Mr SOUTHWICK (Caulfield) — I grieve for the people of Victoria over a number of issues they have been left with due to the poor economic management of the previous Labor government. It did not make the hard decisions, and it did not stand up for the people of Victoria. As a member of the community in Caulfield and as a candidate I listened, along with many of my colleagues on this side of the house, to the indifference of the previous government to crime, making the hard decisions and standing up for the community. Since we came into government we have seen that promises were not delivered and actions were not taken. The issues I wish to discuss today include the previous government’s failure to make the hard decisions on crime, public transport, health and education. These are the fundamentals of good government. They are the important steps that we expect a government in Victoria to take, but unfortunately they were not delivered by the Labor government.
I grieve for Victorians about the economic mismanagement of the previous government. When we talk about economic mismanagement we talk, as we have stated on many previous occasions in this house, of the black holes that continue to get bigger. They remind me of what happened in Battlestar Galactica; the holes just keep appearing the further we look.
Yesterday the Treasurer handed down a terrific budget. He was meticulous about ensuring that the government looked at where it needed to go and at what it had been left with by the previous government. Some of the facts and figures speak for themselves. Expenditure under the previous Labor government increased by 8 per cent while revenue growth increased by 7.3 per cent. On this side of the house we know how to run a business. It is obvious that those on the other side had no idea. If you tried to run a business like that, you would quickly be calling in the administrators and liquidating the business almost instantaneously. You cannot keep spending when there is no money in the bank.
You cannot keep hoping that you will receive handouts. If it were not for major injections of capital, such as the Building the Education Revolution program, we would be in further disarray. The Labor government relied on handouts from its federal mates. Unfortunately that has left us in the disarray in which we find ourselves.
Major projects undertaken by any government are fundamental to strategic planning and the vision for the state’s future. The opposition claims that our budget does not deliver a vision. However, one need only look at the lack of vision of the previous government. When it came up with major projects, it came up with ideas but gave absolutely no thought as to how it would fund them. We have cost blow-outs of $2.5 billion on major projects — and we are still counting. Mention of the words ‘desalination plant’ sends shivers down the spines of most Victorians. It is shocking, it is horrifying that we are signed up to a 30-year deal on that project.
You would get less time for committing a murder. Unfortunately we are signed up for a life sentence, which brings me to the issue of crime.
Crime was a platform the coalition took to the last election. We said we would be tough on crime. Today I grieve for the victims of crime who were let down by the previous government over the last 11 years. Many times these people have stood at the front of Parliament House saying that criminals were not punished, sentences were not tough enough and people were let free on suspended sentences, only to reoffend. In fact it was the victims themselves who were punished, not the criminals. Incidents that have occurred in my electorate of Caulfield go to the heart of this, and I am sure that every member on this side of the house would have plenty of examples of the same kind. During the last election I stood up many times and identified the issues in my electorate. There were stabbings and there were bashings. At Caulfield station a gentleman was bashed by half a dozen people, and when a reporter arrived their camera was smashed.
This is but one example; there are plenty of others. You need only walk down the streets to see the graffiti that remains from the time of the previous government.
When once I stood up at a forum and mentioned crime I was shouted down by members of the Labor Party, who said, ‘How can you mention crime in Caulfield? Caulfield does not have such a thing as crime. It is an issue made up by the candidate for Caulfield’. Let me say that we now know that the crime statistics used by the previous government were made up and the real statistics were covered up. It is unfortunate that an officer at the highest level within Victoria Police — a knight of the realm — has resigned his post because he could not continue in the knowledge that this occurred under the previous government and was in fact mandated by that government. These are the sorts of things that we on this side of the house will not stand for; these are the sorts of things that we will ensure are disclosed. We will make sure that we will deliver on crime. The people of Victoria expect the area in which they live in the state to be safe. That is first and foremost in their minds. It is paramount to them. If nothing else, they expect to be safe.
To demonstrate what has been happening, I give the following examples. Only last week a taxidriver was stabbed by two young people in Inkerman Road. Illegal boarding houses keep popping up because there is no regulation of them. We are looking at shutting them down, but under the loose laws of the previous government they were allowed to exist. There are drug problems. Only a week and a half ago a 35-year-old person died of a drug overdose outside my office. These are problems, and they are identifiable. They happen right in front of our eyes and they are things that we need to address.
