Top

Archive | Parliament

Sam Courtney

MR DIMOPOULOS (Oakleigh) — I would like to pay tribute to three very special individuals who passed away recently: Sam Courtney, Sheila Evans and Bill Stanhope. All were long-time members of the Labor Party, but more than that, they were great contributors to Australian society. It is people like Sam, Sheila and Bill who do not seek recognition but contribute nonetheless.

Sam Courtney was a humble man. I got to know Sam a lot in the last few years, and I very much enjoyed our chats in his home in Oakleigh Road, Carnegie. Sam, even though he climbed the heights of corporate Australia, becoming managing director of IOOF, never lost his sense of social justice and community participation. That was evidenced by his involvement in the Labor Party — he supported me, Simon Crean, Ann Barker and other Labor Party people — as well as his strong involvement in his church.

Sheila Evans

MR DIMOPOULOS (Oakleigh) — I would like to pay tribute to three very special individuals who passed away recently: Sam Courtney, Sheila Evans and Bill Stanhope. All were long-time members of the Labor Party, but more than that, they were great contributors to Australian society. It is people like Sam, Sheila and Bill who do not seek recognition but contribute nonetheless.

I first met Sheila Evans in the early 1990s, when I started working for Simon Crean, and she was always reliable and someone you could count on to help in the election. She was always a Labor stalwart.

Bill Stanhope

MR DIMOPOULOS (Oakleigh) — I would like to pay tribute to three very special individuals who passed away recently: Sam Courtney, Sheila Evans and Bill Stanhope. All were long-time members of the Labor Party, but more than that, they were great contributors to Australian society. It is people like Sam, Sheila and Bill who do not seek recognition but contribute nonetheless.

For 37 years Bill Stanhope worked for the Victorian Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, specifically dealing with poultry. He was not just a poultry breeder; he was a poultry specialist and world renowned. He was a local Oakleigh identity. The house that he was born in and that his parents built still stands in Golf Links Avenue, Oakleigh, in the heart of my electorate, and he was very proud of his family, of his grandchildren and, specifically as a Labor man, of his granddaughter’s husband, the member for Sunbury.

Four years of inaction under Liberal Government

MR DIMOPOULOS (Oakleigh) — I grieve for Victoria and for those opposite, the team that I now call the team of regret, the team that did nothing — sorry, that did very little, to be really frank; I cannot say they did nothing — in the four years they were in power. I do, however, congratulate them on personifying the word ‘no’ and the word ‘opposition’. There is not an original idea amongst them. They just oppose: ‘No, no, no, no’. They say that Tony Abbott was Dr No, but these folks take no to a new level. I have said it before, but it is worth repeating: this is the scenario of the nightly news. The Andrews government has just kicked off another achievement, and this happens almost daily. It is great for Victoria, you might think. The Premier, or a minister or another one of my colleagues on this side are out in the community meeting with people, doing a doorstop with a background, be it a level crossing removal or a new school or a hospital, and the vision is great. The TV vision is great. It is a great project. Better still, what the cameras do not capture are the aspirations that have now been met by the community we have been engaged with for many years to achieve those projects. Those conversations and those ideas — that close collaboration with community — are not captured.

Nonetheless the bells and whistles, the buildings, the shovels, the turning of the sod are all captured; it is real community stuff. Then the nightly news cuts to the opposition. Where are they? Not 50 metres from where I am standing, on the steps of Parliament, consulting with whom? Their staffers and the media. That is who they are consulting with. I mean, do these people ever get out? They venture 50 metres from their offices, they do a presser, they look angry, they walk away, they backslap — and that is their job done. Some of them do it really well, particularly the member for Hawthorn, but that is their job done.

Now, I think this is a great building — do not get me wrong — but while we make laws in this place, our ideas and our policy generation do not come from this building. Our ideas and our policy generation come from the community we serve. That is the difference between our side of politics and theirs.

We are not afraid to meet with people and get out to hear exactly what people are saying to us, even if the things they are saying to us we are not happy with or we do not necessarily agree with. What do those opposite say in the five-minute window into their lives? It is the same whingy, whiny script every night, basically, ‘No, no, no, no; we would have done it better’. As the member for Sunbury said, ‘We would have done this, we would done that’. That is what they say. But do you know what? They had four years to do better and they did not.

In all fairness though, it is very hard to compare governments. How do you compare the previous government, which did so little, with this government, which has done so much — and so much good. I have said it before, but in my community there was almost nothing for schools, very little for health and not a lot for road projects. There was an ambulance crisis in every community, including mine, and no additional police, just a recurrent police budget that was funded.

Mr J. Bull interjected.

Mr DIMOPOULOS — The member for Sunbury reminds me of the things that those opposite did to TAFE. Not only did they do very little for TAFE, but the little they did in removing the funding for TAFE was significant — in fact they gutted it.

