Jobs for Victoria — Premier’s Speech

I begin by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the land on which we meet, and pay my respects to their Elders past and present.

I’m very proud to say that Victoria is taking the first steps towards self-determination.

We do so, because if we are to see any genuine change, Aboriginal Victorians must have control over the decisions that affect their lives.

We’re only at the beginning of this journey – we have a long road ahead of us – but we’re determined to see it through.

You’ve just heard from the Treasurer about our current numbers. About our strong economic position.

I’ll be speaking about what comes next – about where we want to be in the months and years to come.

But first, I’d like to acknowledge everyone who has tuned in via live stream, and the people who have travelled to be here.

I know that Justin Giddings, CEO of Avalon Airport, has come in from Geelong this morning. Where are you Justin? Welcome.

I’d like to tell you the story of Justin’s journey into Melbourne this morning.

I do so, because it paints a picture of the Victoria we’re building.

This morning Justin would have jumped in the car – no doubt there’s a Cats scarf somewhere on the backseat.

He could have got the train of course, with the 54 extra services we’ve put on as part of this year’s budget.

But let’s just say he jumped in the car, and drove down Fenwick Street, taking him past Gordon TAFE.

Thanks to our $10 million rejuvenation, Gordon will soon have a new library, student hub, labs and equipment.

It’s an investment in the people of Geelong, and a vote of confidence in the city’s future.

He’d also pass the site of Geelong’s new Tech School, one of ten being built across the state as part of our $125 million Tech School initiative.

Combining TAFE and university, it will give local high school students a comprehensive jump-start on their future careers.

Merging on to Princes Highway, Justin will pass Ford.

Ford has had a presence in Geelong since 1925, and in October, 350 workers will walk out the gates for the last time.

I won’t sugarcoat it. It’ll be a tough time for those workers and for Geelong in general – it’s the end of an era.

But it’s by no means the end of Victoria’s automotive industry or the end of manufacturing in this state – far from it.

Because if Justin were to take the long way around, he’d also drive past Deakin’s Waurn Ponds campus, where Carbon Revolution is manufacturing carbon fibre wheels to supply Ford USA for the new Shelby Mustang.

I believe Jake Dingle, CEO of Carbon Revolution, is with us today. Welcome Jake.

Now Justin is back on the Princes Highway and already, he’ll have passed ten schools that we’re spending $35.6 million to upgrade.

But you can be sure he’ll pass even more – because we are investing $1.8 billion to modernise schools across the state.

On our right is Avalon airport: Justin’s second home.

Here, Jetstar will continue to operate until at least 2025 thanks to a great deal we did back on 2015 – and with a further $1.5 million investment I announced last week, it will also be home to a new industrial precinct.

We’ve invested more than $70 million upgrading the roads in and around the precinct to provide better connections to jobs, schools and public transport.

Because Justin is now entering the heart of our growth areas, where we’re building playgrounds, community centres and sporting grounds through the Growing Suburbs Fund.

We’ve tipped in another $50 million this year,  on top of the $50 million we put in last year.

Continuing through Laverton, he’ll pass Aviation Road,  home to one of the most congested and dangerous level crossings in Victoria: soon it will be gone, along with 49 others.

Justin will also cross the Werribee line.

Thanks to the Regional Rail Link, over the last 12 months, punctuality has improved to above 90 per cent. And thanks to the work we’re doing now, capacity will improve by a further 20 per cent.

As he drives up the West Gate Bridge, Justin overtakes a truck that won’t be there in just a few years’ time.

Because by then, that truck will be in the Western Distributor tunnel and heading over Melbourne’s long-overdue second river crossing.

As well as cutting travel time by 20 minutes, the Western Distributor will create 5,600 jobs during construction.

On the way down the West Gate Bridge, right of Fisherman’s Bend, advanced manufacturing, defence and other future industries are making their mark.

And up Southbank Boulevard, Justin can see our renowned arts precinct, including the NGV, which will host an exhibition of master works from New York’s MOMA in 2018.

A left onto St Kilda Road and across Princes Bridge, is the site of the Metro Tunnel’s CBD South Station –

One of five new underground stations, it’s part of our plan to free up space in the Loop so we can run more trains in and out of the city.

A few Melbourne hook turns later and we’re here in Australia’s number one conference centre – another proud Labor project.

I use Justin’s trip today, because it illustrates so clearly the transformation of our state.

The population growth. The rapid expansion. The changing economy.

Of course Victoria doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

The world around us is changing too.

And we constantly hear about the need for a new approach.

