Appropriation (Parliament 2017-2018) Bill 2017.

Written on the 8 June 2017

6 June 2017

COUNCIL 

Second reading 

GEORGIE CROZIER (LIB - Southern Metropolitan)

 

I am pleased to rise to speak on the Appropriation (Parliament 2017-2018) Bill 2017.

As Ms Wooldridge has just highlighted in her contribution, this is all about taxing more but giving less, and I think she made some very good points about how that is for all Victorians. She also pointed out the failures of the budget in her own portfolio areas. We know the Treasurer delivered his budget on one sitting day, I might add, of the Parliament. We came in, we heard from the government about the budget titled Getting on with the Job: Victorian Budget 1718 and then they went off to congratulate themselves. The government was nowhere to be seen for the next two days. The opposition was not given an opportunity to reply to the budget until the next week, which coincided with the handing down of the federal budget.

Victorians are not that stupid; they actually know what is going on. They can see through this government. They can see that the lack of transparency by the government is extraordinary in relation to their gimmick of delivering this budget, going off and congratulating themselves and not giving the opposition the opportunity, in a democratic fashion during that budget week, to reply to the Treasurer's budget.

The Treasurer obviously has a few issues on his plate. One would be the debacle following the announcement by Minister Mikakos earlier in the year to build a new supermax youth justice facility in Werribee South. There was a terrible community outcry about that, and the government backflipped on that decision. Now they plan to build it at Cherry Creek, and they are working out whether that is going to have Aboriginal cultural and heritage overlay issues with that site. They have been scrambling.

Treasurer Tim Pallas thought this budget was going to convince Victorians that things are in good shape, but as we know they are not. This government has had the good fortune to sell the port of Melbourne, which has reaped billions and billions of dollars for their coffers, but still they are increasing taxes by extraordinary amounts. Taxes have gone up by over 20 per cent, and these are all flowing through to everyday Victorians everyday households and businesses. These costs will flow on to Victorians, who will notice these increases in their household bills.

When the shadow Treasurer was finally able to make an excellent reply to the Treasurer's budget he highlighted the fact that in just over two years Daniel Andrews had increased taxes, despite what he said looking down the barrel of that Channel 7 news camera, and I am paraphrasing, 'Take my word, Peter, there will be no new taxes'. Who really believes this now? Daniel Andrews said that the eastwest link would not cost a cent either, and that has cost Victorians $1.2 billion. The absolute gall of this Premier to go out there and say that! I do not think anybody takes him terribly seriously now or thinks he is at all genuine when it comes to the management of significant money, significant projects and, can I say, law and order, because look at our state. Look where we are at, look at the crime wave that is sweeping across our state and look at what has happened in relation to the many, many significant issues that have arisen out of this government's priorities. And that is what a budget is: it is about priorities, and I will come back to that in a moment.

I do want to say that in relation to the taxes that have increased there have been a number of new taxes that have also been increased by Daniel Andrews. In fact there have been nine of them, and they include the $252 million energy tax on coal royalties. It is no wonder the operators of Hazelwood had no option but to pack up their bongos and get out of town. They were taxed out of their business. The loss of jobs through that unfortunate circumstance is going to be very significant. Those people, those families and those businesses will all experience a ripple effect. They will feel the effect of the closure of Hazelwood through the rise in energy costs reflected in their household bills.

The government is passing the taxi and Uber tax on to the consumer, with a $2 per ride tax. Pensioners, elderly people and people who have to take sick children or elderly relatives or other relatives on a regular basis to health and other appointments are going to be whacked with this $2 tax. There is a land tax surcharge for absentee owners which was introduced at 0.5 per cent but then increased to 1.5 per cent. There is a stamp duty surcharge for foreign buyers which was introduced at 3 per cent and then increased to 7 per cent. The fire services property levy was hiked up and let us just think about by how much to 11 per cent. There has been an insidious tax creep undertaken in so many areas, whether it is the fire services property levy or land tax, which is up by 35 per cent. Stamp duty has reaped great benefits for this government too, bringing in $1.7 billion or a 39.4 per cent increase, and then of course there are vehicle registrations with around a 30 per cent increase in those.

All of these taxes are going to have an impact on households. Victorians are waking up to just how much this government is slugging them and the impact that will have on their ability to spend their hard-earned dollar. After all, this is taxpayers money that the government is administering. It does not grow on trees. It does not come out of thin air. It is Victorian taxpayers who are paying these taxes.

While I am on that, I will just turn to the budget papers and have a look at some of those issues. The youth justice issue has cost the Victorian taxpayer $72 million because of the government's mismanagement. The minister has overseen, as I have been saying for months and months and months, a system that is in chaos and continues to be very unsettled, and there continue to be significant ongoing issues and costs associated with that mismanagement.

