. This has been on the books for five decades, but it still hasn't been delivered. This government has finally put it on the agenda with a $475 million commitment to get the rail link built to Monash and out to Rowville. That means that instead of having the single busiest bus route in Australia, as that between Huntingdale station and Monash University presently is, we'll have a rail connection, which will free up the busy roads from all of the buses that are presently using it and make it so much more convenient and accessible for students to go to that magnificent campus in Clayton.

The third project is one which would finally create an effective ring-road for Melbourne, which is so desperately needed, by linking up the Eastern Freeway across to the Tullamarine Freeway. That is the East West Link project. We have got $3 billion sitting on the table ready to be deployed for that project whenever a state government is willing to do so. We want to see that project done. The residents across the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, certainly, want to see that project delivered, because everybody who takes the Eastern Freeway knows that you effectively come to a full stop when you hit Hoddle Street. It adds to so much congestion. We want to see that project built, and we hope that Bill Shorten, as a Victorian, will be big enough to lean on the re-elected Andrews government to get that built, because we're there, ready to be a partner.

3:44 pm

Photo of Joanne RyanJoanne Ryan (Lalor, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Victorians returned a Daniel Andrews government on the weekend, and they did so because it was clear that what Daniel Andrews says so often—which is, 'I say what I do and I do what I say'—really reached Victorians. They thought about the last four years and what had been delivered by the Andrews government. They couldn't help but see what was being delivered. There it was and there they were: the grade separations on the rail corridors—29 of them delivered in four years. In my electorate, there were the schools being built. Across the electorate we had five new schools built in the last four years. We had refurbs done in our schools.

What else could they see if they thought about the Andrews Labor government? Locally, they could see an $80 million stage 1 rebuild of the Werribee Mercy Hospital. That's what they could see. They could see a new children's hospital going up in Sunshine. That's what Victorians were focused on: a government that got things done.

In contrast, what they saw was not just an opposition not focused on them but they saw an opposition which had failed to hold a federal government to account for starving Victoria of funds across those three portfolios. They starved Victoria in infrastructure. This government starved Victoria in health and they starved Victoria in education across the last six years. I believe the Prime Minister conceded that today. He might want to jump in four months early, but he conceded six months today. That's what Victorians were focused on.

They were focused on the fact that Matthew Guy had not once in that four years stood up to this federal government and demanded what Victoria deserved. Week in, week out they heard this side of the chamber stand at that dispatch box and demand Victoria's fair share of infrastructure spending. Week in, week out the shadow minister for infrastructure, Anthony Albanese, did nothing but bang on about starving Victoria of infrastructure. That's what Victorians heard.

Victorians know what they deserve. They know they have the second-biggest city in the country and the fastest growing. They're living it. They're living it every day. And when they thought back to the last federal government, they thought back to a Labor government that delivered in the western suburbs. It delivered the Regional Rail Link, which was the biggest rail project in Australia's history.

Photo of Damian DrumDamian Drum (Murray, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

We built it! I was in the state government; we built it!

Photo of Joanne RyanJoanne Ryan (Lalor, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

You did not build it! The Labor government built that. The Napthine-Baillieu government got to open it, I believe, but failed to order the trains so that it could open on time! That's the record of the Liberals in Victoria, and that's what Victorians were focused on on Saturday and in the weeks leading up to the election.

It's not an accident that today, when I look across to the other side of this chamber, I see the Right ideologues sitting here for this MPI. I see very few of Victoria's moderate MPs, except, of course, our old friend sitting opposite—

Photo of Barnaby JoyceBarnaby Joyce (New England, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Thank you!

Photo of Joanne RyanJoanne Ryan (Lalor, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The ideologues are in the room today—the people who have held this government back. The member for Deakin is in the room today. When Victorians think of him, they think of the man who failed to bring in the changes their government had agreed to on the payday lenders. They've failed to do the things they promised to do, not just in Victoria but nationally. They've failed to protect the most vulnerable people in our communities. All we've seen are cuts, cuts, cuts and a Victorian opposition that wouldn't call them to account. It's a Victorian opposition that wouldn't stand up for our pensioners.

Did I ever hear a member of the Victorian Liberal and National opposition complain about the nine months people are waiting to get their pensions? Not a word from the Victorian opposition about the people in my electorate waiting months and months. There's not a word about the tertiary students waiting a full semester to get the youth allowance—not a word from the state opposition.

