Government: initiatives

Mr SOUTHWICK (Caulfield) — I rise to speak on this matter of public importance that has been brought forward by the Treasurer:


That this house congratulates the Baillieu government for the many policy initiatives implemented in its first 100 days in office and condemns the former Brumby Labor government for its reckless mismanagement of Victoria’s finances.

Before I begin, I think it is important to set the record straight, because the shadow Treasurer has clearly misled the house. He referred to page 1 of the midyear update but did not look at what last week’s report actually says. Let us look at the midyear results that were released only last week:


Looking forward the financial results will come under significant pressure from both expenditure and revenue risks. On the expenditure side — —

The DEPUTY SPEAKER — Order! The member for Lyndhurst.


Mr Holding — On a point of order, Deputy Speaker, I am reluctant to do this, but the member for Caulfield just said that I have clearly misled the house. He cannot say a member has clearly misled the house other than by substantive motion. Unfortunately I ask him to withdraw.


Mr Wells — On the point of order, Deputy Speaker, the member for Caulfield is outlining that the shadow Treasurer misled the house in regard to his reference to sound financial management — —


Honourable members interjecting.


The DEPUTY SPEAKER — Order! I ask opposition members to come to order. I understand that when a member asks for a withdrawal it is normally done automatically, but I am not quite sure whether what the member for Lyndhurst is asking the member for Caulfield to withdraw fits into that category. I will just take a moment to listen to this.


Mr Wells — The member for Caulfield is clearly outlining that the shadow Treasurer clearly misled the house because he had two documents — —


Honourable members interjecting.


Mr Wells — It is a matter of debate. He referred to two documents, both indicating, he claimed, that they were — —


The DEPUTY SPEAKER — Order! I ask the Treasurer to resume his seat. The member for Lyndhurst has requested that the member for Caulfield withdraw. The normal practice is that a member withdraws if another member is offended. I ask the member for Caulfield to withdraw.


Mr Holding interjected.


The DEPUTY SPEAKER — Order! Is the member for Lyndhurst arguing with the Chair? I am trying to clarify. The member for Caulfield.


Mr SOUTHWICK — I withdraw. Let me continue to clarify what was conveniently left out by the shadow Treasurer in his remarks:


Looking forward the financial results will come under significant pressure from both expenditure and revenue risks. On the expenditure side, there are substantial risks associated with existing capital projects and underfunded recurrent programs, as well as emerging flood restoration and recovery needs.

In terms of revenue, the main risks relate to the receipt of goods and services tax (GST) grants from the commonwealth government. This reflects a likely downgrading of national GST receipts, consistent with slower growth in household consumption and dwelling investment than indicated in commonwealth Treasury’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook 2010-11 published in November 2010.

Mr Andrews interjected.


The DEPUTY SPEAKER — Order! The Leader of the Opposition is being disorderly and is out of his place.


Mr SOUTHWICK — The report continues:


The recent announcement by the Commonwealth Grants Commission to reduce the state’s GST relativity from

2011-12 will, if adopted by the commonwealth, also put further pressure on the state’s revenues in 2011-12 and across the forward estimates period.


Who are the people in this house who delivered the spin that we had to deal with for 11 years and who we continue to hear from?


They are the members of the opposition.


I would like to point out some of the important legacies that have been left behind by the previous government. Unfortunately every Victorian will be reminded of a number of key things: debt, blow-outs in contracts, bad negotiation and signing us up to deals that will leave us in debt for a long time and will be required to be paid back through the good management of this government. If you ask Victorians what was significant in the Brumby government’s time and what the Brumby legacy is, you will clearly hear a number of words: myki, desal, smart meters, regional rail blow-out — it goes on. That is the legacy of 11 long, dark years.


It is so sad that it reminds me of the Batman movie The Dark Knight. The dark knight is, of course, Batman Brumby, the caped crusader. He wandered in and wandered out, never to be seen again. On the first day of this Parliament he did not even have the decency to turn up. He was not sitting in the house. He just wandered off and vanished like Batman, never to be seen again. What did he leave us with? He left us with absolute jokers on the other side of the chamber — sitting there, and one by one trying to defend the legacy that he left behind. It is a big legacy that we have to pay back and better manage.


Seriously, though, unfortunately it is not funny, because we have to fix the budget blow-out. We have to fix these problems, and it is not a joke. This is serious. We have heard many times the Labor Party cast aspersions on our 100 days, and it is very convenient — —


Mr Eren — Deputy Speaker, I draw your attention to the state of the house.


Quorum formed.


Mr SOUTHWICK — We have been left with the legacy of the 11 very bad years of the Brumby government. We have heard many times that myki had an initial promised cost of $494 million, but the budget result — and it is still being counted — is $1.35 billion, which is a blow-out of $857 million on top of the problems of no scoping. The government’s attitude was, ‘Let us just go out, do a deal and hope for the best!’.


It is interesting that the former Minister for Water has been rewarded for his great management of the desalination plant and water with the position of shadow Treasurer. Thanks to his fine negotiation skills we have been signed up to $550 million a year for 30 years. We thank him very much for that; we now have to contend with it.


At the end of this Parliament I will collect money to buy calculators for members of the opposition so they can add up. It is very clear that there have been problems with every single one of their projects — desal, myki and smart meters. If the shadow Treasurer wants more examples, I will give them to him. Smart meters had an initial projected cost of $800 million, but its current cost of $3.25 billion equals a blow-out of $1.45 billion. The regional rail network was costed at $4.5 billion, as we heard from the Treasurer before, but the previous Treasurer failed to even cost signal crossings.


The Wimmera-Mallee pipeline had a proposed cost of $77 million, but the final cost was $266 million, which is a $189 million blow-out. It goes on; I have a list of them. Unfortunately it is Victorians who will pay for and deal with this, and it is Victorians who I feel sorry for.


I also feel sorry for a number of the new people who sit on the other side of the house — unfortunately they are not here — because they have been left with this legacy. For the next four years they have to sit and look at the former ministers who signed them up to these deals. All the former ministers, including the previous Treasurer, signed us up to these fantastic deals and contracts. It is very clear that we will fix the problems that the Labor Party has created.

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