Appropriation (2018-2019) Bill 2018 and Budget papers 2018-19

Written on the 24 May 2018

24 May 2018


Second reading 

GEORGIE CROZIER (LIB - Southern Metropolitan)



I was just listening with interest to Ms Wooldridge's budget response, an excellent overview of her portfolio areas in relation to the shortfalls of how the Andrews government has provided in the very important areas of health, but I think, as one of my other colleagues mentioned in a previous contribution, we have not even passed last year's budget and yet we are discussing the 201819 budget. Thank God this will be Treasurer Tim Pallas's last Victorian state budget, because Victorians deserve much better than what is occurring under Daniel Andrews, Tim Pallas and indeed this Andrews government.

They have had record amounts of money pouring into this state, whether that is through the revenue from the sale of the port of Melbourne, whether that is through the sale of the land titles office or whether that is through an increase in the GST return, which is significantly improved under the term of this government compared to previously under the coalition government. I think the GST return was around 88 cents, and now it is almost at parity with the dollar. As well, this government has had the good fortune of the commonwealth's ability in their actions with Snowy Hydro 2.0 and is receiving $2 billion for that sale.

On top of all of that, this government has had record stamp duty revenue. What we have seen with this budget is a typical Labor budget. Taxes are up by 35 per cent, bringing billions of dollars into the government coffers. The debt will be doubling in just five years time. There are public sector wage explosions a 38 per cent explosion in public wages, which is costing the Victorian taxpayer billions of dollars, something around, I think I am right in saying, $7 billion and of course the infrastructure cost blowouts. I have to refer to this because this government has boasted enormously about big infrastructure projects. We have seen, I can say, in the electorate of Southern Metropolitan Region infrastructure projects with the level crossing removals. The government promised 50 level crossing removals at a cost of $5 billion to $6 billion, and in fact, as the Auditor-General has pointed out, there has been a $3 billion blowout in the cost of that particular project.

As I mentioned, in Southern Metropolitan Region where the community has had the sky rail thrust upon them around Murrumbeena and Carnegie it has been a very divisive project that has caused a lot of angst for that local community. Everybody agrees that level crossing removals need to be done, and certainly the previous government was undertaking to do that. We all know that. North Road in Ormond was one such level crossing that was planned and budgeted for, along with Burke Road in Glen Iris.

I have to say, in the area of Bentleigh where level crossing removals have been undertaken, the rail under road has occurred. This is in contrast to other areas where sky rail is happening. But it is the issue about infrastructure project management, and it is clear again that Labor governments just cannot manage these large projects, with the metro rail also blowing out by billions of dollars. This is not Monopoly money; this is taxpayers money. It has got to come from somewhere. That is why we have seen this enormous cost in taxes that have gone up.

As Michael O'Brien in the Assembly has so eloquently put it, this is like a Ponzi scheme. It is not sustainable, and it is dependent on those continuing high levels of population growth to underpin this tax revenue. The government has no plan for population growth. I see that in my electorate of Southern Metropolitan Region, whether it is Prahran or other suburbs like Albert Park and Bentleigh right across the board the congestion and the numbers of people coming into these areas is exploding. The government has no answer. They are just piling more and more people into inner-city areas where the infrastructure is not there and the services certainly are not there.

I want to make mention of the government getting it wrong with the major projects. As was highlighted in last week's Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC) session with the Treasurer, this government throws out false claims. They say, 'We're going to build this; we're going to build that. We're going to build things like the north-east link'. In actual fact that was exposed in PAEC by the Treasurer's own admission that there was not one cent for that road, yet the Premier went to the last election saying that cancelling the eastwest link would not cost a cent that the contract was not worth the paper it was written on and it would not cost Victorians a cent. It cost Victorians $1.3 billion. That money could have been spent in so many necessary areas.

In the area that I have responsibility for, we heard today in question time that there are in excess of 3000 children who are at risk in this state because they do not have an allocated caseworker. That is just shameful, and yet this government and the minister, Ms Mikakos, are claiming that they are making great strides in this area and that they are putting on more caseworkers. We do not know how many caseworkers have actually left the system either. Nobody can tell us that, so what is the net gain? That $1.3 billion galls me, and I think it galls all Victorians. That was such an extraordinary waste of money. An enormously huge amount of money was literally blown up by this government.

