ACCIDENT COMPENSATION AMENDMENT (REPAYMENTS AND DIVIDENDS) BILL 2012
Once again it is a joy to follow the member for Frankston and to have heard his words of wisdom about members on this side of the house and about what is happening in other jurisdictions. It was a very selective analysis of other jurisdictions, and once again, like many members on that side of the house, he was not very keen to talk about Victoria. Perhaps members of the government could show some of that albeit slightly incoherent passion and enthusiasm in talking about Victoria, because members on that side are governing this state, although you would not know it.
It does not surprise me that once again we are standing here talking about a very serious piece of legislation and a very serious policy position of this government. The Victorian people would be stunned to learn that this is what this government is about. Before the election there was no mention of ripping the absolute guts out of the most successful scheme in the country. There was no suggestion prior to the election that instead of continuing to lower premiums, as the Labor government did in its time in office, the coalition would be embarking on a crash course of raiding the most
successful scheme in the country and directly impacting on future premium reductions at a time when, through this government’s inaction and mismanagement, Victoria is going backwards in terms of job creation and backwards in terms of its standing within the Australian jurisdiction. But what has this government done? In the dead of night, without consultation with employer groups or working groups, it has raided $500 million out of this — —
Mr Wakeling interjected.
Ms GARRETT — Is the member for Ferntree Gully taking a point of order? I would not have thought so given the member for Frankston’s contribution, which was extremely wide ranging. This government is ripping the guts out of WorkCover at a time when businesses and families in this community need some vision and leadership. They do not need this government to hark back to the failed conservative policies of the past. Why should we be surprised?
Everything this government said prior to the
election — —
Honourable members interjecting.
The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Morris) — Order! The member for Brunswick will continue without assistance.
Ms GARRETT — When we look through the core range of things that state governments are supposed to be interested in and we look at what this government said prior to the election, we realise what a furphy it took to the Victorian people. It professed to care about education and said it wanted to make teachers the best paid in the country, yet it has ripped hundreds of millions of dollars out of the education budget.
It professed to care about law and order and said it was going to introduce protective services officers at every station in a timely fashion, but instead we have a Minister for Police and Emergency Services who is absolutely mired in controversy and a protective services policy that is in tatters.
The government professed to care about the environment. It did not tell the Victorian people that its first moves in that area would be to slash policies, slash programs and create an ode to dirty power stations and brown coal the minute it got in. The government professed to care about open and transparent government and said it would end the spin. We have not had a minister or the Premier properly answer a question yet. The government professed to care about fairness, and instead we have had equal opportunity going backwards in this state. Most of all it professed to care about keeping Victoria on track with job creation and looking after families. This is just one example in a long line of devastating decisions and inaction by this government.
We have heard unprecedented criticism coming from business about this government’s inaction and inactivity.
The budget was one of the most stuttering and unimaginative in the history of this state. The government doubled debt with nothing to show for it. It has created no infrastructure. Members of this government are the kings and queens of the feasibility study and the design competition, but we are yet to see any bricks and mortar generated by this government. Instead we see members of the government cutting ribbons on projects introduced by the previous government.
Members should not be surprised that today we are debating the butchering of the WorkCover scheme. Let us be honest, this bill and the action of this government are going to have a long-term impact on the capacity of WorkCover to lower premiums for businesses in this state that are already suffering because of the extraordinary lack of competence of those on the other side of the house.
It will have an impact on workers’ safety and their entitlements in the long term. It will have an impact on the preventive steps that WorkCover and WorkSafe take to ensure that we maintain the safest workplaces in this country. It is a disgrace. It has been widely condemned by business and workers. It is a short-sighted, retrograde step by this government in a long line of short-sighted and retrograde steps that in the long term are going to cost this state, cost the businesses of this state, cost the families of this state and cost the workers of this state.
The government should be ashamed, although its conduct since it got into office demonstrates it has very little shame, very little passion and very little interest in continuing to make Victoria the best state in Australia. We are going backwards under this mob. It is another step backwards. The government should be absolutely ashamed, and those in the government who should know better should be ashamed.