Mr WELLS— This statement condemns the Andrews Labor government for voting against legislation to provide cancer compensation for Victorian firefighters. When Labor’s destructive and controversial Country Fire Authority (CFA) reform legislation looked like being at risk of not getting through Parliament, Labor, more desperate than usual, resorted to the dirtiest of tactics. The Andrews government linked the CFA reform legislation with legislation for cancer compensation, making sure that cancer compensation would fail if the CFA reform was not passed.
Thursday 10th May
WELLS (Rowville) (16:51:53) — Thank you, Deputy Speaker, for the opportunity to speak on the budget. I was going to go into a number of issues but I cannot help but point out things to the previous speaker, the Minister for Public Transport. She talked about fixing up the mess and about others not having their hearts in public transport. I wonder what the situation was when we came to government in 2010 when it came to regional rail? Their great flagship, the regional rail, had a $500 million shortfall. This was for the train that was going to go between Bendigo, Ballarat and Geelong into Spencer Street.
What could you possibly forget when you are doing such a multibillion-dollar contract? They forgot to add money for the signals and they forgot to add new trains for the regional rail. There they were building this brand-new rail system to run into Spencer Street, and they had no new trains. How absurd that you would sit down with Treasury and your cabinet to tick off this brand-new big project and that you would forget to add the cost of the signals — hundreds of millions of dollars. One of the first things that we had to deal with when we came to government was fixing up the mess left by the previous Labor government.
Mr McGuire interjected.
Mr WELLS — It was $500 million that we had to find to make sure that regional rail was going to go ahead.
Let us move on to what I want to talk about. The first thing that we need to address is whether or not the Treasurer has credibility, that the budget papers have credibility and that there is integrity in what he said on budget day. The budget is supposed to be a true and fair assessment of the state’s financial position. It is also supposed to be fully authorised and supported by the Department of Treasury and Finance, that in fact everything in the budget papers is true and based on fact, not political spin and rhetoric. If the Department of Treasury and Finance has been compromised and starts playing the role of supporting the government of the day in propaganda and untruths, then the Department of Treasury and Finance has a credibility problem.
The point I want to raise is on page 10 of the Treasurer’s speech, where it says:
Speaker, every Victorian has the right to feel safe in their communities and in their homes.
In the past 19 years, 7000 additional police officers have been funded — all of them under Labor governments.
That is factually incorrect, and I do not understand how the Department of Treasury and Finance have actually allowed the Treasurer to put something like that in the budget speech and have authorised that that is true and fair. It is just blatantly wrong, and for Treasury and Finance to support what the Treasurer has said also leads to a credibility problem.
Let us just go to the facts. It is true that in the run-up to the 2010 election Labor promised an extra 1700 new police. There is no question about that, so I support that fact. I also support the fact that they had a budget of around $600 million in the 2010–11 budget. There is no question that $600 million was put aside to fund the 1700 new police. What they conveniently forget is that we made a similar promise. We made a promise running up to the 2010 election that, because there were ongoing increases in crime, we would make a significant increase in police and also put protective services officers (PSOs) on the train stations. What did the then Labor government call the protective services officers? Plastic police. They had no time for them; they had no support for them. They supported police, but they had no time for PSO policies.
When we came into government in 2010 we had the writedown of the GST and stamp duty. It is very clear to see that where we had promised 1700 frontline police and 940 PSOs we had them as a budget item. The issue then became: how do we actually fund those police? The situation was that when the GST was written down in February 2011, the writedown of GST and stamp duty was $8.3 billion, so the $600 million that had been put aside in the 2010–11 budget by the previous Labor government was wiped out. There was no funding for the promised police because there had been a writedown of $8.3 billion in the GST and also the amount of stamp duty.
With that massive writedown over the forward estimates period the $600 million was completely eliminated. The funding of the 1700 police and the 940 PSOs was fully funded by the Baillieu-Napthine governments between 2010 and 2014. They are the facts. They were the financial and economic decisions made by the Baillieu-Napthine governments that fully funded those 1700 police. In fact, although the promise was for 1700 police, the actual delivery in that four years was 1900 police and it was closer to 1000 PSOs, so we actually overdelivered on what we promised in 2010 — and they were all funded by the Baillieu-Napthine governments.
