It is a great honour to become a member of Parliament and a greater honour to walk into Parliament and have the privilege of serving the people in government and to see a first budget handed down that delivers so greatly for education within our public sector, be it in early learning, primary and secondary education or even through TAFE, and to see contributions made to the public sector. I acknowledge the importance of funding the education sector, including through the independent and Catholic education systems; it is a wonderful thing.
In acknowledging that, to know that the Andrews Labor government has contributed $3.9 billion towards education in the budget that has been handed down is a great outcome for all of those students who attend the educational institutions that I have just mentioned. It is a great outcome for parents to have confidence that their children are getting the education that they deserve. It is a great outcome for the communities of those families to know that, wherever they live, they can have confidence that the education system is going to support them regardless of their postcode. It is also important because members of the Labor government believe in the public education system.
Within Southern Metropolitan Region a range of schools received funding, including schools that Labor made commitments to during the election campaign late last year. Those schools include Elwood College, which received $10 million for its rebuild and its master plan; Sandringham College, which received $2 million for its campuses; and $6.5 million for the stand-alone campus of Beaumaris, currently a campus of Sandringham College, which will begin the process of establishing a stand-alone high school.
The reason I remain proud of Labor’s contributions to schools in Sandringham and Beaumaris is that, as those who are cynical in the outside world would know, those schools operate in a very strong, very safe blue-ribbon Liberal seat. As I have said, it is important that we recognise that it does not matter where children reside or where schools are located; what matters is the fact that Labor continues to fund the public education system so that families, wherever they are, can have confidence going forward.
One of my favourite contributions to the debate on the budget was made by the member for Caulfield in the lower house, Mr Southwick, who is affectionately known by some as The Professor. Mr Southwick and I remain good friends, and he complained in his speech in relation to the budget that apparently I had written a side letter to Glen Eira College and said ‘Don’t worry. Trust me. It’ll be coming’. I think the member confuses me with the member for Malvern, because only the member for Malvern writes side letters and does side deals.
What I did say to the principal of Glen Eira College was, ‘Congratulations’. The government has funded $950 000 towards planning, towards doing the permit application, towards getting the building and architectural plans drawn and towards getting all of the requisite documentation together in order to then receive the remainder of that $9.5 million of funding — which by the way was committed to prior to the election — towards that rebuild.
Correct me if I am wrong, Acting President, but I think the member for Caulfield is confused because, yes, I remain guilty of delivering $950 000 six months into my parliamentary term to a school that was ignored by the member for Caulfield during his four years in government. In four years of government Mr Southwick ignored the people — the families and the students — of Glen Eira College.
Within six months I stand guilty as charged for delivering on an Andrews Labor government promise to fund the rebuild of Glen Eira College; I remain guilty of that. It is a shame that over the last four years Mr Southwick never lifted a finger to get a single cent put towards that rebuild. All he could do was complain in his speech to Parliament in the other place about Labor delivering stage 1 of its funding commitment to Glen Eira College.
It was a wonderful contribution. We have said that after that $950 000 is delivered — after the school’s plans are drawn and its permits are obtained — the remaining $8.5 million will follow. In fact Mr Herbert, along with Mr O’Donohue, pointed out that you just do not hand over all of the funding when nothing has needed to be funded in that process; you do it in a staged process. Why? Because that is good governance and an appropriate process. You do not hand over $10 million to a school to rebuild all of that school when the school does not even have the plans or the drawings or the architectural permits et cetera in the first instance; it has to be done in a staged process.
We look forward to delivering in future budgets the additional $8.5 million for the Glen Eira College rebuild, and I look forward to being at the school, cutting the ribbon with the Premier or the education minister and Deputy Premier — —
Mrs Peulich interjected.
Mr DALIDAKIS — I ask the member to withdraw. That was unparliamentary, Acting President.
The ACTING PRESIDENT (Mr Morris) — Order! I did not hear any particular reference there. If a member wishes to withdraw they may, but I did not hear any particular reference that was unparliamentary at that point.
