‘APPROPRIATION (2022-2023) BILL 2022’.
Thursday, 26 May 2022.
Mr NEWBURY (Brighton) (11:14):
I rise to speak on the Appropriation (2022–2023) Bill 2022.
This is an opportunity for me to speak to my community of Brighton, Brighton East, Elwood and Hampton and on behalf of that community.
Disappointingly the State Budget papers did not commit a single new dollar to Brighton, Brighton East, Elwood or Hampton—not a single dollar, not one dollar.
A budget should be about economic responsibility and a fair allocation of resources, a fair allocation of money. And yet my part of Victoria, part of Melbourne, did not receive one single dollar—not a single dollar.
In terms of the Budget more generally, the Budget figures show a $7.9 billion deficit and an eye-watering $167.5 billion state net debt figure by 2025–26. And why does that matter? Because the annual interest repayments on debt are growing from $3.1 billion to $6.4 billion in only four years. All of that money, all of that expense on interest, could be saved and spent on something else.
Victorians will now carry twice the debt burden of those in New South Wales and will have a greater debt level than the combination of New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia. And in terms of tax, this budget includes a $603 million land tax hit, up 14.2 per cent; $1.5 billion in stamp duty on land transfers, up 22.6 per cent; $1.1 billion in payroll tax, up 17 per cent; and, staggeringly, a $27 billion infrastructure blowout.
Though I would like to be able to talk about any investment in my community, I cannot. What I can talk about is what the Government could have invested in my community and did not. I will take the opportunity to talk about some of the school needs, some of the infrastructure needs, some of the health needs and some of the childcare needs.
When you look at the Budget overview and look to schools, it openly boasts about investing in Labor electorates and ignoring non-Labor electorates. The overview states that of the 13 new metro school constructions, 85 per cent are in Labor electorates, 82 per cent of the 22 school upgrades are in Labor electorates and 82 per cent of the metro special school upgrades are in Labor electorates. This type of pork-barrelling is not new. In the budget last year 85 per cent of the 35 metro school upgrades went to Labor electorates and 85 per cent of the 78 metro school upgrades announced in November 2020 went to Labor electorates. On five out of six occasions budget money went into Labor metro electorates.
In my community over recent budgets Brighton Beach Primary School received zero dollars, Brighton Primary School received zero dollars, Brighton Secondary College received zero dollars, Elwood Primary School received zero dollars, Elwood College received zero dollars, Gardenvale Primary School received zero dollars and Hampton Primary received zero dollars, and yet the Minister for Education denies school fund bias—zero dollars into Brighton, Brighton East, Elwood and Hampton schools.
When you look at a special school like Brighton Primary School, it is an incredible school, a school that has been in my community since 1875. It has 620 students, and it has developed a master plan to develop projected long-term enrolment growth and address issues with the facilities at the school. It is visionary. What most people do not know is that two-thirds of the school’s students are in a dozen demountables that were installed in the 1970s. Two-thirds of our kids were put into those demountables 50 years ago, and nothing has changed. Another fact that most people are not aware of is that the school is home to 20 children with special hearing needs, and those demountables are next to the train line. So we have 20 students with special hearing needs who are in 50-yearold demountables next to a train line. If there was ever a greater need for investment in a school, I cannot imagine what it would be.
I move to Brighton Secondary College, a fantastic school established in 1955. It is home to 1200 students. It is a big, big school for my community—not just my community but also over the road; a lot of students come from Bentleigh. One of the issues in my area is that there is no modern performing arts space, so the college there has developed a plan for a 1400-seat tiered theatre with a stage, curtains, lighting, theatre-style acoustics, audio-visual facilities, music tutorial rooms, equipment and storage facilities to support it, accompanying infrastructure, a foyer area and kitchen facilities—a wonderful, wonderful facility not just for the children of my local area but also for community groups. There is not a dollar for Brighton Secondary College and their wonderful vision.
