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12 March 1991 - Current

Page 2569
14 August 2019
ASSEMBLY Report on the Appointment of a Person to Conduct the Financial Audit of the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office Frank McGuire
Mr McGUIRE (Broadmeadows) (10:12:48): I refer to the Public Accounts and Estimate Committee inquiry into the appointment of a person to conduct the financial audit of the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office. The importance of who audits the Auditor-General is a response to the age-old issue of who watches the watchers. The critical responsibilities are scrutiny, accountability and compliance. The role is to establish the facts without fear or favour. This is significant, particularly at a time of hyper-partisanship and hyper-factionalism. So we need to have independent people who interrogate the value, particularly of major projects. This is vital. I refer also to the report into the east–west link project that the Auditor-General did and was tabled on 9 December 2015. The reason I raise this report and the Auditor-General’s roles and responsibilities is because we have new opportunities to help address need and raise aspiration. These are that the Australian government has committed to developing a north-west Melbourne city deal with the Victorian government and local councils. This deal would provide the unique opportunity for all levels of government to work together to unlock the region’s full potential. The north and west regions of Melbourne are undergoing dramatic population growth, with the area expected to grow by around 460 000 people—that is almost half a million people—or over 35 per cent by 2031. The region’s residential areas are growing and the economy continues to transition from traditional manufacturing, with exciting emerging employment clusters and industries. This is why this is really significant and an opportunity. I do want to refer to the Minister for Cities, Urban Infrastructure and Population, the Honourable Alan Tudge, who put it this way: A North West Melbourne City Deal would provide the platform to deliver the vision, planning and investment needed to support a fast growing population, housing and jobs, and ensure the region acts as an efficient gateway to Melbourne. So what I am really calling for is: how do we actually get a bipartisan way to look at how we do the investments in these areas? It is no more critical than for the designated capital of Melbourne’s north, which is Broadmeadows, and to address issues of how we get the infrastructure critically brought back. I am sure the house would recall that we had the reverse Robin Hood proposition in the past, with a one-term coalition government that took the money out of Broadmeadows and shunted it down the train line to Frankston to gain a vote there and into other marginal seats. Now, this was an amount of $180 million, so we need to look at how we redevelop into these communities and what the opportunities are to do that. This is significant because you need to actually address these particular communities and show that they get the fair go that everybody else wants as well. We are now on the rise. I have published and promoted Creating Opportunity: Postcodes of Hope since 2016. We were able to get the Business Council of Australia, we have had Labor leaders, we have had the state Treasurer and we have had business come to Broadmeadows for economic and cultural development conferences. We have a unity ticket about what needs to be done. Here is the chance. Here is the opportunity that is on the table. What I am really asking is that we put the political swords and shields down and we act in the national interest and what is best for communities, particularly where it is needed most. If we have a needs-based approach, the answer is clear and the investment is actually at its highest. We have the most affordable available land in Melbourne’s north for new industries and jobs. We have now got a developer who has come and done a deal with the Ford Motor Company to reinvest $500 million into the plants in Broadmeadows and Geelong, so there is the trigger that we want. The market has arrived. There is private investment. Here is how we can actually help drive it. What he is planning on doing, if he lives up to his pitch, is to get in new technologies, new industries and new jobs. So it really is, in my view, an opportunity. I take the view that you do not look a gift horse in the mouth—it is better to throw a saddle over it and ride it into the sunset. So let us seize opportunity, let us put politics to one side and let us not see this become another argument over east–west, okay? Let us not do that. Let us actually do something that is in the best interests of the nation, that will drive jobs, new industries and productivity, and will be highly significant in these communities where this infrastructure is long overdue and is needed most. Public Accounts and Estimates Committee