They could not even deliver what they promised to deliver — for example, the Murrumbeena level crossing, and I will come to that in a minute.

‘Bells and whistles’ is what we should call the last government and the current opposition. They love their bells and whistles. When it comes to delivering, there is nothing. These bells and whistles are removed from little boxes tucked away somewhere in the office of the Leader of the Opposition ready for the next show pony event. As I said, we saw that with the Murrumbeena level crossing. They promised it in 2010, but come 2014, four years later, absolutely nothing had been delivered. That crossing is still there. It is only now being removed because of us. They promised Rowville rail, they promised Doncaster rail, they promised Melbourne Metro and a train to the airport. It is a pretty long list. It is not just me saying this; it is on the official record, and this is just transport. They did not promise the east–west link and yet they were more committed to that than to anything else, and they tried to ram it through at the last minute, including a sneaky side letter that we have heard a lot about in this chamber.

In my community it took them just months out from an election to commit to a project to remove four level crossings on the Dandenong line. Those opposite came to my community with their nicely polished bells and whistles, which were removed from their boxes in their leader’s office, loudly proclaiming their plan. Former Premier Denis Napthine reminded me of a town crier. He came to Carnegie station waving documents that we found out later were not even contracts. But the best thing about that event is that it was not even their idea to remove those crossings. It came as an unsolicited bid from the private sector from none other than Alan Stockdale. Does anyone remember Alan Stockdale, the Treasurer in a former Liberal government? But was it a good deal? Was it ever, but not for taxpayers! It was estimated to cost $5 billion to remove just four level crossings — —

Ms Ward interjected.

Mr DIMOPOULOS — I think we have delivered 10, member for Eltham, and those opposite were going to deliver four, which they did not, over four years at a cost of $1 million every day for 15 years billed directly to the taxpayer of Victoria. They promised this on the eve of the election. They announced the bid. They came, they saw but they did not conquer. It was too little, too late. They obviously did not conquer, because when I was driving in that area on election day in 2014 the crossing was still there, so nothing happened.

To his credit, the former Minister for Public Transport did not do what the member for Malvern did. He did not sign off on the contract; he was not sure it represented value for money, and they are his own words. Come November 2014 all those opposite had was a plan. They had no contract, no designs and no time lines.

Ms Ward interjected.

Mr DIMOPOULOS — They had a hope, as the member for Eltham said. After four long years they left us with nothing.

What do they say now? You have the former Minister for Health in the other place — and what a great job he did in stuffing up that portfolio — and the member for Higgins in the federal Parliament, when she is actually paying attention to her local community, wildly claiming that the Liberals had contracts in place and they were just a minute away from removing those level crossings in my community. Again, they are their words and they are on the Hansard record of the member for Higgins. What a load of baloney. It is in black and white, firstly in a press release from the then Minister for Public Transport on 17 October 2014, six weeks before the election, which was a Friday, a usually quiet news day. It said that the government had signed an agreement. What does ‘an agreement’ mean? It was not a contract; we know that. The press release went on to say the following, and this is the minister speaking after four years of promises and the town crier waving documents:

We expect that we will be in a position to sign contracts in mid-2015 —

way past their term of government —

subject to the evaluation processes demonstrating the project represents value for money.

Infrastructure completion is expected around 2019 subject to the outcome of the competitive tender process.

Members should read between the lines on that one. It was a press statement giving them an out. Twice they use the words ‘subject to’. In other words, it was a project that was not going to happen. It was a cover prior to an election. It did not fool Adam Carey in the Age though. In an excellent article in the Age, posted later that day, an article that I have referred to previously in this place with the headline ‘Dandenong rail upgrade in disarray’, he said:

The government’s admission that it could not commit to the project before November’s election puts in doubt a string of promised improvements to Melbourne’s busiest railway corridor …

The government and the consortium had originally sought to sign contracts for the $2 billion to $2.5 billion project by 30 September —

2014 —

but public transport minister Terry Mulder said he was not yet confident enough that every part of the project would deliver value for money for taxpayers.

But the real kicker was — and this is Adam Carey speaking — that:

The release was published on the government’s website but, unusually, was not distributed widely to journalists.

I wonder why. It was hidden under the carpet. There were no time lines, not even a proper design. Some artist’s impression was all we got with the theatrics and the bells and whistles.

I read an interesting article by Josh Gordon in the Age last week in which he said the Liberal government back then were back-ending their important work, like infrastructure projects. Others would have read the same article. Effectively it was all about political cycles and when best to actually do things to get a political benefit. That it is no way to run a government and it is definitely no way to run a state. According to the article, and I quote:

The challenge, so the thinking went, was to change the shape of the bell by extending the upswing, delaying the point at which the peak was reached, and slowing the eventual rate of decline.