That's why Victorians voted for state Labor on Saturday, because they're delivering. I am ever grateful to the Victorians who voted for state Labor on the weekend because they're going to give Labor an opportunity to deliver for another four years—to deliver the hundred schools that they've promised, to deliver the grade separations in my electorate and to deliver for all Victorians every day of that four years.

3:49 pm

Photo of Damian DrumDamian Drum (Murray, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I agree with the previous speaker from the coalition. He said that it doesn't really matter how many times the Labor Party want to repeat lies; it doesn't make them true. They can keep rolling out lie after lie but it doesn't make them true. They keep talking about cuts to the education system, when we know that there has been an incredible and consistent allocation of record funding not just at the moment but right through until 2029. We have a situation where we have done away with the Labor Party's 27 different deals that were done in 27 different jurisdictions. Whether it be government, whether it be Catholic or whether it be independent, there are 27 different models of funding around Australia and somehow or other the Labor Party thought that was a good way to go forward.

To the credit of this government, we now have one system that is consistent across all states and territories, one system that is consistent across the government schools, the private schools and the Catholic system, one system that is consistent in relation to an SES model of need, to actually look at the wealth that is associated with each school to make sure the funding is appropriate. This is the system to which the Labor Party should be saying, 'I can't believe that the coalition has got the guts to actually make this funding announcement, put this policy in place and then see it through,' because this is the type of funding that we need from governments all around Australia, and it's great to see the federal government leading the way with this needs based funding that is both consistent to the government system and consistent to the private sector.

The same can also be said for health. At the moment we have the highest bulk-billing rate ever at 85 per cent. It has risen three additional percentage points since our term in government. Yes, it costs more money. Again, there's more benefit in having an economy that is doing well. It enables us to invest more money into health and more money into schools. There is record funding all the way through and yet the Labor Party continue to go on about 'Mediscare'. They continue to put these lies on the table, trying to convince the Victorians or the Australian public, that somehow or other the health system is under threat. The only reason the health system will ever be under threat is if the Labor Party wreck the economy. Then they would have to start taking the actions that they took the last time they were in government, where they resisted putting extra drugs on to the PBS simply because the economy couldn't afford it.

If you want to move over into infrastructure—this motion also goes towards infrastructure—we have a $75 billion commitment on the table which is going to see a continual pipeline of projects rolled out one after another right around the state. The most pressing of all of the infrastructure stories to be told around state Labor is what has happened in relation to passenger rail across Victoria. Whilst the Labor Party has been in government now for 14 of the last 18 years, they like to blame a lot of damage on what happened in the four years that they weren't in government. They blame Jeff Kennett's time 19 years ago and beyond. They have to acknowledge that, having created strong passenger rail systems out of Bendigo, Ballarat and Geelong, they have left the other half of the state to perish. The Wangaratta and Wodonga lines are a joke. The Shepparton line is a joke. The line to Warrnambool past Geelong is terrible. The Latrobe Valley is hopeless. And yet they have functioned on just making sure that we have three cities that are well serviced by passenger rail.

What Victorians don't understand is that every time somebody uses a V/Line system, the taxpayers from other parts of Victoria subsidise that. Each and every one of those fares is subsidised by $20. Everybody in Victoria is paying for a train system but only the people in Bendigo, Ballarat and Geelong have a proper service.

You might think that maybe the metro system pays for itself. The fare box at the metro in Melbourne pays for 20 per cent of the cost of running that service. Again, the people who live in Horsham, Shepparton, Mildura, who have no public service that they can be proud of, are paying their taxes for the people who use the trains, who the Labor Party look after—a fraction of the state. It's getting subsidised by all the other taxpayers around Victoria. It's an absolute joke. The Victorian Labor Party have to fess up. They have been in control of the place for 18 years and they need to fix it.

3:54 pm

Photo of Maria VamvakinouMaria Vamvakinou (Calwell, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I'd like to begin by congratulating my state Labor colleagues on a remarkable win on Saturday, with very big congratulations, of course, to our Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews. The swings were bigger than expected and they came from everywhere across the state. They especially came from within traditional Liberal heartland seats. The Victorian election was a resounding affirmation that people in my electorate of Calwell and electorates across the state want governments to get on with the job of investing in the key areas of education, health and infrastructure because these are the areas of concern and of most importance to our communities. It also showed clearly that Australians want a united, stable government. They want governments who listen to them, who understand them and who get on with the job of delivering to them, as opposed to the infighting, division, instability and chaos that we are witnessing in this place day after day after day after day.

