Mr MELHEM (Western Metropolitan): I rise to continue my contribution on yet another stunt by the Liberal Party and the Greens party which relates to another revocation motion to basically stop progress in this state, another motion to bring the state to a standstill. That is what they did when they were in government last time.

They brought the state to a standstill. They did nothing for four years — nothing, not a single project that they could put their name to — so when the Andrews Labor government was elected to office, it hit the road running. We had a record infrastructure investment in the state’s history. Project after project, we are delivering what Victorians asked us to deliver. They voted for us to deliver these major infrastructure projects, and the West Gate is one of them.

On the notice paper today there are three revocation motions. The President yesterday made a point of sending a caution to members in relation to revocation motions, and I agree wholeheartedly with his comments. This place should not be a planning authority. This place’s role is to look at legislation, to look at bills and to look at putting laws into effect, not to become a planning authority.

Heed the comments of your fearless leader, who wants to be the Premier of Victoria. If he cannot control his own bench, how is he going to become a leader or the Premier of this state? In this place in 2010 when he was the Minister for Planning, he was having a go at the Greens — your partners — and he said that we should not have this house become a planning authority and revoke every decision the planning minister hands down. That is your leader. He repeated similar comments in November last year. In November last year he said that we should not let planning issues become political footballs. What are you doing here? You are doing exactly that.

Let us look at the history of this place. Let us pay some attention to what the President said yesterday, that we should not be using this place to simply put forward one revocation motion after another to actually stop the government doing its job. These planning schemes and these projects go through a lot of work, and a lot of effort goes into these projects to get the environmental impact statements and go through all of these things to basically get the project to a stage where construction can commence.

You pass a revocation motion and what happens? You go back to the starting point again. You have already done that with a number of projects, and that is going to cost taxpayers in the community a lot of money. This is because of your vandalism. That is what I call it; it is economic vandalism. Economic terrorism is what you are doing. You basically decided to go to bed with the Greens party because you have the numbers and you are going to stop everything this government is doing. Well, guess what? November is coming soon, and you will be judged on your actions. People will not forgive you.

Let me talk about those who actually support this project. Who is against it? Let me go through the list. Let us start off with my constituents in the western suburbs of Melbourne. They support it. They are fully behind it. They want the project to go ahead. Let us look at —

Mr Finn — You’ve sold them down the drain, totally sold them down the train. It’s a disgrace.

Mr MELHEM — Well, Mr Finn, you are the one who sold your constituents. You are the one. You are a disgrace. You call yourself a member for Western Metropolitan Region, and what are you doing? You are about to speak on the motion to actually stop the very project that is going to make life easier for your constituents to travel to the city and to travel to the other side of town. You are going to stop them. Stand up for them. They elected you to represent them. That is what I am doing, so it is about time you do your job. The City of Hobsons Bay, the City of Maribyrnong and all the local governments in the west support the project.

Now let us talk about the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI). They support the project, and in fact, along with other industry organisations, they took the liberty to put an ad in the paper to basically say, ‘Enough playing politics. Let’s do the right thing by the state’. That is their advertising. Let me tell you, employer organisations and industry organisations traditionally would be rusted to the Liberal Party, but they can see that the Liberal Party, along with the Greens party, have lost their way, are doing the wrong thing by the state and are sabotaging the state. They went as far as putting an ad in the newspaper and putting their case out to the people of Victoria to say that what you guys are doing is wrong. So you say VCCI is wrong.

Let us look at the next one. The Urban Development Institute of Australia are wrong as well. I have got a few quotes from them. Everyone is wrong but Mr Davis and the Liberal Party and the Greens party. This is a quote from the Urban Development Institute of Australia:

The Victorian Parliament should not seek to become a planning authority and section 38 of the Planning and Environment Act 1987 should only be invoked by the Victorian Parliament in the most exceptional of circumstances. This could include where there has been, for example, a clear breach of probity, or of natural justice. It should not be invoked for political purpose —

which is exactly what is happening in this case —

or in cases where the merits of a planning scheme amendment have been assessed, reviewed by a panel or advisory committee, and approved by the Minister for Planning.

It is a simple case of political game playing by the Liberal Party and the Greens party, full stop. There is no other logic. There is no other reason why they have moved this motion, and I am sure there will be more motions to come.

I think the sad thing about it is that maybe it explains why Mr Davis has become the shadow Minister for Planning. I am not sure that was a wise decision by the Liberal Party to actually put him in that position. We are going to see more and more of these motions because Mr Davis believes this: ‘If it’s not my idea, it’s a bad idea. If it’s someone else’s idea, it’s a bad idea’. That is exactly what has happened here, but unfortunately he is getting away with it. His leader cannot pull him into line to say, ‘Hey, that goes against what I said’ — in this house — ‘in 2010’.

Mr Gepp — He’s gone rogue.

Mr MELHEM — He must have gone rogue. He has always been rogue, and I think he likes it that way. We will continue on the subject of who else supported the project. G21, which is the business —

Mr Davis — Tell us about 2020. Wasn’t that that fundraising group?

Mr MELHEM — It was a very good fundraising group, Mr Davis. You should have come to the fundraising events I held. Why didn’t you? I sent you an invitation, didn’t I? G21, which is the planning committee in Geelong, are supporting the project. The people of Geelong and the south coast would love the project to go ahead. They would love to have another crossing to the city. They would love the West Gate Freeway to go from four lanes to six lanes each way.

