SPEAKING ON A BILL | APPROPRIATION (2019–2020) BILL 2019

Mr Melhem: What a pleasure to stand here and speak on the 2019 Andrews Labor government’s budget, the first budget after the recent election victory in which Victorians voted in big numbers to return an Andrews Labor government basically based on the record which it delivered in the previous four years. Victorians voted with their feet and believed in a government which delivers on what it said it will deliver. We came into government in 2014. We had an agenda to deliver on infrastructure projects, health projects, public transport projects and major road projects. And guess what? We have delivered on every single one. We now have another opportunity and the honour to serve Victorians for another four years. This budget will put together the foundation for the next four years to deliver on the election commitments which we took to the election in 2018. The budget to a large extent puts the foundation together to basically set the scene for the next four years so we can deliver on these election commitments.

I will not go through the whole budget; I am just going to talk about some examples to show how this budget will impact my electorate of Western Metropolitan Region. I am very pleased to be representing Western Metropolitan Region along with my colleagues in this place. The west has done very well out of this budget, as we did in the previous budget. I think the hard work and dedication of all the Labor members of the west, both in the Assembly and in this place, advocating as a collective on behalf of our constituents in the west saw the massive delivery of projects in the previous four years.

This week we saw further evidence that this government is fair dinkum about the west. We are about to deliver more and more projects to make sure the west will be the best in the state. One of the areas, for example, is education. Altona P–9 College will receive $4.75 million in funding. The west will see the off-leash dog park program in Wyndham, Maribyrnong and Brimbank receive further investment. Victorians will have up to 16 enclosed off-leash dog parks across Melbourne, and my constituents will be sharing a few of them in the west. That is a very welcome investment. We will see the new Point Cook community hospital become a reality; basically we can start construction on that. Also there is further investment in multicultural senior citizens grants. A lot of the multicultural communities in my electorate will be able to apply for a $4000 grant, and I am sure a lot of the community will be applying for those.

For car parks in and around train stations there is going to be a great benefit. As part of the $150 million investment by this government the Car Parks for Commuters Fund will deliver 11 000 car parks at train stations across the state over the next four years. Some of these will be in my electorate, and I will go through a number of these stations now: Watergardens station, Aircraft station, Hoppers Crossing station, Caroline Springs station and many, many other stations. My electorate will benefit from the additional car parks in train stations because a lot of my constituents are using more and more public transport. Having additional car park spaces is going to help them a great deal to be able to travel to work or to school. Level crossings—the removal of the Old Geelong Road level crossing in Hoppers Crossing will now commence. Also, as part of the West Gate Tunnel complementary work in response to the West Gate environment effects statement, two transport studies will be delivered through the North Melbourne, West Melbourne and Docklands areas transport study and the Hobsons Bay transport planning study.

These studies will be delivered in conjunction with the two relevant councils. That is part of an overall budget of $7.5 million. That is another example where we do listen to community concerns in relation to what impacts major projects have on the local community. That is a classic example of us listening to our local communities and making sure we take their concerns on board and address them. As part of the $6.3 million package to support vulnerable young people, funding will continue to be provided to the South Sudanese community support group in Wyndham. This group will strengthen South Sudanese young people’s connection to family, education and employment opportunities. I think that is a very welcome investment. I think it is very important that we support our community, particularly new migrants, and particularly the South Sudanese, because with our support it will help them to integrate into our society.

Going back to education, the Footscray Learning Precinct will get $20.25 million. Sunshine College will get $12.75 million. I talked about the off-leash dog park. Also, the upgrade of Pipemakers Park and the building of a sensory play park—there is another million dollars invested in that. There is a new public housing property—that will be a further investment. We so need further investment in public housing, particularly in the Western Metro Region, so that is a very welcome investment. We understand there is probably still a long way to go, but at least we are putting an investment in there to get 1000 new public housing properties as part of that. I talked yesterday about the new Footscray Hospital—$1.5 billion. That is a huge investment and a huge vote of confidence in the west to make sure we have got a state-of-the-art public health system in the west. I am very pleased to be part of a government that is actually investing in public hospitals in the western suburbs of Melbourne.

Also, as part of multicultural affairs, $3.7 million has been allocated for a Vietnamese cultural centre and museum, and I think that will be welcomed by Vietnamese constituents in the west. They have been advocating for something like this for a number of years to celebrate Vietnamese culture and the connection between Australia and Vietnam. We all know about the Vietnam War and Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War, so that museum will be able to document that and document the first boat arrival of Vietnamese people to Australia and how they integrated into our society. I tell you what: if we need to look for a model of how a community can best integrate into Australian society, I think the Vietnamese community would be first grade. How amazingly well they have done integrating into our society. It has been a success story.