As it stands, Calwell is one of the fastest-growing areas in the state, and it includes Australia's fastest-growing suburb, the suburb of Mickleham. Knowing this, the re-elected Andrews Labor government has committed to building six new schools in Calwell as part of its $850 million investment in education. In contrast, knowing this, the Victorian Liberal Party sat on its hands and did nothing to support and assist in the education of the children in my electorate. We shouldn't be surprised because a previous Liberal government, under Jeff Kennett, became infamous for shutting schools down and selling them off. Clearly, today's Liberals have not understood the message that investment in education is key to a community's aspiration and opportunities.

The six new, desperately needed schools that are being built in my electorate include: Aitken Hill Primary School, which will be opening in 2019; Craigieburn South Secondary School, opening in 2020; Greenvale North-West Primary School, opening in 2021; Merrifield West Primary School, opening in 2021; Greenvale Secondary College, opening in 2020; and Kalkallo Common Primary School, opening in 2022. The Greenvale Secondary College is one I'm particularly proud of. I want to thank the tireless efforts of our state member, the member for Yuroke, Ros Spence, and the Greenvale Progress Association for seeing the Barrymore Road site, which had stood vacant for decades, finally transformed into the much-needed school that is set to service the Greenvale community.

Earlier this year, I also took the opportunity to visit Tullamarine Primary School, who were in desperate need of more funding to repair the declining school buildings. I immediately spoke with my state colleague, the member for Sunbury, Josh Bull. He, along with the Minister for Education, James Merlino, did not hesitate to deliver $4.5 million into repairing the new buildings for the Tullamarine Primary School. I want to thank Josh for his efforts and contribution to a school which is experiencing increased enrolments year by year.

This sort of investment isn't saddling future communities with debt, nor is it playing catch-up or making choices from Liberal or Labor electorates. This is an investment that is for the future of our people, our local constituents. I'm really grateful to the Victorian Labor government for understanding the importance of education to my community because this federal government and their state counterparts do not. Instead, up here in Canberra, our Prime Minister has ripped $14 billion out of public schools in Australia. Our Prime Minister leads a government which has cut $572 million out of Victorian universities. In stark contrast, federal Labor has committed $804 million to Victorian public schools over the first three years of a Labor government. We will uncap undergraduate university places from 2020 and see approximately 50,000 more students attend universities, and this means more opportunities for my local young people.

My electorate is a fast-growing area, and infrastructure is paramount to our electorate. We've already seen a re-elected Andrews Labor government start work on their promise to build the North East Link that will ease traffic congestion in Calwell. (Time expired)

3:59 pm

Photo of Russell BroadbentRussell Broadbent (McMillan, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I asked to speak on this today for one very good reason: the question before the House from Richard Marles, the member for Corio, is:

The Government's cuts to schools, health and infrastructure in Victoria.

I can't say that he's lying. You're just not allowed to say in the House, 'He is lying.' What you can say is that the statement may be deceptive, dishonest, disingenuous, duplicitous, exaggeration, a fabrication, a falsehood, a fiction, mendacious, part truth, perfidious, sneaky, tricky, two-faced, underhanded or a straight-out untruth. And I think it's all of them. I think a lot of the Labor members today, in what they have said, have been intentionally misleading.

For every one of my hospitals—Leongatha, Korumburra, Warragul, Morwell on the boundary and even those in the new part of Phillip Island—if you asked them, 'Have you had more money from the federal government than you had last year?' what would the answer be? 'Yes.' Yes, they've had more money. But the Labor Party has been saying, 'No, our proposition is we'll give more; therefore it's a cut,' and that's misleading and untrue. Every school in my electorate—Catholic, non-Catholic, primary, secondary, tertiary, all of them—got more money than they got last year. There are record amounts of money being spent on each child from every household, and that money is coming from the federal government.

