Governor’s Speech: Address In Reply

Ms SPENCE (Yuroke) (17:21:54): I am very pleased to make a contribution to the address-in-reply to the Governor’s speech. At the outset I want to congratulate all the members who have been re-elected, but in particular I want to congratulate the new members and wish them all the very best for the four years ahead. I have listened to all of the inaugural speeches that have been made, and I am inspired, I am impressed and I am excited to be working with the many new members of the government in this place. The future is certainly very bright. To that end, I am extremely pleased to be standing here as the re-elected member for Yuroke. It is certainly a great honour and one that I take very seriously. I am very humbled by it. I am also very excited about this term of government and building upon the achievements of the previous term. I look forward to watching the progress of our existing projects locally that the community is very much looking forward to seeing the completion of. These include the long-awaited duplication of Craigieburn Road, including the signalisation of some very busy and dangerous intersections, flexible barriers and shared walking and cycling paths. This massive project will reduce congestion and travel times for more than 28 000 drivers who rely on this road, and it will boost safety for all road users. The construction of an additional car park for Craigieburn railway station will provide around 700 new spaces. With the current car park full well before 7.00 a.m., this is a vitally important project. Regarding the opening of the new secondary school in Craigieburn South, it was terrific to turn the first sod on this project last week, and I look forward to seeing this construction progress throughout this year and the school opening for term 1 next year. The new Craigieburn CFA station will provide an expanded and improved home to our terrific local firefighters. Other projects include the delivery of a new Craigieburn ambulance station, the new Craigieburn North State Emergency Service facility and the commencement later this year of the new Mickleham-Kalkallo to Craigieburn bus service that will improve public transport and give an option to residents in these growing estates to the north. I look forward to seeing a retired W‑class tram begin a new life as a learning space at Our Lady’s Catholic Primary School. And I look forward to seeing the completion of projects where we have partnered with Hume City Council: the Craigieburn splash park near Livvi’s Place in Anzac Park, which will give families an opportunity for outdoor water play; the Craigieburn softball centre is the first of its kind in the Hume municipality; the all‑abilities play space and barbeque area near the Hume Tennis & Community Centre; the soon-to-be-opened pavilion at the Aston recreation reserve as well as the new pavilion at Arena recreation reserve; the Aitken Hill integrated community centre, next door to the recently opened and incredibly impressive new Aitken Hill Primary School; the Merrifield West northern community hub with three preschool rooms and five maternal and child health or specialist consulting rooms as well as multipurpose rooms and community spaces—this hub has been supersized and it will need to be to cater for the rapid growth in Australia’s fastest growing suburb; the Kalkallo kindergarten with 33 kindergarten spaces for families in this growing community to the north; and the Cloverton South community hub, with preschool services and community meeting spaces in Kalkallo. The Greenvale West Integrated Children’s Centre will have maternal and child health services, a multipurpose space and an activities room for playgroups. I look forward to seeing the new pavilion for the Greenvale Equestrian Centre that will include changing facilities and office and storage space. There are many projects underway, as members can see, in partnership with the Hume City Council, and I thank them for their continued work and their advocacy for our growing community. As well as all that we have got underway, I am also thrilled that we will deliver on the commitments that we made prior to the election. The Craigieburn community hospital will take pressure off the Northern Hospital and provide a whole new level of confidence to families, who will know that this means health care much closer to home. The new hospital will include pharmacy services, women’s health, paediatric care, public dental services, day surgery, day chemotherapy, rehabilitation support and family violence and crisis support services. Families will also be able to access alcohol and drug services and social support services. This is an exciting project, and I look forward to working with the community as chair of the Craigieburn community hospital consultative committee. I am also thrilled that our commitment to new schools continues with the previously mentioned Craigieburn South secondary college to open next year. This is to be followed by Merrifield West Primary School and Greenvale North West Primary School, which are set to open in 2021; and Kalkallo Common Primary School and the long‑awaited Greenvale Secondary School to open in term 1 in 2022. When the minister came to announce these schools he could see how ecstatic the Greenvale community was at the prospect of this secondary school project finally coming to fruition, and I cannot wait for it to open. In fact Mr Ondarchie in the other place was saying at the early voting centre that we would not deliver on this commitment, so not only do I look forward to the school opening but I also hope that it will be a polling place where we can continue that little chat. Speaking of polling places, I think it is also important to note my thanks to the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) staff both at the early polling place as well as the election