In this, the former coalition government failed abysmally. If you charted its political trajectory, the bell shape would be tremendously skewed towards the start of the cycle, with a peak immediately after the 2010 election, followed by a tail of decline lasting almost four years …

That is worth repeating: a tail of decline lasting almost four years. In other words, it was a tail of decline lasting almost as long as their term of government. It would be hard to find a more apt description of members of the previous government despite all their bluster.

But I turn back to today. Not only are opposition members trying to put a stop to our nine level crossings, as the member for Geelong said, taking the government all the way to the Supreme Court, but they are also trying to stop the Melbourne Metro Tunnel. What gall! They did very little in the four years they were in government, and then when there are state transforming plans they come in here and have the audacity to question our ability to deliver a project that they could not.

Let us lay out what we are doing. We are removing nine level crossings along the Dandenong corridor, including Carnegie, Murrumbeena, Hughesdale and Clayton, and 50 across Melbourne. Ours is one of the biggest projects in Victoria’s history. That particular corridor is a $1.6 billion project. We are getting things done and we are getting them done for the community that deserves to see the completion of those projects.

There are a long list of projects that the member for Geelong and others have referred to and will refer to in their contributions. Before I mention a couple more, I want to go back to the former minister — —

Mr Katos interjected.

Mr DIMOPOULOS — We are collaborative in this place, member for South Barwon, so we talk about projects across Victoria because we feel a sense of ownership of them, as any good government should.

Not only did those opposite not do very much — in fact they said ‘no’ more than they said ‘yes’ by a ratio of 10 to 1 — but they also scared people. They spread misinformation — and that is the worst part about it. I will just refer to a couple of things in relation to the level crossing projects in my community. Mr Davis, the former Minister for Health in the other place, and others spread a selection of gossip and rumours and lies. They said we were going to get rid of three stations — Murrumbeena, Hughesdale and Carnegie — and replace them with a super-station. People were coming up to me and saying, ‘Oh, my God. You are getting rid of Hughesdale station’, and I would say, ‘Where did you get that from?’. Of course it was from Mr Davis and the Liberal Party.

Ms Ward interjected.

Mr DIMOPOULOS — Alternative facts, that is right, member for Eltham. For me, this is a big one. They also spread a rumour that we would leave the rail lines on the ground and build others up above and that would cater for a diesel train running. I said to a constituent, ‘Just remind me of the name of this project’. They said, ‘What do you mean?’. I said, ‘What’s the name of the project that we’re doing?’. They said, ‘Level crossing removal’. I said, ‘That’s right. You can’t remove a level crossing when you leave it on the ground, can you?’. That is absolute rubbish, and again it came from Mr Davis.

They just spread so much misinformation, like that it was going to be noisier, that it was going to be dirtier. One of the most bizarre ones — I do not know why this even made it onto Twitter — was that I do not live in my electorate so I do not care about it. Even if I did not live in my electorate, I would care about it because it is the electorate I represent, but I live in my electorate, and I am proud to live in my electorate. Some of the weirdest things came out. Not only were they a government that did very little but they are an opposition that does not just say no but actually spreads misinformation and lies.

The other day I went home and opened the letterbox at the house in which I live, in the electorate that I represent, and there was a DL-sized flyer. On the front it said, ‘Daniel Andrews and Steve Dimopoulos are responsible for the increase in your electricity prices’. I am Steve Dimopoulos and I am reading it, and I am thinking, ‘Wow, when was the last time I was the CEO of an energy company? In fact when was the last time I was part of a government that sold the power companies to Wall Street?’. I did not sell the power companies to Wall Street.

Honourable members interjecting.

Mr DIMOPOULOS — Your art of deflection is so sophisticated that it is breathtaking. You do things and then you completely forget about them and you almost convince yourself you did not do them. You sold the power companies and now you are blaming us for the increased prices, and we have strengthened the regulator. They on the other side are an outrageous group of people, and I am glad the electorate showed them the other side of this chamber because that is the side they belong on. I grieve for the people of my community for the four years they had to suffer under members opposite.

Bourke Street Condolence

MR DIMOPOULOS (Oakleigh) — I rise to support the condolence motion as well, and I just want to make a very brief contribution. Firstly, I express my condolences on behalf of the community that I represent to the families of the victims of this tragedy and to the victims themselves. Secondly, the Premier mentioned a mental checklist, and it was such an apt description, because I think we all go through that. I was in the car when I heard the news. I pulled over and turned up the radio, because I wondered whether I was hearing it correctly. I rang my partner, who works in the city. It was my first thought because he often has lunch in Bourke Street. He was okay, and then I went through the rest of the mental checklist.

