Media Releases


No confidence in government

Mr R. SMITH (Warrandyte) (18:29:09) — I rise to support the Leader of the Opposition’s motion, which is to move that the Premier and the other Ministers of State for the state of Victoria no longer possess the confidence of this house. The member for Euroa spoke about the Labor Party platform extolling the virtues of integrity, those words which have now disappeared from the Labor website. I will also talk about some words that were put forward by a Labor luminary back in 1949 — the former Labor Prime Minister, Ben Chifley — who said, and I quote from his famous light on the hill speech:

I try to think of the Labour movement, not as putting an extra sixpence into somebody’s pocket, or making somebody Prime Minister or Premier, but as a movement bringing something better to the people, better standards of living, greater happiness to the mass of the people …

If the movement can make someone more comfortable, give to some father or mother a greater feeling of security for their children, a feeling that if a depression comes there will be work, that the government is striving its hardest to do its best, then the Labour movement will be completely justified.

You only have to compare those words to the actions of this rotten, rorting, stinking government to see how far the Andrews Labor government have fallen, to see how far they have lost their way and to see why Victorians have lost their confidence in this government. How does this government stand behind Chifley’s words of bringing something better to the people when they have shown just so much disrespect to the 60 000 Country Fire Authority volunteers in this state and when they have ignored the residents of Oakleigh, Murrumbeena, Carnegie and Hughesdale over the sky rail fiasco, which was foisted on those people by a government that is completely uncaring of them? How can this government stand behind Chifley’s words of bringing better standards of living when the cost of living has actually skyrocketed in this state over the last four years and when energy bills are high and the number of taxes that this government brought on in contravention of their leader’s promise to Victorians on the eve of the election is just disgraceful?

How can this rorting government stand behind Chifley’s words of making someone feel more comfortable when the incidents of crime have gone through the roof — when crimes such as carjacking and home invasions were not even spoken about before this rotten government came into office? How can they feel more comfortable when they are worried about being home invaded and they are worried about being carjacked, and when incidents of violent crime, as I said, are through the roof? Chifley also said ‘give to some father or mother a greater feeling of security for their children’. How can that be the case when so many parents are opposed to the social engineering programs that are now compulsory in our schools, lessons that parents are not even allowed the details of? Parents cannot even get the details of these lessons when they ask for them because this government will not allow it.

How can this government stand behind Chifley’s words of a government striving its hardest to do its best when a culture of rorting has permeated through every single level of this government and started before these people from the Labor Party even took office? How can a government be said to be doing its best when it throws away $1.3 billion not to build a road — a road that would almost be finished and a road for which the state’s contribution was only marginally more than what this government threw in the bin — because the Premier said that he had legal advice that the contract was not worth the paper it was written on? Those opposite have said, ‘Oh well, the Premier made a promise that he was going to tear up the contract’. He also made a promise that it would not cost us any money, and it cost the Victorian taxpayer $1.3 billion.

Ben Chifley went on to say in that speech:

We have a great objective — the light on the hill — which we aim to reach by working for the betterment of mankind, not only here but anywhere we may give a helping hand.

How can this government be trusted when, far from offering a helping hand, all that is on offer from this government is a shove to the average hardworking Victorian and, frankly, putting up the middle finger to those hardworking Victorians who thought that the Premier could be taken at his word. Instead he lied to them. How can this government be trusted when the very existence of the so-called ‘light on the hill’ is being threatened by the ideological and damaging energy policies of this government that diminish the very affordability and reliability of a power supply
that for so many years gave this great state its competitive advantage?

I will go on about the rorting of this government and the theft of public money by this government, but the failures of this government and the lies that have been told by this government throughout the last four years are just appalling. I turn the house’s attention to the latest lie from this government and the Premier that privatisation caused power prices to go up. What an absolute lie from this government. It is 25 years since our power distributors and generators were privatised in this state. If you took the Premier at his word, how unlucky is he that in the last three years — coincidentally, just when this government forced Hazelwood to shut its doors — power prices have gone through the roof.

