Address in Reply – Governor’s Speech p2
21 February 2019
Mr Walsh : Last night when the house was adjourned I was well through my address-in-reply. I suppose the theme of what I was talking about was the issue that was raised in the Governor’s speech on behalf of the Andrews government and that was fairness and fairness for all Victorians. I talked extensively about the lack of fairness in investment in rail in regional Victoria and had just started talking about the lack of investment in agriculture and the lack of vision for agriculture in this state. There is a very small amount a pittance in the budget for what is one of Victoria’s major industries a major employer with major export industries. I suppose the real issue there is that there is no long-term investment in biosecurity in this state. Recently we have seen articles in newspapers about products seized at one of our major airports that actually had traces of foot-and-mouth. A foot-and-mouth outbreak in Australia would cost our economy something like $50 billion. It would be a huge cost to the economy. I think that there is nothing fair on behalf of agriculture. There is no long-term investment in agriculture and particularly in biosecurity with this particular government. I would have thought that the Governor’s speech at the start of four years of a new Parliament would have been a great opportunity for the Premier to lay out his vision for regional development in this state. There is no ongoing funding for the regional development program into the future. The funding that was put there by the Liberal-Nationals when we were in government actually runs out on 30 June this year and there is no commitment to that regional development funding. That was a very important program for local government for upgrading their infrastructure and community infrastructure a great program for community groups to do the same and also a very important program for business in helping invest in the associated infrastructure for business development in regional Victoria-issues around power upgrades road upgrades water upgrades and sewage upgrades to help businesses that want to relocate into regional Victoria or grow in regional Victoria and create more jobs out there. I suppose from my own local electorate’s point of view there was nothing fair at all about the process that the Echuca Specialist School had to go through to get funding from this government. There was a funding commitment for only half a school in Echuca for the combination of the Echuca South and Echuca West schools but no funding for the Echuca Specialist School when that was done a couple of years ago. That school community-the whole community actually-had to run a major campaign to get a commitment from the Andrews government to actually do the second half of that development so that the Echuca Specialist School could move out to what is now the Echuca Twin Rivers School site. In that whole process I would like to congratulate the parents the supporters of the Specialist school and particularly the Riverine Herald. The Riverine Herald is the local paper in Echuca. They actually got right behind the Echuca Specialist School and the school community there to run a program making sure that the Minister for Education was actually very aware of that. They ran a campaign to make sure that he actually came to Echuca and made an announcement about that school. My understanding is that hopefully the build will start on that shortly. I suppose one of the major issues coming up to the election and that has been going for quite a while is the redevelopment of the Swan Hill hospital and a major campaign there. It is time. Swan Hill needs a new hospital. There is a committee there running a program. It is something that the Liberal-Nationals made a commitment of $44 million to actually build that new hospital for Swan Hill. If you look at the hierarchy of hospitals and what needs replacing as other hospitals have been redeveloped around Victoria Swan Hill is now near the top of the list and desperately needs a redevelopment there. It services an area with probably a 100 or 150-kilometre radius around Swan Hill. It is 2.5 hours to Mildura and it is over 2 hours to Bendigo so it is a major regional hospital servicing that particular area. It has served the community well but is no longer fit for purpose for the Swan Hill community and it does need redeveloping. When we were in government between 2010 and 2014 we made an investment to upgrade the aged care wing what is now called Logan Lodge which is a great part of the hospital but in some ways in redeveloping some of it it actually shows how the rest of it is even more in need than everyone thought. So there is a desperate need for that redevelopment of the Swan Hill hospital. The local committee the Swan Hill Needs a New Hospital committee could never ever get the former Minister for Health the member for Altona to come to Swan Hill to actually view the hospital and meet with them. They would desperately love for the new Minister for Health to actually make a trip to Swan Hill to meet with them actually view the hospital and more importantly actually make a funding announcement about some money to start that particular process. There have been a number of master plans done. I think the department is holding it up at the moment by having a refresh of that master plan. That is part of the strategy that departments have to make sure there is not pressure for something to be done but the master plan was done. There is the opportunity there for the Andrews government to show they are being fair for all of Victoria by investing in the Swan Hill hospital in this May’s budget. The SPEAKER: Before calling on the member for St Albans I would like to acknowledge in the gallery today His Excellency Reiichiro Takahashi the Ambassador of Japan to Australia and his wife Madame Takahashi. I would also like to acknowledge the Consul-General of Japan in Melbourne and his wife as well in the gallery today.