If Melbourne is a village, then Bourke Street is really its centre. That is part of why I think it has struck such a chord, because it is a place, as others have said, that we know so well. We feel it is our main street, regardless of where we live.

The Premier also made a very valid point, as did others, that part of the way we honour the victims and those impacted by this tragedy is by taking action. I think the speed with which this government acted and the quality of those actions — within a day of this tragedy occurring — were excellent, and there will be more to come when due processes have taken place and investigations concluded.

The other way we honour them, as others have said, is by telling their stories, as we have heard here today. The young man who spoke at the vigil at Federation Square was outstanding. He told the story of Lou the taxidriver. On behalf of my community I want to put on record a thank you to all the emergency service staff — all of the paid and unpaid staff — and all of the people who were caught up in those events on that day.

In finishing my contribution I would like to add another story — a story of the mum of a friend of mine who was there that day. In concluding my contribution I will read from Nicki’s account. Nicki said:

My mother rarely goes into the city, but Friday, yesterday of all days, she decided, ‘This is a great day for yum cha’.

However, a stroll through the arcades near Bourke Street, after her meal, brought her into the midst of chaos. After hearing awful noises, bangs and screeches, she saw people running, and along with them tried to hide from what they initially thought was a gun-wielding madman. But it quickly became clear what was actually happening.

She rushed out to Bourke Street Mall, and saw the carnage and the terribly injured. A working nurse with over 40 years experience, she ran over to help the people that she could. The details are heartbreaking and she held back her tears to be strong for those around her.

She made a difference this day. She comforted injured children and adults, she witnessed and worked on those wounded but alive and she shielded those too young to confront death.

I thank God, the universe, whatever you wish to call it, that by mere minutes and the sliding doors of fate she was not hurt.

But of all days, why this day to venture into the city? I can only determine it’s because she was required to uniquely help those in need. She was one of many angels sent to do good as evil reared its ugly head in our beautiful city of Melbourne.

I’m filled with pride in how my mother was able to contribute and also crushed that she feared for her life, however fleetingly. My mother is with me but my heart is broken for the injured, those no longer with us, bystanders that witnessed the events and the families that have to pick up the pieces after this tragic and avoidable situation.

Mum —

Helen Goodman —

as hard and as crazy as the day was to reconcile, you were a light for people in need. In your hands they were in great care. You were meant to be there, and in this capacity I’m glad you were.

I think we are all glad that people like Helen Goodman were there that day.

2016/2017 Victorian Budget

MR DIMOPOULOS (Oakleigh) — To say it gives me pleasure to speak on the budget papers would be an understatement. It is the kind of budget that I really feel like doing cartwheels over and screaming about from the rooftops — not because of any sense of pride necessarily but because of a sense of deep commitment to the people that we made commitments to prior to the last election and to the people we have made commitments to since the last election. This budget delivers so much of that agenda and those commitments.

It also gives me enormous pleasure because many of those commitments relate to my community and to social policy initiatives. We have heard about a number of commitments relating to the Royal Commission into Family Violence, multicultural affairs, the LGBTI community and refugees and asylum seekers. The budget also goes to the core values that members of my community support, which are health, education and public transport. Those key areas of government service delivery, particularly state government service delivery, are very well represented in this budget.

Of course we have the huge infrastructure program and the jobs that it underpins, and the economic fundamentals of the stewardship of the Premier and the Treasurer have led us to be the fastest growing economy in Australia, having a debt which is lower than the one we inherited and having an employment rate which is higher than the one we inherited.

Deputy Speaker, it gives me pleasure to talk about some of these commitments, and if you would indulge me, I have a list. The list is 101 key achievements for our community, particularly the community that I have the absolute pleasure of representing: the electorate of Oakleigh. We are removing the level crossings at Grange Road, Carnegie; Koornang Road, Carnegie; Murrumbeena Road, Murrumbeena; and Poath Road, Hughesdale. We are removing those crossings right now. The work is going on right now, and it is very, very visible, so there is no illusion about this. There are no smoke and mirrors; this is happening as we speak. Every time I walk, drive or catch a train in my community I see that work in progress.

We are also removing the level crossings at Clayton Road, Clayton, and at Centre Road, Clayton. My good friend the member for Clarinda is very pleased about those because he has advocated for a long time for those. We are rebuilding Carnegie train station with escalators and lifts, an enhancement on the previous Carnegie station. We are rebuilding Murrumbeena train station, again with escalators and lifts. We are rebuilding Hughesdale train station with escalators and lifts, and we are rebuilding Clayton train station, again with escalators and lifts.

We are enhancing the power and signalling along the Cranbourne-Pakenham line as part of this significant project to remove nine level crossings along the line. We are creating 225 000 square metres of brand-new open space for use by the community, and right now we are giving the community an opportunity to have a say in how that space should be used and how it should be activated.

