It is a pleasure to rise during the address-in-reply, and I must say at the outset that I would like to acknowledge the contribution of the member for Hastings. He expressed many of the sentiments that I myself have, and I thought he made a wonderful contribution here earlier this afternoon. It is a great honour for every single one of us to be in this place. I welcome every new member here. Although the election result was not one that I was happy with, I do acknowledge that everyone in this place is sent here by their community. Whether you are one of my colleagues who has joined me in my party room—the member for Sandringham, Brighton or Evelyn—a Labor member or even the Greens members, everyone here deserves to be in this place. They were sent by the people of Victoria to represent them here in this place. It does not matter whether you are sent here by the thinnest of margins, like the honourable member for Ripon, or by a larger margin, like the honourable member for Lowan, we are all here because our community has sent us here. There have been some people on the other side of the chamber who have been gracious in victory, and I thank the honourable Minister for Racing at the table for the way he has conducted himself, and many of his colleagues have conducted themselves in a similar fashion. There are, however, some members opposite who have already expressed some arrogance and hubris and who have expressed the commentary that a diminution of margin means a diminution of legitimacy in this place. The reality is that nothing could be further from the truth. Every one of the 88 members in this place has an equal voice and an equal standing in the Victorian community. We should remember that if we take that arrogance and hubris to our electorates, we will not be given a second chance to come back here. Again, I welcome every member here. Every member has legitimacy in this place. Every member has an equal voice. Every member has a job to do, and I do welcome the new members here.
Can I say from a personal point of view that I want to thank the community of Warrandyte for putting their trust in me for a fourth term, particularly those in the areas I kept following the redistribution in 2014, who I have now been able to serve for the last 12 years, and I am coming into my 13th year— and certainly the newer members of my community through Doncaster East and Donvale. I do thank them very much for their faith in me, and I trust that they believe I will continue to advocate for them, making sure that my community gets the services that are required. Indeed it has been difficult over the last four years, with this government unfortunately giving very little to the Warrandyte community. In fact it is something under $5 million over the four years in contrast to the previous coalition government, which delivered in the order of $72 million to my electorate through investment in local schools, the Ringwood railway station, the Ringwood police station, new preschools and grants to various community groups. The electorate of Warrandyte has seen very little from this government, and I am trusting that in budgets to come the Premier, the Treasurer and indeed the executive will see Warrandyte as a part of Victoria and one that deserves as much attention as other areas of Victoria, because there is certainly infrastructure investment that is needed in our schools. I have mentioned particularly some of the schools that need urgent work, including Donvale Primary School, Warrandyte High School and Beverley Hills Primary School, which I mentioned in this place only yesterday—it is in sore need of a significant redevelopment. One would only have to walk around that school to see the problems there. It is all very well to call Victoria the Education State and it is all very well to trumpet investment in our schools, and of course the honourable Minister for Education certainly has examples of where investment has been made by this government, but in the seat of Warrandyte there is very little. We should not have a school in this state—and I have walked through the students toilets with the principal—where the smell is overpowering, where there are rusty pipes and where kids are legitimately hanging on until they get home because they cannot use the toilets in that place, to say nothing of the rotting windows, the leaking ceilings and the spaces that are being used for student learning which are not designed for that. Warrandyte High School is another school that even the Brumby government had slated for significant investment. Over the course of our government there were schools that we did put money towards. Warrandyte was not one of them, but it was slated to come up. Unfortunately that school appears to have missed out once again over the last four years, and I urge the minister and indeed the government to make sure that funds are directed to Warrandyte High School because it is one of the central points in Warrandyte for our students to go to, and I really, really think that school does deserve an investment. I will certainly continue to advocate for money to be put into that school because it is a great local school and a great community school, and it deserves to be treated in an equal manner to other schools in this state. I do also want to use some of my contribution to thank so many members of my team, so many members of my community and indeed members of my family for their support over the election period. The election period for everyone here, particularly those who have faced multiple elections, is a difficult time no matter what side of the fence you are on. I do not think anybody takes their margin for granted, certainly in the environment that we are in nowadays.
The political environment is very robust, and if we are not out there talking to our committees and doing our best, then we will suffer the consequences. I would like to take this opportunity firstly to thank my family: my wife, Avril, and my two kids, Jaime and Brodie, who have been by my side as I have been campaigning—and indeed there are too many times where I have been away from them. I thank them for their patience during that period. I want to thank my staff, who have been a great part of my ability to communicate with my electorate over my many years: Helen Dehn, who has been with me over 11 years; and Dan Stewart and Marty Dixon, who have been great contributors to what we do in Warrandyte. I want to thank Michael Pountney, who was head of my campaign team, and his team behind him, Stuart Southworth, Grant King, Jodie White and Sab Reinehr. All the members of the executive—I thank all of them for helping me be a responsive member to my community. It is a great community out in Warrandyte.
