In Parliament

Motion: Government Business Program



Thursday, 30 May 2024.

Mr NEWBURY (Brighton) (17:15):

It is clear that this motion is just another one of the Government’s sledge motions, a break-glass attempt by the Government to divert from their own problems, and I move:

That all the words after ‘That’ be omitted and replaced with the words ‘the Allan Labor government be condemned for failing to provide secure, reliable and affordable energy to Victorians.’

We know why this motion is being moved, and that is because Labor’s primary has hit 28 per cent and because at a Federal level it has hit 29. So, this Government has decided, ‘Why don’t we help our Prime Minister, who is tanking, and our Premier, who is tanking?’ And aren’t they tanking?

Victorians and Australians have lost trust in Labor, and why? One of the core reasons goes to the heart of this motion, because everybody in this State deserves reliable, secure, affordable energy, and they do not have it with this Government that oversaw the worst blackout this state has ever seen – over half a million people without power.

Every Victorian knows they would move a motion in this place to cover up their 28-point primary. That is what they do. They think, ‘Oh, let’s throw the dead cat over there; maybe everyone’ll look at that.’ Well, we all know what this is about. We have Bills that could be debated – the Budget, which the Government is hiding from. I have said it all week – the Government has spent so little time debating the Budget. Of course they have, because they want to try and deflect from their problems.

We have got a cabinet that is split up. They have got different positions on everything, and the Deputy Premier, the stalking horse – he is a stalking horse that one. We all see that thoroughbred over there, we all see him – he is racing strongly at the moment, isn’t he? Hasn’t he had a week? He is standing up for a bit of common sense. ‘I don’t want to get rid of gas,’ he says.

Well, you have got a Minister who will not approve any projects. The Minister for Energy and Resources will not approve any gas projects and then comes into this place and says, after 10 years, ‘Oh, we don’t have any more gas.’ Well, you have not approved any projects, Minister. If you do not approve any projects, guess what happens – you run out of gas. That is what has happened in this State. Everybody knows it, and the Minister has been exposed for it to the point that the Deputy Premier has called it out. I mean, how embarrassing that the Deputy Premier has had to call out the Minister. Every time the Minister for energy is asked about gas the Minister gets up and says, ‘Oh, we’ve run out of gas.’ It is because you have not approved any projects, Minister – it is pretty simple. Victorians deserve to have reliable, secure and affordable energy. That is what they deserve, and when you vote Liberal, you will get it. That is the difference.

This motion is a joke. It is a cover-up for a 28-point primary. Everybody can see it. That is what this motion is about, but we can see, and Victorians now can see how badly the Government is failing at delivering for them. They do not have trust in this Premier, and this motion goes to one of the core reasons why Victorians have lost trust, because people do not have reliable, secure and
affordable energy. Every Member, if they were honest – which I will leave up to them – would stand up in this place and say that their constituencies are worried about power supply. They are worried about the cost of energy provision. These are things that every single person will talk to you about, and they have got every right to feel that way. After 10 years we know this Government has not delivered it for them.

To not approve any gas projects and then say, ‘Oh my gosh, we’re out of gas’: can you believe the hypocrisy of it? We know why it was not approved: ideology, that is why. And the Deputy Premier has called it out. We know what the Deputy Premier is doing on this side of the chamber. We know the Deputy Premier is standing for common sense on gas. If only the Premier would hear his words, that great thoroughbred, the stalking horse that he is. That is why we have amended the motion to deal with the real substance of these issues. This should not be a debate about sledging. This should be a motion about the substance of ensuring that we have secure, reliable and affordable energy.

At the start of the year, we saw one of the most embarrassing displays of an energy policy collapse this nation has ever seen. We saw the offshore wind policy of this Government collapse in front of our very eyes. We had the Premier standing up to talk about offshore wind and not understanding basic details. We had the Minister for Energy standing up and not knowing basic details. We had the Minister for Environment, who took a little break out of his holiday, talking about this issue and not understanding the basic details. He said the details of the project were not available to the public when they were on a public website. You would think with all of his staff they would have the capacity to understand the basic details. The Premier said that the project had been approved by the State Government despite the Minister for Planning doing something entirely different reviewing it. It was a mess. No wonder Victorians know they cannot have secure energy. Of course they cannot, because the Premier does not even understand the policy.

The Minister for Energy is ideologically strangling gas. That is what the Minister is doing, and everyone can see it. The Minister has finally been exposed, because after saying that they are not going to approve any project, guess what happens, they run out. And now the Minister comes into Question Time and says, ‘Oh, if someone came and saw me, maybe I’d consider their approach.’ Do you know what businesses are saying? ‘Why would we bother with this Minister?’ That is what every single person in industry is telling us, and now they are starting to say
it publicly. They are saying, ‘Why would we go to this Minister?’ because this Minister is not making value-based decisions; this Minister is entirely ideological. We know it is true. This is a minister who started a process of locking up the entire parkland of much of Victoria. This Minister is entirely ideological and has been exposed for it. That is what the substance of this motion is about.

What makes things worse is not just that the Government has lost control of this policy area, the Government has also cut the community out entirely from the process. They have created a new pathway for energy projects that entirely cuts the community from the process. It is so fundamentally wrong. Yesterday one of the Members of this place came into the Chamber and spent a number of contributions talking about the fact that I was recently at a rally at Lethbridge Airport, upset with me because I had met with her community. Well, of course I met with her community, because – guess what – the Member has not. The Member is absent. We have hundreds of people in that community asking a very, very simple and fair question: if you put windfarms 1 kilometre from the landing flight path of an airport where the emergency services vehicles land for the entire Geelong region, will it affect the capacity of those emergency services vehicles to land? That is a fair question. That is why hundreds of people are asking it, and they are getting no answer. So, they have come to me and said, ‘Why are we not getting an opportunity through the government’s new processes to have a right to speak and to have our questions answered?’