We have removed the level crossing at North Road, Ormond. I saw the member for Bentleigh a moment ago, who is a champion for that cause. We have built a brand-new train station at Ormond, which looks fantastic. I drove past it on the weekend. We have removed the level crossing at McKinnon Road, McKinnon. We have built a brand-new train station at McKinnon. We removed the level crossing — —

The DEPUTY SPEAKER — Order! The time has come for me to interrupt the proceedings of the house. The honourable member will have the call when this matter is next before the Parliament.

Business interrupted under sessional orders.

MR DIMOPOULOS (Oakleigh) — When this motion was last before the house I was referring to the actions that the government has taken in my community to keep faith with those people who elected us. I was about to talk about the fact that we have removed the level crossing at Centre Road in Bentleigh. While that crossing is in the wonderful electorate of Bentleigh with the even more wonderful member for Bentleigh, it certainly affects my community also because we are neighbouring electorates.

We also built the brand-new train station at Bentleigh. We have provided $7.6 million to create a brand-new bus interchange at Huntingdale train station, including fixing the notoriously bad car park there which has been on the front page of the local paper for the last few years. We rolled out protective services officers at Murrumbeena train station. We rolled out protective services officers at Hughesdale train station. Through the Minister for Public Transport and her department, we provided an app for real-time tracking of the route 822 bus.

Mr J. Bull — Busy government.

Mr DIMOPOULOS — We are absolutely a busy government, as the member for Sunbury reminds me. We established a world-leading public transport research centre at Monash University in partnership with that great institution in my electorate.

We are building Australia’s first ever heart hospital right here at Monash University in Clayton with a government commitment of $150 million. We are completing the Monash Children’s Hospital in Clayton, as the Minister for Health again said today in question time. We are putting back the much-needed helipad at Monash Children’s Hospital. We are putting in $14 million for the early life mental health service at the Monash Children’s Hospital, which I was fortunate to attend with the Minister for Mental Health the other month. We are building a brand-new school at Monash Children’s Hospital so sick kids do not miss out on an education, again as the Minister for Health reminded us today.

We are spending $16.5 million for a new specialist suite at the Monash hospital in Moorabbin, and the member for Bentleigh and I had a tour of that facility recently. We are spending $7.1 million to improve important water and drainage issues at Monash hospital in Clayton. We are spending $1.2 million for a major refurbishment of the Waverley ambulance station on Waverley Road, which I also had the pleasure of visiting recently. We are spending, again as the minister said today in question time, $330 million to boost elective surgery, which includes major funding for beds and equipment increases for Monash Health in my community.

We are spending $65 000 for the Monash Health’s hospital in Moorabbin to improve fetal surveillance to better monitor women and their unborn babies, $210 000 at Monash Medical Centre in Clayton for a specialist allergy centre for jumping jack ant allergies. Any kid who had a jumping jack ant allergy would have had to go to Tasmania, and that is outrageous. I had the pleasure of attending that launch with the Minister for Health a few months ago. We are providing a pilot program at the Monash hospital in Clayton so private midwives can provide birthing services in public hospitals — another election commitment that we made — and there are a couple of trial sites. We oversaw and opened the new premises of Link Health and Community in Oakleigh, and I was proud to attend that with the Premier of Victoria.

We started fixing the notorious black spot at the intersection of Grange Road and Oakleigh Road in Carnegie with the installation of traffic lights — a campaign commenced by my predecessor some years ago. We are fixing the intersection at Gardiner Road and Ferntree Gully Road in Notting Hill. We are fixing the intersection at Forster Road and Ferntree Gully Road in Mount Waverley. We are providing safety improvements at Batesford Road and Warrigal Road, Chadstone, and safety improvements at Rugby Road and Warrigal Road, Hughesdale. I was very fortunate to be allowed to make that announcement for the Minister for Public Transport on site. There was about $1 million worth of announcements in those four traffic improvements. We are increasing capacity on the Monash Freeway with more lanes and new technology for better traffic flow. Again I was at that announcement with the Minister for Roads and Road Safety and the Premier.

We are providing $5.68 million extra in student resource package funding for the 2017 school year for 11 government schools in and surrounding the electorate of Oakleigh. In the 2017 school year these 11 schools in our community will receive $50 million in funding under the student resource package collectively. We are providing $5.7 million for an upgrade at Amsleigh Park Primary School in Oakleigh, something we committed to in the 2010 election and recommitted to in 2014, and now it is underway. We are providing $10.1 million for an upgrade of Glen Eira College, and that is in full swing with hoardings up.

