Budget Reply Speech
Fitzroy Ballroom, Sofitel on Collins
Friday 5 May 2017
Matthew Guy, Leader of the Victorian Opposition
Thank you everyone for your attendance today, for coming along and supporting the party, and more importantly listening to our budget reply. Usually, we have the budget reply in the Parliament, but for the reasons only known to the Government, we sat for one day this year. The Parliament sat for one day, so we chose that our budget reply, rather than to an empty Parliament where there’s no Labor MPs, would be to Victorians themselves. We think that’s a better way to do it.
Ladies and gentlemen, there’s 18 months to go before the next state election in Victoria and my team is hungry. We’re hungry for Government. We know we can win. We know we can provide an alternative that this State is looking for. We don’t want to get to Government to be the Kennett Government Mark II, or the Howard Government Mark II, or an incarnation of anyone else, and certainly not a pale imitation of those we want to replace. We want to be a Government that is a Liberal Nationals Government for the 21st century of our own personality, of our own direction, of our own agenda. A 21st century agenda. Looking to where we think Victoria needs to be in the mid part of the century and beyond. A Government for the times, that looks to the future. Not just as what we have today – and that is a Government for the next 24 hour media cycle.
That’s a very stark difference to our political opponents, as I’ve said. They have that short term media cycle in their mind. They have the concept of, “put 10% of the funding into projects, and claim you’re going to do it.” I’ve never seen anyone been able to build a $15 billion road with a $100 million dollars, but somehow they think they can do it. They clearly don’t know about the cost of unionised Labor here in Victoria nowadays.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are hungry for Government. We are further advanced in our policy process now than we have been at any stage, in opposition in Victoria for the last time I can ever remember, certainly in the last ten years or before. We are planning internally. We are adopting new campaign methods. We’re reforming the way the party runs, and the Administration Committee, the Party itself, the Parliamentary Party is just focused on that one goal: November 2018.
Having the chance to govern, means having the chance to implement the agenda that you believe in. For us, we have been espousing as a Liberal Nationals team for two years or more now, the concept of changing the way our State is growing. Decentralising our economy, decentralising our people. Decentralisation is not just a concept of having one or two projects go to one or two regional centres, it’s about a mindset on how a Government thinks. That’s why, for the first time, we’ve announced, we’ll have a Minister for Decentralisation.
That’s why we’ve had our Population Taskforce, headed by Tim Smith, about to hand down its interim report, which will give us an agenda, and a clear pathway, about what we believe are some of the most important ways in which we can encourage job and population growth; logistical change for the way our State will move goods and operate in the mid part of this century. It’s a long-term visionary plan that we want to be at the start of. Population, and population pressure, is one of the greatest problems that this state is facing, one of our greatest challenges. Not once was it mentioned in the Government’s budget this week. Not once. 110 000 to 115 000 people per annum are coming to Victoria, each year. We’re accommodating more than Ballarat every year to this State. That has a dramatic effect, not just on our regions, but on Melbourne’s growth areas. On our suburbs, on existing urban areas, and how we managed them, how we plan them. Those cities, those suburbs, those people also need to be able to turn the lights on.
It beggars belief, to me, that we have a Government that has stood by and watched our base load power disappear here in Victoria. Any Government I lead will always stand up for base load power in this state. We won’t watch anymore power stations close. We will work with the private sector to ensure that we have base load supply, not just for the now, but for the future, as you’d expect for a growing population. Not for six and a half million people, but for the eight, nine, ten million people, that are forecast for our State, for the mid part of this century.
Importantly, we want those people, whether it’s six and a half million Victorians now or Victorians into the future, to be safe in their State. Safe in their State. Bail reform and sentencing reform, is something that cannot be underestimated or overlooked, and overlooked by this Government it has been. It is so important that we change the dynamic, the thinking, the operation of our bail system, of our sentencing reform system.
That is why we have announced a package of mandatory sentencing on 11 key offences against people, against the person, which we believe is a revolutionarily different way of dealing with a crime wave that our State does not deserve. And it has got out of control the last two years. We can do something about it. Government can do something about it. We don’t have to be bystanders. We don’t have to sit back and watch a crime wave engulf our State. It’s the job of the Government to do something about it and the Government that I lead will do something about it, starting with mandatory sentencing and then reforming our bail laws.
