Adress-in-reply

Ms GRALEY (Narre Warren South) — I was reminded by the shambolic exhibition by opposition members during question time today of why they lost the 2014 election. I must say that I did love election day 2014. George Bernard Shaw once said that an election is ‘a mud bath for every soul concerned in it’. I think that anybody who goes through an election can attest to feeling a little dirtied by the experience but at the same time being really uplifted by the amazing experience of democracy in action. I never tire of seeing newly arrived migrants in my electorate voting for the very first time and the thrill and pride they have in participating in the great democracy we have in Victoria.

I recall, too, the brilliance of winning my seat for the third time and then very soon after that result being told that we had won government. Paul Keating referred to the sweetest victory of all — an experience without comparison. I can say that on the night of 29 November it was truly a thrill to get those results. It was more than excitement, exhilaration and expectation. It was a relief, because it was good riddance to a government whose members had been lazy and crazy. People knew it and they said, ‘Thankfully we can get rid of them’. I say to every Victorian who voted for the Labor Party: thank you. Those votes got rid of a Liberal-Nationals coalition government whose members began their term by launching a coup against the state’s chief law officer. Along the way they sacked a Premier and they finished with a porn scandal in the Premier’s own office. As our slogan said — and this gelled with the people in my electorate — Victorians deserve better.

So Victorians quite rightly turfed out Geoff Shaw and have given Frankston a chance to be proud of what their community really stands for. They have freed us of the mindless rantings and silly antics of Elizabeth Miller, and now Bentleigh has a representative of quality and one who is Bentleigh through and through. Victorians had the good sense not to vote for one of the former or current councillors of the City of Casey. That was despite the best efforts of the City of Casey to run a politically biased campaign against the sitting Labor members. It was a campaign that was certainly not appreciated or welcomed by local residents, although they funded it. The ratepayers paid for that campaign, and they are very upset. I have lost count of the number of complaints I have received about it. The people who ran that campaign should hang their heads in shame that good ratepayers money was used on such a blatantly political campaign about such a dud project as the 
east–west link, which is now gone. The message was clear: Victorians have high standards and they want their government to have them, too. So enough of the weird and woeful antics of those opposite and their motley band of backbenchers. They are relegated to nothing but a Trivial Pursuit question.

It is a great honour to be given the responsibility of government. Victorian Labor takes this duty, the responsibility for the future of every person in Victoria, seriously and respectfully and is committed to delivering on what we said we would do. I would like to place on record my wholehearted thanks to Daniel and Catherine Andrews and their family. They are loving, optimistic and solid. Victorians looked at them and I believe they saw themselves. They saw good, decent and caring people, and they voted accordingly. Indeed, while a member for South Eastern Metropolitan Region was running up and down my pre-polling booth spreading despicable rumours about me, people came up to me and told me how Daniel and Catherine had helped their neighbours through very dire times. That gave me great heart because people knew what solid, respectful and loving people they are, and Victorians voted accordingly for Labor.

I say to the good people of Narre Warren South that it is an honour to represent you in this most august house. As I said earlier, this is my third term, and it feels even better than it did before. Again, I thank the people in the Labor administration team at ALP headquarters and in the then opposition rooms, who ran an outstanding campaign. It was, as the now Premier promised us, a good Labor campaign. It was really easy to get up every morning and tell the good people of Narre Warren South that Labor will rebuild Hampton Park Primary School, after the previous government had shelved its plans, and fix Thompsons Road with $175 million by duplicating the road as part of Project 10 000. Not one new road project was completed in Casey by the previous government during its four years.

I also told the people of Narre Warren South that Labor will provide toilets at Hallam railway station after the Baillieu government cancelled the fully funded upgrade of the station and spent the money elsewhere. I told people also that Labor, the party that had built Casey Hospital, would now fund a major $106.3 million expansion to include an intensive care unit, an eight-storey inpatient unit, four new operating theatres, and a new surgery recovery centre. As I said, it was a good Labor campaign.

My thanks go also to my campaign team of David Iles, Nicky Hayes, Naureen Choudray, Adam Collins, Mafa and Luke Katajar, Vanessa Gerdes, Erica Maliki and Lynda Smith, and to the countless volunteers who gave up much of their time for the good cause. They are an excellent team and all of Nicky’s friends are amazing.

I thank my family, of course: my husband, Stephen, and my children, Rebecca, Vanessa and Lucas. Without doubt they were the stars of my Facebook page throughout the campaign. My husband was a huge hit every time he appeared! I could not have done it without them and the pillow talk, the jokes at my expense and their marathon efforts in letterboxing and phone banks. Our love is without doubt my greatest source of support.

Returning to Parliament as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Deputy Premier is a great honour. I look forward to working with him to implement our no. 1 priority — that is, making Victoria the education state. Rest assured that we will.

I would like to conclude by reading part of a poem I picked up at one of Dr Francis Macnab’s services at the beautiful St Michael’s church. I think there are times when we all wonder why we do this job. At those times I would pull out this beautiful poem and it would egg me on to our historic victory. In part it reads:

Our future is greater than our past

The most authentic thing about us

Is our capacity to create, to overcome,

To endure, to transform, to love

We are best defined by the mystery

That we are still here, and we can still rise

Upwards, still create better civilisations.

I can assure all Victorians, especially the good people of Narre Warren South, that we have not wasted a single moment and will not be wasting a single moment and that we will not be compromising on the commitments we gave to you. We will create a better Victoria for everyone.