Governor’s Speech | Address-In-Reply

Ms SULEYMAN (St Albans) (14:53:51): Thank you, Speaker. It is fantastic to be here again, and in particular I would like to congratulate you on your re-election as Speaker. And of course I would like to congratulate everybody who has been re-elected and also the new members to this place. Today I rise to speak on the address-in-reply. In particular I would like to thank my volunteers and the people of St Albans for yet again putting their trust and faith in me in re-electing me as the member for St Albans. It has been a great honour to be their member for the last four years. As a local and someone who lives and was raised in St Albans, it has been an absolute honour. The residents of St Albans, my constituents, have stood by me, shoulder to shoulder, not only over the last four years but also the last 20 years of my community and political life. So it has been an absolute honour for me, again. Let me say that the St Albans election was quite an interesting election. Once again, as I said, the constituents of St Albans stood side-by-side in supporting me. There is no doubt that when I was first elected as part of the Andrews Labor government we wasted no time in delivering to the seat of St Albans. I will never forget standing at the pre-poll in November 2014 and being told that Labor would not remove the Main Road level crossing and would not remove the Furlong Road level crossing—and I think we know the history of both of those dangerous level crossings—this misleading information being told to the community back then. I was so proud and absolutely touched that one of our first steps in government was to begin the removal of the Main Road and Furlong Road level crossings. These crossings were dangerous, took many lives, hurt a lot of families. Today we see in St Albans a transformation—a transformation where we do not have these dangerous level crossings. We have a vibrant shopping precinct, and with Furlong Road being quite close to Sunshine Hospital, ambulance services can get to and from it quite quickly and easily thanks to the Andrews Labor government. Just down the road from Furlong Road we can see the new Joan Kirner Women’s and Children’s Hospital. Again, we wasted no time. As we know, only Labor governments have invested in Sunshine Hospital, and we have now also built the Joan Kirner Women’s and Children’s Hospital. This is a state-of-the-art facility, a health facility that will cater for the growth corridor of the west. And of course we did not stop there. We are investing close to $30 million in redeveloping and extending the emergency department at Sunshine Hospital, because we recognise the demands and the growth in the west. Last term, back in November, we saw the completion of the EJ Whitten Bridge, more lanes on our roads and more investment in our schools—a number of which I would like to talk about. At Jackson School, the investment by our government has seen the morale of that whole school community change in the last four years. It was a small amount of investment, but it went a long way. At schools such as Monmia Primary School, in Keilor Downs, we had the extension of their library. In St Albans East we saw just last month the removal of the 1970s toilet blocks. These are the investments. We have seen the return of school breakfast programs to our schools, and in my electorate this means a lot to the families, to the children and to the school community. There has been so much investment in the seat of St Albans, and in the November election I think that is what my constituents recognised and appreciated—the investment and the absolute rejuvenation of the electorate of St Albans. We wasted no time in the removal of the level crossings, the building of the new hospital and the investment in free TAFE—in particular Victoria University Polytechnic in Sunshine. We have seen the creation of traineeships linking in to government projects, which is really important, giving those young kids an opportunity which otherwise they would not be able to ascertain, and making sure there is the opportunity of 30 priority TAFE courses. I know this has been extremely popular in my electorate with the young, and even the older, mature students. I am extremely proud of the investment into the polytechnic and in particular the skills and jobs hub in Sunshine and of course Victoria University in St Albans. This is the backbone of education in my electorate. We need to continue the investment, because that provides the opportunities and the right foundations for kids in my electorate. Further, we have seen the biggest announcement. I think this will be not only the biggest project in this state but the biggest project in this country. For the last 20 years we have continued to hear about the airport rail link. I am extremely proud that this link will go straight through my electorate, starting in Sunshine where we will build a super-hub station as a gateway to the world. I am extremely excited to see the opportunities in jobs, tourism and transport. Sunshine will be in the centre of the map for the west and Victoria by providing that link to the airport and other opportunities. This is a game-changer. We have seen the west like never before with the investment by the Andrews Labor government. As a lifelong resident I have not seen this level of investment, and I am extremely proud. Whether it is in our education system, our public transport, our hospitals, our roads or infrastructure, or providing those jobs and that education, the transformation in my electorate has been absolutely incredible in the last four years. Most importantly, we look at Main Road in particular or Furlong Road or the new station in St Albans and how they have linked two communities that in the past were divided by a dangerous level crossing. When we line up the dots and look at the investment and at the next generation, and in particular at the airport rail link and the potential opportunities, it will bring Sunshine and the west straight onto the map. With the work we have done and the investment in the Suburban Rail Loop we will be able to catch a train and go across town. That is making our public transport equal to places like London and New York, and I think that is really important. I am extremely proud of what we have been able to do in the west. I make note of a small project but one that was extremely important to my electorate, which was the removal of a roundabout on Taylors Road. It was amazing. My Facebook page received over 40 000 hits over this particular project. This was a small investment, but it removed a roundabout that was dangerous and that had taken lives. It was one of the most notorious roundabouts in the state, and it was removed by this government. It is now safe. We have installed traffic lights and safer pedestrian crossings, and that has made a huge difference to the 40 000-plus motorists that cross that intersection when travelling to Melton, Caroline Springs and so on each day. I am extremely excited about what we have achieved in the last four years. I am more excited about the opportunities for the next four years, with the removal of the Fitzgerald Road level crossing. I know my community has raised this issue in the last year, so I am looking forward to seeing the removal of that particular level crossing along that line by our government and the electrification of the line. When I look around my electorate and see the investment it really does say that only a Labor government invests in the west. I say that not only as the member for St Albans but as a lifelong resident, born and raised in St Albans. I would like to conclude by saying thank you to my volunteers. There was one criticism from my opponents during the election period—that I had too many volunteers at pre-poll. There were just too many volunteers— A member interjected. Ms SULEYMAN: Yes, how dare I have all those volunteers? It was very amusing. I want to thank the volunteers for their patience. Unfortunately at times it does get challenging. They have stood by me through thick and thin and supported me on my journey. I would like to thank my family of course. As everybody would know, your family cops a lot of criticism at times. I thank them for their patience, their love and their support. My niece and nephew are the centre of my world. They keep me absolutely centred. But most of all I would like to thank my office staff. Without my campaign manager, Koray, and my staff, my campaign would not have run as smoothly and effectively. I would not be in this place without the support of my constituents of St Albans. It is going to be a fantastic four years. There is so much more to do. I am looking forward to being part of the official opening of the new Joan Kirner Women’s and Children’s Hospital, the expansion of our emergency department at Sunshine, investing in our schools, removing the Fitzgerald Road level crossing and, of course, beginning the airport rail link with the super-hub station at Sunshine. This is going to be a fantastic, dynamic four years of continuing to invest in the seat of St Albans. Thank you to my colleagues for all their support. Thank you too, Acting Speaker Ward, for all your advice and support. It will be another exciting four years of the Andrews Labor government delivering for the west and St Albans.