day polling places. Sandra McGregor, the election manager for the Yuroke district, was very helpful and along with her team did a great job in challenging circumstances. There was certainly a lot of frustration with the location of the early polling place, and those frustrations ultimately were taken out on the VEC staff. That was not fair; they were just doing their job and they did not pick that location. It was in an industrial precinct which you had to drive to get to, and once you drove there there was nowhere to park, so there was a lot of frustration. My heart certainly went to the staff that copped the brunt of that, and I hope that next time a better effort is made to find appropriate locations. One thing for sure is that this did not deter the almost 19 000 electors, or more than a third of electors, who voted early in this election. It did not deter them, but it did frustrate them, so I do hope greater efforts are made. I would also like to say a few words about my Liberal opponent in this election. I have known Jim Overend for many years and he is generally considered to be a pretty good bloke. Personally I think he may be the smartest Liberal candidate in the state. This is because Jim knew that the best way to get elected as a Liberal candidate was to pretend he was not a Liberal candidate. I kid you not, this is what he did. Jim’s campaign material was completely void of anything to do with Liberal branding. It was black and white—no blue. It was black on one side with his name. You had to search to find written in tiny little letters ‘Liberal for Yuroke’. You really had to look for that. I understand this was a condition of him standing for the party. He is certainly a smart man. Jim campaigned in his black shirts, with ‘Jim’ written across the front and black branding on his material. At the pre-poll the how‑to‑vote material was black Jim-branded on one side and on the other side it had Matthew Guy and Liberal branding. This did not go down well with Jim’s campaign team, I can tell you. It did not go down well and Jim won that battle, so come election day the how‑to‑vote cards came out in full black on one side with ‘Jim’ and his other branding on the other side. Good on Jim. He knew what his technique had to be. He was determined to make sure that people did not associate him with the Liberal Party—that was his best chance of success. But unfortunately for Jim, the then Leader of the Opposition blew his cover on a couple of occasions: he visited Yuroke three times in two weeks, drawing attention to Jim being the Liberal candidate and undermining his ‘Liberal not Liberal’ campaign technique. I am sure others will have their own views as to whether or not the then Leader of the Opposition visiting Yuroke three times in two weeks during an election campaign was a good use of time, but personally I think it was terrific and it was great to have him there. The results do speak for themselves, and while I was amused by Jim’s campaign, I do thank him for the way that he and most of his campaign team conducted themselves throughout the election. The reality is that Jim was up against a history where the Liberals did absolutely nothing for Yuroke from 2010 to 2014, and voters remembered that. The Andrews Labor government played catch‑up over the four years following that Liberal neglect, and the voters knew it—the voters knew that they had been neglected. They remembered that and not only did they not want to go back to those years of inaction but they really could not afford to. As you know, Acting Speaker Suleyman, the area I represent is experiencing rapid growth, and voters simply could not afford to take the risk that the good work that Labor was doing would come to a halt under the Liberals. I have spoken about the ongoing works that are currently underway in Yuroke and the upcoming works. This is no doubt an exciting agenda, and the voters have endorsed that program. In conclusion, I would like to thank those who helped during the campaign. Firstly to my family, my husband, Kosmos, and my son, Adam: I thank them both for their ongoing support. Given that all three of us are involved in politics, election season can be fairly hectic around our place and there is a general understanding throughout the campaign that we will all catch up some time in December. Whilst we have all got each other’s backs throughout the campaign and we know that we are all there supporting one another, the reality is we see each other when it is all over and share stories at that point. The other important members of the household—everyone has heard about our massive tribe of black cats, Marvin and Minx and Maximus and M—the biggest duty during an election campaign is to make sure that whoever actually gets home at a decent hour feeds the cats. That is the one thing that we are all very committed to. When we are not campaigning we are making sure that that tribe is fed, and they reward us by not being terribly, horribly behaved towards us in that period. To Paul, Ryan, Justin, Alicia, Josh S, Josh P, Gusewak, Ravinder, Deepak, the Pastras family, Peter, Chandra, Drew, Upal, Walid, Joseph and Anthony, and everyone else that was involved in the campaign, I say a huge thank you. Whether it was helping out at pre-poll, being a booth captain or a helper on election day, coming to markets and street stalls, doorknocking or even hosting a sign at your property, your assistance and support was greatly appreciated and you all played a vital role in this result. To all the residents that I represent in Yuroke, I am incredibly grateful that I have been given this opportunity again. I will continue to work with you and for you to improve our community, to deliver the many projects that we have underway and to deliver on the commitments that we made prior to the election. I am proud to do this as a member of this Andrews Labor government.