I thank the member for Lalor for putting forward this motion. As a fellow Victorian MP, it is with great pleasure that I stand here to acknowledge and celebrate the fact that, for the first time in a decade, we have a federal government that delivers Victoria its fair share and the infrastructure that our communities need. It wasn’t too long ago that we had a Treasurer who, despite being from Victoria, was not for Victoria. As the motion says, what we saw from the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison government was a decade of neglect when it comes to Victoria. The previous Prime Minister was called the PM for Sydney—a well-deserved moniker. Not only did Victoria miss out on infrastructure funding in budget after budget but we were also left out as New South Wales got much more vaccine stock than they needed, leaving Victoria and other states short—a record of being left behind. And who can forget the rorts? Pork-barrelling as far as the eye could see, the coloured spreadsheets, the commuter car parks—finally, after a decade, it’s at an end.
The previous federal government’s lack of support for Victoria was contrasted with the substantial and ongoing commitment of the Victorian government to communities right across the state, particularly in delivering important infrastructure projects. The Victorian government, with a lack of support from Canberra, went out and did it alone. As much as having a partner in Canberra to work with together on projects over the past decade would have helped our state, the Victorian government got on with the job anyway. Over eight years, we have seen so many great projects that I know have made a great difference to the lives of Victorians, including in Jagajaga.
Every day, I drive through Rosanna and under the rail bridge that used to be a level crossing. It’s possible to forget that, just a couple of years ago, things were very different there. There was a level crossing, and people spent a lot of time sitting at those boom gates at Lower Plenty Road where now they just drive on through. Projects like the removal of the Rosanna level crossing and the building of the new train station there have made a really big change to our community. They have created a welcoming connection on either side of the railway line; there’s an excellent social enterprise cafe at the railway station there; and, as I said, time is saved from sitting at the level crossing. I’m so pleased and excited to see that the Andrews government has recently announced that the removal of the level crossing at Ruthven Street in Macleod will be the next project, and that will happen over the next couple of years. As we’ve seen in Rosanna, I’m sure the Macleod project will deliver a great outcome for the community there—not least by resolving what is another traffic pinch point and making that a space that works for the whole community.
This is the real, tangible difference that Labor governments make. We’ve seen it at a state level and, now that we have a Labor government here in Canberra to partner with the states and territories, we see it at a federal level. We see how we can maximise the opportunities that exist for us to deliver the important community infrastructure we all need.
On the topic of rail, I’m very pleased to note the contribution of $2.2 billion from the Albanese government to the Suburban Rail Loop project. This is a really big project, but Melbourne is a big city—one that is only going to keep getting bigger. The Suburban Rail Loop will help meet the needs of Melbournians, connecting rail lines and eventually linking up to the airport line. I am sure this experience is replicated across Melbourne, but, in communities like mine, people in the suburbs are looking for those connections. They are looking for the infrastructure work that makes their lives easier and makes it easier for them to get around. At the moment, Melbourne has a train system that’s very much focused on getting in and out of the city. What the Suburban Rail Loop will get us is the potential to get around the city. While the initial phase of the project is focused on the east of Melbourne, I know there is very keen interest in my community in the north-east for future plans to build new stations at Doncaster, Heidelberg, Bundoora and beyond.
People in my community are looking for governments with vision, who get things done and who make a difference in their lives. We’ve got that in Victoria with the Andrews Labor government, and now we have that for Australia with the Albanese Labor government. Our government’s first budget is just the beginning. There is still a lot of work to do to make sure we are investing in Victoria, in my community and in all Victorian communities. But I know that, in collaboration with the Victorian government, our government will get this work done.