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In Parliament


Budget Reply speech

   Thursday, 11 May 2017

APPROPRIATION (2017–2018) BILL 2017

Second reading

Mr T. SMITH (Kew) — It is my pleasure to speak on the budget thisyear. I was not given the opportunity to speak on it last year because of thebizarre and haphazard way the Labor Party, and particularly the Leader of theHouse, runs this place. The Leader of the House decided, for reasons best knownto herself and unbeknown in most Westminster parliaments, that the house wouldsit for one day last week to have the budget presented and then we woulddisappear for the rest of the week. Then in a cynical, shameless and juvenileploy, the Labor Party decided that it would have Parliament sit this week andallow us to have our address‑in‑reply this week, which is totally against thetraditions in this place. Quite frankly, it was pathetic, juvenile and totallyunnecessary, but that is what they decided to do to try to crowd out our budgetreply with the federal budget.

The problem that Labor hasfound this week is that its budget has been completely ignored because themember for Melton is still here asking questions. The member for Melton hascompletely stolen the oxygen from Labor’s third budget. Labor’s third budgethas been hijacked by the two thieves who still sit in this house — themembers for Tarneit and Melton. These two crooks have rorted $200 000 fromtaxpayers, and this has ruined the selling of Labor’s budget.

Mr Riordan interjected.

Mr T. SMITH — There are a number of things that could be built with$200 000, member for Polwarth. My electorate got absolutely nothing inthis budget. We could have done with $200 000 to address a whole host ofdifferent issues. But, quite frankly, the fact that the member for Melton gotup in question time and asked a question yesterday, bringing the house down,having the member for Bass ejected for simply suggesting to the Speaker that heshould be throwing out the rorting crook, the member for Melton, and nothimself — —

Mr Howard interjected.

Mr T. SMITH — The fellow over there who thinks what the member forMelton did was simply a minor misdemeanour — —

Honourable membersinterjecting.

Mr T. SMITH — A parking fine indeed! I am completely shocked thatthe member for Buninyong thinks that it is a minor misdemeanour — a minormisdemeanour to rort $200 000 from the taxpayer! The output for theParliament is missing $200 000 because the member for Tarneit ran off with$37 000; he packed off down to Queenscliff to put his feet up. Meanwhile,the member for Ocean Grove went off to live in a caravan park. He charged$174 000 for the privilege. He has a couple of houses in Melton that hecould have flogged off to pay back his $174 000 worth of rorts. He chosenot to do that. He could have flogged off the property he owns in St Kildathat apparently is too small but, I would imagine, is actually worth quite alot of money. Or he could have done what the rest of us do when we have to payback a lot of money instantaneously — that is, take out a loan. He chosenot to do that.

He has now got this bizarrepayment plan with the Parliament that the Premier pretends not to know anythingabout. It is simply unbelievable that this bloke has received millions ofdollars over 25 years — 25 years in this place. He has receivedmillions in wages, and when he leaves this Parliament he is going to receivemillions in a state‑funded pension for the rest of his days. That grub —that rorter, that crook, that thief — has no right to be here, and heshould be evicted. He should be asked to leave if he will not pay the fullamount back.

This budget is missing$200 000 in rorted moneys that those members ought to have paid backimmediately. It is beyond belief that those opposite jump up and down and carryon about those of us on this side of the house, who stand for truth and forjustice and for honesty in the way that we deal with public money. And it issimply beyond belief that you still run a protection racket for these ghastlypeople. What have you been doing? You should throw these people out. You shouldjoin with us and have these people removed from Parliament or at the very leasthave them pay the money back in full. The fact that you do not, the fact thatyou are about to call a quorum on yourselves in my own budget speech, isutterly pathetic.

The smirk from the member forMordialloc gives the game away, as per usual. Shame on you, sir, and shame onthe Labor Party for their grubby, underhanded tactics in not even allowing thecoalition to give their budget reply in the week that the budget was deliveredbecause you were too scared about hearing about poor old Don and Telmo. Well,guess what? They ruined your budget week this week. You have had nothing interms of media coverage. You have been swallowed up by the federalbudget —

The ACTING SPEAKER (Ms Thomson) — Order! Through theChair, please.

Mr T. SMITH — Through the Chair indeed, Acting Speaker. Whilst weare talking about crooks, I am going to move on to the Country Fire Authority(CFA). The government still has not come to a conclusion about what to do withPeter Marshall. Peter Marshall is still coming in and out of 1 TreasuryPlace, pulling the strings and telling people what they can and cannot do.Peter Marshall is this great force within the government who is compelling themto do things that are possibly illegal and possibly against the values andwishes of 60 000 volunteers. It is quite unbelievable that we stilldo not have a resolution to this dispute that Daniel Andrew said was fixed ayear ago. A year ago he said, ‘It needed to be fixed, and I fixed it’. Well, itis not fixed. It still continues to fester and to create disharmony and discordamongst rural communities around our state.

Why has it not been fixed?Because, quite frankly, the government does not have the guts to tell PeterMarshall, ‘You are not getting what you want’. They are still playing aroundwith this bully, this thug, this grub of an individual. They will not tell himno. They are going to give him his vetoes, and they are going to give him allthe bizarre and frankly unfathomable things that this man wants with the CFA.He wants to take control of the CFA, control of the operations of the greatestvolunteer force that this state knows — the CFA, which has protected livesand property for 70 years.

The fact is that thegovernment still will not answer questions in this place. Minister Merlinoand Premier Andrews are still incapable of answering questions in this placeabout what exactly they are trying to do. We are hearing about Simon Creanbeing brought in at the last minute to desperately try and resolve thisdisaster for the government — a disaster that has festered for over ayear. The key point is that we do not know what Simon Crean was paid, but hejoins a long list of people, like Greg Sword or indeed Tony Bates or ChrisEccles, or goodness knows who else, who have been dragged in at the lastmoment. Apparently Ian Ross made a bit of a cameo at some point there lastyear.