You just cannot trust this Premier with what he says. I mentioned taxes earlier, but before the last election the Premier gave Channel 7 newsreader Peter Mitchell his word that there would not be one new tax. Well, we have had 12 new taxes that I can think of, and we have had taxes increase by up to 35 per cent. What is that meant to do? A budget is meant to frame the issues for a state for Victorians in this case. It is meant to produce better outcomes for Victorians. What we have seen is more hardship for Victorians.

The government has announced an increase in concession rates for those who are at high risk. Of course they have had to do that because we have got skyrocketing electricity prices. Why has that occurred? That has occurred purely through government policy. Shutting down Hazelwood has increased demand, which has caused an extraordinary increase in prices not only for households and individuals but also for businesses. Our cost of living is through the roof. People feel that every day. It is absolutely shameful that elderly Victorians stay in bed to keep warm in the winter months because they cannot turn on their heating. That just demonstrates what we are at risk of. If the tax revenue does not come in and this all starts to slide, we are in real trouble. It is only going to get worse if this government remains in power, because they have got no idea how to make things manageable in the longer term for all Victorians.

I will turn to another area where I have responsibility. I mentioned the issue of the 3000 children with unallocated cases. The minister responsible for youth justice has also been talking about the government's investment in youth justice. I will read from a media release of 1 May:

As part of the Labor government's continued overhaul of youth justice, the budget invests $145 million to provide additional secure units and custodial staff at Parkville and Malmsbury youth justice centres and a new and more secure perimeter fence at Malmsbury

Well, it has taken this long to hear that after that mass escape from Malmsbury on 25 January last year, where 15 or so very violent youths escaped from that youth justice facility and caused mayhem across this state. They carjacked and they invaded homes on that night. They undertook serious crimes and aggravated burglaries. It was appalling. They travelled from one end of the state to the other around 1000 kilometres, I think. The police were out chasing them all night long, and it took 24 hours to haul them back in. The facility needed a secure fence long before that. This minister has been bereft of ability to manage this. We see this day after day after day. She says that people just make up what is happening in youth justice. No, they do not. Victorians know. They have seen what has occurred. They know that this government has been completely inadequate in managing the areas of youth justice and law and order and in enabling our community to feel safe. Never before has our community felt less safe.

Just ask women how they feel. They do not feel safe. I have spoken to many women many mothers who have got young children and many mothers who have got young adult children and they are concerned for their safety at night in particular. They are concerned for their ability to have their newly licensed children drive independently. They are very concerned about the welfare of their children, and that is a shame. It is more than a shame. It is a disgrace that we have come to this point in this great state, where so many people feel insecure in their own homes and in their own communities. I think it is purely and squarely as a result of the decisions made by this government in relation to its law and order policies, and we have exposed that time and time again. It is extraordinary that it just seems to fall on deaf ears and the rhetoric goes on.

Likewise, the conduct of this government has fallen on deaf ears, with its systemic rorting of taxpayers money. They have again wasted taxpayers money by obstructing the Ombudsman's investigation by sending it to the High Court. Hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayers money was wasted again by the government because they were hiding what they did, which is wrong. They stole from the Victorian taxpayer. I think that is one of the most shameful chapters of the state's history, and this government has presided over it. In fact Minister Mikakos is one of those ministers who was leading the charge on this. She signed 70 time sheets

Mr O'Donohue interjected.


Ms CROZIER There are a whole lot of senior ministers, Mr O'Donohue, who have been involved in all of this, and they still think they have done nothing wrong. Victorians know that everything is wrong about this red shirts scandal, and it is a disgrace. It is absolutely shameful. It is an absolute blight on the leadership of this Premier, and it is a shameful chapter in the state's history, as I said.

As I said at the outset, this is a big-spending budget. It does not actually improve the lives of Victorians for the long term. It is a short-term sugar hit to try to get them limping across the line over the next five months until the election. I do not think Victorians believe what this government says it has done. It has been exposed time and time again. They understand that this government's budget is a con. They feel that. They know that the Premier and the Treasurer are just feeding their mates with this budget. There is lots of money in there for them, but there is not a lot of money in there for everyday Victorians and those who are particularly concerned about their rising utility costs and their everyday costs of living. I am looking forward to this being the last budget the Treasurer delivers to Victoria, and I am looking forward to Michael O'Brien in the Assembly taking up that position next year after the next election, when we will have a meaningful budget that will address many of the concerns that have been raised by so many of my colleagues this evening.

Business interrupted pursuant to standing orders.

Sitting extended pursuant to standing orders.



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