Ladies and gentlemen, our State as it stands today, is one in which Government can be a whole lot better, a lot more visionary about where we want to go, embracing all Victorians, rather than just governing for a few. Central to that will be how we manage the finances of the State. It’s not about blowing $1.2 billion on a road that you don’t build. It’s not about signing up for contracts with enterprise agreements that are way inaccessible to what the private sector is doing. It’s not about constricting your planning policy market so that you’ve got no ability to grow in your central city or see structure plans approved in your growth areas.
It’s about recognising that our economy is central to how our Government and our State is going to grow, and having an attitude in the whole of Government, that recognises that and understands that. In the Victorian Parliament, there is no one who understands how central the economy is to all of our way of life than Michael O’Brien. As Treasurer you saw that in the two budgets that he handed down. As Shadow Treasurer you’ve seen it in the way that he has critiqued and offered other alternatives for the current Governments operation over the last few years.
I have absolute faith that as Treasurer of Victoria again, Michael O’Brien will provide the stewardship and the economic leadership that we need to lead us through, not just this part of this century, but to set up our children, and our grandchildren for a better Victoria through the mid part of the century. Please make welcome, Michael O’Brien.
Michael O’Brien, Victorian Shadow Treasurer
Thank you very, very much, Matthew. Can I thank you for that introduction, but can I also thank you for your leadership. In all my years of politics, not just as a member of Parliament, but as an active participant, as a branch member and as an observer, I’ve never seen a State opposition as unified, as focused, as we have been under your leadership. Matthew, thank you so much for all you do, and we all can’t wait to see what you are going to do as Premier of Victoria in 18 months’ time.
I also acknowledge Michael Kroger, our party President, great to see you here Michael; thank you Natalie Sterling, the Executive Director of Enterprise Victoria, of course all my Parliamentary colleagues. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s terrific to see a full house here today, and to see the support from Victoria’s business community, not only for the work of Enterprise Victoria, but also for the work of our Liberal MPs.
I do know we have our friends from the Press gallery here today, although the table is a little emptier, than I would have liked. Can I just take this opportunity to wish the journos from The AFR, and The Age, all the best in the coming weeks. Look, we don’t always agree but I’ve always taken the view that the more coverage of State politics that we get, the higher the standard that MPs are held to, and the better that is for the public that we serve. I do hope that we get that resolved.
As you’ve heard from Matthew, the Liberal Party, together with our National colleagues, we are united, we are determined, and without any shadow of a doubt, the political momentum is with us. In just 18 months’ time, we’ll be in the thick of an election campaign. We know the politics today is volatile, more volatile than it’s ever been. Few voters are rusted onto a particular party. We know that if the electorate doesn’t like what they see in the Government, they won’t have a second thought in kicking them out. When you look at the Andrew’s Labor Government, there’s a lot not to like. They’ve got the Ombudsman investigating their misuse of entitlements, from before the last election. They’ve had dogs being chauffeured around in Government limos. Ministers sacked for defending CFA volunteers, Cabinet leaks, and the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker forced to resign over rorting their allowances.
That’s just to name a few of Labor’s internal issues.
In fact, the day before the Don Nardella and Telmo Languiller scandal became public, I happened to be in Chadstone, I was wondering around JB Hi-Fi, and who do I bump into but Daniel Andrews. I said, “Premier, fancy seeing you here at JB. What are you up to?” And he looked a big sheepish and said, “Just looking for a couple of new speakers, actually.”
Before taking you through Tuesday’s budget, I think it’s just worthwhile taking your time to remind ourselves of what Labor inherited from the Coalition, because we do hear a lot from Mr Andrews about jobs. Let’s have a look at what the Coalition’s record on jobs actually was. The fact is that in the four years of Coalition Government, Victoria created more jobs than any state in the country. Any state in the country. More than New South Wales, more than the mining boom states of WA, or Queensland as they then were. On jobs we’ve got a very good story to tell. We also have heard a lot from Mr Pallas in recent days about the size of his surplus. Well, I’m sorry Tim, $8.3 billion, nice try, we are at $9.1 billion. The point is surpluses can be achieved through good management. What’s important is what you do with them.
Another point is net debt. This is going to be a very critical point for this State going forward, for reasons that I’ll outline. When we left office we had a net debt of 5.9%, debt to GSP, comparing to the size of our economy, but coming down to 4.5% right throughout that forward estimates.
This brings me to Labor’s budget handed down on Tuesday. The third of the Andrews Labor Government. Now in footy terms, the third quarter is known as the Premiership quarter. It’s the quarter in which the team that wants to win steps up and stamps its authority on the game. Based on what we saw on Tuesday, Labor is still in the change rooms.