Mrs Peulich — On the point of order, Acting President, it was neither a reflection on the member nor anything that I think the standing orders would preclude, but if the member finds it offensive, I withdraw; however, I stand by the sentiment.
The ACTING PRESIDENT (Mr Morris) — Order! I thank Mrs Peulich for that withdrawal.
Mr DALIDAKIS — Either it is an unreserved withdrawal or the member does not withdraw.
The ACTING PRESIDENT (Mr Morris) — Order! In terms of what occurred, I did not hear anything that was unparliamentary. I did not hear any comments. Mrs Peulich did withdraw a comment that I did not hear that may or may not have been inappropriate, so I thank Mrs Peulich for doing so.
Mr DALIDAKIS — As I was saying, the Andrews Labor government has contributed a wonderful education budget in the first year of its first term of government, and long may it continue, because there is no greater ability for us to influence the lives of future generations of people leading and actively participating in our community than obviously through the education system.
Over the last four years the education system, specifically the TAFE sector, was absolutely savaged. To repair the damage and put money back into public education in this budget is a very important and noble goal and one that the Labor Party and this government, under Premier Daniel Andrews, remains absolutely committed to.
We in the government are undertaking a range of other activities in the Southern Metropolitan Region through the budget, including the removal of level crossings. We went to the election with a policy of removing our 50 most congested and dangerous level crossings. We said we would do 20 in the first term, with the remaining 30 to follow. We said that if we could do more than 20 in the first term, we certainly would, but that was our commitment. In the budget we delivered in May, the Treasurer announced funding for a great number of these level crossings.
Nine have been funded on the Cranbourne-Pakenham line, including a number within the Southern Metropolitan Region. I am talking about the stations at Koornang Road, Poath Rd and Murrumbeena Road. I am also talking about the crossing at Grange Road, which is just near Dandenong Road and causes a huge amount of congestion and difficulty for people as they go about their business. We have provided funding for other level crossings in the region as well, including the Burke Road level crossing, which is going ahead. Three stations very close to me — Ormond, McKinnon and Bentleigh stations — are all being rebuilt. Just recently the Minister for Public Transport and the Premier made an announcement about the successful contractor in the tender process for those three projects, with Burke Road being the fourth.
We are getting on with the job. Why can we get on with the job? Because the Treasurer delivered a great budget for all Victorians. We have found that at some of those level crossings the boom gates have been down for between 28 and 42 per cent of the peak time — a significant amount of time. This impedes people from going about their business. It is extremely inefficient for the local economy. It is extremely troubling for local residents trying to go about their daily business. Unfortunately, level crossings can contribute to a range of other tragic circumstances, such as suicides and the like. Being able to remove these level crossings has a great many social consequences and benefits, not just economic ones, and it is important to note that.
We in the government are going forward with a great number of education and public transport announcements. I do not have enough time to highlight every single aspect of the budget I support — for example, the provision of funding to the health sector for a range of equipment upgrades, capital injections and the Monash heart hospital as well. There is a whole range of funding and programs for hospitals in my electorate, which includes the Alfred, which does a wonderful job, and Monash Health’s Moorabbin Hospital. You can start to see that we are not just about education. This was a great education budget, but we are about so much more.
Mr Herbert — Biggest in our state’s history.
Mr DALIDAKIS — Biggest in our state’s history. We are repairing the damage that was done in the TAFE sector. As I said, we are helping to rebuild those primary and secondary schools within my electorate of Southern Metropolitan Region. That will allow us to give children an opportunity to grow. That is very important.
Acting President, I note that in your past life you were a teacher, and I have no doubt that you welcome the investment in both the public and the private sectors, which acknowledges that parents have a choice. If parents cannot afford to pay for private education, they need to know their children are not going to be discriminated against within the public system. That is why we are investing such significant amounts in early learning, primary schools and secondary schools going forward.
Long may I be a member of this chamber. Long may I be a member for Southern Metropolitan Region. Long may the member for Caulfield in the Assembly continue to get cranky that we are delivering money for schools that he never delivered for.