Where did the moneys the member for Calwell talked about come from? The money came from the federal government. The money came from this Liberal-National coalition so they can spend it on those schools. Where do you think the increase in money for infrastructure and education is coming from for my private schools and my Catholic schools? It's coming from this federal government in record amounts. I was taken out to Chairo Christian School's Pakenham campus the other day, and they said, 'We brought you out to thank you for the extra money that you put into our school to make this place happen and to support out families and our children.' Record numbers of families in the Pakenham area—which will soon be in Jason Woods's seat—are choosing Chairo's type of education. We've still got very good secondary schools and primary schools like Nar Nar Goon Primary School and St Joseph's Primary School just down the road. Did they receive more money this year than last year? Yes. Who gave them that money? The federal government gave them that money because we want our children to know that they're special, they're important and we want the best facilities we can possibly give them. We want the very best we can possibly give them, and it's right across this nation.

So don't be misled by these signs that I saw on the weekend that said, 'Don't vote Liberal in this state election, because of cuts by the federal government.' It is an untruth. It is unbelievable that politicians in this country can intentionally set out to mislead.

I know Medicare was mentioned before by the member for Murray. That was a straight-out mistruth. It worked. They say, 'But if it works and it's a mistruth, who cares?' I'll tell you: I care. I think integrity in politics is really important. I think the people in each electorate want to know that what their member is telling them is the truth. Sometimes the truth is hard to tell when you go through hard times, but when in fact you've increased your expenditure and your outlays in all these areas of health, education and infrastructure, when you've poured more money into the roads—I've watched what my colleague Darren Chester has done for the seat of Gippsland and the highways through there—I want to acknowledge the truth. I want to be in that place of the truth. I'd like politicians in this House who are true representatives to begin to tell the truth.

4:04 pm

Photo of Tim WattsTim Watts (Gellibrand, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

In the wake of Daniel Andrews's landslide election win, we have heard plenty of commentary from conservative figures about what went wrong. But we didn't hear anything from Prime Minister Morrison. There was no statement on election night. There was no statement on the Sunday, the day after the night before, as the full extent of the bloodbath became clear. There was no statement after his so-called crisis meeting with federal coalition MPs from Victoria on Monday. It wasn't until question time on Monday that we heard what the Prime Minister took from the Victorian state election result. I knew that this Prime Minister was out of touch but I couldn't have anticipated just how out there his response would be when it came. In one of the worst question time performances since the member for Warringah took to the dispatch box, the Prime Minister told question time that he saw Daniel Andrews's election win and he saw himself in it.

I want to say this to the Prime Minister: Prime Minister, I know Daniel Andrews. Daniel Andrews is a friend of mine. Prime Minister, you're no Daniel Andrews. Daniel Andrews campaigned on a comprehensive agenda for improving Victorians' health care. In my electorate, the Andrews government pledged $1.5 billion for a complete rebuild of the Footscray Hospital on a prime site co-located with Victoria University. It committed to building 10 community hospitals, seven new early-parenting centres—centres for new parents—including a transformative $9 million commitment to that great Footscray institution of Tweddle Child and Family Health Service. It committed to increasing nurse-to-patient ratios.

In contrast, Prime Minister Morrison is a leader who is responsible for ripping $715 million from the nation's public hospitals between 2017 and 2020 and $183 million from Victoria alone. That's the equivalent of cutting 250 doctors or 500 nurses. The Prime Minister saw himself in the Andrews government's commitments. This is a Prime Minister trying to lock those cuts in for another five years, ripping another $2.8 billion from the nations' hospitals. He is the leader of a government with a six-year Medicare freeze, which has ripped $3 billion out of Medicare, forcing up the cost of seeing doctors and specialists for all Victorians. That's not the Andrews government's model of governing. What do look like the Andrews model are the commitments of the Shorten federal Labor party: investing $2.8 billion in a new better hospitals fund; reversing PM Morrison's cuts and funding more elective surgeries and essential services; ending the Medicare freeze; granting 20 new Medicare MRI licences around Australia, including in Werribee; reducing out-of-pocket costs for vital services; and capping private health insurance premium increases at two per cent for two years.

It is the same story in education. The Andrews government has delivered free TAFE. It has committed to universal free kinder for three-year-olds. It has committed to 100 new schools in the next eight years. And, somehow, Prime Minister Morrison sees himself in these commitments too, despite having ripped $14 billion from public schools and despite having ripped $572 million out of Victorian universities. Again, it's federal Labor, not the Morrison government, following the Andrews's model and committing $804 million to Victorian public schools over just the first three years of a future Shorten Labor government, should it be elected. That's the equivalent of around 2,000 new teachers or 3,400 new teacher aides. We'll also uncap university places from 2020 and see approximately 50,000 more students attend university. No, the Morrison government is far more like the Guy opposition than the Andrews government: narrow, nasty and out of touch with modern Australia.