You only have to look at the hypocrisy of this government. While the Premier is in the environment of telling everyone how bad privatisation is, I turn to the very verbose member for Essendon who back in June 2015, when speaking on the Joan Kirner condolence motion, said:

In terms of some other issues … you can look at the partial privatisation of Loy Yang B, which was 49 per cent. This freed up capital and allowed the state to start to deploy that capital for other projects and initiatives. That was an important initiative. The reality is that it paved the way for the full privatisation which subsequently occurred.

The member for Essendon was very excited about the privatisation that apparently the Labor Party started. Indeed if we turn to the second-reading speech when the Loy Yang B Act 1992 was put forward, the then Labor Treasurer, Anthony Sheehan — the guy who was apparently not responsible for anything — said, as he introduced this bill for the privatisation of Victoria’s power supplies, that the privatisation would:

… help ensure continued reductions in the real price of electricity to all Victorian customers …

How is it that the Premier can now walk up to Victorians with a straight face and tell them that privatisation, which happened 25 years ago, is the cause of energy price rises that we are seeing now in this state? How can he say that when his own minister and he himself said that the closure of Hazelwood would only cause prices to rise by 85 cents a week or 4 per cent? How is that possible that the Premier can make those comments and then walk around just a few years later and say that it is all because of privatisation from 25 years ago? This government does not know how to do anything else but lie, and I know when they are lying because their lips are moving.

They lied when it came to rorting the Victorian taxpayer before the election. They lied when the then Leader of the Opposition and now Premier stood up in front of Peter Mitchell and said that there would be no tax increases or no new taxes. They lied when they said that the east–west link contract being torn up would cost Victorians not a cent — and the list goes on and on and on. It might be the rorts that have brought this motion to this house, but the reality is that we on this side of the house, and indeed Victorians, have lost confidence in the government because of the long list of failures.

I listened very carefully to the Leader of the Opposition when he moved the motion and was the first speaker on the motion, and it was actually incredible to listen to the long, long list of failures that this government have had over their four years. When we talk about youth justice, there have been over 50 riots in the youth justice centres in this state, there have been breakouts and assaults within those institutions, and parts of those institutions have had to be bulldozed because they have been wrecked by the youth offenders in those institutions. It only happened under this government.

I spoke before about the crime rate that has risen in this state. Do we all remember when the Premier said after the Moomba riots that he was going to smash the gangs? There is only one lot of people doing the smashing, and that is those young, rioting youths who are going through suburbs and forcing their way into people’s homes and creating a situation where we have to have — would you believe it? — mounted police patrolling our suburbs to make sure this stuff does not happen again.

We can also remember when the Premier said that the Country Fire Authority (CFA) dispute had to be fixed — ‘And I fixed it’, he said. Is it fixed or has it just gotten worse under this government? Has it just gotten worse under this emergency services minister who is so hollow that he has given up every single value that he ever held? Is it fixed when even the CFA people in his own electorate are not on side? They send into this place statutory declarations declaring that their local member, the member who is supposed to be looking after not only their interests as a local member but also as their minister, lied to them. Can you believe it? I have never seen that happen in all my 12 years in this place.

If I can go back to power for a moment, when I think about the Hazelwood closure and this government saying that the energy generator Engie could afford the exorbitant royalty rises that were put forward by this government, the energy company closed the doors, and this government did not give one second’s thought to the 700 workers at Hazelwood who were thrown on the doorstep overnight, to say nothing of the additional jobs that were lost through the associated newsagents and businesses. I understand there were travel agents who said holidays were cancelled; events were cancelled; and cafés, bars and restaurants were all shut as a result of that callous closure. That was in the areas of Moe and Morwell where we had unemployment rates of between 15 and 20 per cent. In one of the worst hit areas of social disadvantage where there are not enough jobs, this government callously taxed that energy provider out of existence and left not only people of the Morwell-Moe area without jobs but forced price rises through the roof. There is a callous disregard from this government in regard to that.

