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Legislative Assembly

19 February 2019
Darren Cheeseman  (ALP)


Mr CHEESEMAN (South Barwon) (18:08:21): I would first like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet today, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation, and pay my respects to their elders past and present. I would also like to acknowledge the Wathaurong people, whose land sits under the state seat of South Barwon. This is my first speech as a parliamentarian in this place, and it is a great honour and privilege to be here today to represent the electorate of South Barwon, whose suburbs include Geelong’s growth corridor of Highton and Grovedale, and of course the Surf Coast, Barrabool Hills and all places in between. At the start of this speech I would also like to acknowledge the former state member for South Barwon, Andrew Katos, and wish him all the best for his future going forward. I was fortunate enough to have been elected to a previous Parliament as the former federal member for Corangamite, and it is a great honour to again be elected to represent those communities. I certainly pledge to work with great care in representing those communities going forward. The opportunities that exist in our electorate are both challenging and unique in many ways, and I look forward to working with those communities to meet those challenges. The suburbs of Armstrong Creek and Highton are experiencing significant population growth, and the Surf Coast and many other areas out on the Bellarine Peninsula in neighbouring seats are experiencing some of the challenges that come with population growth and planning pressures. South Barwon is of course a growth corridor to Geelong, and governments must build to ensure that those communities remain livable and viable going forward. In Armstrong Creek we have promised to deliver new schools, and for Torquay, a new community hospital. We are also duplicating many of the main roads within the area, including of course the Barwon Heads Road. We are upgrading our rail lines to ensure that those communities can get around Geelong and access Melbourne as they go about their lives. The voters of South Barwon enjoy many opportunities that other communities do not have. We of course have our very own AFL football side. We have some fantastic beaches. We have a fantastic regional city right on our doorstep, and we have many diverse rural and regional communities. Those communities have different and unique challenges, and they also have many opportunities. One such challenge that is very close to my heart is the abundant beauty of the Great Ocean Road and the Surf Coast. In South Barwon we have some fabulous beaches such as Bancoora Beach, Jan Juc and Point Addis, and these of course are magnets to Victorians. We have Victoria’s and Australia’s most famous surfing beach, Bells Beach, which also has a world-famous surfing event, the Easter surfing classic, which will be coming up in a number of weeks time. The Great Ocean Road starts within my electorate of South Barwon. The Great Ocean Road was built by returned servicemen at the completion of First World War. Having said that, that particular coastline is experiencing many consequences because of human-induced climate change. Climate change is a significant challenge to many Victorian coastal communities, and it is a challenge we must take up in this place and of course in other parliaments. My electorate also has many rural communities that derive their incomes from farming, horticulture and agriculture, and many of those communities experienced significant drought during the millennium drought a number of years ago. It was only just last week that the World Meteorological Organization announced that we had the four hottest years on record. Climate change is happening and it is happening now, and governments need to take a lead role in responding to it. The Andrews government of course is getting on with it. We are putting in place the policies to respond to climate change. We are doing our bit. Unfortunately in Canberra we see policy haze and a policy mess. In Victoria, we are putting in place the Victorian renewable energy target, and this is not only driving household costs down but it is reducing our carbon footprint. Many people—many members in this place—want to see more work done, and I look forward to working with the Andrews government, to getting on with responding to climate change, and developing energy policy to assist our economy in transitioning to a lower carbon footprint economy. The investments that we are making are not only good for climate change, they make sense for an industrial city like Geelong. Historically, Geelong of course was the home of the Ford motor company and Alcoa. Both of these companies for many generations provided well-paying jobs and secure employment for our local community. Unfortunately, because of some reckless decisions made by the previous Liberal governments, we have seen those industries leave Geelong. Fortunately, we have strong leadership from this government that has put in place a number of substantial policies to support those workers in translating to new industries. I can remember being part of the Rudd-Gillard governments that put in place substantial policy reform that enabled us to establish the future carbon fibre research facilities at Deakin University. That is now driving real jobs in manufacturing and real opportunities for Ford workers and Alcoa workers. Deakin University’s