Matter of Public Importance - Government Performance

04 October 2023

Martha HAYLETT (Ripon) (17:02):

I rise to speak on the matter of public importance submitted by the member for Hawthorn today. Firstly, I am really surprised that this MPI does not have the word ‘nasty’ in it, as I know it is a word that those opposite love to use when describing the first female Premier that we have had in the last 30 years. The notion of those opposite in this MPI is simply wrong. Victorians know that the legacy of our amazing new Premier lives on in the vast amount of transport infrastructure projects she has delivered. She has done more for this state than you could ever hope to imagine in your lifetime. She wrote the book on ensuring rural and regional voices are heard in this place. Her positive legacy runs deep not just in Bendigo and Melbourne but across the entire state. She has overseen the Regional Rail Revival project, which is delivering upgrades on every single regional train line across this state.

John Pesutto: Rubbish!

Martha HAYLETT: It is not rubbish at all. In my neck of the woods she has led work on the $500 million Ballarat line upgrade, which has seen 135 extra weekly services delivered for Ballarat, with trains every 20 minutes during the peak and every 40 minutes off peak. She has delivered stabling upgrades at Ararat and extra services on the Ararat and Maryborough lines. She has saved jobs at Alstom by building trains in Ballarat and Dandenong – rather than overseas, like those opposite.

John Pesutto interjected.

Martha HAYLETT: This is in stark contrast, member for Hawthorn, to the dark days, the dark era when those opposite ruled this state and closed five country train lines, shut 176 country schools and 12 country hospitals and went on a relentless privatisation rampage that left lasting scars across our communities. My community has not forgotten what you did to the Maryborough line and the Ararat line. They will never, ever forget that you closed those train lines and we reopened them.

John Pesutto interjected.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! Leader of the Opposition! Without assistance, please.

Martha HAYLETT: The Premier’s work in transport has transformed our rural and regional areas. It has transformed the train network. It has created jobs. It has boosted our local economies, with more fantastic projects to come.

I am also so grateful for the Premier’s support in delivering lasting legacy projects across the Ripon electorate, including a brand new sports facility for Miners Rest, new mountain bike trails in Creswick and future affordable social housing and key worker housing as part of the $1 billion Regional Housing Fund. She has personally joined me on several occasions to spruik these projects, including in Miners Rest and Creswick. Local schoolkids from Miners Rest Primary School were so excited to meet the now Premier, and the entire Miners Rest community cannot wait to see their brand new sports facility delivered soon. It will include a competition-grade oval, sports pavilion, change rooms, amenities, car parking and more. It will mean Miners Rest locals will be able to play sport close to home, which is a huge win for our kids and locals of all ages. The Creswick trails project is also much anticipated by locals and mountain bikers across the state. It will form a network of mountain bike trails around Creswick, and it will boost tourism across our whole region. These projects would not happen without the leadership of Jacinta Allan. She has always had rural and regional communities at the heart of her decision-making, and without her tireless work over the past 24 years our state would not be what it is today. She has more leadership in her pinky finger than any of those opposite have in their entire body. It is not just transport and sporting infrastructure that she has led the way on across Ripon but so much more.

I remember the day last year that she joined the member for Wendouree and me in Ross Creek with members of the Ballarat Indian community. It was such a proud day, and the Premier had moved mountains to be there to announce $900,000 for a new Hindu temple and cultural centre for the local Hindu community. I remember her generosity and kindness and how happy the committee members were to have her there. This project will mean locals will no longer have to travel to Melbourne to attend temple. It will deliver a new prayer hall, commercial kitchen, children’s playground and more. I want to thank the tireless volunteers who have advocated for this project, including my friend Pradush Narayanan, and Gobi Anand, Harisankar Parippaayillam, Raveen Chilukuri, Sundram and other committee members. Supporting the many incredible multicultural communities across Ripon and the entire state is something our new Premier has always done, because she deeply cares about inclusion and community. She values diversity, and she backs people with actions, not just words.

Another big piece of work that she has led the way on is the development of the Ballarat West employment zone in my electorate. It will become the engine room of jobs and growth in Ballarat over the next 20 years and involves the development of surplus Crown land for industrial, commercial and residential use. It will be home to a new intermodal freight hub, getting freight trucks off our roads and onto rail, and it is powering ahead, with work well underway and new business busting to be a part of it, including McCallum Disability Services and a food bank. Our Premier has not wasted a single minute getting on with state-shaping projects. She has inspired a generation of women to get into politics, including me.

While she has been delivering project after project, getting elected time and time again, those opposite have just continued to sink further and further into irrelevance. They are divided, and they bicker with each other while the far right continues to infiltrate their party. The Leader of the Opposition is even booed by his own party members, many of whom live in my electorate of Ripon, when he speaks at the Liberal state conference. His party runs racists and bigots as state election candidates. They have been writing op-eds and running community forums in country Victoria, causing fear and spreading misinformation about the Voice to Parliament. Many of the members opposite do not even believe in women’s fundamental rights over their own bodies. Even the federal Leader of the Opposition says that the Victorian Liberals have to sort out their mess. So if I were them, I would probably focus a bit more on themselves rather than throwing cheap shots at this side of the chamber. Meanwhile, unlike those opposite, who need to settle their disputes in court over defamation proceedings, our new Premier has the full support of her entire caucus.

Members interjecting.

Martha HAYLETT: She truly does. We are united on this side of the chamber. We are united, unlike those opposite. We are focused on delivering projects our state needs, including better transport infrastructure, upgraded schools and hospitals, safer roads and more social and affordable housing, which you will all claim the credit for, I am sure, when we do it all. I am so honoured to be a member of the Allan Labor government, and I love the sound of that. It sounds fantastic.

I know that our new Premier will do the whole state proud with her passion, determination and commitment to those who need it most. She was the very first woman to represent Bendigo in any Australian Parliament when she was elected into this place as a young 26-year-old. At that time she said true representation ‘means caring about people, listening to the people and speaking out for the people’. She wanted to make a difference, and she has. Her track record is one of delivery, and those opposite would be wise to take note of her leadership style. I cannot wait to see all the good that she does for this state. We will all be backing her along the way, united in supporting her.