Budget Speech 2015-16

Ms SPENCE (Yuroke) — I am very pleased to rise to support the budget. It is a great budget that is good for Victoria and is good for the Yuroke electorate. In my first speech in this place a few months ago I spoke about my passion for access to quality education and how this has benefited me personally, so of course I am delighted to be standing in this place today as part of a Labor government that in this budget has delivered the single biggest increase in education funding in the history of this state. This is about not just dollars and cents but rather genuine investment and smart programs to ensure that every child has great opportunities in life, from extra support for the kindergarten level through to the rebuilding of a TAFE system that was shamefully trashed by the previous government.

This is a progressive and responsible budget that takes crucial steps to fix the ambulance crisis, shines a light on family violence with the vital work of the royal commission and gets on with building the biggest metropolitan rail project since the city loop. This budget has been warmly welcomed in my electorate of Yuroke, where it is safe to say there are no footprints from the previous government. As a testament to this government’s commitment to being the education state, this budget provides considerable investment in school infrastructure in Yuroke. I am very pleased that this budget provides the remaining $3.6 million for Mount Ridley P–12 College. This funding will complete the important stage 5 of the school’s development, which includes building works to bring additional teaching, administrative and counselling facilities to the college; doubling the size of the main car park area; and adding a hard court to the college sporting facilities. I am also thrilled that this budget includes $12.2 million for a new Craigieburn north west primary school. This is part of the Andrews Labor government’s delivery of the biggest school infrastructure program in Victoria’s history, with $730 million allocated to build, upgrade and maintain schools across the state.

I have to say that I am not surprised such a massive investment was required to address the needs across the state after four years of neglect. In the Yuroke electorate, one of the fastest growing areas in the state, with the second-highest proportion of children aged 5 to 14, not one new school was provided in four years, despite prep enrolments continuing to grow and grow. The neglect of the former government has been a frustration to schools and families. I am glad that this government has stepped up and in its first budget provided a new school for the electorate. Labor’s commitment to education is also demonstrated in our passionate determination to rescue TAFE and the $350 million TAFE Rescue Fund. For residents of the Yuroke electorate this provides an important education option, as many students will access studies at the Broadmeadows Kangan Institute.

I am very pleased that this budget includes the $1.3 billion freeway expansion, which is welcomed by the residents of the electorate who use the Tullamarine Freeway and CityLink to commute to the city. Under this project the freeway will be widened along its entire 24-kilometre length from Southbank to Melbourne Airport. These widening works will increase traffic capacity by 30 per cent and reduce travel time by 16 minutes on average in the morning peak and 17 minutes in the evening peak. As well as providing great benefits to workers and families, it is also expected to create 1400 direct and indirect jobs.

I also welcome the Interface Councils Infrastructure Fund that is provided in this budget. Ten interface councils, including Hume City Council, are eligible to apply for funding from this $50 million fund aimed at providing community facilities. I acknowledge the terrific work of the Minister for Local Government in regard to this funding and thank her for visiting the mayor and CEO of Hume City Council with the member for Sunbury, the member for Broadmeadows and me to explain the fund and engage in a meaningful discussion about the process and the types of projects that this fund is intended to assist with. Suffice it to say, the Hume City Council has a number of projects that it will put forward for funding. I hope the fund assists in providing important community infrastructure in what is one of the fastest growing areas in the state.

I also welcome the $20 million for a railway station car parking fund. I am very pleased that the Minister for Public Transport has informed this place that Craigieburn railway station has been identified as a priority station to receive additional car parking and that the government will soon be moving to the development phase. This issue is of great importance to the residents of Craigieburn, who struggle with a mere 267 car parks for a population of well over 40 000 and growing.

Finally, I congratulate the Treasurer on this great Labor budget. It is a fair budget, it is an equitable budget and it is an exciting budget that will make the biggest investment in public transport and education in the history of our state. It is our responsibility to ensure that our state is prosperous and that nobody is left behind. No-one should have to go hungry at school, no-one should have to miss a school excursion or camp, no-one should have to wear a tattered jumper or be singled out at school for not wearing the appropriate uniform simply because it was beyond the family budget at that time.

On behalf of the people of the Yuroke electorate, I thank the Treasurer. I am proud to be a member of the Andrews Labor government, whose commitment to people and to fair outcomes is once again demonstrated in this responsible budget that restores balance and puts people first.