Hampton Primary School is the hub of Hampton, and it has been teaching children since 1913—another school in my community that is over 100 years old. No-one in the Hampton Primary School community or Hampton more generally can recall the government investing any money in the school, ever. The community of Hampton and the Hampton school cannot recall the government ever investing in that school. That is extraordinary. And it is not a small primary school. The school has developed a vision for a multipurpose netball facility that can serve as a sporting hub, a school meeting place and a community facility, because there is no place for the school to meet. It is a big school with no opportunity and no place for the school to meet.
How disappointing to hear Labor members laughing at the school needs of my community. How disappointing. If I then move to Elwood College, also a longstanding—
Ms Green: On a point of order, Acting Speaker, I take offence at what the
member for Brighton just said. Labor members were not laughing. There was
laughter from staff outside the chamber, so I would just like the member for
Brighton not to falsely accuse us of laughing, because we were not.
The ACTING SPEAKER (Ms Kilkenny): There is no point of order.
Mr NEWBURY: Of course not. Elwood College is an important school in my community, a 60-year-old college with 850 students and 50 international students. There is not a dollar for Elwood College either. That school has close to $1 million worth of maintenance needs, including the gymnasium roof. The school are in a very difficult position because they have been fighting for their
vision of a redevelopment of their gymnasium into what they call the Phoenix Theatre, a new theatre which would be utilised by both the school community and the local community. Elwood College is a hub for the local community. It has a wonderful performing arts tradition. They have got a facility in their current gymnasium and theatre that requires significant works, in fact urgent works. They have not received a single dollar, so they are in a very difficult position as to whether or not to try and invest in patchwork maintenance or hold out hope that one day the Labor Government will remember that Brighton, Brighton East, Elwood and Hampton exist.
I move to a number of infrastructure projects in my community, especially pedestrian crossings. Members of this house may recall the government’s refusal to invest in the Grenville Street crossing in Hampton over the Sandringham train line until an elderly local resident died at the crossing and the government was shamed into investing in the crossing upgrade. There were no safety facilities at the site—none—and one of our beloved local grandmothers passed away crossing that site. But there are a number of other similar sites. The Dendy Street crossing is a crossing utilised by two local primary schools, St Joan of Arc and Brighton Beach Primary School. One of the principals, St Joan of Arc principal Tony McMahon, has said publicly:
The fact that there hasn’t been a terrible accident is purely through luck …
There has been no investment in that crossing upgrade in an estimated 100 years, and the government has done work on that site. They know the safety issues of that site. It is known to the Government, and yet we have not had a dollar invested in that site. At the Dendy Village pedestrian crossing at Dendy Village, Council has actually installed the associated infrastructure at the site, and VicRoads support the installation. It is a bustling local shopping strip. Again there, a local was killed, tragically, crossing at the village. The Parliamentary Budget Office has estimated a cost of $900 000 to fix it—again, not a single dollar to that site.
The Glen Huntly Road crossing in Elwood is a crossing point for several schools and a childcare centre. Recent VicRoads data showed 17 incidents at that site; eight resulted in injury to locals again a $900,000 cost. At the last election, when this was an issue, Labor installed a sign down the road—not even at the site but down the road. VicRoads has confirmed there exists at that site demand for the crossing as a high priority—not a dollar, again. For an Esplanade crossing near Were Street, which is a crossing point for the community to Green Point, where there are numerous local events, there is not a dollar there either.
For health, there is not a dollar. Sandringham Hospital services 70,000 people in the local area—not a dollar for them. That is a much-needed facility, Sandringham Hospital, and the government has not put a dollar in there.
And finally, in terms of child care, despite the Government announcing a $47 million investment into Wyndham City Council for childcare infrastructure, the Port Phillip council is being forced to close three childcare centres, including Elwood Children’s Centre, because the infrastructure at the sites is so out of date that they cannot afford to fix them and the government has not invested a single dollar there. 3,200 local people in the community have signed a petition over that site.
There are so many things in terms of school infrastructure, health and child care that are needed in my community, and these state budget papers did not commit a single new dollar to Brighton, Brighton East, Elwood or Hampton.