APPROPRIATION (2011/2012) BILL 2011 – Thursday, 2 June 2011

Posted on 15. Jun, 2011 in Speeches

Mr LIM (Clayton) — I am very pleased to contribute to this debate on the Appropriation (2011/2012) Bill 2011. I am astounded at the successive contributions from those on the opposite side of the chamber. I have been here long enough to note and respect the tradition that you give credit where credit is due, and it is only appropriate at this time to remind the chamber, and particularly the new members on the other side, that it was under the Labor government, under the leadership and watch of former Premiers Bracks and Brumby, that Melbourne was voted the most livable city and place in the world for three consecutive years. That was during our time in government.

This is not a small achievement, because Melbourne was compared to 120 other cities in the world, judged across 12 criteria and came first three times. It has been only during the past four years that Vancouver has become equal with Melbourne. It has been recognised not just by faraway economic magazines but throughout Australia that the achievements of the Labor government during its 11‑year reign have put Melbourne, and Victoria, up there as the sporting, cultural, major event and shopping capital of Australia.

I recall giving a notice of motion only some 13 months ago, and I would like to reflect on that and bring it to the attention of the house. It is important for us not to lose what we have achieved and be subject to this nonsense denigration from members on the other side with their gung‑ho cowboy style who come in here and get carried away with their so‑called victory — by just one seat.

As an example I refer to commentary by Paul Kelly, editor‑at‑large of the Australian, in an article on 14 April 2010. He paid tribute to the then Premier Brumby and said he was ‘running the state government widely seen as the best in Australia. We just hope the current Premier can fit into that kind of shoe.

At around the same time it was again reported in the Australian that the Premier was highly regarded for presiding over a booming and renaissance Melbourne, which is now respected and regarded as Australia’s first city in every respect, particularly in terms of being diverse, confident, innovative, family and business friendly, having a strong economy and a great quality of life and enviably being the intellectual, cultural and sporting capital of Australia, renowned for its prosperity, livability and sustainability. Nobody can take that away from Labor. No amount of denigration of our achievements is going to wash, because these comments come from independent third parties and the media, which are very critical of Labor all the time, in their own words.

I come to the budget that was presented by the Treasurer. It goes without saying and is almost an understatement to say that after 11 years in opposition this mob is not fit or prepared for government. In fact we know from their initial reactions after the election that they were not prepared for governing Victoria, because they did not expect to win. Deep down we all know that. Our achievements with successive budgets delivered by Labor were the best. I can never forget that. After the past two budgets delivered by Labor, the business community came out consistently each year — not just because of our AAA rating but because we are very much business‑oriented, business friendly — and applauded the budgets time after time.

At the same time, Labor’s subsidies to business under successive budgets were to the tune of $1 billion every year. I do not want to go into all the detail, but at the same time we never forgot our base. It is Labor, the government of the people, the government of the working class and the government of the underdog. Consistently we subsidised the program called A Fairer Victoria to the tune of $1 billion. So what we have heard from members on the other side of the chamber who have said that we have failed over 11 years is just nonsense and unacceptable.

I will now turn to my electorate and pick up the theme of what is happening insofar as this budget is concerned. I pick up on jobs, because it appears that the word ‘job’ was not mentioned even once by the Treasurer when he delivered his speech. Jobs are very important. As has already been mentioned by the member for Oakleigh, during the last 12 months that we were in power we delivered more than 100 000 jobs, but we forget that it has been consistently reported in the media that Victoria produced more than half the jobs in the nation during our time in government. This tends to be easily forgotten by people. This is quite an achievement.

