Michael Sukkar MP

Federal Member for Deakin
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Matters of Public Importance: Victorian Infrastructure



What we’ve seen today is a succession of federal Labor MPs trying to bask in the glory of somebody else’s win. Never before have we seen in this federal parliament any government or opposition try to take the credit for a state election win or a state election loss in the way that we’ve seen those opposite. I would have thought those opposite would have taken the approach of trying to be humble, trying to see how they could emulate their state Labor government. But no: what we’ve seen here is them, as the member for Wannon said earlier, measuring the curtains, so to speak. They’re very, very cocky.

To refer to the member for McMillan’s contribution, there is no doubt that this MPI today is grossly inaccurate. I won’t go through the list of words that the member for McMillan used to describe it, but it was a very long list. It didn’t include the word ‘lie’, because that is against the standing orders, but it was a very long and descriptive list. If you go through each and every one of the points in this MPI—that the government has cut funding to health and to education, and has not invested in infrastructure—they are manifestly incorrect.

The Labor Party have been saying for the better part of 30 years that the Liberal Party has cut health and cut education. I’m surprised there are any hospitals or schools left, if we’ve supposedly been cutting them for 30 years—God knows how there are any hospitals or schools left! The truth is: every single year that this government has been sitting on this side of the chamber it has increased its investment into health in every state and territory, not just Victoria. We’ve invested each and every year, year on year, into growth in schools. And, as the member for McMillan said, it’s not just one sector of education; whether it’s the public sector, the Catholic sector or the independent sector, we’ve increased funding to each and every one of those.

You cannot increase funding year on year, though, as we have done, if you don’t manage the economy properly or manage the budget, because, in the end, that’s what funds it all. On this side of the chamber, we don’t obsess over managing a strong economy or the budget just for the sake of it or because we’re bean counters and we want to ensure that the numbers look good—no. It’s the only way that you can deliver outcomes for Australians if you do that. That’s what the Labor Party clearly haven’t learned from their time in opposition. They still think that you can spend and spend and spend, and borrow and borrow and borrow, whacking ever more debt on the national credit card and expecting that the piper won’t want to be paid at some point in time. Well, the truth of the fact is that that’s not how you manage a federal budget and that’s not how you manage a national economy, which is what we’re doing on this side of the House.

In relation to infrastructure spending, we have invested enormous amounts into infrastructure in Victoria. I’ll get to one area where we’ve, sadly, not been able to invest money, but I’ll go through a list of some of the projects. Firstly, we recently announced a $5 billion commitment for the Melbourne Airport Rail Link. For so many decades, the idea that we haven’t had a rail link to the airport has perplexed Victorians. It took this government to announce a $5 billion commitment to get that built. We’ve committed $1.6 billion for regional rail; $475 million for Monash Rail, which the member for Aston spoke about; $225 million for the Frankston to Baxter rail line; half a billion dollars for the Monash Freeway upgrade; and $500 million for the M80 Ring Road.

Sadly, though, we’ve not been able to spend $3 billion to ease traffic congestion on the Eastern Freeway—the most important piece of infrastructure for people in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, including in my seat—because the Labor Party has denied the people the entitlement to the East West Link, a link from the end of the Eastern Freeway to the Tullamarine Freeway. There was $3 billion on the table from the federal government, and what did Labor do?

They spent $1.3 billion to cancel that contract. What are we left with? We’re left with the people of the eastern suburbs of Melbourne being ignored, traffic on the Eastern Freeway getting worse by the day and no answer from Labor. We have $3 billion committed to the East West Link which remains available— (Time expired)

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