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Monday, 26 November 2018
Page: 11445

Mr BRIAN MITCHELL (Lyons) (19:30): It is with great pleasure that I rise to offer my sincerest congratulations to the Victorian Labor team: Daniel Andrews, his colleagues, the Labor Party supporters and, indeed, the army of volunteers. It wasn't entirely surprising to see that the Andrews government was re-elected. It has been a government that has demonstrated good governance in Victoria, and its strong, progressive and positive campaign platform was inspiring to those of us across Bass Strait. Watching Daniel Andrews' victory, as well as the annihilation of the Victorian Liberals, made for a rewarding Saturday. Indeed, it was made only more rewarding by the fact that the very next day the Australian women's Twenty20 cricket team beat the Poms, so it was a very good weekend indeed!

Daniel Andrews and his team have vision. They focus on positive policies and service delivery. They tell the truth. They put people first. That is not just a slogan; it's a pledge. To steal a reference from the new member for Wentworth's speech this morning, Victorian Labor's approach to government is human centred. It puts people first. It puts people at the centre of everything they do. Government should, after all, bring people together, not drive them apart.

However, the Victorian Liberals, just like their national counterparts in this parliament, were focused on fear and on hate. They encouraged exclusion and the entrenchment of poverty and vulnerability. Their campaign was wholly negative. Too much energy was spent focusing on the Labor Party and not enough on how they intended to improve the lives of Victorians. Victorians saw right through those tactics. They were too clever to fall for what are now very well worn tricks, and they voted instead in support of Labor and positive policies that improve lives.

We shouldn't be surprised. The Victorian Liberal Party's actions were almost identical, I'm sorry to say, to those we now see in every state and territory. Across the country, we see a once mighty Liberal Party that is falling apart, victim to its own chaos and dysfunction, too busy inciting hatred and discrimination to actually help people and provide the services people need. This country does best when the two major parties in this country come towards the centre, not deliver issues on the fringes. I would exhort those opposite to get back to the centre, to get back to where people want you to be.

Victorian Labor's priorities were simple. They wanted to prioritise an investment in basic services and visionary infrastructure projects. The $50 billion, 30-year project to build a high-speed suburban rail loop is demonstrative of Daniel Andrews' plans for the state. I was pleased to see this ambitious project was matched by support from the opposition leader in this federal parliament. Victorian Labor also announced $1.5 billion for a new hospital, which will complement the $526 million upgrade to the Frankston Hospital, as well as hundreds of millions of dollars going into hospitals at Morwell and Maryborough. We can talk about how much these things cost, but these are investments in the community and investments in the future. Victorians will see $200 million for 1,000 new public-housing properties, massive public road upgrades worth hundreds of millions of dollars, 100 new schools, free dental care for children in public schools, new parenting centres, and paediatric wings at multiple hospitals. The list of positive, life-affirming and community-changing policies goes on and on.

The reason I raise these things about Victoria is that it is so different in my own state of Tasmania, which has a Liberal state government. It would be reasonable to assume that the state government in Tasmania would be working hand in hand with its federal counterparts, who are of the same political stripe, to deliver similar policies to benefit Tasmanians. But no, we have one of the worst hospitals in the country. We have about 6,000 people on waiting lists. One-in-four Tasmanians will wait outside the clinically recommended times—the worst in the country. Ambulances are ramped every day. In my own electorate, the average GP visit results in out-of-pocket costs exceeding $35 for people on lower incomes. More than 2,000 people are avoiding going to the doctor because they cannot afford it. The country can learn from what happened in Victoria over the weekend: put people first.