We are providing $4 million for a major upgrade at Carnegie Primary School, $13.4 million for the major upgrade at Bentleigh Secondary College, $2 million for Glenallen School in Glen Waverley, $290 000 to Glen Huntly Primary School to complete needed works to add to the $390 000 previously provided, $290 000 to Murrumbeena Primary School for urgent works and $160 000 to Clayton North Primary School for urgent works. We have provided funding to assist the rebranding and promotion of Mount Waverley Heights Primary School. We have provided major funding for Hughesdale Primary School to plan for future upgrades, and we have done the same for Oakleigh Primary School to plan for future upgrades. We have provided funding to ensure Oakleigh Primary School can install a new security fence and fix drainage problems which were very desperate.

We are bringing back tech schools, and I am proud to have 1 of the 10 in my community in Monash. Planning is significantly advanced in relation to that. We are providing $10 million for a rebuild of the Alexander Theatre at Monash University, an excellent resource both for the university and local schools that use the Alexander Theatre very often.

We are providing funding to Glen Huntly Primary School as part of the statewide Bully Stoppers program to develop a new curriculum and material for that very important program. We have provided funding for Sacred Heart Girls College in Oakleigh as part of that same statewide Bully Stoppers program. We are providing a breakfast club program at the Clayton North Primary School in my community in conjunction with Foodbank Victoria to make sure kids can get a healthy breakfast every morning at school.

There is over $190 000 in extra funding to 600 students under the Camps, Sports and Excursion Fund in my community; $3.5 million for Holmesglen TAFE to boost support for vulnerable students; $4.17 million to Holmesglen TAFE to get almost 1400 people skilled up for jobs in growing industries; $8 million for a new student hub at Holmesglen TAFE; $1.3 million to Holmesglen TAFE to boost important relevant training and to drive growth in apprenticeships and traineeships; $25 000 for the Brine Street, Hughesdale, kindergarten to increase its capacity, and I have had the real pleasure of visiting that fantastic kinder a few times in the last couple of years; $9000 for the Monash Children’s Centre in Clayton to refurbish the children’s bathroom; $9900 to the Monash Children’s Centre in Beddoe Avenue, another facility, for the new doors; and $500 000 for the much-needed upgrade and rebuild of the Scrammell Reserve pavilion in Oakleigh South, home to the Crushers, where I am the no. 1 ticketholder and very proud to be.

We opened the Duncan Mackinnon Pavilion upgrade in Murrumbeena with half a million dollars provided under the previous Labor government. We opened up Caulfield Racecourse for greater public use, and I was proud to be on the committee with Ken Ryan and the member for Caulfield. We provided defibrillators for Glen Eira soccer club, as part of the government’s rollout of the 1000 defibrillator program, and also defibrillators for Ormond Tennis Club and Oakleigh Bowling Club, and we have provided a community safety grant to Murrumbeena Bowls Club for new security shutters, and I went and inspected the locations for the installation of those recently.

We provided active club grants to Murrumbeena Netball Club, East Oakleigh Sports Club, Murrumbeena Bowls Club, Monash University rugby football club and Caulfield Football Club. We have provided sporting club grants to Chadstone Lacrosse Club, Emmanuel Calisthenics, Monash City junior soccer club, Murrumbeena Bowls Club and Murrumbeena Netball Club. We have provided sporting club grants to Murrumbeena Netball Club for skill development under the volunteer coaching training. We have provided sporting club grants to the Glen Eira Football Club for uniforms, Oakleigh District senior football club for uniforms and Oakleigh youth football club for uniforms.

We have boosted police numbers locally, with many more to come. The police academy in Glen Waverley, which I had the fortunate pleasure of visiting with the minister, is running at capacity, training more than 1000 new police officers. We have provided $10 000 to Notting Hill Neighbourhood House under the Living Victoria grants. We have provided funding for local festivals like Glendi and Pan Macedonian in my community. We have reviewed the Glen Eira planning scheme and the entirety of the former government’s botched installation and implementation of the residential zones, and I understand there will be more to say on that in the next few months.

We have provided $100 000 to the Monash State Emergency Service unit for the purchase of a medium rescue truck, and funding support for the Polish Community Council of Victoria’s ethnic schools. The Polish community council and I have offices in the same building. We are providing funding support to Sylogos Halkidikeon and Halkidiki for a senior support program; a $10 000 grant to the Southern Cross Recycling Group in partnership with the Monash council to prevent illegal dumping; $30 000 to the Monash Men’s Shed; $160 000 to GriefLine in Moorabbin; and an extra 40 total educators in Glen Eira and Monash, after we increased the educators-to-children ratios in kindergartens.

