On Behalf Of Hawthorn: Budget Reply

It was an honour on Wednesday to make my final speech in Parliament for the year of 2020, and in doing so, to reply to the fantastic Budget that the Andrews Government delivered last fortnight.

When Governments hand down budgets, they reveal two important things; their values and their priorities. I am very pleased that the Budget handed down on Tuesday November 24 absolutely makes these revelations about the Andrews Labor Government and speaks to my vision, on which I was elected, for a Victoria and a Hawthorn that is Fair, Productive and Compassionate.

This budget puts people at the centre of our economic recovery. I am delighted that it particularly puts a high value on education and school infrastructure – with the single biggest investment in our State’s history.

In my inaugural speech in this place just under two years ago, I can be quoted as having said that it was, “a delight for staff and I to visit, get to know and support parents, staff and students of our government and non-government schools, which without exception we observe, do excellent work with and for young people.”

Among those schools I visited was Auburn High School, Auburn South Primary School and Camberwell Primary School. All three schools had a lot of potential still to unleash.

I am delighted that this Government has backed them in.

$10.13 million to deliver Stage Two of Auburn High’s masterplan, $3.3 million to upgrade Auburn South Primary School’s Main Wing, and $700,000 to deliver new green, natural play-space to Camberwell Primary School makes the priorities of this Government pretty clear.

Beyond infrastructure, Vocational Education will be receiving necessary reforms through this Budget – ones I’m proud to say I participated in recommending to the Government.

It was my honour to accept the invitation of the Minister for Education to chair the expert Reference Group for the review, conducted by John Firth, into Vocational Education comprised of practitioners from all sectors.

As a former, long-term secondary educator, I am passionate about the changes our review promoted, and proud to see them implemented in this Budget with a $38 million investment to develop a new single VCE integrated senior secondary certificate.

This Budget doesn’t stop benefitting Hawthorn at education.

The $5.3 billion Big Housing Build represents the biggest investment in public and community housing ever in this country, building more than 12,000 new homes which will ensure more Victorians have a place to call home. Of these new homes, 2,000 will be allocated for Victorians living with a mental illness, once again reflecting this Government’s commitment to mental health and to fixing a broken system.

This Housing Build shows the heart of the Andrews Government, and lets Hawthorn take a leading role, as Bills Street, Hawthorn will be home to some of the first community and social houses to be developed.

Further, as someone who at 73 has never driven a car, I’m also passionate about public transport, which is why I am delighted that the Government is investing $2.2 billion to kickstart work on the Suburban Rail Loop. This will include project development, initial land assembly, construction power works, utility relocations and protection works, geotechnical investigations and precinct aviation measures.

And finally, aligning with my exclusive use of public transport, is my personal investment in the future of our environment. A particular point of pride, consequently, in this Budget, is the Government’s unprecedented investment of $1.6 billion to create renewable energy hubs across the state.

Effective action on climate and investing in renewable energy is something the people of Hawthorn expect, and it is something they demand – and so they should.

Hence, I am ecstatic that this investment in renewable energy will improve crucial grid infrastructure, decarbonise our energy system, drive down emissions and support more Solar Homes.

This 3 in 1 investment will create local jobs, reduce power prices and advance our work in tackling climate change, it is very warmly welcomed in my community.

Speaker, this is a Budget with Labor values write large and it is a Budget that gets to the heart of what the Andrews Labor Government values and prioritises.

I welcome the boldness and creativity of this Government and continue to be proud of the work being done for the people of Hawthorn.