It’s a point the Prime Minister made in his CEDA address last week.

(I know the last thing you were expecting me to do was quote Malcolm Turnbull, but he did have some very nice words).

He said: “The times in which we live are ones of economic change unprecedented in both its scale and pace.

“In these times of challenge and opportunity, we need a clear economic plan to secure our future.”

He’s absolutely right. We do need a plan.

When it came to elucidating what that plan might be, we were all on the edge of our seats.

But unfortunately there was nothing.

Just the same old platitudes. The same tired ideas.

But it’s time for more than just fiddling. We need reform.

 

It’s been more than fifty years since Donald Horne’s The Lucky Country was published.

Rather than the rose-colored narrative the title might suggest, it was a call to action.

Australia, he argued, was indeed a lucky country.

We were successful, prosperous.

But with a blinkered outlook and an insular economy, it was success we had failed to earn.

And our luck, he wrote, was running out.

It was a piece that helped shake this nation out of its complacency.

And it began a necessary national conversation about industry, internationalism and our economy.

Of course, during the powerhouse years of the Hawke and Keating Governments, many of these issues were put to bed.

Deregulating our economy, modernising industry and reforming the tax system, Hawke and Keating gave us the open, competitive economy we have today.

It was much needed reform, and its underpinned much of Australia’s success since.

But now, thirty years on, it’s time we revisited.

Complacency is settling in again, and it’s time for another shake up.

After all, three decades on, our world is different.

We’ve seen the rise of Asia. The winding down of the mining boom.

And, of course, the Global Financial Crisis.

Events that continue to shape our economic outlook.

And events that require us to reassess the status quo.

That means examining the relationship between the market and government, between public and private.

And being willing to reconsider one of the beliefs core to the free market model – strict adherence to a hands-off government.

Now, I know that Government doesn’t create every job.

It doesn’t even create most jobs.

You out there in private industry do that.

But to create jobs, the private sector needs to have a willing partner in government.

A government that listens, that’s open to proposals, and that’s prepared to act.

Rather than short-term tinkering on the margins, governments need to be willing to roll up their sleeves and get to work.

Because 150,000 new jobs don’t just appear out of the ether.

And companies like David Jones don’t just relocate here – and the likes of GoPro and Uniqlo don’t just establish headquarters here –by chance.

It requires a government that’s willing to use the economic levers it has at its disposal.

Because when major economies have zero interest rates, there are limits on how much we can rely on the RBA to stimulate our economy and get us through uncertain times.

In short: we need to put fiscal and industry policy back on the agenda.

We saw what it could achieve during the global recession.

And as we continue to face uncertainty, our balance sheets should be put to work to shape our economy.As Justin’s journey demonstrates, that work is underway.

We’ve increased our average infrastructure spend to $7.4 billion per year over the forward estimates.

It’s the biggest build in Victoria’s history.

Just to give you some context, our annual capital expenditure is now four times more than it was in the 90s.

We’re investing an extra $1.8 billion for school infrastructure.

And this financial year alone, we’ll deliver an extra $2.45 billion for health care to treat more patients than ever, including $817 million to build new hospitals and ambulance stations and equip them with the latest technology.

Now, I don’t want to be partisan – it’s not what today is about.

But for some time, there’s been calls for us to “do more” in responding to our population increase.

It’s true we’re dealing with a backlog – because our predecessors just didn’t do much.

I’ll give you just one example: this year, not one new school will open in Victoria. Not one.

Now that’s good news for Fleetwood BRB in Bendigo who build portables for us.

They’re a great company and they do great work.

But complaining once you’re out of government, when you did nothing while you had the chance… well, that’s just talk.

Every day in office is a gift. Every day is an opportunity and an obligation to get things done.

That’s our culture and that’s our record.

It’s why we’re determined to get on with delivering projects that will drive efficiency across our state.

Projects like Melbourne’s new Metro Tunnel, the Western Distributor, the Monash Freeways upgrade, the Mernda, Hurstbridge and Ballarat line upgrades and the removal of fifty of Victoria’s most dangerous level crossings.

And today I can make a series of announcements that show we’re not wasting a single minute getting it done.

Firstly, only Australia’s biggest infrastructure project: the Metro Tunnel. A project that governments have spoken about for more than a decade.

Well, we’re not just talking about it. We’re getting it done

Major excavation in the centre of Melbourne will begin in the first quarter of next year.

And on our plan to widen and improve the Monash – it’s a road I use every day – today I can announce that construction will begin next month.

Again, not just talking about improving it – but actually improving it.