We in this government are going to be tough on law and order. We are not going to sit back and let these problems continue. I am certain that the reasons behind the grief I express are something that will be dealt with by the current government. The coalition has recognised the problems and in this budget has already addressed a number of those issues. We have heard that the government will be delivering more police. First and foremost they will be a visible presence on the streets, in their vans and in their uniforms. They will enforce our laws, and that is very important. The changes made to the granting of suspended sentences will ensure that offenders will not roam free and reoffend when they are subject to a suspended sentence. It is very important for us to send a clear message to the community that we will be tough on crime.
I am excited about some of the initiatives mentioned in the budget, particularly the ability of local communities to do something about crime.
We are taking it back into our own electorates — and even the Labor Party will benefit from our policy to ensure that our streets are cleansed of crime through, for example, a zero tolerance policy on graffiti. If there is a problem, we will do something about it. We will not allow our streets to continue to be big, long murals of mess. Instead our streets will be clean and something we can all be proud of.
I am also happy that we are taking Neighbourhood Watch back to the streets. We fought for Neighbourhood Watch during the election and committed to ensuring that crime statistics would not only be reported but would also be released to the volunteers who are out on the streets doing something about making our streets safe. Under the previous government those figures were to be withheld. They were to be pulled back, yet we expected people to volunteer to walk the streets without any information. It is tantamount to sending an ostrich out and hoping that it will come back with an answer.
There is no head-in-the-sand ostrich work here. What we are doing is getting out and about and empowering young people, not so young people and all people in Neighbourhood Watch to do something and continue the great work that its groups do.
I now turn to the public transport system. I grieve for every single public transport user who has had to put up with a second-rate, and in many cases third-rate, public transport system in Victoria. We have all experienced or witnessed this. We have all stood and waited for a train, particularly in the morning, only to see cancellations and delays and then to see that the train will not be coming at all and that we need to take alternative measures. The Sandringham line, which is in my electorate, is infamous for this. I am sure that if members went out like I have done and spoke to many of my travelling constituents, they would tell them that over the last 11 years the Sandringham line has been a mess.
What we have delivered in this budget in terms of more trains and upgrades to stations is just the sort of thing that this problem needs in order to be rectified. We need to go and do something about it. The previous government attempted to introduce myki — and I call it an attempt because it was pretty poor at that — and again we have been left with a situation where we need to pick up the pieces. We are going to do it; we are going to pick up the pieces. We are not going to scrap myki. Why? Because we simply cannot afford to continually put up with the mess.
Mr Holding — You just made the announcement.
Mr SOUTHWICK — No, I did not make the announcement.
We will probably end up having to address things like myki, because at the end of the day you have spent too much on it.
You have taken so much of taxpayers money and invested it in a system — —
The DEPUTY SPEAKER — Order! The member should address his comments through the Chair.
Mr SOUTHWICK — The Labor Party has invested so much money in this scheme that we are now in an unfortunate situation whereby we need to make decisions on what we are going to do. We are not going to make political decisions; we are going to make decisions that are right for Victorians. That is what we will be doing.
The deployment of protective services officers (PSOs) is a very important step in terms of making our trains safe. Having PSOs on train stations will make trains safe simply because people will feel comfortable using them. If people feel comfortable using trains, we will get more patronage, and if we get more patronage, we will get a more efficient system. It is a very simple strategy. If the opposition had known this and done something about it, we might have had a better public transport system.
There is a whole range of other things that I grieve for. I grieve for the schools. I grieve for the Victorian parents and kids who have had to put up with substandard measures by the previous government.
In my electorate, members only have to go to Ripponlea Primary School and Caulfield Primary School and have a look at those schools that have had no funding — zero dollars — from the previous government over the last 11 years to see this. Caulfield Primary School has an infestation of possums, and it also has roofs that are unsafe and would probably amount to an occupational health and safety issue. At the same time, the school has an $800 000 school hall that was funded by the previous government so that the school could have a lovely plaque saying that the government helped it. Again this is pure politics and spin by the previous government, and we will do something about it. I grieve for all Victorians over the mess that the previous government has left us in, which we are going to fix.