The minister will not even declare how much this mismanagement has cost, and we know that through the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC) hearings, where she refused to disclose the costs of the legal fees of her botched processes in the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal for the first court proceedings of course we have had two other court proceedings undertaken by the government to defend their position when they did not follow the law. They have absolutely botched that decision, and that has cost the taxpayer millions of dollars. That of course does not go towards the riots, the reports or the reviews. The mismanagement under this minister is just absolutely disgraceful.

While I am talking about PAEC, I will look at the area of early education. There is the Gender Equality Budget Statement in the Victorian budget. When the minister was asked about the $98.4 million for kindergarten initiatives that will help improve educational outcomes for girls, she referred this to the Minister for Women. When that same question was asked of the Minister for Women, she did not have an answer either, so you have got

Mr Morris She had no idea.

Ms CROZIER No idea. Neither of these two ministers had any idea about this initiative that was specifically stated in the budget. Here they reckon they are getting on with the job, yet those ministers who are supposedly responsible for these areas had no clue. I think that is indicative of where we are at with this government I mean, we have just seen their performance in question time. This goes on and on, and there are many, many issues in relation to that.

When the Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence was asked a number of questions in relation to the government's output initiatives and the whole-of-government approach to family violence, at one point it was so important that it had to be within Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC), but now we are not going to have it in DPC anymore; we are having it over in the Department of Health and Human Services.

Mr Ramsay interjected.

Ms CROZIER Well, I am not sure. We did have a Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence, but she has been sideswiped by the Premier, and now we have the Special Minister of State who oversees everything. In actual fact when you go through the 36 line items in the budget, the Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence has responsibility for only two $50 million out of a $1.9 billion budget.

If we are seriously serious about getting rid of this dreadful, dreadful issue of family violence, which I think all members are in agreement about, we have got far too much violence and hideous crimes that occur within the domestic setting. Far too many women and children are affected, but there are unfortunately men who are victims also. They got very little in this budget in fact there is nothing for men who are fleeing from family violence. The latest figures state that around 20 per cent of victims are men, and that is because of the drug and alcohol problems and the mental health problems that women do have as well. They can be the perpetrators. I know that the royal commission did look into the whole family violence issue, but I am not sure that their terms of reference allowed them enough time to look at this more deeply.

I think this issue of violence across our society is becoming an increasing problem, but if you look at the government's budget with the dedicated minister, she actually has got very little responsibility. What does that say about the Premier? He was out there lauding that this was the first state to have a minister with such a position, but he has dumped her, it seems to me, which I think is very unfair. He really has given her no time at all over the last 18 months

Mr Morris He is threatened by strong women.

Ms CROZIER He is threatened by strong women, Mr Morris, you are absolutely right. Ms Garrett, Lucinda Nolan, Ms Richardson they are all very capable, strong women who were doing their job and having a different opinion to the Premier, and look where it landed them. They have all got the boot. They have all been sacked. I think that speaks volumes about the true character of this Premier. He actually should walk the walk and talk the talk. I have to say at times I just wonder about his rhetoric he does talk about equality for women and promoting women, but he has done this to three very strong and capable women. He has given them the sack, as I said.

Unfortunately I do not have an extraordinary amount of time left to go through the many issues that I did want to raise in this budget. There are many gaps. If you look at the support for vulnerable children, there is $72.2 million in 201718 but nothing in the forward estimates for better assisting children in the statutory child protection system. There is $59.6 million this year for better assisting children in the statutory out-of-home care system, but there is nothing after that. There are these gaps in this budget. There are many questions to be asked, and I am looking forward to getting the answers to those questions that could not be answered in PAEC by the secretaries or the ministers they were not able to provide the information that I requested at the time and to really understanding a little bit more about the specifics in the budget through that process, because I think there are many gaps.

The government and the Premier are talking about this tough-on-crime approach, but we have got crime above 20 per cent across the state. These are terrible, terrible statistics in every community. Of course we had the most tragic and frightening of circumstances last night in Brighton, which borders the areas of Bentleigh and Sandringham in my electorate of Southern Metropolitan Region. Mr Davis and Ms Fitzherbert are in the chamber with me this afternoon, and of course we are very conscious of the crime that has been occurring across our electorate, whether it is home invasions, carjackings or aggravated burglary. It is affecting everyday Victorians every day, whether they are going to work or they are in their homes. Women are one of the biggest cohort who no longer feel safe either on the streets or in their homes. I think the government has done very little to allay those concerns for many people by spending not one dollar for new police stations. I will conclude my remarks there.

 


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