27 June 2017

Geelong wins fight for rail upgrade

The Andrews Government said we would fight every day to get the money that was owed to Victorians and that’s exactly what we’ve done.

This will create thousands of jobs for Victoria. This deal will upgrade tracks, stations and signalling across the state, to run more trains and get people home safer and sooner to their loved ones, wherever they live.

It’s a win for Geelong and regional Victoria, and it’s a win for jobs.

8 May 2017

Regional Payroll Tax

As announced in the 2017/18 Victorian Budget the Andrews Labor Government is slashing payroll tax for regional businesses by 25%.

This is great for Geelong and regional business, and will enable business to employ more people in the Geelong region.

Download the Payroll Tax Package Q&A’s.

5 May 2017

Give Victoria our fair share

Give us our money Sarah Henderson so we can build better rail for Geelong and South West Victoria

9 March 2017

Sunday penalty rates

8 March 2017

My speech in parliament  – Fracking bill

I am proud that the Andrews Government has banned fracking in Victoria. This will save our environment for our children.

I am proud of the local residents and community groups who fought so hard to have fracking banned in their community.

Read my recent speech in Parliament where I acknowledge those that fought for this historic outcome for the benefit of our communities and our environment.

7 March 2017

Great News for First Home Buyers.


Stamp duty will be abolished for first home buyers for purchases below
$600,000, helping thousands of Victorians find their first home, as the Andrews
Labor Government tackles housing affordability head on.

Those buying a home valued between $600,000 and $750,000 will also be
eligible for a concession, applied on a sliding scale. The exemption and
concession will apply to both new and established homes, in a move that is
expected help 25,000 Victorians find their first home.


Thousands of Victorians, dreaming of buying their first home, will be able to
make their dream a reality, thanks to two new changes announced by the Andrews
Labor Government.

A new $50 million pilot scheme, HomesVic, will target first home buyers who
are able to meet regular mortgage repayments, but because of rising rental
costs, haven’t been able to save a big enough deposit.

Under the scheme, to be introduced in January 2018, HomesVic will co-purchase
up to 400 homes, taking an equity share of up to 25 per cent in these
properties. It will be available for both new and existing homes.

By allowing homebuyers to purchase less than 100 per cent of the property,
they will require a smaller deposit and are able to enter the market sooner. In
the long term, it will also mean having a smaller loan to service.

Eligible applicants will include couples earning up to $95,000, and singles
earning up to $75,000. Buyers will need to have a 5 per cent deposit. The pilot
will be tested across the state, and when the properties are sold, HomesVic will
recover its share of the equity.

To further improve buyers’ chances of owning their own home, the Labor
Government will also contribute $5 million to a national, community sector,
shared equity scheme, Buy Assist.

With similar goals to HomesVic, Buy Assist will help deliver an additional
100 shared equity homes and help low to medium income households get a foothold
in the property market.

The Government is also set to give first home buyers priority in
government-led urban renewal developments, with at least 10 per cent of all
properties allocated to first time buyers.


27 February 2017

Rockin’ the Laneways

The Victorian Government’s Rockin’ the Laneways grant program is now open for applications and singing out for projects that celebrate Victoria’s rich music culture.

Grants of up to $25,000 are available for projects that bring the state’s music history to life for the public in innovative ways.

This program is designed to enliven public places; attract tourism and community activity, and ingrain our proud music heritage into the fabric of Victoria’s cities, suburbs and regions.

Previously supported projects including an audio walking tour exploring the life of Chrissy Amphlett, a digital map of significant music sites in Ballarat and a music and art festival celebrating the music heritage of the Mornington Peninsula.

Rockin’ the Laneways is open for applications until 5pm on Monday 20 March. For more information visit www.creative.vic.gov.au

Marketing Innovation Fund

Grants are now available to assist Victorian creative industries organisations to grow their businesses and reach through innovative marketing approaches.

Part of the Victorian Government’s Creative State strategy, the Marketing Innovation Fund provides one-off support for marketing projects that explore different ways to engaging new audiences or reach new customers, build brand awareness and increase income.

With a total pool of $100,000, the fund provides grants ranging from $2,000 to $20,000 to support small-to- medium sized organisations.

For further information on the program, visit www.creative.vic.gov.au/marketing-innovation-fund

22 February 2017

Over the past two years, the Andrews Labor Government has undertaken significant reform in improving end of life choices for Victorians. We have released Victoria’s end of life and palliative care framework, to guide improvements in end of life and palliative care services over the next decade.

