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12 March 1991 - Current

Page 834
06 March 2019
ASSEMBLY Address-in-reply Frank McGuire
Mr McGUIRE (Broadmeadows) (18:06:37): Sweet smell of burning eucalyptus leaves evokes a disturbing reminder: the past is never dead and buried; it’s not even past. Cloaked in a coat of possum fur, the Queen’s representative ascends the steps of Australia’s original Parliament House, acknowledging the Indigenous smoking ceremony and welcome to country from an elder of the world’s longest continuous culture. Black Rod ushers Victoria’s first woman Governor, Linda Dessau, up the red carpet to open Victoria’s 59th Parliament in a seamless convergence of Aboriginal custom and Westminster practice that belies Australia’s frontier wars, stolen generations and divisive arguments concerning our shared history. n the spirit of reconciliation I look forward to this Parliament’s attempt, unprecedented in Australia, to negotiate treaties with our First People. History condemns missed opportunity. Vice-regal fanfare fades amid the hubbub of Bourke Street, heralding Melbourne’s rush to a metropolis. The biggest population boom since the 1850s gold rush is underwriting economic activity. Victoria is Australia’s fastest growing state. Melbourne is predicted to become the nation’s largest city within 30 years and grow to eight million people by 2051. Driving a AAA-rated economy has delivered record investment, surpluses and an unprecedented pipeline of infrastructure projects to reimagine Melbourne and spread opportunity across our great state. Investments are not just in infrastructure projects. They are also in our most valuable asset, our people, and in attributes I have long maintained largely determine fate: lifelong learning, skills and jobs. Business trust is crucial for economic development and delivering prosperity. The message from leaders was clear: build on the momentum. The Andrews government was fundamentally re-elected because of its record of delivering and the Premier’s progressive and positive campaign. While the previous government cut TAFE in a jobs crisis, our government will provide life-changing opportunities by making key TAFE courses free in a jobs boom. This strategy focuses on the skills Victoria needs and, importantly, includes everyday people and their families in the state’s big picture vision. At the Strong Australia conference in Broadmeadows last year I put the essential questions: what is Australia going to make and what are the coordinated strategies to deliver results? Chief executive officer of Business Council of Australia, Jennifer Westacott, responded: The most important thing is to get people skilled, to make sure that young people get the right pathways into the right jobs, that we don’t keep everyone at university, that we give a diversity of opportunities … the challenge is how we make sure that no community or person gets left behind. Such priorities are emblematic of Labor in power. The contrast is stark. The Australian government’s disconnection from the needs of Victoria is highlighted by the lack of investment in infrastructure and skills. It dudded Victoria by almost $5 billion on population-based infrastructure investment over the budget and forward estimates. It also axed more than $200 million from TAFE, skills and training across the country. These examples define why Australia must evolve beyond the hyperpartisan, hyperfactionalised era that has become economically and socially corrosive. Australians are overwhelmingly practical people, not ideological. They want politics to be a contest of ideas that resolves matters in the national and community interest to increase prosperity and deliver a fair go. Australia has proudly established the world record for continuous economic growth of 27 years. This result underscores my advocacy that place-based disadvantage must be addressed urgently. The World Bank and International Monetary Fund have highlighted the adverse impacts of inequality. Results are known and understood: higher crime, health problems, mental illness, lower educational achievements and reduced life expectancy. We are long overdue for a new era of unity tickets to advance Australia fair between governments, business and civil society to increase jobs, growth and productivity while reducing welfare payments. Investing in infrastructure, lifelong learning and social cohesion will drive economic and cultural development, reduce disadvantage and revitalise communities, especially those struggling under deindustrialisation. All we need to make change a friend, not an enemy, is the political will to address place-based disadvantage. Such investment will create more opportunities to help Australians reap long-term rewards. This is why I have produced strategies, such as Creating Opportunity: Postcodes of Hope and Building Smarter Cities, Stronger Communities, to deliver economic and cultural development where the need is most significant. They feature initiatives to attract new industries and jobs and save a fortune by coordinating affordable housing alongside blue-chip infrastructure and create much-sought-after 20‑minute suburbs. Closing the infrastructure gap is vital. A city deal based on productivity, livability and sustainability will provide an overarching mechanism. It would leverage assets and create billions of dollars in economic value. My proposal is to designate 20-minute cities to fast-track projects where residents can work and get most of the services they need close to home, reducing congestion and increasing livability. Priority precincts would include Sunshine, Broadmeadows, La Trobe University and Clayton to harness economic engine rooms and anchor two $15 billion developments of national significance. Australian and Victorian governments have unity tickets to end the half-century wait for the rail line to Melbourne Airport and build the missing link in Melbourne’s road network, the north-east link. Need is vital and urgent. Melbourne’s north and west are home to postcodes of disadvantage struggling under deindustrialisation and historic investment deficits. The paradox is that they offer outstanding opportunities for growth. Most of Victoria’s manufacturing businesses are located in the arc from Melbourne’s west to its north along the Western Ring Road from Werribee, crossing Sunshine, Keilor and Broadmeadows, to Preston. Both Melbourne’s north and west will soon have bigger populations than Adelaide. Leveraging such assets would deliver greater economic and social benefits than the city deal for Sydney’s west. A city deal would also redress inequality and the tale of two cities in the Australian government’s infrastructure funding disparity between Sydney and Melbourne. It would do this by incorporating the rail link to the Melbourne Airport. The Victorian government’s preferred route is via the super-hub at Sunshine, connecting suburbs and regions to Australia’s only curfew-free international airport. This would include proposals for a northern connection via Broadmeadows. The rail link is significant because an estimated 70 million people are predicted to use Melbourne Airport annually within two decades, making it almost as busy as London’s Heathrow Airport. Paving the way for Australia’s biggest public transport proposal is a new underground rail network circling Melbourne’s suburbs. The 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 and 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. It would help transform Sunshine, Broadmeadows and Clayton into 20-minute cities. Accelerating smart city investment would drive powerhouse precincts, including La Trobe University, Arden and the Parkville precinct, while providing affordable housing and access to lifelong learning, skills and jobs. The Australian government will become a practical partner where jobs and growth are needed most, converting rust belts into brain belts and changing population mix to avoid entrenching disadvantage. Melbourne’s north aggregates assets— The SPEAKER: Order! If I could ask the member to resume his seat. The time has arrived for the joint sitting to fill the Senate vacancy. I will now ask the Clerk to ring the bells and call members to the joint sitting. The Assembly will resume after the joint sitting has concluded, and the bells will ring again at that time. Debate interrupted. Sitting suspended 6.15 p.m. until 6.24 p.m. Debate resumed.