This was a budget which was seen to have been designed by spin doctors, rather than politicians or economists. We’ve got a budget that delivers next to nothing in terms of practical infrastructure, that will actually get under way, over the next 12 months. This is a very cynical budget designed to give the impression of doing things, while simply leaving the Government the opportunity to try and claim next year in the budget that it’s getting on with things.
Let’s have a look at a few comparisons here. This is where the blue lines show you where the Coalition’s projected budget surpluses were at the election, and this is where they’ve come in under Labor. Labor has already managed to reduce the surpluses that they’d inherited from us. Now, there’s always a saying that sometimes you’d rather been born lucky than good. Nowhere does that apply more than to Tim Pallas. He has been the beneficiary of a huge number of windfalls, one of which is GST revenue.
While the Coalition was in office, we were getting around about 88 cents, in the dollar for every dollar of GST raised in Victoria. In this year’s budget, Victoria is now on track to receive 98 cents in the dollar. That’s a $13 billion boost, in GST revenue alone. On top of that, State tax is up massively under this Government. Some of it is due to the heat in the property market, but some of it is due to the ten new or increased taxes, that Labor has introduced since being elected. That gives you an indication of the size of the tax take that has risen in just three budgets under Labor. We’re talking about a $4 billion increase in taxes, or 22% of the State tax base.
Now compared to other States, and that’s the same State taxes compared to GSP. They’re not just increasing in dollar terms, they’re actually increasing massively State taxes as a proportion of Victoria’s economy. Victoria’s taxes are now the highest in the country. That is not a title that neither Tim Pallas or Daniel Andrews should be proud of, but it is one that they both deserve.
When we left office our tax to GSP ratio is about 4.8%. It was less than some others, and we were trying to get it down, it is now gone up, they passed New South Wales, we now have got the highest taxes in the country.
There’s a real financial risk when a Government locks in much higher spending based on cyclical revenue. Our budget is now hugely dependent on the heat in the property market, and expecting that to continue. Even the budget papers acknowledge, that if interest rates rise, and the property market cools our budget would be extremely exposed.
A property tax windfall, it’s like winning the lottery. You can spend it, you can max out your credit cards, and you can hope that you’ll win it again, but the chances are you won’t. What we see with Labor, is a Government that is locked in much higher rates of base public expenditure, based on cyclical revenue. That is a dangerous practise. It’s one that exposes Victoria, and when the winds change direction, as the winds always do, we are going to be as a State, in a weaker and a much more exposed position as a consequence of this.
Labor has inherited large surpluses from the Coalition, $13 billion in extra GST, they’ve seen property taxes boom, they’ve increased, or they’ve introduced ten new taxes, and let’s not forget they had a $10 billion windfall for the lease of the port of Melbourne. Yet, despite all of that, all of that, Tuesday’s budget flag that State debt is going to increase by $10 billion in just the next four years. We’re going to see a massive increase in debt, despite all the tax revenue and all the windfalls that Labor have received.
In the budget papers the Government tried to explain away this huge debt increase by saying, “Well look, we’re building extra infrastructure. We’re bringing some things forward.” What was the biggest item of infrastructure they actually flagged out bringing forward? Oh, it was a few more level crossings. Well I’m sorry, but at the election Labor said they were going to fully fund all of the level crossings, though the proceeds of the sale of the Port of Melbourne. Given they not only sold the Port of Melbourne, but they got enormous windfall, they were expecting $5-6 billion, and they end up getting $9.7 billion. Why is there any excuse for massively ramping up debt, simply to do what you said you were going to do, through a mechanism which had already paid for it?
We are seeing significant increases in debt. While Tim Pallas is out there saying, “Look when the interest rates are low now, now is the time to borrow.” The trouble is that Governments don’t tend to borrow for 30 years at current rates. You lock in for a period of time, it might be three years, it might be a five year bond, it might be a ten year bond, but in inevitably interest rates will rise as the Global economy or the Australian economy changes. The danger is, if you have too much credit on your books, when it becomes time to refinance, that’s where you get stung.
I’ll come to taxes in a second, but can I just turn to infrastructure, because Labor is very keen to talk about this as being a big infrastructure budget. I’ve got to say, from any of the structure viewpoints, this could have been written by Harvey Norman, because Labor’s had no interest for three years, and there’s no money down. You have to ask yourself, what infrastructure was there in this budget that isn’t business as usual? Schools? Well, they’re actually building fewer schools in this budget, than the Coalition did in our last budget. Hospitals? Well, expanding the Northern Hospital was a Coalition commitment back in 2014, so Labor’s three years late to that party.