At the end of last year, the Medical Treatment Planning and Decisions Act was passed by the Parliament which provides statutory recognition of advance care directives.

These two reforms represent significant improvements for the end of life care and choices given to every Victorian.

The Premier announced in December that consistent with the proposed voluntary assisted dying framework recommended in the Parliamentary Committee Inquiry into end of life choices final report, the Government will introduce legislation into Parliament in 2017 to legalise voluntary assisted dying for terminally ill people in Victoria.

To support this work, the Minister for Health, Jill Hennessy, has established an Expert Ministerial Advisory Panel made up of clinical, legal and consumer experts.
Members of the public are welcome to make submissions.

The Ministerial Advisory Panel for the Voluntary Assisted Dying legislation recently released a discussion paper for community input to the panel on this legislation.

I attach a copy of the discussion paper for your information.

Members of the community are invited to provide feedback on this discussion paper to assisteddying.frameworkresponses@dhhs.vic.gov.au
by Monday 10 April 2017.

9 February 2017

Report card

Here is a report card comparing the records of the Andrews Labor Government and the former Liberal Government on things that matter to Victorians.

Download the report card.

8 February 2017

Meningococcal vaccine funding

Today the Andrews Labor Government announced $7.1 million to fund a Meningococcal W vaccine for kids and teenagers in school.

We’ve had to do this because Turnbull and the Liberals have refused to do anything at all. Once again, Victorians have to pick up the tab of the Federal Government.

Meningococcal is a deadly strain of the disease and we need to protect those most vulnerable. Victorians have had to pick up the Turnbull Government’s tab too many times and it needs to stop.

Turnbull and the Liberals need to fund a national program to protect vulnerable and high risk people from Meningococcal W.

What’s clear is that the Liberals – whether it’s state or federal – don’t care about immunisation.

8 December 2016

VAGO Report on Dental Care and Malcolm Turnbull’s Cuts to Dental

The Victorian Auditor General released a report on dental care in Victoria,
Access to Public Dental Services in Victoria

The VAGO report has a strong emphasis on increasing our prevention efforts,
but also highlights some challenges with public dental care in Victoria.

This has also come at a time when the Turnbull Liberal Government has bungled
the renewal of the National Partnership Agreement on Treating More Public Dental
Patients and has instead proposed a plan which will see:

  • A $30 million cut of public dental funding over the next six months;
  • A further $60 million cut in the 2017/18 financial year;
  • Up to 66,000 disadvantaged Victorians will soon be unable to access
    dental care and treatment;
  • 34 jobs lost in the six months to June 2017.
  • Included in this pack is a key facts and messages sheet, digital
    graphics and suggested social media posts.

We need to ensure that there is a loud voice calling on the Turnbull Liberal
Government to ensure that it steps up and funds public dental care in Victoria.

8 December 2016

Thousands more Police

Every Victorian deserves to feel safe, so we are recruiting thousands of new
police officers, building new police stations and giving police what they need
to fight crime across our state.

Business as usual won’t cut it anymore – we are delivering in full the
officers that Victoria Police tell us they need and ending the boom and bust of
police recruitment.

This is the biggest boost to frontline police in our state’s history. They
will be crucial to deal with growing demand, particularly the challenges of
youth crime and family violence.

Victoria Police’s allocation model will revolutionise the way we recruit and
deploy police, as well as helping inform future decisions.

Background – Key points about announcement:

  • 2,729 new police will be recruited and trained over the next four years
  • This brings the total of new police funded by the Andrews Labor
    Government since November 2014 to 3,259.
  • Labor will invest $2 billion deliver these frontline and specialist
    police, as well as building new police stations and giving police the latest
    crime fighting capabilities.
  • This funding includes replacing four police stations in Melbourne at
    Wyndham, Altona North, Reservoir, and South Melbourne; and replacing six in
    regional Victoria, at Warracknabeal, Rutherglen, Wedderburn, Alexandra,
    Wycheproof and Tangambalanga.
  • Using a new and sophisticated Staff Allocation Model (SAM), Victoria
    Police have determined that these are the police they need over the next
    four years to meet demand. The new model has been developed by Victoria
    Police in consultation with the Police Association, and is endorsed by the

Third Party Comments

Chief Commissioner of Police Graham Ashton
“This is an unprecedented announcement for Victoria Police. It represents the
greatest boost to policing numbers that we’ve had in 163 years.”

