Kim O’KEEFFE (Shepparton) (16:17): I rise to speak on the Victorian Future Fund Bill 2023. As we know, the purpose of the bill is to establish the Victorian Future Fund as a trust account under the Financial Management Act 1994. We do not oppose this bill. This bill is about financial management and responsibility, and the framework and structure that is put in place and how that will operate. I take note and emphasise in part 2 of the bill clause 5(2), which provides that:
The purpose of the Victorian Future Fund is to provide funding for reducing the State’s debt …
and we know that aligns with COVID. We do know that communities did appreciate the support and funding; however, the people of Victoria are very, very concerned about our current debt. Victoria is broke, with state debt projected to climb to $171.4 billion by 2026–27 and interest payments to more than double to $22 million a day. Victorians are going to be paying more and getting less.
The Andrews Labor government have wasted $30.7 billion on cost blowouts and financial mismanagement, and when our government borrows money, it means 6.8 million Victorians are left with that bill to pay back the borrowings. That is currently over $10 million per day of interest, which we know will continue to grow. We could do a lot with $10 million a day. Victorians are already paying the highest taxes in Australia: $5638 per person. Since Labor was elected nine years ago, Victoria’s tax debt is set to double. The consequence of this debt is that life is getting harder for regional Victorians under this government and its financial mismanagement of this state. We were told that there would be no new taxes. We have 50 new taxes – more taxes, more charges and yet more debt – Labor’s school tax, rent tax, job tax and Labor debt tax. If you are looking at buying a new home and land package, you will be paying more because developers will be paying more tax.
What have Victorians got out of this government’s debt-fuelled spending? We have a health system with more than 79,000 Victorians who are waiting for elective surgery and ambulance systems that cannot cope with demand levels, hospitals like GV Health that are not fully funded to complete the final stage of redevelopment, a housing crisis and a record high of 70,000 Victorians who are waiting to put a roof over their head, costs of living where it is a daily struggle just to put food on the table and infrastructure projects that are not funded, like the Shepparton bypass, a project that was acknowledged as a significant project to progress the region.
Why should we be left behind because of the financial mismanagement of this government? The financial mismanagement of this government means the roads will continue to be unsafe and decay further, with maintenance funding slashed by 45 per cent since 2020, down from $702.2 million to just $441.6 million in the last year alone. Why doesn’t the government see the consequences the state is experiencing from the lack of investment in roads? Every single day we are putting people’s lives at risk, yet what we get is a reduction in funding. We have had flood-affected roads during the floods and we have had so much impact from COVID, so once again this future fund bill will be well supported within our communities. But what we want instead of more waste, higher debt and new taxes is a real plan to ease the cost-of-living pressures, and that starts with responsible economic management from the government. This is public money, and we are going backwards. Victorians deserve better and expect better.