For those who do not know it, it is 25 kilometres out from Melbourne. It is a beautiful area. The Yarra River runs through it and we have the state forest, and yet we have got a bustling metropolis around the Doncaster East area. I am blessed to be representing such a fantastic place. I also want to acknowledge former colleagues, and in welcoming our new members here I think it is apt and right that we do acknowledge those members who have gone from our side. I would like to acknowledge Dee Ryall, Michael Gidley, and Andrew Katos, who was certainly a presence in this house and a good friend of mine, and I appreciate the time that I had with him. It is unfortunate that he is no longer able to represent his community. I acknowledge Joshua Morris, a former member for Western Victoria region, who I firmly believe we have not seen the last of in this Parliament. I believe that he will come back here as a great member. Heidi Victoria was elected in 2006 with me. Her Bayswater electorate was a great passion of hers, and again it is not through lack of work that she was unable to continue her parliamentary career here. I also want to acknowledge our candidates.
From our point of view on this side we are disappointed that they were ultimately not successful, but I must say that I have not seen a more hardworking bunch of candidates before—Michael Lamb out in Frankston and Geoff Gledhill. You could not get a more solid character than Geoff Gledhill campaigning in Mordialloc he list goes on and on. Up in Ballarat, Amy Johnson—who was a great councillor—did tireless work. She really got to know her community, she was an outstanding candidate and no doubt we will see her in this place one of these days. To all the candidates, and there are too many to mention, who worked in Ivanhoe, Sunbury—the list does go on—while they were ultimately not successful, it was through no lack of hard work. In the main I think they said their experience was a positive one, they enjoyed meeting the community and they enjoyed being able to talk about the issues in their various communities. As I said, there is a level of graciousness that is needed from both sides of the house in acknowledging that. Campaigning is not easy, particularly for candidates on both sides who are not successful; it takes an enormous amount of work and an enormous amount of time away from family. It is not a paid role. I am sure many in this chamber like myself have heard from members of the community who think they do get some sort of pay to campaign for months on end—they do not. The work that they put in for their respective parties is something that we should always acknowledge.
I think this government has a number of challenges over the next four years—challenges which I am not sure it is willing to face at the moment. Of course they have entered this term with the stain of the red shirts rort still over their heads. Not only are there many in this chamber who illegitimately signed time sheets but also there are members in this chamber who in 2014 were beneficiaries of money that was rorted from the public purse, and that stain will remain with them I think for their entire careers in the Parliament. Issues of crime, congestion, and power bills that are rising are ones that have not gone away with the passage of time. They have not disappeared since the 24 November 2018 election, and there are real concerns still in the community that those issues are not being dealt with. I saw shortly after the election another riot in the St Kilda area, and I saw in the paper where a member of the community said, ‘Enough is enough. We’ve had enough of this. It has to stop’. As I said, the passage of the 24 November election did not see those incidences decline, and if this government does not face the issues of crime that we are seeing, then certainly it will be to its detriment and it will be condemned for it. On congestion, yes, the government has a very ambitious infrastructure program. Unfortunately we know that many of these projects are significantly over budget by in the order of tens of billions of dollars. That money has to come from somewhere. There was a time when Labor governments were criticised for spending too much, for running over budget and for borrowing too much, and the criticism from our side of politics, I guess, was, ‘You are leaving a debt for our children’—an accusation that was often pushed back. It was extraordinary in my opinion and in the opinion of my community to have a Treasurer before an election saying, ‘Yes, we are going to leave a debt for your kids and your grandkids’. To make it very clear, and as was mentioned by a previous speaker, governments should strive to leave their jurisdictions in better shape than the way they found them. The fact of the matter is that by telling the Victorian community that their debt will be larger and that Victorians’ kids and grandkids will be paying for the infrastructure program is not leaving it in a better situation as far as I am concerned. That is something that the government really needs to look at because I think the economy is going to slow. For all the benefits of the banking royal commission and the spotlight that was shone on many of the activities, what we are seeing is a tightening of money supply. We are already getting feedback from industry groups that there is not enough money for businesses to expand, to put more workers on or to do the research and development they wish to do. I think we will see a real downturn in the economy due to a lack of funds that will be available for businesses. Indeed I think we are in for a particularly difficult time from an economic point of view, and I think also that the revenues that the government has been the beneficiary of for some years now will start to dry up, so that is something that the Treasurer and indeed the executive need to keep a good eye on. It is not a criticism; it is just a fact of where we are going. As I have said before in this house, I have a background in banking and finance. I understand that these issues are ones that are going to be major challenges, and I think that we really need to have our eye on the ball in a significant way. In closing, again can I congratulate everyone who has been elected to this place.
As I said, we should all treat it as a privilege and an honour. We are here to represent the 45 000‑plus residents in our communities, and again I give my thanks to the Warrandyte community for giving me the great honour of being here to represent them. I look forward to advocating for my community and to making sure that the funds that are needed for our schools in Warrandyte, for our sporting clubs in Warrandyte and for our roads in Warrandyte are certainly directed to my community, and while I am in this place I will certainly make sure that I advocate for those things with everything that I have.