“Victoria Police absolutely welcomes this funding because it represents the
greatest commitment to policing in Victoria’s history. It’s an unprecedented
commitment in police numbers to go to the frontline. It’s the most numbers we’ve
ever had.”

Ron Iddles, Secretary of The Police Association
“Today is an historic event. Never in the history of Victoria Police have we
seen such an injection of police officers – 2,729 – the largest number ever
committed by any government.

“Every member of Victoria Police, every member of the Victorian community
will benefit from this announcement regardless of what political persuasion you

Youth Justice

These comprehensive reforms will hold young offenders to account and help
keep Victorians safe.

We are also giving Victoria Police the resources they need to crackdown on
youth crime, with the Government making the single largest investment in police
numbers in the history of our force.

The community rightly expects young offenders to be punished for their
crimes. This package will help to ensure they are being dealt with properly.

We’re also sending a strong message to criminal bigwigs who lure children to
commit crimes for them – your actions won’t be tolerated and you face jail of up
to 10 years.

We are making it clear to young offenders out on bail that we won’t tolerate
any behaviour that puts the Victorian community at risk.

We know we have issues with a small but dangerous group of young offenders
causing great harm in our community, and existing interventions aren’t working –
that’s why we need these reforms to turn this behaviour around.

These reforms provide structure and close support and the opportunity for
young people to turn their lives around.


The reforms include:

  • Increasing the maximum period of detention that can be imposed by the
    Children’s Court on young offenders from three years to four years.
  • Creating a new offence for adults who lure young people to commit crimes
    for them, with a maximum penalty of ten years in prison.
  • Establishing a new Youth Control Order (YCO) which can restrict where a
    young person can visit and who they can associate with, can include curfews,
    and require the young person to comply with an education, training or
    employment plan. Non-compliance will result in the court being able to place
    the young offender in custody.
  • Setting up an Intensive Monitoring and Control Bail Supervision Scheme,
    which will mean young people have to report more regularly to DHHS and
    Victoria Police, comply with education, training or work requirements or
    risk having their bail revoked.
  • Require the Youth Parole Board to notify Victoria Police when specific
    youth offenders, such as violent and repeat offenders, are released on

The Government will also take action to give clearer guidance to the
Children’s Court when dealing with young offenders, including:

  • Requiring Magistrates in the Children’s Court to give particular
    consideration to community safety when sentencing young people who have
    committed serious violent crimes and have previous convictions for similar
  • Introducing laws to clarify the criteria which allows Children’s Court
    matters to be heard in the Supreme or County Courts.
  • Ensuring that where possible, the same magistrate oversees all
    proceedings relating to a young offender, meaning consistency of approach
    and more effective monitoring of repeat offenders.


5 December 2016

Launch of the Gender Equality Strategy

Addressing gender inequality is crucial if we are serious about ending violence against women. Negative attitudes and stereotypes towards women are the leading causes of family violence.

The stakes couldn’t be higher. Men and women deserve to live in a society where they are safe and equal.

That’s why today, the Andrews Labor Government has launched Victoria’s first Gender Equality Strategy.

Safe and Strong: A Victorian Gender Equality Strategy includes a series of landmark reforms to improve outcomes for women and girls in their homes, workplaces and communities.

The reforms and initiatives include:

  • A Gender Equality Act
  • A new agency dedicated to preventing family violence before it starts
  • Reviewing laws against sexist advertising and gender based hate speech
  • Gender audits across government and the public sector to create inclusive and flexible workplaces
  • Scholarships to encourage young and emerging women leaders
  • Gender equality programs in grassroots sporting clubs
  • HERPlace – a women’s heritage centre
  • Hosting the first all women trade delegation to China
  • Promoting women’s cultural activities, art and media

Supporting women to reach their full potential is important to our state’s economy too. By supporting gender equality, we are investing in our future, lifting productivity and changing the way we do business.

Read the Strategy here.




8 November 2016

Linda Burney visits Geelong

It was a great privilege to have the first Indigenous woman elected to the House of Representatives, the federal member for Barton and shadow Minister for Human Services, Linda Burney, in Geelong last week.

The federal member for Corio, Richard Marles, and I spent the day with Linda meeting with Aboriginal people and community organisations. Clearly Linda is very much an inspiration for Aboriginal people. She is also a great role model for women, and her determination and grunt at all levels of community and politics is why she is admired so much.

