Trade union influence

Ms  GRALEY (Narre Warren South) — It is a pleasure to join the debate on the matter of public importance moved by the member for Box Hill. It is also a pleasure to follow the current Leader of The Nationals, because I notice that his full team is not here behind him with smiles on their faces. I wonder where the member for Euroa is. I would like to know where she is, because she is not here supporting her leader. She is not leading up the cheer squad; that is for sure.

It is a pleasure to be here this afternoon to speak on the matter of public importance. When I read it I thought: what a load of diatribe; what is happening to the opposition? I will tell the house what is happening to the opposition.

Mr Pakula interjected.

Ms GRALEY — The Attorney-General is absolutely correct. Those opposite are still looking in the mirror at themselves. They still have not worked out what went wrong. They are still feeding on their own prejudices. They are still concerned about their own problems and consumed by their own predicament.

Theirs was a lazy, crazy government, and in opposition you are getting dumber and dumber, because you have not learnt the lessons. You have not looked in the mirror. You have not learnt a thing, because if you had — —

The ACTING SPEAKER (Ms Thomas) — Order! Through the Chair.

Ms GRALEY — If opposition members had taken a good hard look at themselves — while they are trying to find all that money that has gone missing, they should look at themselves as well — they would see that they had refused — —

Honourable members interjecting.

Ms GRALEY — They have refused, and it does not surprise me, because my experience of dealing with Tories in the past has been that they always think they know better and that they can tell people what to do and get away with it. That is not how it is done.

Those opposite have to start looking at what ordinary Victorians do. They go to work every day so that they can earn a living, so that their kids can go to school and so that they can pay their mortgages and for their cars. They want to go to the factory floor, work in the hospitals and work on construction sites. They want to go into classrooms, and they want to go to work on farms, just like our brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, and mothers and fathers.

Those opposite refuse to acknowledge that ordinary Victorians, the people who do the good, hard work every day, caring for other people — such as nurses, paramedics, doctors and physios — are the people who have said to members of the former government that they got it all wrong. Those opposite need to have a look in the mirror and face it.

I will tell members opposite that one thing that they were really good at was picking fights with people; they were experts at that. I will give them that — absolute experts at picking fights. Who will ever forget the fight that those opposite picked with the paramedics — good ordinary Victorians, many of whom live in my electorate.

Who will ever forget that expensive advertisement? How much did that cost? How much of ordinary Victorians’ money was wasted on trying to convince ordinary Victorians that the previous government was right and that paramedics were wrong to care about going to accidents and tending to their patients, getting them to the hospital, getting them into that emergency ward and making sure that they could get better?

I notice that today in the Herald Sun there is an article headed ‘Baby lifesavers’. The picture shows what ordinary Victorians look like. They save people’s lives, but all that members of the previous government did was stand in their way, bash unions up and make it harder for ordinary Victorians to go to their workplaces and do their jobs every day.

From speaking to paramedics I know they had had a gutful of that, and the reason — —

Mr Pakula interjected.

Ms GRALEY — The Attorney-General quite correctly points out that why paramedics wanted a change of government and why they stood at the polling booth beside us was because they were sick of the way the former government treated them. They had had an absolute gutful of it, and they wanted a change of government because, like civilised human beings — like hardworking Victorians — they wanted to sit down with the government and negotiate. Those opposite should try to understand the meaning of the word ‘negotiate’. I should spell out that that is what normal learned and responsible governments do.

Ms Ryall interjected.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Ms Thomas) — Order! If the member for Ringwood is going to interject, she should resume her seat.

Ms GRALEY — I know how hurt those people were, but it was not just the paramedics who had their profession undermined by the previous government. Let us remember the attacks the previous government made on nurses. I only have to refer to an Age article from 2011 that states:

The Baillieu government —

remember him?

has developed a secret plan to goad the state’s nurses into industrial action so it can force them into arbitration, cut nurse numbers and replace them at hospital bedsides with low-skilled ‘health assistants’.

I remind everybody in this house that one day they will need a nurse, one day their kids will need a nurse and one day their parents will need a nurse, and members will not want a low-skilled health assistant looking after their families; they will want the best possible medical assistance that can be provided to them. Let us face it, every Victorian has a right to that.

The article goes on to say that that amazing Minister for Health, Mr David Davis — remember him?

Honourable members interjecting.

Ms GRALEY — Yes, we all remember him for the wrong reasons. The article further states:

The government’s aim, revealed in the submission, is to have the crisis continue to a point whereby the industrial tribunal, Fair Work Australia, is either called in or steps in because negotiations have broken down and the nurses’ action is deemed harmful to public welfare.

How shameful is it that anyone would set professional, caring nurses up to fail? It is just unbelievable. Those opposite should be absolutely disgusted. That they can walk into this house today and lecture us about ordinary Victorians is just impalpable.

I contrast Mr Davis with the current Minister for Health, who came into this house today and, instead of treating nurses like dirt, introduced a bill that legislates nurse-to-patient ratios. I suggest to members opposite that instead of yelling and screaming and behaving like badly behaved children or those who are born to rule, they should get behind the new legislation and guarantee that the best possible medical care is provided to every Victorian and that public safety is protected in our hospitals.

I note that the member for Box Hill mentioned elections. I must say that I was concerned about the behaviour of certain people at the polling booths. A very fine gentleman from the firefighters union came and stood by me occasionally and very quietly presented his case by holding a placard that everybody could read, but the biggest bully at that polling booth was not a union official or indeed anybody from this chamber but the Empress of the South-East, who walked up and down the queue bullying my residents and saying the most disgusting things about me and my staff, suggesting that I may be on the point of dying.

So when Ms Bauer, a colleague of the Empress of the South-East, told a newspaper that she was attacked because she had an experience with cancer and that had somehow undermined her election victory — after the Empress of the South-East had thrown every bit of dirty water possible at me — I was not impressed, to say the least. But rather than barking back at her, I remained cool and have also complained about it. As the Liberal Party itself is currently investigating the member, I hope this matter is also taken up, because it was frankly deplorable.

This government is proud to represent ordinary Victorians, and we will continue to do that. Only today a new school was announced near my electorate, because unlike members opposite we will get on with the job and make sure that ordinary Victorians have the best education, health, roads and public transport in the country.