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Friends, I would like acknowledge the traditional owners of this land, I pay my respects to elders past, present and emerging.
And alongside those words of respect, I want to acknowledge everything the Andrews Government has done, working with First Nations people, to achieve a better and more equal deal here in Victoria.
It’s remarkable really, the reforms that have been undertaken, from community housing to Australia’s First treaty legislation: through the parliament, on the books and into law.
And that’s really the pattern in Victoria, under Dan Andrews’ leadership: first in the nation, leading the way.
Leading the way on reducing family violence.
Leading the way on mental health – and I want to congratulate the Victorian Government, leading again on the Royal Commission they’ve announced this week. Well done.
Leading the way on the funding and building of public transport – in our city and in the regions.
Leading the way on job creation – you are the fastest growing economy in the nation.
And – of course – leading the way in education.
That’s particularly important to me. Mum was a teacher. She taught in the bush – in Orbost – and in Collingwood and in Balwyn. And then she taught right here at Monash, for many years in the education faculty.
In fact, she also studied law here as a mature age student. It was the same year I started my law course at Clayton.
Now, I enjoyed my first year – meanwhile, Mum won the Supreme Court prize.
But before all that, my twin brother and I actually went to kindergarten here, while Mum was working.
And back at that same kindergarten, 47 years later, last month – I was really proud to stand alongside Dan Andrews and Jenny Mikakos to announce that Labor - State and Federal - are backing universal access to preschool for every three year old and four year old.
So this means that every child, regardless of their postcode or their parents’ wealth, just gets the best start in life.
We do this because in the Labor Party we know education doesn’t just open doors, it doesn’t just lift people out of disadvantage - we know education is fundamental to a strong, productive and growing economy and society.
This is why Dan Andrews and James Merlino have truly made Victoria the Education State.
And if our country is going to win in Asia and succeed in the world, if we’re going to create decent jobs and secure new opportunities for our kids - then we need to take the Victorian vision and make Australia the Education Nation. And we will.
Now, I explained that I went to university here - but I actually grew up just down the road, down Dandenong Road in Murrumbeena, Hughesdale.
I can remember, from a very young age, sitting behind Mum in the Corolla, stuck again at the level crossings on Poath Road, or at Neerim Road.
Thanks to your Labor Government, those boom gates are gone, Hughesdale is on its way to a brand new station and pretty soon there’s going to be new parks and public spaces right along the Cranbourne line.
Or in the North-West, where I live now, traffic used to build-up at the St Albans level crossing every day.
On too many tragic occasions, it cost people their lives.
But now there’s a state-of-the-art new station in its place, Main road and Furlong road are flowing as they always should have been.
This is the same story that’s repeated at another 27 level crossings around the suburbs.
And hasn’t Dan done a great job – not only removing them as promised, but ahead of schedule.
And this is also the story of Melbourne Metro, an underground rail network worthy of a great world city like ours.
It will be the story of the Tulla Rail Link as well.
And most excitingly, it will be the story of the new Suburban Rail Loop.
Dare I say it, the new Suburban Rail Loop is the Holy Grail of public transport in Melbourne.
I’m a Melbourne boy, raised here. But this 90 kilometres of new track connecting the northern and eastern suburbs, joining-up the airport, universities, TAFE and hospitals –
Did you know the Victorian Colonial Government first started work on a ring railway in Melbourne between 1890 and 1893?
It actually ran between Oakleigh and Camberwell. There’s still land cleared for the then railway. It closed in 1893.
And in the 120 years since, it’s been nothing but a dotted line on a map and a conversation topic.
Every single government since Federation has talked about an outer railway.
Every government talks about easing congestion, every government talks about upgrading public transport.
But only the Andrews Labor Government has got on and started to do it.
And I’m pleased to say that if I’m elected Prime Minister, my government will put in an additional $300 million to help the Andrews Government get started on the Suburban Rail Loop.
Now, friends, I have to admit that I haven’t been closely following all the ins-and-outs of the Victorian Liberals over the past four years.
I mean, you can only read so many articles about Lobsters and Mobsters before it all gets a bit Godfather III.
But I did see that during the week they’ve unveiled their new slogan:
“Get Back in Control”.
I mean, I wondered if they were trying to send a message to their mates in Canberra.
Maybe they thought if they projected ‘Get Back in Control’ onto the Opera House, Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton and the rest of them might take the hint.
If that’s what they’re hoping for - they’re going to need a much bigger billboard.
But I did notice the other day, when I saw a few of them standing in front of their brand new signage, they actually blocked out the bit that says “In control”.
So instead, it just says “Get Back.”
Like a warning sign.
And it really is a warning sign, to all Victorians.
But the real worry with the Liberals is not Getting Back, it’s Going Back.
- Going back to higher unemployment.
- Going back to cuts to schools and TAFE and apprenticeships.
- Going back to town planning dictated by greed, not need.
- Going back to overcrowded trains and gridlocked roads.
- Going back to a party that takes the regions for granted and lets infrastructure in the suburbs fall into decay.
In the past four years, under Dan Andrews’ leadership, Victoria has come too far and achieved too much to risk going back.
You know, I was thinking to myself on the way here about election night 2014.
And there was a lot of talk that night – from me included – about how all of you in Victorian Labor made history.
But I thought, as I was driving here, that when you look back on it, it wasn’t winning the election that was the historic part – although that was amazing.
The historic part is actually what Victorian Labor and the Andrews Government have done with the victory.
The historic part is how you have filled the four years that have followed that remarkable night.
It’s the change you have brought into people’s lives, right around Victoria.
- It’s the child in the regions learning in a state-of-the-art classroom
- It’s the apprentice who can get a start.
- It’s the community revitalised by new jobs.
- It’s the suburbs transformed by great infrastructure.
This why you do what you do. It’s why John Cain did it, it’s why Steve Bracks did it, it’s why you’re seeking re-election.
For the difference you can make in the lives of your fellow Victorians.
For the chance to carry-on building a better Victoria.
Between now and election day, Victorians will have a choice.
A choice between a Liberal Party that wants to send this state to the back of the national pack.
A Liberal Party that wants to cut and unwind and undo all the progress and success that Victoria has made.
Or the choice of a Labor Government and a Labor Premier who will keep this great state leading the nation.
We’ve made our choice, and now we need to make the case to our fellow Victorians.
So I ask, in the days and weeks ahead:
- Knock on doors
- Make phone calls
- Start the conversations
Get out there and help re-elect Dan Andrews and his great Labor Government.
Thank you very much.