Another issue I would like to raise is that of accuracy in regard to the Treasurer saying:
… Victoria is the safest it’s been for a decade …
I am just wondering again why Treasury would allow the Treasurer to write something which again is factually incorrect.
The shadow Minister for Police, Ed O’Donohue, has based his figures on not just Liberal Party figures or National Party figures. They actually come from the Victorian Crime Statistics Agency, which was set up by the previous Liberal-National government. The reason we set it up was that we did not trust Labor. We could not trust Labor on crime stats. We saw what the chief commissioner did. He selectively released a number of crime stats running up to 2010, so we made an election commitment that in order for Victorians to have true and fair crime stats there would be a Victorian Crime Statistics Agency. The shadow Minister for Police has released a significant number of stats to disprove what the Treasurer has said.
Wednesday 9th May
Mr WELLS (Rowville) (09:51:34) — This statement condemns the Andrews Labor government’s complete lack of integrity in not sacking a single Labor minister or MP following the Ombudsman’s revelation that 21 Labor members, and only Labor members, rorted $400 000 of taxpayer funds before the 2014 election. The Premier’s apology was insincere and insulting to the Victorian public. He excused his action and those of his Labor colleagues by saying that they had paid the money back. It is the kind of excuse you expect to hear from a child in kindergarten, not the Premier of Victoria.
If you rob a bank, paying the money back is not enough. If you stole from your employer, as Labor members have done from Parliament, then you would lose your job. The member for Melton still sits in this Parliament, having rorted his residence allowance. The member for Tarneit, despite holding the highest position in this chamber at the time, also rorted his allowance, while Steve Herbert, a former member of the other place, misused his ministerial privileges to chauffeur dogs around the state.
As a society we expect that crime is punished, that breaking the rules has consequences and that when authorities discover deliberate and systemic wrongdoing, as the Ombudsman did with the Labor Party, there are penalties for those involved. No wonder we have a crime crisis, with these people in charge. Instead of penalties Labor gifted six government positions to rorting MPs who have retired from Parliament, and four new Labor MPs were elected with help from rorting.
Parliament of Victoria – Search Hansard
Mr WELLS (Rowville) (12:44:21) — (14 171) The question I wish to raise is for the Minister for Police. Minister, do you find it acceptable that hardworking small business owners are falling prey to criminals while Victoria Police are too under-resourced to follow up blatant cases of theft? A resident in my electorate witnessed a very nasty exchange at a local restaurant in Rowville, where he works, where a couple left at the end of their meal and refused to pay their bill. Both of them refused to pay the restaurant and told the restaurant owners that they were leaving without paying because they knew there was nothing either the restaurant or the police could do about it. When the restaurant phoned the police, the police confirmed that there was nothing the police could do about the theft. Minister, this is obviously an ongoing scam. It is disheartening for restaurant owners and their workers who are unable to rely on police to take any action.
The Andrews Labor Government is committed to ensuring that Victoria Police has the powers and resources it needs to reduce harm in the community and keep Victorians safe.
In relation to the incident you describe, it is unclear if an actual offence has occurred and this can only be confirmed by speaking with the alleged offenders and restaurant owner. I am informed by Victoria Police that there is no ongoing scam in the Rowville area but rather this is an isolated incident.
In relation to the crime rate in the area more broadly, I am pleased to advise that the latest Crime Statistics show that recorded offences in the Knox Local Government Area decreased by 7 per cent in 2017 compared to 2016. Property and deception offences decreased by 11.3 per cent, with decreases in all sub-categories including Burglary/break and enter (8.9 per cent); Theft (10.5 per cent) and Deception (24.4 per cent); Arson (16.1 per cent); Property damage (6.7 per cent).
Many Victorian communities can look forward to seeing an increased police presence in their area with the roll out of additional frontline police across the state. Commencing in May 2018, Victoria Police will deploy a total of 825 additional police officers during 2018-19. This boost in resources is funded as part of the Government’s $2 billion investment in police under the Community Safety Statement 2017. It is the second wave of police resources to hit the beat since the deployment of additional frontline police funded under the 2016-17 State Budget.
