March 2, 2011  |  Grievances

Ivanhoe electorate: government commitments

I grieve today for all Victorians but particularly for the families of Victorians in the northern suburbs, and very particularly for those in my electorate of Ivanhoe. I grieve for those people in my electorate because the things that are important to them are education, health, jobs and public transport. These are the key issues for the people in the Ivanhoe electorate. I grieve for them today because what has been very clear in the election campaign and in the statements made by the government about what it is going to do and what it is not going to do over the next four years is that it is not going to invest in health and education services, it is not going to invest in public transport and it is not going to invest in jobs in the Ivanhoe electorate.

How do we know this?

We know this because we have looked through the government’s policy documents. I have them here. We have gone through them all page by page and there is not one element, not one commitment in them to the Ivanhoe electorate for a school, for investment in schools, for investment in education, for investment in the Austin Hospital, for investment in public transport or for investment in jobs through construction and investment in projects. That is very clear. That is why we know from looking through the coalition’s policy documents and through commitments of what it is going to fund over the next four years that nothing is being outlined or committed to in the Ivanhoe electorate.

So it is perhaps no great surprise that in the election a Labor member — me — was fortunate to be returned, to be re-elected as a Labor member, for Labor representation to be returned in the Ivanhoe electorate. That is largely because the former government provided a range of commitments to the people of the Ivanhoe electorate around schools, around jobs through construction and investment in projects, through hospitals and also through public transport. We made commitments in those areas and voters in the Ivanhoe electorate said, ‘We want to support those projects. We want a local member who is going to fight for those projects’.

Regardless of the election outcome, it is clear that people in Ivanhoe expect these projects to be delivered.

The Liberal-Nationals government has made it very clear that it does not support investment in jobs or schools or hospitals or public transport in the Ivanhoe electorate — as stated in its policy document, which does not contain references to anything in the Ivanhoe electorate. I need to outline to this house and to provide a reminder again, as we head into a budget process, to the ministers and members on the other side of this house and to members in the other place who cover the Northern Metropolitan Region and the northern suburbs and the Ivanhoe electorate so that they can take stock of some commitments that have been made and that have been endorsed by people in the Ivanhoe electorate who are very keen to see these projects supported.

People in the Ivanhoe electorate are expecting a better outcome when the budget is delivered, and there is an opportunity in the coming months for the government to have another look at its commitments to the Ivanhoe electorate, of which there are none, to have a close look at and a close listen to the sorts of things that the Labor Party took to the election campaign in Ivanhoe that were endorsed and supported by people in the Ivanhoe electorate. These are the sorts of things they would like to see funded and supported.

I am keen to go through some of these issues. I recall that the member for Niddrie came out to make an announcement during the election campaign, a pledge to complete the prep to year 12 Charles La Trobe College in Macleod West in my electorate. This is a significant project where we have already allocated and spent $20 million on the first stage. It is a critical project to improve schools in the area — that is, the Heidelberg School Regeneration project.

We have already heard from the member for Broadmeadows, who talked about great work that has been done in his electorate, particularly around Hume, and the schools regeneration project there. What we also want to do in another very marginalised area is provide better schooling opportunities in West Heidelberg. We have demonstrated this through the $20 million already allocated and the construction works already under way. Students are moving into the new school in May and some great work is being done there.

These are some commitments that we have made that are being supported by people in the Ivanhoe electorate and I would remind the government of these so that it can take stock when it is working through its education commitments. Since it has overlooked the Ivanhoe electorate it can go back through these Labor documents and have a look at some projects that are ready to go.