Why can these people not geta result for the people of Victoria? Because they are trying to negotiate witha bully and a thug who, for example, will not even allow his members to takepart in a review of gender diversity in the fire services. That is the sort ofindividual we are dealing with. Labor will not defend this. Labor are running amile from this, but they have to deal with this because the simple questionthat has never been answered is: what does Peter Marshall have on the Premier?That is the key point here that no‑one has answered, and in the fullness oftime whatever this man has on the Premier of Victoria will be revealed.

In my electorate of Kew wegot nothing — not a cracker. We could have done with $200 000 for anynumber of playground upgrades and the like in local schools and local parks. Itis a nasty, divisive, typically class war budget from the Labor Party. In myelectorate the crime rate is escalating out of control. It has increased by25 per cent since Labor was first elected in 2014. The state crime ratehas increased by 20 per cent since Labor was first elected in 2014. Thesimple fact is that the government was so slow to move, so slow to respond. Youpretended it was not an issue or it was not an issue that you wanted to talkabout because it was not on Mr McLindon’s grid. That grid said that youcould only speak about health, education, public transport and jobs.

Well,you forgot about law and order, and look what happened. A crime wave developedthat you did not respond to — a crime tsunami which has seen lives andproperty ruined around our state like never before. It requires the strongleadership of the Liberal and National parties to return to the Treasury benchin order for law and order and respect for the rule of law to be restored inthis state. It needs it desperately. Hopefully next November we will have thatopportunity to restore law and order and good government to this state, becauseunder Labor you are always going to get an approach that is soft on crime andsoft on the causes of crime.

In my electorate policenumbers have been cut. There has been no investment in Boroondara policestation. In the time that I was the mayor or a councillor at the City ofStonnington, or even in my role as the member for Kew, I never witnessed such anumber of constituents as the number who are coming to me currently saying thatthey are genuinely scared. They are scared of living in Melbourne! This is Melbourne,for God’s sake; it is not Johannesburg, and it has been turned intoJohannesburg because of the policies of this government.

Again in my electorate wewanted money for Guide Dogs Victoria, a very good cause. It does enormous goodthroughout our society.

Mr Riordan — $200 000 for them.

Mr T. SMITH — We could have had $200 000 for Guide DogsVictoria, but the members for Melton and Tarneit rorted that. They thieved itand took it down to the beach. We wanted money for schools like Kew Primary Schooland Kew East Primary School, which desperately need new upgrades toinfrastructure. But we got none of that because this is an unpleasantgovernment, a government that is divisive and that is obsessed with the classwar politics of yesteryear. Of course they were never going to give anything toKew; of course they were not. Why would they bother? They do not govern for allof us; they govern for a select few — their few — not for the wholeof Victoria and not in the interests of the whole state. But it isdisappointing when there are such massive issues to deal with.

The government seems to beobsessed with the niche concerns of a cosseted urban elite. The coal royaltyrise that has occurred, along with the other massive tax rises, has ensuredthat we have lost 22 per cent of our energy grid. We have lost Hazelwood;Hazelwood has closed down under this government. That is a complete catastrophefor our state, a catastrophe for energy security and a catastrophe for cost‑of‑livingissues. People’s energy bills will go through the roof, mark my words, over thenext year because of the lack of baseload power and security. I cannot believethat the government simply stood by and allowed 22 per cent of our coal‑firedpower generation to evaporate overnight.

Governments need to showleadership on those important issues, and this government, simply forideological reasons, stood by and watched that great power station, that greatbeacon of our history go. Part of the great legacy of Sir John Monash wasbuilding the Latrobe Valley to ensure that this state had a cheap source ofpower to build our manufacturing industries, the sorts of manufacturingindustries that were generated right across our state as a result of thefarsighted policies of the Hamer government, which decentralised Victoria likeno other government had done before. It brought industries such as Mars toBallarat and to Wodonga.

Mr Riordan — Alcoa.

Mr T. SMITH — Alcoa, indeed, thank you, member for Polwarth.

We know that this governmentdoes not have a population policy. It has no plans to decentralise ourpopulation from Melbourne — 77 per cent of our population lives inMelbourne and 92 per cent of annual arrivals come to Melbourne. We have noplan in this budget to decentralise our growth throughout our state.

The regional railannouncement some weeks ago by the Premier was a total fraud in the sense thathe announced $1.4 billion without having any ability whatsoever to pay forit. Why would you do such a cynical thing? Because you know you do not have apopulation plan. You have no idea how to decentralise the population in ourstate, which is so crucial to improving the livability of Melbourne. Labor doesnot have a plan to improve Melbourne’s livability, and we do. We have a planthat is farsighted and forward thinking. We have been going around Victoriaover the last six months speaking to communities across our state — inWodonga, Shepparton, Mildura, Cranbourne and Geelong — and we will begoing to many other places over the next six months. We have been listening topeople about how we can take the pressure off Melbourne and grow countryVictoria.

Regional transportinterlinkages are very, very important. It is not going to be the only aspectof this, but announcing faux transport plans two weeks before the federalbudget to try to verbal the federal transport minister into doing something isno way to govern. It is no way to provide leadership for our state. It is noway to solve the big issues that are facing Victorians. It is another cynicalploy by a cynical government that did not even allow the opposition to respondto its budget in the week it was delivered. It was an outrageous set of cynicalpolitical decisions that it will be condemned for long from this time.