Parliamentary speeches

MPI - Federal Government cuts to schools, health and infrastructure in Victoria

November 27, 2018

What a fantastic note for the minister to end on. I welcome his invitation to join the battle at the next election. I think on this side we say: bring it on. We are ready to have our offer, our policies, contrasted to yours. I also took on board a really interesting contribution from another senior member of the government in question time today, the Deputy Prime Minister, who said, 'Life teaches us many lessons.' Well, the Minister for Education doesn't seem to have been heeding that maxim, although, of course, he should. Of course, so should his present leader, the Prime Minister.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister compared himself to Daniel Andrews. Let's be clear: the Prime Minister could not be more wrong in making this comparison, and this MPI makes clear exactly why. The governments which preceded him, led by the former member for Wentworth and led by the present member for Warringah, have a record for underinvestment across Australia and particularly in Victoria. There have been big cuts to health. It's a pity the Minister for Education is no longer with us in the chamber, because his comments about education and the record of this government are simply risible.

Can I start with one point: in question time, why can't he say the words 'early learning' when he talks about the education of three- and four-year-olds? Why can't he acknowledge that this is about more than just child care? Why can't he also offer more than just a bandaid when it comes to funding four-year-olds' kinder? Why can't he join us and join the Victorian government in committing to fund three-year-olds' kinder? Why can't he admit that he is short-changing 2.5 million kids in our public schools? He can talk all he likes about our record but the thing that he can't walk away from are the budget papers, which show the massive cuts to education under his budget.

When it comes to infrastructure, we know that Melbourne is the fastest-growing city in Australia, and we know the pains of that growth have been exacerbated by a federal government that's refused to give it its fair share of Commonwealth infrastructure funding and that has consistently played politics with infrastructure. The contrast could not be clearer with the Andrews government.

This is a tale of two governments, and it has serious implications for the formation of the next government in Australia. We saw a Victorian government that was rewarded by the Victorian people for being resolutely focused on the things that matter to Victorians. Daniel Andrews said on the night, 'Victorians overwhelmingly endorsed our positive and optimistic plan for our state.' And Victorians are looking very seriously at, and taking very seriously, federal Labor's positive and optimistic plans for Australia.

The Prime Minister yesterday, on the other hand—

Mr Tudge interjecting: Don't get too excited!

No, we're not excited. We take nothing for granted. Isn't it telling that the Prime Minister talks about us being cocky when that is his demeanour to a tee? He struts in here and he shouts. He talks about the Canberra bubble, but all he can do here is talk weirdly and, quite frankly, disturbingly about some intimate conflict with the Leader of the Opposition. He cares about Bill Shorten—the member for Maribyrnong; the Leader of the Opposition. The Leader of the Opposition is focused on the Australian people.

We understand, as did Victorian Labor, that what we need to offer the Australian people is hope, not fear and not narrow divisiveness. One of the big reasons why federal factors were at play in the Victorian election was that Matthew Guy was telling the same narrow, nasty story as the federal government. He was appealing to the same base notes that the federal government have been appealing to, and I am hopeful that the Australian people will react in much the same way.

I think many government members, although perhaps not the minister at the table, Minister Tudge, are seeing things in exactly that way when they have commented on what happened in the Liberal heartland of the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. When Senator Hume said, 'Victorians sent the Liberal Party a message: shape up or ship out,' that is a message that should be heeded. When conservative members of the federal caucus acknowledge that pitches to the alleged base are actually alienating people who've been Liberal voters all their lives, members opposite have to pay attention.

What happened on Saturday should be a wake-up call for all of us in this place. But, on this side, we understand that both Victorians and Australians want a government that's on their side—a government with a plan for the future and with a real policy agenda to make genuine change, not nasty cuts and appeals to base motives.

WE'LL PUT PEOPLE FIRST