Firstly let us have a look at what sorts of school projects need to be completed. The plan builds on $20 million that had already been allocated by the previous Labor government. We need further funding for stage 2 — the construction that needs to be completed. I refer to the middle school buildings, classrooms and administration, and the senior school classrooms and administration. I also refer to the gymnasium, the performing arts centre, the external works, furniture and equipment, and the library. These are all projects as part of stage 2 that should be rolling on. Cost savings will be made if work on the project continues to its concluding stages. The students are moving in, but to make this key project a centrepiece for the education of students and families who live in the Ivanhoe electorate it is important to complete the project and see it through to the end. No commitment was made by members of the present government during the election campaign, and that has been well remembered by people in the Ivanhoe electorate.

I turn to Olympic Village Primary School. Labor gave a commitment that the P-4 school would be rebuilt under Labor. We heard nothing matched or committed from the Liberal Party — nothing at all. Labor is now seeking that the P-4 campus at Charles La Trobe College — a $4 million costed project, on which consultants have done the work, and I ask members of the Baillieu government to have a look at it — be given the go-ahead. That project is sitting there, ready to go.

All that needs to be done in the budget process is that some projects that are ready to go need to be picked. Those projects would employ people, get investment moving and create jobs in the Ivanhoe electorate. Such projects give confidence to school communities and to people in the electorate. These school regeneration projects have the commitment and support of all the schools in the electorate, including Haig Street Primary School, Olympic Village Primary School, Bellfield Primary School, Banksia Secondary College and the new Charles La Trobe College, a P-12 college. Those schools all support this project, but they need to see it taken through to its conclusion. People in the Ivanhoe electorate are worried and concerned that this school renewal project will not be funded.

I turn to some of the education cuts that have been outlined and identified by the Baillieu government. We know that nearly $340 million is to be ripped from Victorian schools over the next four years, and $36 million will be cut in the coming months, which is enough to fund 650 graduate teachers. The money this government wants to save by cutting programs only adds to the disadvantage in the Ivanhoe electorate because this government is not prepared to commit to the projects that are already under way in Macleod West.

An article in the Banyule and Nillumbik Weekly of 1 February, headed ‘Students well dressed for new school year’, states:

The new Charles La Trobe College in Ivanhoe will subsidise pupils’ school uniforms by 80 per cent, said principal Maria Karvouni, after local businesses and councils rallied around the cause.

I am happy to say that I have also made a contribution — a donation of a $2000 television that I won in a raffle at a charity auction — to help raise money for the school uniforms, and 80 per cent of the cost of the uniforms at this new school is being met by the community through fundraising, and from local businesses and the council. It is a great project which shows the commitment made by the local community to strengthen this school and make sure that its students get everything they need. This funding activity comes on top of the $20 million funding for the construction of the first stage of the project made by the Bracks and Brumby governments. If we look at the policy documents taken to the last election by the Liberal Party we see there is absolutely nothing in them for the Ivanhoe electorate — nothing at all.

I turn to some other areas in which members of this government have made it clear that they have made no financial commitments to the Ivanhoe electorate. The previous Labor government was committed to funding of $750 000 for a new library building in Ivanhoe — and Labor is still committed to that funding — yet the Baillieu government has made no commitment to fund this project. Members of the Baillieu government just do not care about library services. When asked about matching Labor’s commitment to build a new library in Ivanhoe, all that government members said was that it was a grab for votes. However, that is not what the people in the Ivanhoe electorate said.

The mayor of Banyule, Cr Wayne Phillips — a former Liberal member for Eltham in this place — welcomed the announcement of that funding. An article in the Heidelberg Leader of 10 November states:

Banyule mayor Wayne Phillips welcomed the announcement and said a new library would be open within the next four years. ‘We are still in the planning process but a new library will cost the council millions of dollars so the extra funding will help us speed up the process …

These are the sorts of commitments which need to be funded and which are important to the Ivanhoe electorate. That is why when we compare what was being offered by the Liberal-Nationals coalition with what Labor was committed to we see that the Baillieu government committed nothing to Ivanhoe — absolutely nothing. The constituents of my electorate looked at what Labor was offering, and they decided to support the Labor Party, and they are keen to see me fight for them and make sure that these projects are delivered.