I have also mentioned the sky rail fiasco. The member for Oakleigh has not lifted a finger for the people of his electorate. May I say that the member should know and understand through his time in here that he is supposed to represent his community in this place. You are not paid, and you are not elected by the people of your community, to represent the Labor Party in your area. So when the people of that electorate actually have major concerns with the infrastructure that is being put in place — the sky rail when they were promised rail under road — then the member for Oakleigh must understand that he has only a few short weeks left in his position as the member for Oakleigh. I tell you what, Andrew Edmonds who is going up against Mr Dimopoulos in that seat certainly has more integrity in his little finger than Steve Dimopoulos has in his whole body.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Ms Spence) — Member for Warrandyte, I ask you to refer to members by their correct titles.

Mr R. SMITH — This is a man who protects us as a police officer. It is worth noting that while the Premier and the Minister for Police go on and on about how they are supporting police, isn’t it funny that we have three former policemen on our side of the house both here and in the other chamber, and four more police who want to join our ranks here because they are so disgusted with the way that this government has treated the police force? They are so disgusted with the revolving door justice system that this government has put in place that they want to leave good, solid careers and come and join us in here so they can bring it to the government, make sure that there is a change of government and make sure that the changes that are so desperately needed in this state are made so that the people of Victoria are far safer than they have been in the past.

Let us briefly talk about the ice injecting room; let us talk about that for a moment. The Premier said it was never going to happen. But of course with the Northcote by-election he had to make something up that would maybe give Labor a step ahead in that by-election — although it did not work. Then didn’t he promise us that it was only going to be an ice injecting room?

Honourable members interjecting.

Mr R. SMITH — Oh, heroin, I beg your pardon — a heroin injecting room. No way was there ever going to be ice there as well, and of course we find that the Premier soon changed his mind and bizarrely and unbelievably puts the thing literally 37 metres from a local primary school. Can you believe it? You cannot smoke inside it, but you can inject all sorts of things. We also hear that the member for Frankston and the member for Geelong have been advocating for injecting rooms in their electorates as well. We know that is on the cards.

Mr Wynne interjected.

Mr R. SMITH — Why wouldn’t it be? Don’t you believe in them, Dick? Don’t you think they are good? Don’t you think they are worthwhile?

The ACTING SPEAKER (Ms Spence) — Order! Member for Warrandyte, do not take up interjections from the member opposite, and refer to members by their correct titles.

Mr R. SMITH — The member for Frankston knows he is going to be advocating for that. The member for Geelong has put it on record. We know full well that is the plan. We know full well, as do the people in the seat of Frankston. The people in Geelong have seen the quotes in the paper from the member for Geelong and they know that if this government comes back then that injecting room will be in their community before you know it. They know that and they will vote accordingly.

Let us talk quickly about country roads. This government has let down country communities in an enormous way. There are no worse roads in this country, I would hazard, than the roads in country Victoria. You only have to talk to the member for South-West Coast or the member for Polwarth or indeed our good members out in the Gippsland areas to know that this government has cut funding to roads. There is no maintenance or time going into those country roads, and putting up speed limit signs that reduce the speed limit from 100 kilometres an hour down to 40 kilometres an hour frankly is not a fix.

This government is a rotten, rorting government. It is a rotting, rorting government that needs to go as soon as possible. I urge members to support the Leader of the Opposition’s motion because this is not a government that deserves the confidence of the Victorian people. This is not a government that should be allowed to have any more time on the Treasury benches than absolutely necessary. This is a government that needs to be turfed out at the first opportunity so that their stinking, lying, rorting government can be consigned to the annals of history.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Ms Spence) — Before calling the member for Frankston, I know these reminders have been made before, but I will again remind members that they are not to interject when they are not in their usual places, they are not to use offensive or unbecoming language and they are to refer to other members by their correct office or title.

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