We had the great privilege to have lunch with the elders and board members at the Wathaurong Aboriginal Cooperative. When I go there I am always impressed by the work they do in their community, and it is exceptional.

Aunty May Owen and the CEO, Rod Jackson, hosted the event at Wathaurong and showed Linda around the centre. We also visited Wathaurong Glass and met with the workers.

Linda was presented with a piece of Wathaurong glass which symbolises her country in New South Wales. In the evening we held a community dinner at the Geelong Trades Hall with a welcome to country ceremony that included Corrina Eccles, Norm Stanley on the digeridoo and the Deadly Dancers. Richard and I, along with the Geelong West branch of the ALP, presented a matching piece of Wathaurong glass symbolising Wathaurong country.

Extract from Parliamentary Debates, Hansard, 8 November 2016.







10 November 2016

Helping Geelong Preserve the Legacy of our Veterans

The Andrews Labor Government is helping the Geelong RSL give our veterans the fitting commemoration they deserve.

Christine Couzens, Member for Geelong, announced a $20,000 grant for the ANZAC Stories Project.

The project will film six ANZACs telling their remarkable and moving World War II stories for the benefit of all Victorians.

Throughout history, Australia’s veterans have bravely risked their lives to defend our country. It’s important we give them the tribute they deserve, and preserve their legacy for future generations.

The project is being funded by the Labor Government’s Victoria Remembers Grant Program. It’s our way of ensuring all Victorians appreciate Australia’s significant wartime legacy, and have an opportunity to make their own personal connections.

Our veterans protected us and it’s our job to protect them. The Labor Government has partnered with the RSL for a program that aims to address social isolation among young veterans.

We’ve also opened the Veterans Accommodation Project, where veterans facing hardship can find their feet again in temporary crisis accommodation.

The Labor Government recently announced a $1 million Veterans Heritage and History Strategy, which will help local communities safeguard and preserve the important treasures that mean so much to so many Victorians.

For more information visit www.veterans.vic.gov.au/grants



26 October 2016

From jobs, to health, to education and transport, the Andrews Labor Government has spent every day of the past two years putting people first.

This is in stark contrast to the four years of waste and inaction of the former Liberal Government.

Here is a comparison of what the Andrews Government has achieved in two years compared to the previous four years of the Coalition Government.

Geelong schools to be upgraded

21 October 2016

Students at twelve Geelong schools will soon have better facilities, thanks to a boost of more than $40 million for school maintenance funding.

Member for Geelong, Christine Couzens, today visited Newcomb Park Primary School which is one of the 436 schools across Victoria that will share in $41.6 million to upgrade old buildings under the Andrews Labor Government’s Planned Maintenance Program.

Ashby Primary School, Belmont Primary School, Chilwell Primary School, Fyans Park Primary School, Geelong East Primary School, Geelong South Primary School, Newtown Primary School, Oberon Primary School, Oberon South Primary School, Tate Street Primary School and Newcomb Secondary College will receive a total of $1.25 million under the program, with planning now under way.

The Andrews Labor Government supports schools through the Planned Maintenance Program so that they can refurbish, demolish, or replace buildings that fall below minimum standards.

Sixty-five schools shared in $10.8 million under the first round of funding earlier this year, which was provided to complement capital works projects funded at those schools in the Victorian Budget 2016/17.

Today’s announcement means a total of 501 schools will share in a record investment of $52.4 million in school maintenance this year.

A list of schools to receive upgrades under round two of the Planned Maintenance Program is available at www.schoolbuildings.vic.gov.au/Pages/Schools/Planned-Maintenance-Funding.aspx.

The Labor Government is building the Education State so that every Victorian student gets the opportunity for a great education and every community has access to a great school.

There are now 42 new government schools and hundreds of school upgrades in the construction pipeline following the Government’s record $1.8 billion investment in school infrastructure.

This school building boom will create 4000 construction jobs and ensure all Victorian families have access to a great school no matter where they live.

Quotes attributable to Christine Couzens, Member for Geelong

The Andrews Government is providing funding where it is most needed so school facilities can be upgraded to match the high quality teaching and learning environment the school provides.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino

“This funding boost will allow hundreds more Victorian schools to replace or upgrade buildings on poor condition so that our teachers and students have the first-rate facilities they deserve.”