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Thursday, 5 December 2013
Page: 1816


Ms CHESTERS (Bendigo) (15:49): I know I am a new member and that I have only been here a few months, but I am shocked. I am shocked at how quickly this government has backed away from its promises—how it has flip-flopped and backflipped since it took office. I remind the House that the Prime Minister promised, at his campaign launch, that there would be no surprises and no excuses from his government. Yet all we have seen is endless, pathetic excuses. We have also seen multiple backflips—backflips back and forth on funding. There have been so many backflips that they could almost be a gymnastics team. Perhaps we will need them to be our gymnastics team—who knows where the funding is for the Institute of Sport? Will they continue to fund it? Thank God we have a government that is able to do so many backflips so efficiently!

One of the areas very dear to my heart and very important to the people of Bendigo is education. Let us remind people what they said on education. First the Liberals said, 'Gonski is a conski'. That is right—they did not back Gonski. Then, once they realised that the people wanted it, that the state schools wanted it, that the Catholic schools wanted it and that the independent schools wanted it, they said they were on a unity ticket—that it did not matter whether you voted Labor, Liberal or National, you would get the funding. Now we have seen that they have backed away from that. They have backflipped once again—so many backflips!

Mr Frydenberg: Mr Deputy Speaker, I seek to intervene. I have a question for the member for Bendigo.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: This is an MPI. There are no interventions allowed under the standing orders.

Ms CHESTERS: Before the election, they promised that no school would be worse off, that they would provide exactly the same funding per school. Yet they have said to the states that there are no strings attached to the funding. They have said to the states that they can do what they want, which could lead to cuts. From a school in my electorate, I have already been informed of the first of the state cuts. This is a corker. At Kyneton Secondary College the Victorian state government is dismantling buildings. It is removing the demountables, and that will happen over the holidays, but get this—although the buildings are being taken away, the school is allowed to keep the walkway in between the buildings because that is a permanent structure. They are dismantling our schools already because this government has not been on the unity ticket, and that is the commitment Labor had with the Better Schools Plan.

Before the election the coalition promised public sector workers that they would not be made redundant, yet we have already seen widespread redundancies. Hundreds of workers are losing their jobs, with those wages being withdrawn from our community and services being made weaker. In the time remaining I want to mention a few other commitments made in my electorate before and during the campaign. We have to start with the Bendigo tennis centre—a fantastic project committed to by the previous government, with $5.2 million being allocated to upgrade the facility. At the time, the Liberals supported it. In the Bendigo Advertiser of 24 August we see the Liberal Party comment that they support the upgrade of the Bendigo tennis centre. Yet here we are, the Liberals are in government and the government have backflipped—they are not going to fund the tennis centre. Let us go to university funding. Prior to the election we saw in the Bendigo Advertiser comments from the Liberal Party that they were appalled by the cuts to the Bendigo La Trobe campus. Yet, when they have the chance to stop the cuts, they do not.

This leads me to question the commitments the Liberals made to my electorate during the election campaign. I will put those on the record and ask whether they will backflip on these cuts too. Let us start with the $300,000 boost for the Castlemaine respite facility. The then shadow minister for families, Kevin Andrews, said that he was committed to the project, that it was vital for the area and that his government would put $300,000 in. There was $500,000 for the Kyneton Community Park—the shadow minister for the environment made that commitment. Will that funding go ahead or will there be another backflip? What about the $180,000 for the Bendigo RSL? You might have worked out that they thought they could win this seat, but unfortunately for them they did not. (Time expired)