The people of Ballarat, which you represent, Mr Morris, would love to see another crossing so that they have other options. They could use the West Gate Bridge, the West Gate tunnel, Ballarat Road or, if they want to go to the other side, the M80 to the Tullamarine Freeway. It is about giving people choices. It is about giving people more opportunities to travel to work and travel back home with the least possible time spent on the road — safely. The same thing goes for the south-eastern suburbs. When there is a problem on the West Gate Bridge at the moment the system comes to a standstill. But with this project we will have another option for people to use.

Let us talk about Transurban. When those opposite were trying to get approval for the widening of the Tullamarine freeway in the last year of their term in government they had no hesitation in extending the toll for one year. You actually agreed to it.

Honourable members interjecting.

Mr MELHEM — Hang on! You agreed to extend it; we are loath to do it. But let us go back to what I said earlier: Mr Davis, and possibly the whole of the Liberal Party, runs with the idea that, ‘If it’s not my idea, it’s a bad idea’. You cannot operate a state like that.

Mr Finn — This wasn’t your idea; it was Transurban’s.

Mr MELHEM — No, it was not.

Mr Finn interjected.

Mr MELHEM — Mr Finn, it was always my idea. I always advocated for the western section of your failed east–west link to start first. I always argued that the western section should commence first. Guess what? I have got my wish and I am very happy. I am very pleased that we are doing the right thing and we are getting that section operating.

Mr Gepp — On a point of order, Acting President, under standing orders Mr Melhem is entitled to his views. We cannot hear him because of the ridiculous interjections from the do-nothing clowns opposite.

Honourable members interjecting.

The ACTING PRESIDENT (Mr Elasmar) — Order! There is no point of order, but I understand there is a lot of noise and a lot of interjections. Mr Finn, you are next to speak on the motion. Mr Melhem, through the Chair.

Mr MELHEM — I am losing my voice. I cannot keep shouting so someone can hear me. I have just named a number of organisations, including community organisations, that actually support the project. Let me now talk about how many people and how many organisations have spoken publicly against the project. I cannot find any, apart from Mr Davis of the Liberal Party supported by the Greens party. They are the only organisations — the Liberal Party and the Greens party — that have spoken against it.

Mr Davis — There’s a whole heap in the audience.

Mr MELHEM — Well, name them. Where are they? Name them.

Mr Finn interjected.

Mr MELHEM — Mr Finn, I am looking forward to your contribution. Enough said. I hope you will do the right thing by standing up for your constituents and advocating on their behalf for a change. This project will go ahead with you or without you. We will go ahead with you or without you. Let me give you the mail: this project —

Mr Davis — What happened to democracy?

Mr MELHEM — Democracy — exactly, Mr Davis. You should have paid attention to what the President of this place, a very respected person, who has the respect of everyone in this place, said when he cautioned you and your fellow Greens about your bad ways — about putting up one revocation motion after another. You should pay attention to what he said yesterday. He was spot-on. If you look at the history of this place, in the past 100 years how many revocation motions did we have in this place? But since you have become the opposition leader — not the leader, but you are probably working on that, but I hope you will not become the leader — the opposition spokesperson on planning and environment, we are seeing revocation motion after revocation motion. It used to be exclusively something that the Greens party moved; they were the ones who used to move these motions in the past, and at least they were consistent in their approach. But now you are following their lead and you are going to try to stop the project.

I just said to you that I will give you the mail. You are not going to be able to stop the project, because we have many ways that we can deal with this and we will find a way through so that the project will be delivered. Come 2022 this project will be finished. We will move from eight lanes to 12 lanes, so six lanes each way, come 2022. We will have a second river crossing whether you like it or not. My constituents in the western suburbs will be rapt when it is commissioned. They will have an alternative to the West Gate Bridge. The freight industry and businesses in the western suburbs are crying out for a second crossing to the port, and I talked about that last week.

You talk about the east–west link: the western section was not there. Basically it was in the never-never. Wake up to yourself, Mr Finn, it was in the never-never. I could not find it on the time line; maybe it was in 2050. I will probably be long gone by then, so do not talk to me about the east–west link.

We have got massive growth in container facilities and warehousing facilities in the western parts of Melbourne. It is massive. There are a massive number of trucks that want to travel backwards and forwards to and from the port. We want to give them a second crossing. We want to give them an alternative to the West Gate. We want to get these trucks off Somerville Road, off Francis Street and off Hyde Street — all these residential streets in my electorate. It is time we say to the people who are living in the inner west of Melbourne, ‘We’ve finally got a solution — a permanent, long-term solution — to the diesel fumes and to the trucks on the roads in the inner west of Melbourne’.

We are finally delivering a solution, and yet that solution is about to be stopped by the Greens party. Ms Colleen Hartland was always advocating that the trucks should be getting off the road. This is obviously going to deliver that, but unfortunately they are going to vote against it. The same thing goes for the Liberal Party. It is not just the economics; it is the environmental benefit and health benefit for the people of the west, who Mr Finn and his colleagues do not really give a damn about. They do not give a damn about that. So I will finish off with that note. I hope that the Liberal Party and the Greens in particular reflect on their contributions and reflect on the decision they are about to make and on the precedent they are about to set.

In relation to the Greens party, you have been advocating for getting trucks off the road. We are going to deliver that. In relation to public transport, we are delivering Melbourne Metro with a massive investment. In relation to the Liberal Party, it is about time they stood up for industry, stood up for people to be able to go to work and stood up for productivity improvement, which this project will deliver at the end of the day because we will be saving heaps of travel time, and that will be better for everyone involved. Get with the program and support the project.

21 February 2018