manufacturing technology precinct now employs more people in advance manufacturing than what we saw at Alcoa and Ford in the last few years of those companies being in Geelong—in high-tech manufacturing. These are new opportunities—new opportunities for those workers and new opportunities for our economy to grow and provide jobs for future generations. Our government is making a real difference to those workers through the provision of free TAFE. Free TAFE is a huge enabler for working Australians to adjust to a global economy that often leaves working-class people behind. Free TAFE provides new opportunities for people leaving school to get the skills that they need for future jobs, and I am pleased and proud to be a part of a government that is investing so strongly in building our TAFE institutions right throughout this state to deliver those real opportunities for all Victorians. Just last week I was very proud to join the Premier and the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change to announce that Vestas would be establishing a new facility at the Ford site to build and assemble wind turbines. This creates not only new opportunities for workers within our region but provides us with that opportunity to tackle the challenges of the future. These opportunities take real policy leadership, and that leadership is being shown in spades by this government. I also want to take the opportunity to acknowledge Deakin University. Deakin University is a very proud Geelong institution. Its roots are found there. It has campuses in many other parts of the state. Deakin University has played a real partnership role, not only with our government but also with industry and students to ensure that we are able to transform our economy from where we were at five or six years ago, with Ford and Alcoa having closed. Deakin University continues to be a real local leader in transforming our local economy in the Geelong region, and I look forward to continuing to work in partnership with Deakin and the important work they have been doing on behalf of our community and our economy in creating new opportunities for future generations. All progressive governments globally have progressive policies when it comes to manufacturing. As I have said, Geelong is a proud manufacturing community. When you have governments and local leaders working in partnership to create new, high-technology industries, supporting workers and those businesses, you can have both a low-emissions future and high-wage, high-skilled jobs in our community. Manufacturing will continue to be an important industry in the Geelong community, and I look forward to continuing to work in partnership with Deakin and with the manufacturers of Geelong and our TAFE institutions to deliver those opportunities to people throughout Geelong. During the 1990s I was finishing up my schooling. Through that period of time, we had a Kennett government and during that period we had not only school closures but also massive education cuts. My secondary school, Mount Clear secondary school—I am sure some have been to that place—could not afford to maintain their heaters. That is how profound the cuts were to that school. As a consequence of that, through many long Ballarat winters, we had to wear additional clothing to our school. Think about that in contrast to what this government is doing in education. We are not only building new schools; we are rebuilding schools. We are giving those schools the resources that they need to keep the lights on and the heaters going so that those kids have that opportunity to grow, to learn, to play and to come out at the end of all of that with the opportunity to take a job that is going to pay for them going forward. I am inspired by those students who I went to school with who had to endure a heater that did not work. It is not easy to learn when you are cold; it is not easy to learn when you are uncomfortable. I very much would like to acknowledge all of those school communities at that point. In very brief conclusion, one of the biggest issues that the local election campaign was fought on was appropriate or inappropriate development on the Surf Coast. This government took, I think, very strong decisions to send a clear message to the community about what we stood for, and that was about protecting our Surf Coast communities and protecting our Bellarine communities. I would very much like to acknowledge the Premier and the Minister for Planning for assisting me and campaigning on those particular issues. With the very short time I have left, I would very much like to acknowledge some key supporters of mine locally. I would firstly like to acknowledge Gayle Tierney, who has for many years provided great friendship and support to me. To her partner, Ian Jones, thank you for your support. To Senator Gavin Marshall, who employed me for many years, thank you for your friendship and support. And to a couple of good political mates in Dylan Wight and Michael Watson, one from the vehicle builders union and one from the Electrical Trades Union, thank you for your support. I would particularly like to acknowledge a number of key local members who did a lot of doorknocking and those things that we need to do to get elected. To Gerry Biddle, Leslie Hanson, Matthew Smith, Marcus Feaver, Liam Mansbridge, and of course my inner campaign team of Nathan Davis, Sam Duncan and Micky Rootes, thank you for your support. And to the house, thank you for your indulgence. Members applauded.