At the same time as we build our state, we’re investing in our people too.

Our transport infrastructure build alone will create 15,000 jobs.

The level crossing removals – we’re making sure that 100 per cent of the steel used is made by local industry.

We’ve committed that at least 10 per cent of the work on our state-shaping projects will be undertaken by apprentices, trainees or cadets.

After only six months, it’s created 400 positions.

It reflects our broader approach to skills.

Following the Mackenzie Review into VET funding, work by our Skills Commissioner and feedback from thousands of employers, we have a pretty good idea about what is and isn’t working.

We’ll have more to say about a whole raft of reforms in training tomorrow – but what is clear is that students, industries and employers deserve confidence in our training system.

So today, I’m announcing that from next year, a new list of government funded courses will be developed in consultation with industry.

Courses that lead to the jobs we want, and the skills employers need.

So that students don’t waste their time or money on training that doesn’t lead to employment.

And that only high quality training providers receive tax payers’ money.

All delivered in partnership with industry.

All delivered by a government that isn’t afraid to put its foot on the accelerator.

And it doesn’t stop there.

Through our $200 million Future Industries Fund we’re honing in on priority sectors – the industries with the potential for huge growth.

Each of them have a clear strategy in place to help develop capabilities, commercialize new products and capture new markets.

We’ve established the Premier’s Jobs and Investment Panel, bringing together Victoria’s brightest business minds, to provide advice on industry and economic growth.

(I’d to thank the members in the room for their work, particularly in developing the Building Blocks for our economy – there’s a copy in your pack).

The Murray Basin Rail Project – we’re upgrading rail freight lines to improve connections between primary producers and the state’s ports.

The sleepers are being laid as we speak.

And it wasn’t done for political purposes – the North West is hardly Labor heartland.

We did it because it was good our economy and good for our state.

It’s the same with our dairy industry response package.

In conjunction with industry, we created an $11.4 million package for affected dairy farmers.

I could use our investments in drought relief and water infrastructure to make the same point.

Put simply: we’re offering more than just a sympathetic ear – we are investing to secure jobs and livelihoods.

Now, a strict ideologue would turn their nose up at each of these interventions.

But we’re not in this to win their approval.

If Victoria’s prosperity requires leaving behind the orthodoxies we’ve outgrown, then we’ll to do it.

After all: Victorians don’t care about obeying archaic economic rules: they rightfully expect their governments to deliver.

They want Victoria to be open minded and outward facing.

It’s part of who we are.

It’s why we’re the World’s Most Liveable City – six times in a row.

Our nation’s cultural, sporting and events capital.

Home to thriving and energetic regions.

Proudly multicultural.

The envy of the nation when it comes to tourism, education and research.

And leading the pack in economic and population growth.

Victoria is back to doing what we do best – leading our nation in equality
and innovation.

From renewable energy to real action on family violence. From LGBTI law reform to medicinal cannabis.

Victoria is, without question, the progressive capital of our nation.

Innovative, creative and smart: those are qualities we’ve always possessed.

But now they’re core to our identity.

Being Victorian means something again.

And through our new ad campaign, we’ll show that to the world.

It’s an aggressive campaign – our biggest marketing spend – and we make no apologies for it.

Because we want Victoria to be Australia’s gateway for trade and investment.

That means being the place of choice for businesses, investors, skilled migrants, visitors and students from around the globe.

It’s why we created Visit Victoria, Trade and Investment Victoria, Jobs Victoria –it’s why we reorganised government to bring back a much-needed sense of urgency.

Between now and the end of the year, we expect to have created over 2,200  jobs directly through our facilitation.

But as you know, it’s not enough to have a great product – you need to market yourselves to stand out from the crowd.

That’s exactly what this campaign does: it’s bringing the world’s attention to Victoria.

It will encourage investment,  grow exports, create more jobs for Victorians and more opportunities for Victorian business.

It will establish Victoria as The State of Momentum.

As you can see, we have a great story to tell and through this campaign – we’re telling it.

These advertisements will run in major Australian newspapers, magazines and across a breadth of digital channels.

Then we’ll then be taking the campaign to key international markets.

It’s about telling the world your story.

Because Victorian businesses are doing amazing things.

Each and every one of you in this room are doing amazing things.

Creating jobs. Leading industry. Being innovative, creative, smart.

And we want to hear about it.

Today marks the moment we shift to a more confident, bold and ambitious Victorian economy.

Because good, active governments – in partnership with industry – can do more than just shape policy. We can shape our future.

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