Acting Speaker, thank you for your indulgence. I have just read out, in this contribution and in my contribution two days ago on the budget papers, 101 actions, funding and achievements already in my community over two years — 101. It is officially on the record. I am enormously proud, not because of a sense of pride in myself but of a sense of commitment, that we promised and we are delivering to the people who elected us, and even to those who did not and will hopefully give us a go next time. With these kinds of actions in my community at the two-year mark, I look forward to making a similar contribution in another two years, or in a year’s time, to extend that 101 to a number of other needs — —

Mr J. Bull — Two hundred and two!

Mr DIMOPOULOS — Two hundred and two, the member for Sunbury says.

An honourable member interjected.

Mr DIMOPOULOS — It could be 1001, but fundamentally it is keeping faith with the community that has trusted us with the great privilege of office.

 

Waverley Gymnastics Centre

MR DIMOPOULOS (Oakleigh) — Last Thursday I joined the Minister for Sport at Oakleigh Recreation Centre to announce that the Andrews government will provide $3 million to rebuild the centre and relocate Waverley Gymnastics Centre. For the gymnastics centre alone, it will mean a facility two and a half times bigger and 1000 more opportunities a week for people to train. And it means hundreds more kids currently on the waiting list will be able to participate. Thank you very much to Monash City Council and all the team at Waverley Gymnastics, specifically Tanya Johansen, who has been tireless in the fight to make this a reality.

Duncan Mackinnon Reserve Murrumbeena

MR DIMOPOULOS — After visiting Oakleigh, we went to the Duncan Mackinnon Reserve in Murrumbeena. Along with the member for Bentleigh, I have been arguing for an upgrade to the athletic track surface here ever since the federal Liberal government cancelled the project and withdrew the funding. Our government has filled the gap, so $350 000 will go to putting in a new surface and building two more netball courts. Thanks to Glen Eira City Council and to the minister for all the time he has afforded us and for his action. He is a genuine believer in what community sports facilities contribute to people’s wellbeing.

Welcome Police Academy Graduates

MR DIMOPOULOS — On Friday what an honour it was to be with the Minister for Police at the graduation ceremony for police and protective services officers at the Victoria Police Academy in Glen Waverley. It is now no secret that this government is providing the biggest boost to police numbers in Victoria’s history — some 3135 additional police. It was a privilege to meet the new graduates. I thank them in advance for the service they will provide to Victoria in keeping us safe. And I look forward to seeing the thousands more who will be graduating from the academy in the coming years.

Wrongs Amendment (Organisational Child Abuse) Bill

MR DIMOPOULOS (Oakleigh) — It gives me pleasure to speak on the Wrongs Amendment (Organisational Child Abuse) Bill 2016 and to follow some pretty outstanding contributions. As we have heard, the bill delivers on part of the Andrews Labor government’s election commitment to implement the balance of the outstanding recommendations of the Betrayal of Trust report, and on that note I want to commend the members of Parliament who were part of the Family and Community Development Committee inquiry as well as the member for Broadmeadows for his powerful contribution.

The key amendments, as colleagues have mentioned, are that the bill creates a broad, new statutory duty of care to prevent the sexual and physical abuse of children, and it will apply to all organisations that exercise care or supervision of or authority over children by individuals associated with that organisation. Secondly, the bill ensures that this new duty will apply to all government and non-government organisations in Victoria that are capable of being sued and to associated individuals, whether they are staff, contractors, office-holders, ministers of religion or volunteers, and there are appropriate safeguards. Thirdly, in a step to protect victims, the bill reverses the onus of proof so that the organisations will have breached the new duty unless they took reasonable precautions to prevent the abuse in question, and they have to demonstrate that in a court of law.

The fourth key element to this bill is that it provides an appropriate balance between plaintiffs and defendants, especially smaller community organisations, as we have heard from colleagues, in relation to the test of reasonable precautions. That will take into account different sizes, resources and relationships between affected children and organisations. Essentially the larger state and religious organisations will have proportionately higher standards to meet than smaller community organisations, based on the test of reasonable precautions.

There are a range of things that are wrong with the current arrangements, and this is another step in a longer process of reforming the existing arrangements, particularly in relation to the ability of plaintiffs to — as I think the member for Broadmeadows mentioned — seek damages or seek some justice. There is currently uncertainty about when the duty of care arises in relation to organisational child abuse. Within the existing law of negligence it can be very difficult to make out a duty of care that encompasses the prevention of harm caused by criminal conduct.

As we have heard, Australian courts have generally been reluctant to find an organisation can ever be vicariously liable for the deliberate criminal acts of its employees. Within the law of vicarious liability there are major difficulties proving that organisational child abuse was conduct in the course of employment. In addition, the courts have not indicated a clear willingness to establish vicarious liability in circumstances outside of a strict employee-employer relationship. This is part of what the bill seeks to address, and that would make it clearer not only for the plaintiffs but also for the defendants.