As part of this deployment an additional 2 police have been allocated to the Knox Police Service Area, which services suburbs in the Rowville electorate. This is in addition to the 8 family violence specialists which will be shared across the broader division.
The Government’s record investment in police and community safety is making a real difference, with the continuing decline in the overall crime rate in Victoria since June 2017.
The Hon Lisa Neville MP
Minister for Police
Mr WELLS (Rowville) (15:06:38) — This statement condemns the Andrews Labor government’s failure to acknowledge the law and order crisis occurring across Victoria in the recent release of the December 2017 quarter crime stats. Statements from the Premier and the Minister for Police boasting about an overall drop in crime indicate that they are completely out of touch with how the community feels about crime and safety where they live. Continue reading
Mr WELLS (Rowville) (12:00:57) — I am speaking on the Emergency Management Legislation Amendment Bill 2018. I am not sure which bill the member for Oakleigh was speaking on when he was talking about saving chickens. I am just not sure what the point of all that was, and that is the problem when you have a metropolitan member of Parliament trying to talk about something to do with emergency services and the confusion around that. I just want to pick up on a couple of points by the member for Oakleigh — Continue reading
Mr WELLS (Rowville) (16:41:11) — I rise to join the debate on the Integrity and Accountability Legislation Amendment (Public Interest Disclosures, Oversight and Independence) Bill 2018. I support the motion put forward by the member for Warrandyte: Continue reading
Mr WELLS (Rowville) (13:52:46) — This statement condemns the Andrews government for sitting on $3 billion of federal government infrastructure funding destined for vital Victorian projects. For three long years under Labor $500 million of federal funding for the Monash Freeway has sat unused. The federal government upgrades are sorely needed for improved capacity on the Monash from the EastLink interchange towards the Melbourne CBD and east of Clyde Road. Rowville electorate commuters spend many frustrated hours in traffic commuting to the city on the Monash Freeway. In the meantime the Premier has signed billion-dollar contracts with Transurban, forcing years of tolls onto Monash CityLink commuters for a road in western Melbourne while these same drivers are denied upgrades they have already paid for and are forced to sit on congested, second-rate roads.
Mr WELLS (Rowville) The question I wish to raise is for the Minister for Public Transport. Minister, can you explain to Knox families when there will be a bus service for students living near Kelletts Road, Rowville, to nearby Scoresby Secondary College?
I have been contacted by a family from Rowville which is very concerned that there is no bus route along Kelletts Road which travels directly north along Stud Road past Scoresby Secondary College.
The closest bus service, route 682, travels south via Stud Road shopping centre, and the Telebus service also requires a further connection at Stud Park. Although their school is only 6 kilometres from home, my constituents find bus services are neither well-connected nor frequent enough for travelling by bus to be a practical transport option.
The Andrews Labor Government recognises the important role that public transport plays in meeting the needs of people living in Melbourne’s outer suburbs, and regularly reviews the public transport network to identify where improvements can be made. More than $100 million has been invested to provide more services and introduce new routes throughout Melbourne’s suburbs and in regional Victoria.
When reviewing existing bus routes or planning for new ones, Transport for Victoria (TfV) considers a range of issues, including the likely number of users and their transport needs, suitability of the road network for bus operations, development of a direct and easily understood network, and connectivity with other public transport services.
TfV has noted the feedback provided by your constituents. I have requested TfV to continue to monitor the area and to consider suggestions for a bus service as part of future planning.
Hon Jacinta Allan MP
Member for Bendigo East
Minister for Public Transport
Mr WELLS (Rowville) — This statement welcomes the Liberal-Nationals announcement that, if elected, they will introduce a serious sex offenders public register (SSOP). Labor have failed time and time again to keep Victorians safe. Under the Premier the number of sexual assaults has increased dramatically, going up 24.35 per cent between 2014 and 2016. Enough is enough. The Liberal-Nationals will put the protection and safety of children, families and the community first. Continue reading