I've heard reports from Labor booth volunteers in the south-eastern suburbs, perhaps in the member for Deakin's seat, telling me that Liberal campaigners on election day, wearing the Liberal blue T-shirt, were handing out how to vote cards, accompanied by totally normal statements, like, 'Say no to gender fluidity,' and, 'Say no to cultural Marxism'. This is Looney Tunes stuff. I spent the full day on election day at polling booths in Victoria too, talking to voters about commitments on health, education and infrastructure, things that citizens want to hear about. Do you know what the most common question I got from voters was—from citizens? It's not good news for those opposite. It wasn't: 'I can't believe how similar the Morrison government is to the Andrews government.' It was: 'When is the federal election going to be?' Victorian voters want a new federal government. (Time expired)

4:09 pm

Photo of Michael SukkarMichael Sukkar (Deakin, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

What we've seen today is a succession of federal Labor MPs trying to bask in the glory of somebody else's win. Never before have we seen in this federal parliament any government or opposition try to take the credit for a state election win or a state election loss in the way that we've seen those opposite. I would have thought those opposite would have taken the approach of trying to be humble, trying to see how they could emulate their state Labor government. But no: what we've seen here is them, as the member for Wannon said earlier, measuring the curtains, so to speak. They're very, very cocky.

To refer to the member for McMillan's contribution, there is no doubt that this MPI today is grossly inaccurate. I won't go through the list of words that the member for McMillan used to describe it, but it was a very long list. It didn't include the word 'lie', because that is against the standing orders, but it was a very long and descriptive list. If you go through each and every one of the points in this MPI—that the government has cut funding to health and to education, and has not invested in infrastructure—they are manifestly incorrect.

The Labor Party have been saying for the better part of 30 years that the Liberal Party has cut health and cut education. I'm surprised there are any hospitals or schools left, if we've supposedly been cutting them for 30 years—God knows how there are any hospitals or schools left! The truth is: every single year that this government has been sitting on this side of the chamber it has increased its investment into health in every state and territory, not just Victoria. We've invested each and every year, year on year, into growth in schools. And, as the member for McMillan said, it's not just one sector of education; whether it's the public sector, the Catholic sector or the independent sector, we've increased funding to each and every one of those.

You cannot increasing funding year on year, though, as we have done, if you don't manage the economy properly or manage the budget, because, in the end, that's what funds it all. On this side of the chamber, we don't obsess over managing a strong economy or the budget just for the sake of it or because we're bean counters and we want to ensure that the numbers look good—no. It's the only way that you can deliver outcomes for Australians, if you do that. That's what the Labor Party clearly haven't learned from their time in opposition. They still think that you can spend and spend and spend, and borrow and borrow and borrow, whacking ever more debt on the national credit card and expecting that the piper won't want to be paid at some point in time. Well, the truth of the fact is that that's not how you manage a federal budget and that's not how you manage a national economy, which is what we're doing on this side of the House.

In relation to infrastructure spending, we have invested enormous amounts into infrastructure in Victoria. I'll get to one area where we've, sadly, not been able to invest money, but I'll go through a list of some of the projects. Firstly, we recently announced a $5 billion commitment for the Melbourne Airport Rail Link. For so many decades, the idea that we haven't had a rail link to the airport has perplexed Victorians. It took this government to announce a $5 billion commitment to get that built. We've committed $1.6 billion for regional rail; $475 million for Monash Rail, which the member for Aston spoke about; $225 million for the Frankston to Baxter rail line; half a billion dollars for the Monash Freeway upgrade; and $500 million for the M80 Ring Road.

Sadly, though, we've not been able to spend $3 billion to ease traffic congestion on the Eastern Freeway—the most important piece of infrastructure for people in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, including in my seat—because the Labor Party has denied the people the entitlement to the East West Link, a link from the end of the Eastern Freeway to the Tullamarine Freeway. There was $3 billion on the table from the federal government, and what did Labor do?

They spent $1.3 billion to cancel that contract. What are we left with? We're left with the people of the eastern suburbs of Melbourne being ignored, traffic on the Eastern Freeway getting worse by the day and no answer from Labor. We have $3 billion committed to the East West Link which remains available— (Time expired)

Photo of Kevin HoganKevin Hogan (Page, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The discussion is now concluded.