There’s precious little for new hospitals, but the Premier is still out there trying to take credit for opening the Monash children’s hospital, which was a project designed, funded and built by the Coalition. You look at Rail. Well Rail the big announcement was the $1.45 billion, for the so called, “Regional Rail Revival.” A package of rail upgrades throughout the country of Victoria, sounds great, doesn’t it? There’s only one slide problem with it. The Treasurer says, “Every dollar of it has to be paid for by the Federal Government.” The Federal Government.
Why the State Treasury has actually allowed this to go into the budget papers, when it is entirely dependent on another Government paying all the money and that Government has not agreed that that money is due and payable, is beyond me. This is a Government, as I said, its budget written by spin doctors not by economists and certainly not by politicians who actually care about delivering.
Good roads? Well the Mordialloc bypass, good project, yeah we agree, so good that we actually committed to one of the last election, fully funded it. You have to wonder, what has the Government been doing for three years by finally getting around to going ahead with a project that we’d funded at the last election? Or the North East Link, as Matthew said, “You don’t get a $15 billion road for a $100 million.” Labor tried this trick last budget. They said, “Oh we’re going to have $35 million for planning money towards the North East Link.” And they thought, “That bought us a year.” 12 months on, “Oh we’ll have a $100 million for planning the North East Link.” But you never see a shovel in the ground. You never see a contract and more importantly, you never understand how that $15 billion is ever actually going to be paid for.
I do have to mention, one of the level crossing removals that Labor trumpeting the other day, did make me smile a little bit. We always keep hearing about how Labor is very committed to removing these 50 dangerous in congested level crossings. They have again tried to take credit for some of the ones that we’d funded in our time in office, but the one they went talking about yesterday was Werribee Road, Werribee. Happens to be in the electorate of the Treasurer, Tim Pallas. Now this is such a congested level crossing, you have to ask yourself the question, “How many trains go through this congested level crossing every day?” 40, maybe? No? 14, maybe? No? Four. Four trains a day. We have a Government which is absolutely committed to looking after themselves, looking after their own mates, not actually looking after the interests of Victorians.
When it comes to Police Stations, after everything we’ve seen with this crime wave that’s been hitting Victoria. My own electorate, Malvern, we’ve had crime going up 37% in the last two years. I’ve had my own little brush with it as well. I mean this is something which is affecting people on a daily basis, you can’t walk down the street without speaking to someone who has been affected by crime. How many new Police Stations are being built in this budget? Zero. Not a single new Police Station. Yeah, they’re replacing a few old ones on the same spot, not a single new Police Station, so excuse me if I don’t believe the Government hype about this being an infrastructure budget. Government shouldn’t expect praise for just doing their jobs, and particularly if those jobs aren’t done very well.
I would like to take you to the broken tax promise, if only because I know the Premier, I’ve heard from good sources inside Labor, the Premier hates it being referred to. On the evening before the last election, he was on the steps of Parliament House, he was being interviewed on Channel 7 News, by Peter Mitchell live in the studio, and Peter Mitchell said, “Daniel Andrews, all the polls say, you’ll be Victoria’s next Premier. If you are, do promise Victorians here tonight that you will not increase taxes or introduce any new taxes?” Daniel looked down the camera with all the sincerity that he could muster, and he said, “I make that promise, Peter, to every single Victorian.”
Well, let’s have a look at how he’s actually gone in terms of keeping that promise. One of the worst things that Daniel Andrews has done, was tripling the royalties on brown coal in last year’s budget. By doing that he sent Hazelwood to the wall. This is a Premier who doesn’t just sit back and watch while bad things are happening in his State, whether it’s power stations closing, or electricity and gas prices going up. He’s there helping them along. That tax increase added $20 million a year to the bottom line of Hazelwood, he was warned by the owners of Hazelwood at the time it was announced that it could push them over the edge and that’s exactly what happened.
To those thousand-odd workers down in Hazelwood, who are now out of a job. To the Victorians who have got less secure power supplies as a result, to the households and the businesses who are paying much higher prices for their electricity and their gas as a consequence, this all could have been avoided. This could have been avoided, but it was a broken promise from Daniel Andrews, and Tim Pallas, another new tax that they never promised, and this is costing this State in a huge way. We see them trying to put a $2 levy on every taxi and every Uber fare.