Looking at the contrast with what is happening now I go straight to my electorate, and it becomes evident that this government is neglectful, either because it is naive or because it is incapable of dealing with jobs. I am thinking of the synchrotron, but let me first mention the job losses at Bosch. Acting Speaker, right in front of you there are two microphones; each seat in this chamber has one. These microphones are made by Bosch Australia, which is in my electorate. Two months ago Bosch Australia lost 400 jobs, and there was not a whimper from this government or from the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations. The jobs lost involve highly qualified, top end, specialised roles. There was no negotiation or attempt to keep the jobs in Clayton or Victoria. Bosch has something like 1800 employees in Melbourne, 1100 of whom work in the heart of Clayton. Now 400 of those jobs are gone or will be going soon. This government did nothing to negotiate with management or to try to help the employees. These are not just ordinary, run‑of‑the‑mill jobs, they are jobs requiring highly trained and qualified professionals.

It struck me as amazing that this government is not just neglecting jobs but is acting as a job killer as well; it is killing jobs. The synchrotron is going to be killed by this government because — —

An honourable member interjected.

Mr LIM — Listen. I urge the member opposite to read yesterday’s Age. It contains a full‑page article condemning this government for neglecting and killing the synchrotron. The synchrotron provides jobs for 125 highly qualified, cutting‑edge scientists that we should be proud to have. The synchrotron also provides service to 1200 other scientists around the country, but now the synchrotron is closed because this government is prepared to kill it.

Those in government say that they do not like the synchrotron. Somehow they got it into their heads that they just do not like the synchrotron, so all the jobs are going to go. What they do not understand is that these scientists are the pride of our nation, not just Victoria. We should be walking tall and proud because of them. Without these jobs our scientists will have to pack their suitcases and go to Tokyo or Germany or the USA to have their experiments carried out. I just hope many members opposite take the opportunity organised by the Speaker and the President to visit the synchrotron this week. It is important for them to understand how vital it is that we keep the synchrotron going. It is cutting‑edge technology. We fail miserably as a manufacturing country and state because we cannot compete with India or even with Indonesia now. With its stable political scene, Indonesia is emerging as a strong competitor. We cannot compete with China anymore in the traditional manufacturing areas, but we are still ahead of the pack when it comes to cutting‑edge technology. That is where we, as leaders in this country, have to act to ensure the growth and support of these scientists so that they will continue to keep Australia on the cutting edge when it comes to manufacturing.

I was lucky enough in the former government to have been appointed special adviser to the Premier on business relations between Victoria and Asia, and on many occasions I have visited China, India and other countries. People in those countries are amazed that we have the synchrotron and that we are encouraging this scientific research and development locally and then feeding it into the manufacturing sector so we can grow jobs. These other countries could never dream of competing because we are ahead of them. If it is now curbing this growth, the government stands to be condemned.

I would like to touch on the Monash children’s hospital. I hope the government will wake up to itself. Members of the coalition are dithering, and they do not know what they are talking about. I take the opportunity to thank the members on this side who have taken part in the campaign to make sure that the Monash children’s hospital is going to be built. There is a demonstrated need for this hospital by way of 330 000 children in the south‑eastern corridor alone. However, this government says there is no need for the hospital. Those opposite are dithering; they want to build it in eight years, but there is a need for it now.

Projects like this hospital are connected to jobs. There will be 457 jobs created just by the building of that wing containing the children’s hospital, for which there is a demonstrated need. Plans for the hospital were developed by professionals. The plans were not wishy‑washy, which is what the member for Mount Waverley implied, thereby denigrating the work of these professionals. I remember the day when we announced the plan for the children’s hospital. There was jubilation among members of the medical community. We should be enormously grateful for the professional quality of their work, and I take this opportunity to congratulate them on their hard work and their dedication to the children of the south‑east.

I think this government has produced a very miserable budget. The coalition has to wake up to the fact that the challenge is to govern for all Victorians, not just for those in Liberal seats. I have listened consistently to speaker after speaker on the other side carry on about the minister going to visit only Liberal seats, which shows that the government is neglectful. My community of Clayton deserves better treatment, as do communities across the whole of Victoria. I hope this government responds accordingly and positively and wakes up to itself, realising that it has not done a reasonable or fair job. It is disappointing that the Premier has come out with a so‑called family statement but has miserably failed the families of Victoria. The Premier stands to be condemned unless all the issues I have raised are addressed positively, purposefully and effectively.


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