What I find so offensive about the way that the communities are being cut out of not only energy but also planning more generally is that people move into communities – well, let us go even a step further: people create communities, people create towns, people create suburbs. They move into those areas. They look after those areas, and they form community groups. They care for these areas for years and for decades. Then the Government comes along and says, ‘I’m going to put something here and you don’t get a say.’ How is that right? How is that okay? What will happen later this year is the Government will introduce draft laws which will entirely cut out communities for much of the planning process. That is what the Government will do, and the community will turn on them. The community is going to turn in a way we have not seen before. You think a 28 per cent primary is bad – you wait and see.

If you cut the community out of all planning decisions and out of all energy decisions, what will happen is that the community will reject them. Because the Government is not some bunch of overlords. The Minister cannot make a single decision, let alone doubling, tripling or quadrupling her workload every day. I mean, the Minister cannot make any decisions. So, if you give her more decisions, what is going to happen? The briefs are going to get taller. The dust on the briefs is going to get bigger. It is outrageous what the Government is doing with energy, and the point of cutting the community out of that process will bite them hard – and so it should. That is what is going to happen when these proposed laws come to Parliament later this year. You will see a groundswell from across the entire community, who say, ‘No more. We don’t accept you building whatever you want wherever you want.’ Because our community has character, and community should be protected. Community say should be a core part of that.

We have moved an Amendment to this motion, and the core of this motion is about the failure of this Government to provide secure, reliable and affordable energy. That is what we want to talk about, because that is the core of this issue. What the Government has tried to do is bring up a break-glass political tactic in the form of a sledge motion. Well, the fact that the Premier has been criticised for her speech last night at a pro-Israel function, the fact that the Government has no capacity over policy day-to-day, the fact that the Deputy Premier is contradicting – the litany of errors is banking up. So, what do we do? We are going to use a word over here to try and scare people. Do you know that the only way that works is if you have a Premier that people listen to. And guess what – you do not. If you have a Premier that people actually trust and listen to, that tactic will work. But the tactic of the government now will not work, because the problems the community have are deep and they are real. They are deep and they are real, and the cost-of-living impact on people is hurting them. People are worried about the fact that inflation rose this week and we may see another rate rise. That is the kind of stuff people are worried about.

For the Government to, after 10 years, come along and throw some silly political sledge across the Chamber to try and detract – it will not work, and neither should it. It is juvenile. It is university juvenile, what the Government is doing at the moment, and the community can see it. That is why their primary is 28 per cent. People can see it. Unless the Government actually get on to the priorities that people in this community care about, it will get worse for them. And so, it should – they should be condemned for their behaviour.

So, for the Minister to come in here and move some motion after crippling an industry – after destroying policy in this space – the Minister should stand condemned. And the Premier, for trying to throw her dead-cat politics over in the corner to try and trick Victorians away from the things they actually care about, should be condemned. The Premier should be condemned for her behaviour.

Victorians see it – that is why it is not working. Throw all the stupid university politics tactics you want, Premier, but you have been seen. Victorians see what you are doing, and they will call you out for it, and you will never, never get the standing that a Premier deserves while you behave in that way. Fix the problems that are there. Fix the things that people care about. Make sure people have energy. Make sure that cost-of-living issues are at the forefront of your agenda, not stupid university politics. That is what is happening, and that is why the Amendment we have moved condemns the Government for it and, in my view, condemns the Premier for it.

It is time that this behaviour gets called out – enough. It is time for the Government to start talking about policies that matter and fixing problems that matter and not move things in this place that hurt people. Yesterday we debated a bill that is going to hurt 15,000 people. I did not see very many people on that side of the chamber get up and give a 10-minute defence of 15,000 people, did I? No – silence of course. Where is the party of the people? That was gone a long, long, long time ago, and it is sad. This motion is a disappointing reflection of what this Government has become.

We will be debating the substance of what we should be debating, which is the core of my amendment, and we have a very long list of speakers that want to speak till the end of the day about it. Though I would love to spend the entire 30 minutes – I can assure you I would love to speak for the entire 30 minutes – we have a long list of people who want to get up and talk about the substance of this motion, about ensuring we have secure, reliable and affordable energy.

So, I will finish where I started and say: this is the Premier’s dead cat sledge motion. That is what this is, and that is why we have amended it. This is about the fact that the Premier has hit a 28 per cent primary – and all the Members on that side of the Chamber are very quiet. We know what they are thinking. We know they have lost confidence, like Victorians. How can you have trust and confidence in this Premier? Because the Premier has no standing. That is the issue, because the Premier is not focused on things that actually matter to people. The Premier is not focused on fixing problems that exist for people, and the Liberal–National parties are. That is the difference.

We are not going to be moved by some silly little motion. Every single sitting week the Government can move a silly, little motion, and every week I will get up and I will point it out and every one of my Members on this side of the Chamber will do it too, because we are sick of the way the Government uses this place – we are sick of it. The Government needs to start doing things for people and fixing problems that they have.

Yesterday 15,000 people were hurt because of a Bill, and every Member who voted for that without standing up for those communities and who speaks for those communities without working to protect those communities should be condemned. That is what we are doing. That is what the Shadow Minister for Agriculture the member for Lowan is doing – working hard to try and do everything that we can to help 15,000 people. I know how hard the Shadow Minister is working to try and get a deal for these people. The Government should be condemned for their failure on this policy and for the misuse of this place, and from now on, every time they do it they are going to be called out for it.