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May 8, 2013  |  Matter of Public Importance

Government: policy initiatives

I am pleased to rise to make a contribution in relation to the matter of public importance. 

I would like to start my remarks by pointing out that I came to this place to uphold standards of decency and integrity in public office, particularly in relation to Labor values of defending the rights of people in the workplace, and to make sure that we advocate consistently for those who continue to miss out on the long-term economic prosperity and growth that we have enjoyed here in Victoria.

I start off by making the point that there continue to be a number of people in the community of Ivanhoe continue to miss out and their voices continue to fall on deaf ears under this Napthine Liberal government. I might start with police and emergency services in Victoria, particularly under the former police minister, the Minister for State Development, who is now perhaps nothing more than a broken-down full forward being shuffled off into the forward pocket. He has been moved out. He continues to make it into the team but he has been dumped to the forward pocket. They have moved him out of the key roles. 

They have done that because out in the Ivanhoe electorate we continue to miss out on the things that this government talks about in relation to services.

We know the former police minister continues to drop his head every time the pressure is applied. We have seen him time and again tell untruths in this Parliament and tell untruths to the community of Heidelberg in relation to police services. We know that because on 28 April 2011 he said there would continue to be staffing of 80 hours per fortnight at the police station in West Heidelberg. That police station has been closed since January 2012, under this government. I note that in a letter dated 17 May 2011 Dean Stevenson, the superintendent, said:

 … as you are aware, the Heidelberg West police station is currently under review and until a decision is made into its future, the directional signage will remain in place.

The superintendent knows the police station is under review and everyone in West Heidelberg knows the police station is closed, yet we continue to get these untruths from the former police minister in relation to services for people in West Heidelberg. 

I point out that he continues to say, as he did on 27 February 2012, that a shopfront available to the folk of West Heidelberg is supplemented by many additional patrols in the region. That is just totally incorrect: the police station is closed. If the minister took the time to come out to West Heidelberg, he would know that. We in the Ivanhoe electorate continue to be ignored.

I will also look at health. Just recently we have had a merger proposal put forward by the Liberal government. Last time they were in office — we reclaimed the seat of Ivanhoe from the Liberal Party in 1996 — they had plans to privatise the Austin Hospital. They just cannot help meddling in services for the public at the Austin Hospital. Now the secret is out: a merger between Northern Health and Austin Health. We all know about that. Rather than address the systemic and endemic funding and service issues at Northern Health, the government’s plan is to poison the well at Austin Health. 

It wants to put members of the Ivanhoe community to the back of the queue and send maternity and birthing services up to Northern Hospital. The government wants to take services away from people at the Austin Hospital and put those people at the back of the queue rather than addressing the needs of the growth areas in the outer northern suburbs. We are not going to stand for it; we have caught this government out again.

There was $45 million that we had to fight for to secure the completion of the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre, for which we had 3000 signatures on a petition in March 2011. We may well have lost government at the end of 2010, and we accept that we got booted out. But I can tell you we pulled out 3000 signatures from the Ivanhoe community, from people who wanted that $45 million secured. We had to fight for that, and we got it with the community’s support, because they know that when it comes to the Austin Hospital the Liberals cannot be trusted. 

They know that from past experience, and they know that from the government’s plans to merge our hospital with Northern Hospital.

We will not stand by and watch while you appoint your Liberal cretins to run the Austin Hospital — Judith Troeth and the rest of those people in the Liberal Party that you just think you can park to run organisations in our community, who do not speak up or stand up for the people at the Austin, while you refuse to appoint a CEO to run Northern Health because you just want it to let it run into the ground. Because you only want to appoint your own mouthpieces — —

The DEPUTY SPEAKER — Order! Through the Chair — the use of ‘you’ is not permitted.

Mr CARBINES — Thank you, Deputy Speaker. Education is another weak link that this government has in the local community. 

We have seen several school sites in my electorate being sold off — in Heidelberg West in Heidelberg Heights and the Bellfield Primary School site — being sold off. The government refused to upgrade the Olympic Village Primary School site. The Haig Street Primary School site is now being sold off, and we have also seen the Banksia-La Trobe Secondary College site being sold off. None of that money is being invested into local schools. They are currently all at capacity. Three years, three budgets, three strikes — there has not been one bit of funding for capital projects in the Ivanhoe electorate under this government; that is what it is doing.

