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12 March 1991 - Current

 
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT PERFORMANCE
Page 487
20 February 2019
ASSEMBLY Grievance debate Frank McGuire
Mr McGUIRE (Broadmeadows) (15:47:13): We have the chance to turn adversity into opportunity, to create new industries and jobs for the future, to address housing affordability and to replace anxiety and fear with hope. This is the opportunity coming soon for Australian voters, and we need to make the change. The change is required because the Australian government has been captured by zealots. This is always the problem in politics. It has led to an era of hyper-partisanship and hyper-factionalism. It has not been governing in the national interest but in its base political interest. This has led to a time of real uncertainty for people. Forgetting must never trump remembering. The liberating principles of the Enlightenment are now confronting threats from increasing inequality, the demise of trust in institutions, the rise of authoritarian leaders and the reversion to tribalism. This is the problem. These concerns are not just fears for the state, but they are concerns for families and anxieties for individuals. Political culture wars have merged with society’s knowledge wars, and insanity, like history, is repeating. Poor people, as always, are most vulnerable. In trying to address what needs to happen next, the first thing is that this government, which has failed in its highest duty to actually build opportunity and to advance the nation in these ways, needs to be voted out. I do not say that lightly, because I have often made the plea for unity tickets and also called on the Australian government to go beyond the politics of ultimate ends and go to the politics of responsibility. Now, they have failed in a number of key areas that we can no longer squander. Australia is not leading in many sectors, but in medical research we are. One of the great opportunities we have had has been through the Victorian government. We have established a collaboration with the US in the moonshot quest to cure cancer. If you think about this, this is one of the few unity tickets between the Obama administration and the Trump administration. This is based on the elegance of our science and the political will and wit and nous that the Andrews Labor government has delivered in being able to forge these relationships. We have the opportunity to develop in this area. Melbourne has the most elegant science in medical research. I say that not from a parochial view but because it is a proven fact. In the last round of funding by the independent experts at the National Health and Medical Research Council, Victorian-based institutions received 47 per cent of the funding. Just think about that. That is an exceptional result. I am told that it is probably the highest we have ever achieved, and it goes to the point that the lion’s share goes to the lion. So we are trying to lead like the lion. That is what is happening out of Victoria. This is one of the areas where we have a great opportunity, because we can export to China, Japan and Korea, where we have free trade agreements. I know this clearly; I have witnessed it myself. Delegations from China come to the Victorian Parliament. They are leaders of great provinces with greater populations than all of Australia, and they have tears in their eyes at the elegance of the science and medical research that we produce along with our health system and the benefits that that can deliver. So here is the great opportunity. What I have long argued is for us to move to a strategic view nationally on how we actually leverage these opportunities. The failure on this that has been most disconcerting has been on the proton beam strategy. We had the opportunity in Victoria to maybe place that under the Royal Children’s Hospital—because that is where it would have done the greatest good for the greatest number of children—and to also make that the national headquarters and then leverage that across to New Zealand and probably into the Asia-Pacific. This is the way that you build a platform, establish the ecosystem and get the maximum results for the community benefit—and to save lives, on this occasion. And what happened was that the Australian government, under the coalition, gave the proton beam to Adelaide. Now, it does not work on any level that that should happen. That was another triumph of politics over rational decision-making. This is my argument: we need to evolve beyond this narrow, partisan minority government which is just trying to just take care of what it sees as the marginal seats—governing in its own self-interest and not in the national interest. I do want to put that into another context because I have reached out to federal ministers Arthur Sinodinos and Greg Hunt and talked to them about how we could try to get something done so that there is still an opportunity for Greg Hunt as the federal Health Minister to actually look again at opportunities at the Alfred hospital, where there is a proposition on melanoma, and how that could be achieved with a joint ticket between the Victorian government and the Australian federal government—and looking for philanthropy to contribute a significant amount. We should get that done. I am hoping that in the last budget from the federal government it happens. Then we have the Aikenhead Centre for Medical Discovery right here at St Vincent’s Hospital. I stood with the Premier and the former Minister for Health, the member for Altona, at the old casualty centre at St Vincent’s Hospital when it was being redeveloped. The money was there from the Victorian government to get that building done. We still have not been able to get that unity ticket with the Australian government. Just understand the significance of this: what is happening is that one of the surgeons there collaborated with CSIRO and came up with a 3D-printed heel to help a man who had cancer in his heel to be able to save his leg from being amputated below the knee. This was a world first. This is what we do here in Victoria. This is the elegance and the sophistication of what we are able to do with our collaborations. RMIT, similarly, has been able to produce a 3D-printed disc for a woman’s back. She now