I would like to place a few things on the record personally about the budget and also on behalf of my Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party colleague Mr Grimley. Obviously, as a general principle we are concerned by the sight in any budget of increased taxes. This is a concern we share with many people in our communities in western Victoria and northern Victoria, and indeed many in other places.

As we have already often said in our time here, we are also as keen as anyone else to ensure that taxpayers money is not wasted and that every dollar the Victorian government spends is put to its best possible use. Throughout this term our scrutiny of all government legislation will continue to be based very heavily upon these principles.

I would also like to emphasise our endorsement of a number of issues noted by Ms Lovell previously today for northern Victoria—in particular, the gross lack of funding for the dilapidated Swan Hill hospital. I have personally visited that hospital and noted the facilities are indeed requiring significant upgrade, and fairly urgently in fact. With all of that said, both Mr Grimley and I are generally very pleased at a number of the announcements that have been made in the budget for both western Victoria and northern Victoria.

In my case the most notable among these is the significant funding provided to the Centre Against Violence (CAV) to support vulnerable families and children in northern Victoria, particularly in Wangaratta and Wodonga. This is an area that is very close to my heart and one which I have advocated for over many years. This is something for which we have been advocating and will continue to do so in this chamber, but we are really delighted that they have agreed to fund it in this budget.

The Centre Against Violence, or CAV as it is commonly known, provides services to women and children who have experienced family and domestic violence, and this new funding will help them and those they support in two specific areas. Firstly, there will be new CCTV cameras, which will significantly enhance the security and safety of all those who attend appointments in their buildings and those who seek shelter to stay safe in one of their refuges. Unfortunately, until now vulnerable women and children attending those appointments have often experienced a range of problems making their way in to the centre, given that some perpetrators stalk and taunt their victims outside. Secondly, CAV will be funded through this budget to provide ongoing therapeutic counselling services for children harmed by family violence and sexual abuse. We know that children who have been exposed to abuse are often left severely traumatised throughout their life, especially in the absence of expert counselling and support. Indeed it is a fact that without such intervention these children are often plagued by behavioural and mental health and many other associated difficulties throughout their lives, which can often see them taking a journey and a pathway into the juvenile justice system, which is ultimately what many of us in this chamber would like to see significantly reduced.  We are confident that this funding to CAV for such counselling will represent an important new early intervention strategy which will very positively improve the lives of many northern Victorian children.

More broadly across the budget, I am also pleased by a number of other commitments for the north of the state, including being very pleasantly surprised at the announcement of the significant new funding for the north-east rail line. As Minister Symes outlined in her contribution to this debate, problems have afflicted the north-east line for many years. Accordingly, there is always a sense of both relief and excitement whenever news is delivered to the long-suffering users of that line in northern Victoria that new funding is being provided to help deal with some of these problems. I look forward to the government honouring their commitment and the new trains in the near future. Likewise I welcome the ongoing commitment of the government to fund the redevelopment of Wangaratta hospital. I look forward to seeing and monitoring how the $2.4 million announced in this budget specifically for planning work in the redevelopment will be utilised.

While I do congratulate the government on each of these announcements, I will end on a slightly more cautionary note, which is that it is always one thing of course in politics to announce these things; it is quite another to fully deliver them. The government can therefore expect Mr Grimley and me to hold them to account in order to make sure these commitments are delivered in full and on time. Indeed in the interests of our constituents we very much look forward to doing so.