I just want to pick up on something the member for Evelyn and others have said. It is in a sense a sad reflection on our society that we have to provide such a tight regulatory and statutory framework to avoid and to prevent what causes enormous pain and suffering to young children, their families and the people they love. For me, it is monumentally a failure of leadership, a failure to look after and to inform yourself, as a leader of a community or an organisation, of what is going on within your organisation. The failure in this issue extends from just that to, as we saw with a whole range of examples, criminal intent — essentially a cover up of a whole range of abuse allegations. So it is not just the abuser that is to blame here; it is actually the people who cover up for them.

I just want to read into Hansard a contribution published on Facebook on 2 December, a few days ago, by a man that I respect enormously who has been a tireless campaigner against child abuse in the Jewish community and more broadly. His name is Menachem Vorchheimer and he is a dear friend of mine. He says, and I know that he is referring to a different report here, nonetheless it is material:

Dear Friends,

The findings of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse — case study 22 — relating to Yeshivah Melbourne and Yeshiva Bondi have been released.

The report is important reading, as it contains a number of compelling lessons that we as a community need to embrace, confront and address.

Many people reading the report focus on failures in relation to child sexual abuse.

True, there were failures in relation to child sexual abuse. But the reality we need to confront as a community is much greater than child sexual abuse. In truth a total shakeup in Jewish communal leadership and thinking is required.

One of the key aspects of the findings that people may not seem to be aware of is that of honesty and truthfulness.

The report by the royal commission on numerous occasions rejects the evidence of senior members of our rabbinate and leadership. There are numerous findings to this effect, including that a certain rabbi’s statements were ‘not a true statement of his beliefs but an exercise in public relations’.

This is the point that I believe many have missed, and in the wake of the royal commission we are yet to confront.

The royal commission dealt with and appraised not just historical cases of child sexual abuse but appraised our community’s response to the issue, and the integrity and honesty of our leadership and rabbinate.

We failed on all fronts.

1.     We failed in relation to dealing with child sexual abuse at the time it occurred;

2.     we failed in our response to the issues of child sexual abuse when it became public and investigations commenced;

3.     our leadership largely failed as, the commission notes, they were more focused on protecting the reputation of individuals and institutions; and

4.     our rabbinate were found not to be credible — with their evidence often rejected.

To move forward we need introspection, not just about child sexual abuse, but also about leadership.

What does it really mean to be a leader?

He continues, and I think that is a very powerful reminder that you can have all the laws you like — and this is a very important addition to our statutory protection of children — but it is my view, and it is obviously the view of the parliamentary committee in light of its many recommendations in the Betrayal of Trust report, that there is a whole lot of lack of leadership and a whole lot of complicit people in what ended up being a travesty for a whole range of families. It occurred in many faiths and in many institutions.

I want to conclude in relation to a family in my electorate that I have talked about previously, as has my predecessor, Ann Barker, who was fantastic in terms of her work in opposition with the then Attorney-General, the member for Box Hill, who I see in the chamber now, to basically see some justice for this family and for many thousands of other families in Victoria. It was through those efforts and a lot of other people’s efforts that the inquiry that led to the Betrayal of Trust report began. I am going to read from an article by Barney Zwartz in the Age of 30 April 2013:

Child rape victim Emma Foster received $450 000 compensation from the Catholic Church when the church limit was $50 000 because she took the church to court, the Victorian inquiry into how the churches handled child sex abuse heard on Tuesday.

Peter O’Callaghan, QC, the independent commissioner for the church’s abuse system, admitted he wrote to the church’s lawyer Richard Leder about ‘flushing out the Fosters’ real intentions’ because he suspected they would use his Melbourne Response finding in court.

He also admitted going to the Fosters’ home and trying to persuade Emma to accept the church offer, saying it was because she was about to turn 18 and the legal arrangements would change.

Emma and Katie Foster were serially abused at primary school by paedophile priest Kevin O’Donnell.

That was in Oakleigh, in my community and at the church that I drive past every day when I go to work:

Emma later committed suicide, while Katie is in a wheelchair after being hit by a car.

I saw Katie on the weekend being wheeled to a cafe where she sat near to the table I was sitting at. That is the ongoing reminder of the devastation of child abuse and the lack of leadership on all fronts, whether it be in the Jewish community or whether it be in the Catholic community. I do not mean that those faith communities are inherently bad, but there are people in those faith communities who let down a generation of individuals. What we are doing here today is addressing in a statutory way elements of that, but fundamentally the culture has to change and the leadership has to change in faith and other organisations. I think these reminders, both in my community with the Foster family and in the Jewish community through my good friend Menachem Vorchheimer, should continue to remind us of the work we have yet to do in changing the culture in a range of organisations. I wish the bill a speedy passage.

Debate adjourned on motion of Ms HALFPENNY (Thomastown).

Debate adjourned until later this day.