They’ve introduced land tax surcharge for absentee owners and then they increased it. A stamp duty surcharge for foreign purchases, then they increased it. Fire Services Property levy has gone up. This budget increased stamp duty on new cars. We hear a lot of crocodile tears from the Government, saying they are committed to lowering the road toll, but the TAC says there is a direct relationship between old cars, and serious injuries and fatalities. Old cars are much more represented in fatalities and serious injuries than their numbers on the road suggest they should be.
What has Daniel Andrews and Tim Pallas done? They said, “We’re going to make it more expensive for you to buy a new car.” Not only a broken promise on tax, but something which could actually have a really negative impact in terms of road safety. New stamp duty on off the plan purchases. A Government is talking about the need to address housing affordability, says, “I know how we’ll address housing affordability. We’ll make it much harder for investors to get involved in projects” by saying, “You don’t get any access to off plan stamp duty concessions.” Anyone who is involved in property development knows, you need a lot of people signed up early on before the banks will give you the finance to go ahead with the project.
By cutting out investors from accessing the off the plan stamp duty concession, the Government is ensuring that a lot of new projects will not get up. If the projects don’t get up, the rooms, the apartments aren’t built, and that simply reduces supply, which hurts pricing.
A new stamp duty on property transfers between spouses. For example, you could have someone who’s a tradie, and they’re married, they might have a little holiday shack, or they might have a little investment flat. Let’s say the tradie, could be the husband, could be the wife, but they want to set up their own business. They want to make a go of it, but they’re worried about their family, and they think “Well, let’s put that investment flat into my other half’s name.” Under this announcement, you’ll be charged full stamp duty on the cost. This is not just another broken promise, it’s not just another tax grab, this is anti-small business, and anti-enterprise.
This shows you how desperate this Government has got for new taxes. New annual property evaluations to increase Land Tax. Instead of having a re-evaluation every two years, you’ll now have an evaluation every single year. You can be absolutely sure that will flow through to your council rates and that will flow through to your Fire Services Property levy as well, and we’ve got a new vacant home tax. Let’s say you might be a farmer, you might have a unit or something in the city, which you might go to every now and again for a doctor’s appointment, or stay overnight if you seeing the grandkids at a school play. Well, sorry if you leave that vacant for six months, then you can pay a new tax of 1% of the capital value of that property to Daniel Andrews, because he knows what you should do with your property better than you do.
Let’s talk about housing affordability. We do know that Labor is very committed to housing affordability. Dear old Don, he’s the gift that keeps on giving, isn’t he? I have to say though, Labor has taken a lot of inspiration from Don Nardella by trumpeting in this week’s budget that there are a few little trinkets in terms of payroll tax relief. They’ve brought forward by 12 months, a slight change to the thresholds for payroll tax, and they’ve made a bit of a cut to payroll tax for the regions. Despite that, the Labor Government is still taking $750 million more in payroll tax revenue, in the 17/18 year, than they did when they came to office.
Very much it’s the Don Nardella approach to tax. You take a lot of money from the public, and you give a little bit of it back, and you expect to get praised for it.
Let’s have a look at Stamp Duty. This just shows you how hot the property market is. We’ve got enormous amount of growth there, 14/15 is where it was at the election, and we’ve seen massive increases there of nearly 40% in stamp duty. That is not sustainable. It is just not sustainable but Labor is spending as though it is. Similarly with land tax, 35.1% increase and the Payroll Tax revenue, as I said, there’s Labor very keen to try and make sure they’re seen to be giving some back, but they’re taking money, hand over fist.
Just briefly to talk about GST and Scott Morrison the Federal Treasurer announced recently a review of the GST. I was, actually, I’m fairly positive about that, because that gives us an opportunity for Victoria to resolve some long standing issues that have worked to our disadvantage. I’ll give you one example. The Grants Commission currently recognises Indigenous people as having higher service needs from Government, and so allocates a greater amount of funding for States with a large Indigenous population.
Now you’ll never get an argument about that from me, that’s appropriate, but people from non-English speaking backgrounds, particularly immigrants, they also have a much higher need for Government services. Especially in those early years when they’re getting settled down, and they’re learning English, and Victoria is over-represented in terms of that demographic. We’ve been arguing for years that we should get a similar allowance, or maybe not as much, but some sort of allowance to reflect the fact that we’ve got a lot of non-English speaking background immigrants that come here, who have a higher need for public services which falls on us to provide.