One government secondary college, Viewbank College, with 1200 students — some 3000 parents send their kids to that school — has not received one cracker from this government in three years. Rosanna Golf Links Primary School had a $1.5 million master plan done by the previous government. It is now sitting collecting dust under this government. 

The only money we have got from this government in relation to education services came when classrooms at Olympic Village Primary School in West Heidelberg burnt down and the government decided it would cough up a couple of dollars from insurance to rebuild a couple of buildings. We still had to put out petitions and fight to get those funds. This government is not committed to schools in the Ivanhoe electorate, and we will hold it accountable again for its failure to deliver to local communities in West Heidelberg. It is not acceptable.

Let us look at transport services and bus services. There are no additional services for people travelling on the 517 bus service through Viewbank. Rosanna train station is falling down, and there is not one dollar to upgrade that station; it is in the same state as it has been for the last 30 or 40 years. We know that this government is not committed to duplicating the Chandler Highway to address significant bottleneck issues. We have a new fair weather Treasurer, who stands there and thinks it is all nice and easy at the moment. However, when the clouds starts to descend and the chickens come home to roost where will we he be? That is what I would like to know, because he certainly has not spent any time in the Ivanhoe electorate.

The Ivanhoe electorate also has a problem in relation to services and livability for people. The crooks who run Places Victoria were appointed by this government. They are Liberal Party hacks, and they have totally stuffed it up. The former Premier appointed his mates. Not only did the former chair of Places Victoria, Peter Clarke, get the flick, so did the former Premier. If you put your mates in to run these shows, we will remember. We remember the gravy train. We remember the Kennett days. We remember the gravy train that appointed these people. How is Places Victoria going? 

The government is sitting on public housing land and school sites in the Ivanhoe electorate but is refusing to do anything with the land because Places Victoria has fallen into a heap. The government continues to appoint cronies to run these organisations, and people in the Ivanhoe electorate continue to suffer. They are suffering in relation to the Austin Hospital. They are suffering in relation to vacant school sites. They are suffering in relation to public housing rental increases. They are suffering in relation to public housing properties being sold off. People are being pressured and muscled to leave their homes.

We sought to have the Ivanhoe structure plan scrapped and redone by the Banyule City Council. We sought interim planning controls from the local upper house member, Matthew Guy, the Minister for Planning and a member for Northern Metropolitan Region, to protect our suburbs from developers until he approves the Ivanhoe structure plan. He says that he accepts the Ivanhoe structure plan, but he is waving the developers through. 

He is saying, ‘Get out there and make sure that you develop and get your planning approvals for mega-monster, 8-storey buildings in Ivanhoe before the Ivanhoe structure plan is completed’. That is what he is allowing them to do, instead of putting in interim building controls to protect people in the Ivanhoe electorate. We will hold him to account for as long as he continues to look after his developer mates and gives them free rein and a green light to build whatever they like in the electorate.

We all remember when those opposite cut out the supply of whooping cough vaccine. These people do not care about families. We all remember them jacking up the rents for public housing. We have a range of concerns in relation to this government. This government is responsible for the lowest ever investment in new public housing stock in Victoria. Not since 1956 have we seen a government provide such low levels of investment in public housing in Heidelberg West. 

The only activity we see are the ‘For sale’ signs going up on public housing sites for the government’s developer mates. When I walked down to the Palladium at Crown this morning there they all were, making lots of money with their developer mates instead of coming in here and doing business for the people of Victoria.

There is one point on which I fundamentally disagree with what others have said — this is not the same old government. This is a new government with a new Premier and a new Treasurer. It has moved a few people on who did not perform — it has tried to hide them — but it still believes in the same rubbish and still protects the same cronies. On this side of the house we accept and understand that this is a new government. We hold it to account for what it is doing in the community. We will not get let it get away with cosying up to its developer mates and its cronies trying to silence the people of Victoria. 

The sooner we get a better understanding on this side of the house of what we need to do to attack this new government for what it does and the beliefs it holds, the sooner we will remove it from office.