Ms Patten: I rise to speak (metaphorically) to this cognate debate.
As a state, we entered this financial year with strong growth, retail trade, employment and construction; and as the best performing economy in the country, buoyed really, by construction levels 25 percent above average.
Beyond anyone’s control, we were met by devastating bushfires, at great human, emotional and financial cost – approximately $600 million to the state’s bottom line.
And then COVID-19, which has had, and will continue to have, a truly unprecedented impact on people’s lives and economies around the world.
As the Premier stated yesterday, hundreds of thousands of Victorians will likely lose work and the size of our economy may shrink by as much as 14 percent.
It is a devastating and bleak picture, but I would like to highlight some small causes for optimism.
Victoria entered these difficult times in a better financial position than most jurisdictions. And we have to date, been genuine leaders in curbing the spread of COVID-19. Both of which bode well for our recovery, relatively speaking.
To stand here today with only 93 current cases of COVID-19 in Victoria, with 28 people in hospital and only 12 in intensive care, is a remarkable achievement – as devastatingly sad as it is for the families and communities who have lost loved ones, and for those who are very ill.
Our Governments, state and federal, are deserving of recognition for their leadership – just as the vast majority of our 6.4 million Victorian residents are deserving of credit for their diligence in complying with our social distancing rules.
Many Victorians are doing it tough right now, but we are wrapping safety nets around you as quickly as we can, we will help you find a way out. I promise.
As the Leader of the Reason Party, it is not my prerogative to interfere with supply – especially at times as unprecedented as these. Accordingly, I offer my support for the quick passage of this legislation.
I am pleased that the State Taxation Acts Amendment (Relief Measures) Bill 2020 will still implements emergency relief measures to those communities affected by the bushfires, in the form of tax and duty relief measures.
I accept that the Government cannot undertake normal budget procedures at this time of uncertainty and economic disruption. The Appropriation (Interim) Bill 2020 provides for an appropriate roll over of funding until such a time as a budget processes can take place. Moreover, I offer my support for the significant Treasurer’s advance that the Bill provides for. It is unprecedented, but so is this health crisis, and it is vitally important that significant funds are available should the Government be required to act urgently for the benefit of Victorians.
On a positive note, I would like to acknowledge the Treasurer and Minister Donellan for today making good on their commitment in February, in relation to my Children, Youth and Families Amendment (Out of Home Care Age) Bill 2020.
The announcement for an additional $4 million to expand the Home Stretch program to support all young people due to turn 18 and leave care this year is welcome and more important than ever, in this time of social and economic disruption.
This has been a difficult time for Victoria. Sometimes we forget that our leaders and senior bureaucrats, who are charged with making these difficult decisions, are just as human as the rest of us. To that end, I would like to thank Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton, Premier Andrews, Treasurer Pallas and Minister Mikakos. You have carried a heavy load for all Victorians during this time.
I commend the Bills to the house.