There is a $680 million investment to commence the process to make sure the Melbourne Airport rail link becomes a reality, and also a further $2.1 billion to transform train services to Sunbury, upgrading every station along the way and making the line capable of being able to roll out the new high-capacity metro trains. Every single station along that line will be upgraded to make that happen. That is a very welcome investment. Also, part of the new rail investment is the long-awaited—and something I have campaigned for with some of my colleagues—Western Rail Plan, which is between Melbourne, Ballarat and Melton, and the electrification of the Melton line. So $100 million will go toward planning for the full separation of regional and metro services on the Geelong and Ballarat lines as the first step of delivering fast rail as well as planning to electrify the rail lines to Melton and Wyndham Vale. I think it is very important to provide that service. It is one of the fastest growing communities, and we need to make sure that they have access to the metro service but also that our regional constituents in Ballarat and Geelong are able to have a dedicated V/Line service. Work obviously will commence soon on making sure we have fast rail, so that is going to make that a reality and I think it is a very welcome announcement.

Altona North Primary School will receive $3.8 million. Williamstown High School will receive $137 000 to do some planning to contribute toward the upgrade of the year 12 study centre and complete the school theatre complex. Also, there will be a pocket park in Williamstown, as part of $35 million to establish 25 pocket parks in suburban Melbourne. So that is again another investment to make sure we have got open space. I am pleased that we are able to make that investment in Williamstown. Watergardens station—I talked about that earlier. That is another issue that has been brewing for a number of years—or the last two years—in relation to car park capacity. I am pleased that, as part of the state’s 11 000 car park capacity, that will now be made a reality and my constituents around the Watergardens region or using Watergardens station will be able to have additional car spaces. That is very welcome. Going back to education—I am going backward and forward on various subject matters—Copperfield College will receive $6.5 million, and that again shows our commitment toward education in the west. Jacksons Creek Park will receive further funding as part of the $154 million commitment to creating a ring of new parklands in our growing suburbs. Also, I am pleased that a new park will be established in the Caroline Springs area. That was foreshadowed in the last budget, but further investment has been put in this budget to make sure that will now become a reality and we will be able to have a decent regional park in the western part of Melbourne. We are looking forward to having that park completed so that the people of the west can actually enjoy going to a decent regional park in the outer part of Melbourne.

Mr Finn interjected.

Mr Melhem: Hopefully Mr Finn might be able to go for a nice walk there and enjoy the new facility. So the Kororoit Creek Park will be developed. Part of this budget is to complete it in conjunction with Melton City Council so that families in Caroline Springs, Rockbank and Truganina will have a fantastic new space to enjoy. Maybe Mr Finn and I can go there for a walk from time to time. It is a beautiful walk around the Kororoit Creek. I do go for my walk—

Mr Finn: I’m not walking anywhere with you, Melhem. I doubt I’d come back.

Mr Melhem: No, that is all right, Mr Finn. I would guarantee your safety. You would be all right. I go for a walk there now, and it is a pleasant place to go for a walk. So you will be safe as long as you behave. The other investment that I am pleased the government has made as part of this budget—and I talked about it yesterday—is the investment of $2.4 million to put the business case together for the Melton hospital, and that is a great investment. We have listened to the community, and we are fair dinkum about looking at delivering on that promise and building a hospital in Melton. The people of Melton expected us to put some money in to make sure we put the business case together, find the site and basically start getting on with it. That is very welcome, and I think the people of Melton will be very pleased with that. Credit to our new member for Melton, Steve McGhie, who is a great advocate for Melton. He will do a fantastic job over the next four years, and I am grateful actually that he came back from his retirement and took up the challenge. Last but not least, there are three level crossings that were supposed to be removed as part of the regional rail program when we were in government in 2010. When the Liberal Party came into power they abolished these projects. I am referring to the Deer Park station car park and Fitzgerald Road in Ardeer, Mount Derrimut Road in Deer Park and Robinson Road in Ravenhall. They were supposed to be removed years ago, but the previous coalition government cancelled them. But we are going to actually remove those level crossings as part of this budget, which are part of the 75 level crossings that will be removed. With those words I commend this budget, and I want to congratulate the Treasurer and the Premier for putting a great budget together. Well done to everyone.