I turn to the Heidelberg West Neighbourhood Renewal project, which was funded by the Labor Party.

I went to a meeting of the neighbourhood renewal committee just the other week. I thought, ‘This will be interesting. We will see what the new government has to offer in housing projects in Heidelberg West’. All the consultants were at the meeting and they talked about public housing and all the work they would like the volunteer neighbourhood renewal committee to do in Perth Street, which is a vacant block awaiting a development to be built by the Office of Housing. As I said, they went through their consultants’ report and the projects in Perth Street they would like to pursue. I asked one simple question: what will be the construction time frame? No-one knew. I asked whether the government had allocated any funds to build this 22-unit development. I was told, ‘No, we do not have any funds’. How is it that there are no commitments to the Ivanhoe electorate? How is it that at the time when people from the government have come out to talk to the local community and engage our volunteers in working with local people to support investment in public housing there is no money?

People say, ‘You want us to do all the work, but the government is not making any financial commitments’.

I made commitments on behalf of the Labor Party during the election as a candidate who was endorsed and supported by the local electorate, and my constituents want me to continue to fight for those projects, but I cannot find anything in the Liberal Party policy documents that mentions projects in the Ivanhoe electorate — not one thing.

Rosanna Road and traffic congestion have been raised as issues in the local community. The matters raised in an attempt to do something about that congestion include speed restrictions, curfews, sound attenuation and limiting the number of trucks using Rosanna Road, but we have heard or read nothing from the government on these subjects. Some $15 million was allocated to complete studies and planning work to make Rosanna Road safer and to stop trucks using that road, thereby providing some amenity for local residents, but we have heard nothing from the government on these matters.

Labor made a commitment of $500 000 to the local Ivanhoe community for the Heidelberg Stars Football Club so that the soccer club can have an investment in facilities at Cartledge Reserve in Ivanhoe. There is plenty of opportunity for the government to get on board and support these projects, but if we look at the government’s policy documents, we find nothing.

I turn to the West Heidelberg police station, which was closed by this government. I hope there has somehow been some miscommunication or a lack of advice provided to the minister responsible for the police. I will have more to say on that matter, but I expect something will be done by this government to reopen the West Heidelberg police station, which was closed immediately the Baillieu government was formed in this place.

Turning to bus services in my electorate, an article in the Heidelberg Leader of 15 February states:

Commuters will be stranded without a bus route between Ivanhoe and Northland shops if the state government implements the proposed bus review, public transport campaigners say.

Where is the commitment to local public transport services in Ivanhoe?

There is nothing in the policy documents that the Liberals and The Nationals took to the election. There is nothing in them about making any financial commitments to people in the Ivanhoe electorate, but they certainly did not say anything about cutting bus services.

I also turn to one of the most significant issues in the Ivanhoe electorate — the upgrade of the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre. This very important project goes beyond politics and should be supported by the Liberal-Nationals government. We were concerned about why we had not been able to get the health minister out to talk about these projects. Finally, after a lot of pressure — some of which came from articles in local newspapers — we said, ‘Let us see if we can get him out here’. An article by Hannah Donnellan in the Heidelberg Leader of 8 February states:

If funding to complete the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre is anything like new state health minister David Davis, then patients will be waiting for a long time.

Mr Davis visited the Austin Hospital last Monday —

but he was an hour late. Not only did he leave people at the hospital waiting, he has also left the Ivanhoe community waiting, because on the subject of the $44.7 million that is needed to complete this project — a project that is ready to go — all we hear is silence. There is nothing in the policy documents the government took to the last election, and nothing at all for the Ivanhoe electorate.

However, I can assure the people of the Ivanhoe electorate that I will continue to fight for the projects that they endorsed and supported in the election campaign and that they endorsed and supported the funding of for the next four years. When the budget is brought down in this house I expect the government to lift its game and commit to the Ivanhoe electorate.