Take Note Motion – Federal Budget 2022

I was going to begin with a text for today, but I really cannot let the member for Gembrook get too far away there. I just want to talk about elephants briefly—it is the concept of the elephant in the room. When I hear this talk about ‘You’ve been in government for 18 years of 22’, in my three years here that is a favourite theme on any topic you can think of that is quoted: ‘You’ve had 18 years and you haven’t done anything’. Whereas we have been so polite here that no-one has ever said how outrageous it is that the opposition has been the opposition for 18 years and that it needs to take a good hard look at itself and say, ‘What’s gone wrong? Why is it that we just can’t make any headway, either the Liberal Party or the National Party?’. It is outrageous, and I believe Victorians deserve better. Victorians deserve some good turnover at times. Not immediately—I am looking forward to the next term—but they do deserve a bit of this. So the elephant is the 18 years of absolute despair opposite and the need for a good hard look at themselves, as they say in circles. We might come back to that one, but I just found it very disappointing. And the member for Gembrook then was making this mock defence of the member for Broadmeadows and then hoeing into the member for Footscray, trying to make them enemies. That failed of course. And on we go.

However, let us move to the texts—my texts for today, as a good clergyman would say. Here is my first text. It comes from Mr Davis in the other place. He is normally the expert on gotchas. I sometimes call him, nicely, the Minister for Gotcha. Well, here he is:

… there are many things I disagree with the current state government … but one of them that we are in full agreement on is that Victoria hasn’t had a fair deal on many of these national programs.

This is your man.

… Victorians have got to keep talking about this and we have got to keep putting our view … the only way commonwealth authorities and other states will be moved is by jawboning them … talking and talking and making our … political point, that Victoria has done very, very poorly out of the commonwealth …

As a Victorian—

that is a noble stance—

I’d say we’re getting a little bit sick of propping up all the other states, year after year after year …

… Victoria has to get a fairer share, long haul, than we have had over many years …

Well, can I just say on that comment, I think that one is actually fairly honest. You know, he is our person in this regard. Whereas the opposition will be saying, ‘Oh, you didn’t get it because you didn’t ask nicely’ or, paternalistically, ‘We weren’t sure that you’d use the money wisely. Look what you did with this particular thing or that particular thing’, which we all know is rubbish of course. So I am right behind the member in the other place. Then we also have the member for Ripon, who said:

… I want to start by agreeing with the member for Lara that Victoria has been dudded on GST receipts for many years. I note that Victoria has been a donor state since federation. It is about time WA understood that we have been a donor state to them since federation—

these are fighting words, my friends—

… and they should be sharing the wealth of their resources boom with the whole of the country.

And then finally from the leader, the current Leader of the Opposition, who said in response to the Minister for Transport Infrastructure pointing out Victoria is not getting its fair share, that now she ‘wants more money’ and ‘grow the hell up’. That was the strength of his advice there. Let us think about this a bit more. As you know, I am from Hawthorn, and my local federal member is the senior Liberal, the Treasurer, who is a fine, pleasant man. I know him well. However, he is of course often called a VINO—a Victorian in name only. That is the nickname in Kooyong: VINO. When I compare some of the exes, like Ted Baillieu for example, if I could say, who is really interested in Victoria and a very, very formidable character, one of my predecessors in fact in Hawthorn, to this person—a nice person, but VINO nonetheless—there is no comparison.

So I wanted to just say that one of the things—I am just talking generally, I think; I have got all the other stuff here—that is difficult for me is the way the Prime Minister constantly tells people in the most selfish way, ‘It’s your money’. And he repeats this ‘It’s your money. It’s your money’ without a skerrick of a mention of the general good. What your money is being used for for the general good never gets mentioned. It is the most selfish sort of thing, and it appeals to otherwise good human beings who like to repeat that mantra ‘It’s your money. It’s your money’ without any thought of ‘Well, how is that money going to be used?’—what particular projects, what particular issues and so on. I think it is a pity because all you do is just repeat that over and over, and suddenly you can become as selfish as anything.

In 2016 I was handing out how-to-vote cards in the federal election, and this fellow came up to me and said, ‘I’m not going to vote for your people, because I think it’s dreadful what you’re saying about franking credits’. I said to him, ‘Look, I’m retired’—as I was then in 2016—‘I’m a self-funded retiree, and I could benefit—I would benefit’. But I said, ‘I don’t lose too much, and that’s one of the issues, but I like to think it is going to a good cause. I might not choose submarines, for example, but I would choose social welfare’. I said to him, ‘You lose a bit’—et cetera, et cetera—‘but do you know what? I know you won’t believe this, but we hear lots of these stories, don’t we, on both sides, about “Many people say” or “Susan said” or “Stephanie did this” and all that sort of business’. He said, ‘You know what, John? I’m going to vote for your people because I never thought of it that way’—that franking credits are there to serve some good apart from just trying to make life difficult for him.

So where is this leading? It is leading to the fact that this budget has given us, sorry to say, more of the same. I just have to maybe point out a couple of other things as well while I am on my feet. My own idea was, when I came into this place, to seek to have a society that is fair, productive and compassionate. We know that you cannot have any one of those commodities without the other, so it is no good being as fair as you like or as compassionate as you like if there is no productivity. We are not stupid—there has to be productivity; there is no doubt about that. What concerns me, though, is the notion that all that matters is productivity—trickle-down, that sort of stuff. It really does worry me, I must say, when people just ignore the fairness and the compassion. They might say they are all for that, but basically it is about productivity only. I have seen that in different aspects of that budget.

If I could come home in the last minute or so and refer to Hawthorn, just so that we do not get this idea that the Liberals are careful with money and we are wasteful with it, $65 million worth of car parks—four car parks—have been suddenly cancelled by Mr Frydenberg because that was not going to work for the election. So they have gone. The federal government offered $260 million to remove the Glenferrie Road level crossing, but it was $100 million short, with no idea as to where the other $100 million would be. Six per cent of budget infrastructure is for Victoria, which has over 25 per cent of the population. It has $25 million less GST money than New South Wales. I think you get the picture; I think you probably understand why I am quite cynical about any sort of defence.