walks pain free. This is why we need to form unity tickets—to achieve these results—because the best way to predict the future, as Abraham Lincoln said, is to build it. That is the strategy that this government has adopted and delivered, and it is why it has been returned with a thumping majority. That is what Australians are crying out for. What are the visions, what are the plans, and how are you going to deliver them? In that spirit, I have produced Building Smarter Cities: Stronger Communities as a strategy for economic and cultural development for Australia’s fastest growing state. Melbourne is predicted to become the nation’s largest city within 30 years—growing to 8 million people by 2051. Driving a AAA-rated economy has provided record investments and surpluses and an unprecedented pipeline of infrastructure to reimagine Melbourne and to spread opportunities throughout Victoria. Building Smarter Cities: Stronger Communities proposes a city deal to fast-track projects, create greater value and establish a series of 20‑minute cities. Creating cities where residents can get to most of the services they need within that time is key to livability, which the Victorian and Australian governments support. So here is the plan. We actually have a unity ticket on two $15 billion projects: the rail link to Melbourne Airport and the missing link in our road network, the north-east link. We can anchor a city deal on those projects. You have the medical research precinct in between, at Parkville, and you have the manufacturing arm in Broadmeadows as well, so that works. Then what we would be looking at would be to have these 20‑minute cities. One would be at Sunshine, which would seem to me to be the natural place because that is the Victorian government’s preferred start point for the rail link to the airport. The second would be at Broadmeadows, because that is the designated capital of Melbourne’s north and will have a population equal to that of Adelaide in about a decade—that is how booming Melbourne’s northern suburbs are. The third one that would fit within this is Latrobe University, because it is no longer the paddock behind the moat. It is now 50 years old. It is established and it has got $5 billion on the table for a redevelopment, so that is a great opportunity there, linking into that area. You have to have the linchpin between the north and the west. This could be the Arden precinct, which the Victorian government is doing in collaboration with the City of Melbourne to turn that into a smart city. The next point that I think is required would be Clayton. That would open up the powerhouse of Monash University, CSIRO and all of the industrial might in those communities in the south-east as well. So here is a way we can actually deliver on these projects, aggregate our assets and add value, and these are the communities where we need it most. We would connect up the arc of manufacturing that we have all the way from Melton and Werribee through to Broadmeadows and the other areas that I have connected, and what it would also do is pave the way for Australia’s biggest public transport proposal, the new underground rail network circling Melbourne’s suburbs. The Melbourne Suburban Rail Loop would connect every major train line from Frankston to Werribee, through Melbourne Airport. Victorians would no longer have to travel into the CBD under the $50 billion proposal featuring up to 12 new underground stations, connecting suburbs with major employment centres, universities, TAFEs, hospitals and retail precincts. Regional Victorians would also be big winners. This city deal embraces the super-hubs designed to provide better access to jobs, education and health outside the central business district, which is really what we need to do now. The Suburban Rail Loop is predicted to slash congestion across the transport network, taking thousands of passengers off existing rail lines and 200 000 cars off major roads. This is a way we can accelerate smart cities and the investments and drive these powerhouse precincts. I think that is the way we should actually label them—that these are the key economic drivers and they will also drive cultural change. What we are really looking for is for the Australian government to become a practical partner where jobs and growth are needed most to help convert rust belts into brain belts and to change the population mix to avoid entrenching disadvantage. This is why we need an Australian government that will be a partner with the Victorian government. It is so significant because manufacturing can be expanded in the north alongside leading biotechnology companies like CSL. We have food and beverage manufacturing in the north that is already larger than South Australia’s, with affordable land available for expansion. I would like to see the Ford site have an innovation cluster—remember we no longer have passenger car manufacturing, but Ford has reinvested hundreds of millions of dollars in that site as their centre of excellence for the Asia-Pacific. I have pursued with RMIT University and Latrobe University, and I am very happy to have Victoria University or anybody else put part of their innovation centres there, to get a hub to help that evolve and use that one-off site to drive innovation for the future. I think that is the next thing I would like to see the Andrews Labor government and also, hopefully, a Shorten Labor government combine to get done. We have got to get out from the politics of, 'Where did the money go?’. It went to South Australia, about $80 billion for shipbuilding. I have tracked down an unspent $1.324 billion for automotive transition under the federal coalition government. All we could get from them was a little bit of money for a jobs fair, which provided only four full-time jobs for ex-Ford auto workers. They have failed these communities. We cannot have managed decline in the same way as the Thatcher government where, to the people who do not vote for you, you say 'Goodbye and good luck’. That is what happened in England’s north. We cannot have it in Melbourne’s north. We must actually harness our assets and create bigger opportunities. I think this is the critical point. We in Victoria could leverage and have first-mover advantage under a Shorten Labor government. Question agreed to.