17 October 2018

Speech in Parliament: Labor’s rail fail

I am delighted to rise and celebrate Matthew Guy and the Victorian Liberal’s bold vision to transform regional rail services in Victoria. This is an incredible plan. High-speed rail for all of regional Victoria: a 32-minute service from Geelong to Melbourne, a 45-minute service from Ballarat, a 70-minute service from Bendigo, a 117-minute service from Shepparton to Melbourne, and a 62-minute service from Traralgon to Melbourne. The state Liberal’s plan to deliver a fast train will mean a 32-minute service between Geelong and Melbourne. This is a game-changing investment which builds on the very strong work the Morrison government has done to demonstrate a rock-solid commitment to improving passenger and freight rail services in regional and suburban Victoria, including in Geelong and across the Corangamite electorate.

Of course, in the Geelong region, we’re also getting metro rail under the state Liberal’s plan, which is so incredibly exciting. That includes a service from Colac directly to Bannockburn and a reopening of the line between Waurn Ponds and Werribee. What a shame that the member for Lalor, who’s here in the chamber, does not support this plan. Under her watch, the Labor Party has shut down the Werribee line and has absolutely abandoned the Regional Rail Link, which had many failings.

This incredible package is so exciting and transformational for Victoria. Our commitment is very well-known. I’ve been speaking about rail for a very long time as the local member in Corangamite, and we very proudly have delivered $254 million for the Warrnambool to Geelong rail line. That includes $150 million to duplicate the track between South Geelong and Waurn Ponds, as well as to upgrade second platforms at Waurn Ponds, Marshall and South Geelong.

What’s incredible is, in the last four years, in all of that time, all we have seen from state Labor is an initial tranche of only $20 million. This Labor government—led by Daniel Andrews and with poor local Labor members like Lisa Neville, John Eren and Christine Couzens—has delivered no other budgeted funding to upgrade our local rail services, and that is simply unacceptable.

Commuters in Geelong and across Corangamite understand that the Regional Rail Link has become a disaster. Many of these services during peak hour are now slower than services which were offered in the 1950s. It is an absolute disgrace. I’ve been calling on Daniel Andrews and state Labor to fix the Regional Rail Link and our services ever since I was elected. It is incredible that all we have got from Labor is an election commitment of 20 per cent funding—an election commitment only; nothing in their budget. I was absolutely blown away. I thought that Daniel Andrews would have a huge slab of investment in the last state budget, but there was absolutely nothing.

And, of course, we’ve now seen the farce of today’s announcement. We know this is a farce. I refer to a report, hot off the press, on the Geelong Advertiser website. The Geelong Advertiser got hold of a leaked document from Transport for Victoria—which is a statutory body responsible for planning the state’s transport systems. This document, dated 14 August 2018, suggests that ‘the Andrews government was not planning to deliver any upgrades needed for fast rail for Geelong until at least 2025’. There has been no talk of the plan that he announced today, because it’s not a plan. It’s a cobbled together, desperate measure from a state Labor government that has totally failed the people of Geelong, the people of South Barwon, the people of the Bellarine, the people of Corangamite and all people living in regional Victoria.

It is quite ironic that two weeks ago Labor attacked Matthew Guy’s fully-funded plan for high-speed regional rail throughout Victoria, and now we have seen Labor announcing a half-baked, panic alternative with no money for construction for at least four years.

The member for Lalor said that it has got me upset. Absolutely. What a shame the member for Lalor is not upset. I am desperately upset, because I think it’s an absolute abomination that this state Labor government has deserted the people of Geelong and Corangamite, Member for Lalor, on the biggest infrastructure project in our state. It is a disgrace.

The choice could not be clearer: under Labor there will be four years of talking about high-speed rail; under the Liberal-Nationals there will be four years of building it. After four years, if Matthew Guy and the Liberals are voted in on 24 November, we will deliver a service that the people of Geelong and Corangamite deserve. What we have seen today from Daniel Andrews is a C-grade plan by a D-grade government. The only thing for sure out of that is a massive tax bill for Victorian families. The Liberal-National commitment in Victoria is $19 billion. That’s the sort of commitment we want and we deserve.

Do you know what Daniel Andrews has committed today? He made an election commitment of $147 million to complete 20 per cent of 11 kilometres of duplicated track. But, today, to deliver fast rail between Geelong and Melbourne, he has only committed $100 million. The whole thing is a joke. As we’ve seen, the only thing that is in this plan for the foreseeable future is the Geelong rail duplication project. It is an absolute joke. To put $100 million as a pathetic, paltry election commitment, with zero dollars in state Labor’s budget in May of this year, shows that this Labor government does not deserve another go. It has let down Victorians on so many levels. We are suffering incredibly badly from the fact that Daniel Andrews ripped up a contract, costing Victorians more than $1 billion not to build the East West Link. That is an absolute disgrace. It is so tough. It used to take an hour to travel from Geelong to Melbourne by car in peak hour. Now, if you are lucky, you’ll get there within two hours. It is an absolute disgrace.

As I say, this is an incredible commitment from Matthew Guy. This demonstrates—through the Liberal shadow transport minister, David Davis, who I hope will become the transport minister in Victoria—that an incredible amount of work has gone into this plan. It is exciting. It is visionary. At the election, Victorians will have a choice: more taxes under Daniel Andrews and Labor, or they can vote for a Liberal-National government which will get the budget, the economy and the population growth back in control.

What has Labor done in four years to manage our population? It’s done absolutely nothing. It has not provided the infrastructure we need in either roads or rail. We in the country are hurting. We in the country deserve the same respect as those who live in metropolitan Melbourne. In metropolitan Melbourne, in all of the Labor seats that Daniel Andrews wants to shore up at the coming election, they are getting Metro Melbourne. There is a massive amount of money and, I have to say, a significant amount of waste going into Metro Melbourne. There is a huge budget blowout with their level crossing program upgrade, and yet you’ve got level crossings right across regional Victoria that are being ignored.

The choice is stark and it is clear. A vote for the Victorian Liberals and Nationals on 24 November is a vote for this incredible investment in fast rail for our region. For Geelong commuters, this will be delivered within four years. I say to Daniel Andrews: I condemn this Labor government. I condemn this pathetic, scrambling attempt to try and recover from a situation where this Labor state government in Victoria has completely turned its back on the biggest infrastructure need in regional Victoria. I condemn Daniel Andrews and I say to all Victorians: please back Matthew Guy, back the Liberals, back the Nationals and vote Liberal-National on 24 November.

16 October 2018