West Gate Tunnel | Motion

Ms VAGHELA (Western Metropolitan): I too rise to speak on Ms Wooldridge’s motion on West Gate Tunnel steel. I would like to thank Mr Melhem for his contribution, and I am very pleased he has mentioned quite a few things in his contribution. I agree with what he has said. I am surprised that Mr Finn does not like the West Gate Tunnel because the constituents that I have spoken to and the people that I have spoken to in the Western Metropolitan Region cannot wait. They cannot wait for this, so I do not know which constituents Mr Finn is referring to. I have no idea. The benefits of the West Gate Tunnel—I do not know, maybe he has not read it properly, because there is a big list of those. So I was surprised. And then people say that there are no big projects in the western suburbs. Well, with a project like the West Gate Tunnel, when we are trying to put that in place the opposition does not want that and comes up with excuses. What flooding? I do not even understand the relationship of flooding to this. But anyway, I will park it for the time being. I am very proud of the commitments that were made by the Daniel Andrews government prior to the 2014 election and prior to the 2018 election, and guess what? We are getting on with our job in delivering on those commitments. The biggest commitment, in addition to the other commitments that we have made, is the transport infrastructure projects. I already spoke in my inaugural speech about removing the congestion in Western Metropolitan Region, and the West Gate Tunnel is going to help us with that. Not only will it remove congestion but it will also help in creating jobs. For this project, the West Gate Tunnel Project, we are buying Australian steel. In fact for all other transport infrastructure projects we are buying more Australian steel than ever before, and when we do that we support our local industries and we also help in creating local jobs. In fact the West Gate Tunnel Project is a project which is using more Australian steel than any other project that is currently underway in Australia. To implement that, contracts have been awarded to Australian steel suppliers for 135 000 tonnes of Australian steel. The Liberals’ record is not great when it comes to transport infrastructure projects. They did not have to talk much about Australian steel, because they did not have any projects. You can only talk about Australian steel if there are Australian projects. If there are no Australian projects, there is no need to worry about Australian steel. You can just stop there. If there are projects, what you say is, ‘Why build when you can buy from overseas?’. When the time came to buy trains, they said, ‘Why don’t we go to South Korea and buy from there?’. It is the very easy option. When we do that, not only are we not buying content which is local but we are also not creating local jobs. Because of that our apprentices, our trainees and our graduates do not get jobs, all because it was thought to be a good idea to buy trains from South Korea. But the Andrews Labor government is not going to do the same. We are going to build our high-capacity metro trains right here in Victoria, and because of that we will create 1100 local jobs. Liberal governments, instead of creating jobs, are busy wondering what they can do so that more jobs are gone. More jobs were shed in the construction industry during the Liberal government—for example, workers were laid off from Boral. What did the Liberals do at the time? They sat around. There were no projects, no jobs, no local content to talk about and no Australian steel to talk about—nothing. Now we have come to government and we are delivering, because that is what we do. That is why people voted for us. They wanted big infrastructure projects. They voted for us because we say what we are going to do and then what we do is exactly what we said we would do. Not only do those opposite not provide any big infrastructure projects, but they are very good at opposing. Every opportunity they get they will oppose. On any infrastructure project that we are building or promoting they will bring out all the tactics to make sure that they block the projects that we are running. For example, they tried to block the Melbourne Metro Tunnel, the West Gate Tunnel and also the Suburban Rail Loop. They are in opposition, so their job is to oppose. It does not matter how big the infrastructure is and what the benefits are, they just want to sit and oppose. It does not matter how many jobs we are creating. It does not matter what the benefits are of these big projects. When it comes to removing level crossings, those opposite did one thing: spread fear and misinformation in the suburbs. I do not like being stuck at level crossings. We have removed level crossings, and the commitment we have made is unparalleled. But they do not like that. The Suburban Rail Loop project, which was opposed, is Australia’s biggest ever project. It is a project that will completely transform Melbourne. But again, as I said, the opposition will oppose. That is what they will do. For the West Gate Tunnel Project, as I mentioned, the contracts for 135 000 tonnes of Australian steel have already been awarded to Australian steel suppliers, and that includes 100 per cent of reinforcing steel and stressing strand, and this will be supplied by the Australian company Liberty. This is one of the biggest single steel orders in Australian history. It has been given to Liberty and is for 127 000 tonnes. What does that say? That says we are building. For the West Gate Tunnel, contracts for pedestrian bridges have been awarded again to a local fabricator. Noise walls are being constructed with Australian milled steel. Transurban has advised of its commitment to 93 per cent local content. Mr Davis interjected. Ms VAGHELA: You are not happy with 93 per cent? Currently 3500 people are working on this project. This includes apprentices and trainees. The project helps local workers. Not only that, it also helps some people who need extra help. For example, 400 jobs will be dedicated to people who are entering the workforce—apprentices, trainees and graduates. There will be jobs for former auto workers. There will be recruitment of disadvantaged groups, and then there will be pathways for newly arrived migrants, Aboriginal people, people from refugee backgrounds and women. We are aware that a contract for steel bridge girders has been awarded to Chinese company ZPMC. We are not happy about it. We are extremely disappointed that this steel contract has not been awarded to a local provider. We will explore options so that it does not happen again, and we will put provisions in place so that there are tougher requirements in future contracts. Victoria is spending on capital projects in 2019–20 more than the federal government is spending over the next 10 years. There are so many big projects, and I am really excited about that. Because of all these big projects that we are currently working on, the Victorian steel industry is experiencing significant growth. There was a major decline because there were no infrastructure projects before. Since we have come to government there has been strong growth in the Victorian steel industry. I conclude by saying that during 2018 Victoria’s engineering construction activity increased by 26.8 per cent. It is the highest result of the Australian states. And we have shown that increase when the national rate has actually dropped by 34 per cent. I am really surprised that Ms Wooldridge has brought this motion. It is a waste of time. It should not be on this notice paper— Mr Finn interjected. Ms VAGHELA: I reject this motion because we are talking about 93 per cent, Mr Bernie Finn. Members interjecting. Ms VAGHELA: Exactly. I will reiterate once again in case you guys have not heard. During 2018 Victoria’s engineering construction activity increased by 26.8 per cent. Are you guys not happy with that? That is what I am asking over here. That is the highest result of any Australian state while there was a decline in the national average by 34 per cent. I am very happy with that result, and as a result— Ms Wooldridge: You think this is a waste of time? Ms VAGHELA: It is. It should not have been on this notice paper— A member interjected. Ms VAGHELA: Yes. And I reject this motion.