Report on the 2021‒22 and 2022‒23 Financial and Performance Outcomes

Danny O’BRIEN (Gippsland South) (10:50): I am pleased to rise to say a few words about the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC) report on the 2021‒22 and 2022‒23 financial and performance outcomes and express my joy at the upcoming budget estimates hearings, which begin on Thursday.

Jess Wilson interjected.

Danny O’BRIEN: Yes, it is joy, member for Kew, because this will be my 10th year of doing the budget estimates and there are so many things to do this next couple of weeks. Unfortunately we will not have the amount of time that I would like to really get into the details of this very bad budget.

But I want to talk about some of the things that we looked at in the outcomes inquiry, and indeed there have been issues raised in a number of the recent PAEC reports, both on estimates and outcomes, about the slow pace of recovery when it comes to natural disasters. My colleague the member for Gippsland East and I have been pursuing through the PAEC and Parliament processes some of the works that have taken a very, very long time when it comes to the bushfire recovery from the Black Summer bushfires. The headline article in that respect is the rebuild of the Thurra River bridge in Croajingolong National Park. It is an absolute disgrace that Parks Victoria, four years since the bushfires, has not completed that project. I believe that since the outcomes hearings in November, which are reflected in this report, finally reconstruction of the Thurra River bridge has begun. But there are a number of other things in the Gippsland East electorate that have not begun, including some of the works on the Yeerung River bridge at Cape Conran and the Mallacoota Inlet jetties upgrades that were promised.

It goes to an issue that I am very concerned about with the government. We saw last week in the budget decisions to delay projects. That is one thing. That is a government decision. That is a decision by the Treasury and the government of the day. What I am concerned about is the absolute lack of action that comes from many of our departments, whether it is Parks Victoria in this case or whether it is Parks Victoria in the case in my electorate of the rebuild of the Sealers Cove boardwalk between Tidal River and Sealers Cove, a very major tourism attraction in my region that was damaged in the 2021 storms. Reconstruction was meant to be starting this year, in 2024, and now it is heading towards 2025 and we are not going to see an outcome until then. Indeed I talked to a Parks employee a few weeks ago who indicated he would be surprised if even that is met. It just goes and goes.

The other one, that I mentioned recently in the media, is the Winnindoo fire station, a very simple small fire station. The government committed to it in the budget in November 2020, and yet here we are in 2024 and it is still not started and it is not going to be completed until next year. There is something seriously wrong within the bureaucracy, in my view, that these projects simply cannot get done. Whether that is by direction from a government that is very focused on major projects in the city and leaving country projects to languish, I do not know.

I also want to touch on the recovery in my electorate at Mirboo North. We have seen decisions by the government to establish a lead contractor there after the 13 February storms – some are calling it Boonado – that hit Mirboo North and damaged dozens of homes. I was very concerned to see when I drove around last week still multiple of these homes with tarps on the roof. Indeed there is a Facebook post this morning on the Mirboo North page of grass growing out of the sandbags holding down a tarp on someone’s roof, highlighting how long this is taking to get this done. This is not an issue for government, I appreciate. I am very concerned that the insurance companies have been extremely slow to get action for Mirboo North. It is something I will be taking up with the Insurance Council of Australia. This is a really concerning issue.

Juliana Addison: On a point of order, Deputy Speaker, on relevance to committee reports.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for Gippsland South to continue on the committee report.

Danny O’BRIEN: Government members are trying to shut us down when talking about recovery from a storm disaster. Are you serious? Of all the things you want to pick up when I am talking about the storm disaster in Mirboo North – (Time expired)

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