House debates

Monday, 30 November 2020


Victorian Government

7:29 pm

Photo of Libby CokerLibby Coker (Corangamite, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The Victorian government has delivered its budget, and it is an absolute cracker! Premier Daniel Andrews has invested in Victoria because the Prime Minister would not. Victoria's Treasurer is pushing for Victoria because our federal Treasurer could not. We are talking about $25 billion of additional investment, including $5.3 billion for social housing, with about 12,000 new dwellings. That's $5.3 billion from the Andrews government compared to zero dollars from the Morrison government. Social housing is a fantastic investment. As we pull out of the pandemic, it will provide a massive boost to the economy, the construction industry and job creation, and we desperately need it to give thousands of people facing homelessness a place to call home. Importantly, this is a legacy investment—something we should all be proud of. I am proud to inform parliament that at least $200 million of that $5.3 billion will be spent in Geelong and the Surf Coast. My constituents welcome this investment. It's a vote of confidence in our region.

The Victorian budget also places a clear emphasis on creating jobs in female-dominated industries, hiring 4,100 tutors to help students in disadvantaged schools catch up after an extremely challenging year and hiring over 1,700 teachers and support staff for students with disabilities. Support for women in the Victorian budget is also evident in its strong investment in child care—something the Commonwealth has failed to deliver. The Andrews government is providing a subsidy for kindergartens worth $2,000 per child and an expansion of after-school-hours care, which will help reduce significant out-of-pocket costs for parents. This House knows all too well the huge drag these costs place on female employment and economic growth. But the federal government won't do anything about it. Recently I spoke with Grovedale mum Pawandeep Gill. She wants her little one to experience the benefits of an early childhood education, but the childcare costs that come with working another day a week outweigh what she would earn working in aged care. Pawandeep wants to work more hours. She will be better off if she can work more days, Pawandeep's child will be better off if Pawandeep can work more days, the aged-care sector will be better off if Pawandeep can work more days and Grovedale will be better off if Pawandeep can work more days. The Andrews government should be commended for making this goal more achievable for Pawandeep. Victorians are rightly asking: where is the Morrison government on this? Why is the federal government not doing more to help women?

There is another lesson the Morrison government should take from the Victorian budget. It is possible to look after those hardest hit by economic failure without knocking down others in the process. This lesson is essential. Knowing how to do this means the Andrews government will support unemployed young people without putting the strap to people over the age of 35. Knowing how to do this means the Andrews government will stimulate the hard-hit tourism sector without putting unwanted additional pressure on working mothers. And knowing how to do this means that the Andrews government will provide $200 million in support to creative industries without kicking a single university in the face. The Prime Minister and the Treasurer should be taking notes.

The plan put in place by the federal government is simply not enough. The budget the Morrison government released two months ago plans for unemployment to be worse next year than it was through the worst of the pandemic. This is their plan because they plan to withdraw support before the economy has recovered. On 6 October, the government printed in black and white its intention to keep unemployment well above five per cent for the next four years. They plan for about one million Australians to be unemployed this year and next year and the year after. That is their plan and it is a disgrace. Eighty cents in every Australian tax dollar is raised by the federal government. The federal government can borrow money at about 60 per cent of the cost that the Victorian government can, and the Australian Constitution puts responsibility for both commerce and quarantine squarely with the federal government, yet it is a Victorian government that is partnering with Victorians to march out of this pandemic. If you want to find leadership in 2020, if you are looking for courage through crisis, you would be better off looking to Spring Street rather than Capital Circle.