This review is a great opportunity for us to actually get these issues considered and put forward, but what was Tim Pallas’s response? He just rubbished the whole idea of a review. I don’t understand why issues which have been long standing concerns of successive Victorian Treasurers, why Labor is not taking the opportunity to get these issues dealt with? They seem to be more interested in fighting the Federal Coalition, than in getting a deal for Victoria. I’ve got to say when I look at Daniel Andrews and Tim Pallas I’ve never seen two people who are more interested in scoring a point, than achieving a goal. I think that’s something which is very much to this State’s disadvantage.
There are times where you need to stand up and fight for your State. I’ve had to do it with Federal Labor Treasurers. I’ve had to do it with Federal Liberal Treasurers. But just to engage in petty point scoring for the sake of it, is something which to my mind is entirely counterproductive. We need to see a bit more maturity from the State Government going forward.
Now cost of living in Victoria. We’ve already seen gas and electricity bills up 7.7%, just in the last quarter, and the ABS directly attributed that to increases in the wholesale sale price, flowing on from the closure of Hazelwood. St Vincent de Paul, they’re not known as being right wing think tank or anything like that, they have modelled and they say energy bills will increase by around $300 this year. We’ve seen fuel costs up as well. Where is some of the money going to? Under Labor the cost of the Public Sector has increased by $4.5 billion, or 24.4% in just three years. The Premier will have you believe that this was all frontline services, Police and nurses and teachers. That’s simply not true.
Data from the Victorian Public Sector Commissioner shows that between 2014 and 2016 the number of total administrative offices increased by 47.9%. In public health, classifications for admin and clerical staff increased to twice the rate of the average in the sector. More admin and clerical people than frontline service people. Even at Victoria Police, public servants under the Chief Commissioner were up 16.5%, while Police numbers were only up 1.7%. Not even enough to cover one year’s population growth, let alone two.
Having massively expanded the Public Service and blowing out the wage bill, Labor in this budget expect you to believe that not next year but the year after, they’ll get wages growth down to just 2.5%. Well, do you believe it? Does Labor believe it? Of course they don’t. But how else can they make their forward estimates in the budget look like they add up? Labor does this time and time again.
They simply put in assumptions which will never ever be achieved to try and make the books look as though they balance, and they don’t. Well, ladies and gentlemen can I say, a Liberal National Government will be different. We will be different. When we announce our Public Sector wages policy, we will stick to it. I’ve got no objection, I want to pay our Public Servants better pay, for better work. That’s what productivity is all about. I want to see a professional and productive VPS, but we have to get the balance right.
We won’t neglect the frontline in favour of the back office, as Labor has done. We will see more teachers in the classroom teaching literacy and numeracy, and fewer gender theory sociologists scouring fairy tales, looking for offence. We will see more doctors, more nurses, and more paramedics, saving lives, instead of Health bureaucrat numbers growing faster than our frontline workforce.
We will ensure that the necessary investments to address family violence will be focused on practical measures, practical measures that protect the vulnerable. We will see more frontline Police and PSOs keeping us safe. If that means more prison beds to keep locked up people who have demonstrated that they are a danger to the community, then yes, that is what we’ll deliver. A Liberal Nationals Government will work to ease cost of living pressures on Victorian households, not make life harder by imposing ten new taxes. We won’t place unnecessary orders from the Desal Plant that increase water bills. We’ll drive efficiencies and water businesses and make sure households get the benefit.
We won’t impose unrealistic State based renewable energy targets on industry. We will scrap Labor’s targets, and act in concert with the Federal RET. Unlike Labor, we will work with our farming communities to find a way forward on exploring for conventional gas in this State. We will drive a much harder bargain in Government contracts to ensure that, just as tax payers should get better value out of their Government, the Government will get better value on behalf of tax payers in procurement.
I have said previously, during this week, that under Daniel Andrews the only thing growing faster than the crime rate is the tax rate. I thought I’ll just give you the chart to show I wasn’t talking out of my head, it is actually quite true. It is a sad indictment, but it is the truth.
In conclusion, ladies and gentlemen, in their third budget, the Andrews Labor Government could have tackled the rising cost of living for Victorian households. They could have reopened Police Stations that have closed on their watch. They could have invested in reforming sentencing in corrections; two of the most glaring examples of what is broken in our justice system.
They could have actually funded a rail revival for regional Victoria, instead of playing politics by sending the whole bill to Malcolm Turnbull. They could have strengthened our finances instead of racking up $10 billion in new debt. They could have delivered tax reform, instead of tax increases. That Labor did none of these things bring home the importance of the next 18 months when the Matthew Guy-led Liberal Nationals will continue to make our case for a change of Government in November next year.
A change for the better, for Victoria.
Thanks very much.