Doorstop - Bendigo, Victoria

JACINTA ALLAN: It’s great to be here today for the official opening of the new Bendigo Airport terminal, and we’re here with Federal Minister for Infrastructure Catherine King, Federal Member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters and Member for Bendigo West – I nearly called you Lisa Edwards then – Maree Edwards. And we’re here to celebrate the opening and we’re celebrating the opening because of the huge potential, what this airport and the terminal means to the future of our city in terms of not just welcoming people into our city to go and look at our beautiful art gallery, to enjoy so many of the attractions around our city but also what it means in terms of ongoing investment in Bendigo and the broader region. This is going to be a big part of Bendigo’s growth into the future in supporting jobs, in supporting our tourism and hospitality sector, supporting our agriculture and primary producers, and also, too, it’s an important base for our emergency services so that they can respond more quickly to the – whether it’s natural disasters or accidents and incidences on behalf of our local community. 

JOURNALIST: Premier, a question for you now around lots of regional communities across the state and all across the country will be rallying this weekend saying “no more” to domestic violence in the wake of many, many women’s deaths. Do you have any comments you want to make on this ahead of this weekend? 

JACINTA ALLAN: Already we have seen this year far too many women lose their lives at the hand of a current or former partner or a complete stranger. And this simply has to stop. And there is a responsibility on each and every one of us to play a very important role in working harder and harder still to both prevent and stop violence against women. And as a government we do have a responsibility to both lead and act. And in Victoria we have been working very hard with organisations across the state for a number of years implementing the Royal Commission recommendations, working hard, investing more, running programs all the way from running programs in our schools, giving more resources to police, strengthening both the prevention area and the response area for women and children fleeing domestic violence. But we know we have to do more, and that is why I have asked a number of ministers to come together, come together to look at what else we can do. Whether it’s strengthening policies and programs and laws, what else we need to do as a government to continue to act in this area. 

There’s also a responsibility on all of us to – in our everyday life to call out where women aren’t being respected, to say it’s unacceptable, because you just don’t know that by calling out bad behaviour it might save a life. Because as important it is to understand what respect for women looks like, it’s also deeply important to understand what happens and the consequences of when women aren’t respected. 

JOURNALIST: Just a question on that, Premier, are the penalties harsh enough for men who break family violence intervention orders? And if not, what should the deterrent be, things like ankle bracelets? 

JACINTA ALLAN: So as part of the work I have asked the ministers – the Attorney-General, ministers in this area to look at what we need to do to strengthen our systems here in Victoria. As I said we’ve already made significant – not just significant investments but significant reforms in building up how we both prevent and respond to family violence in our community. But it keeps happening. It’s clear we need to do more. It’s clear we need to examine what else we can do, and that does include what changes we may need to make to our legal systems, our justice systems, how we respond in those areas. Those are, those options are being considered by ministers, and we’ll have more to say when the advice comes back to government. 

JOURNALIST: Lily D’Ambrosio flagged that landlords may soon be forced to meet higher standards, including double glazed windows. Do you support that? 

JACINTA ALLAN: So we announced some time ago that there would be a review into rental standards, and that review is ongoing. But this needs to be seen in the context of the broader work that the government is doing to support households and businesses to transition to electric appliances or electric systems where they can. And we’re doing this because we know going all electric is more efficient, it’s certainly more energy efficient, but also, too, it’s cheaper. We’ve seen that with the recent AEMO report that shows that Victoria has the lowest electricity bills on the eastern seaboard. So it just makes sense to go all electric because it results in cheaper bills for both households and businesses. 

JOURNALIST: One more question for you, Premier. 

JACINTA ALLAN: Sure, that’s all right. 

JOURNALIST: There’s been another stabbing at Highpoint, this time involving teenage boys. Again, are the laws tough enough to protect Victorians from people willing to carry knives? 

JACINTA ALLAN: So we have invested strongly in community safety, giving Victoria Police record investment. There’s more police, there’s more police coming through the academy and also, too, continuing to give them the tools and powers that they need to respond to community safety incidences across our community. And that includes in the area of knife crime. We’ve centrally put to the parliament laws to strengthen and prohibit the carrying particularly of machetes to continue to strengthen the tools and the resources that Victoria Police have to respond to incidences like this. 

Okay? Sorry, Torren, yes? 

JOURNALIST: [Indistinct] established client base? 

JACINTA ALLAN: So the advice from our health experts as we have released our Statewide Action Plan to respond to the statewide challenge of how we both support people who use drugs, how we can strengthen statewide provision of vital services like pharmacotherapy, access to naloxone and also, too, recognise that these are measures that can save lives, we’ve also taken the advice that to trial – to undertake a trial of hydromorphone. And the advice is that that is best placed in what will be the new community health hub in the heart of the city because that is where there will also be wraparound services that will be provided alongside the hydromorphone trial. This is going to be an important step forward in looking at how we can continue to look to new treatments, new ways of supporting people who use drugs and look at how we can support them. 

JOURNALIST: [Indistinct] 60 people [indistinct]? 

JACINTA ALLAN: So the trial that was announced as part of our Statewide Action Plan that will be announced on Tuesday undertaking a trial of hydromorphone that will commence in 2026 from our new community health hub in the heart of the city that will be run by cohealth. The trial will include 60 participants, and under medical supervision there will be different – two different ways that hydromorphone will be administered to people participating in the trial. And this is why we’re having a trial – it’s understanding the best way, the most effective way to both support people with this lifesaving treatment, but also, too, putting it in our community health hub will also give them access to really important wraparound services. 

JOURNALIST: Given the state of drugs in Victoria, why is the state waiting until 2026 to begin the trial [indistinct]? 

JACINTA ALLAN: So as we released our Statewide Action Plan on Tuesday, we are taking action right now to implement the plan. And that is why we are rolling out this year the pharmacotherapy grants to ensure that communities like mine here in Bendigo can get better access to this lifesaving treatment. The rollout of naloxone through a whole range of vending machines across the state, again, a remarkable treatment for people with opioid addiction. Adding hydromorphone to that list of increased and enhanced services for people who use drugs we know will save lives. And that is why as we establish the community health hub in the heart of the city we are also building into that the hydromorphone trial, and that will need to be done under medical supervision. So we need the time to build up that service and have it operational in 2026. 

CATHERINE KING: Thank you. Thanks. Well, can I say how delighted I am here to be in Bendigo alongside the Premier, alongside State Member Maree Edwards and alongside Federal Member for Bendigo, Lisa Chesters. This is a great story of cooperation between state, federal and local government to really build the economic infrastructure for the future of this great regional community of Bendigo - $4.5 million from the Albanese Labor Government, $4.5 from the state government and significant investment from the local council as well. 

Really, this is a story of someone having the courage and the confidence that the economic development opportunities that this airport brought really were worth investing in. And it is a testament to the City of Bendigo for doing that work, doing the hard work to actually plan this precinct and then go and advocate for the funding that we’re seeing here in reality today being opened – with the opening of the terminal. 

Can I also just take the opportunity alongside the Premier as well, as the member for Ballarat, we have seen our fair share in recent times of violence towards women and the terrible consequences of that. As the Premier says, this has to stop. I think many of us who have been working in politics, working in this space for some of our careers as well, really, we are frustrated. We are frustrated that women are continuing to lose their lives and live in fear of male violence. And that is what we’re experiencing particularly as a community in my hometown, but that is happening right the way across the country. 

We’ve seen record levels of investment from state and federal governments into the prevention of family violence. Laws have been enacted. We’ve got at the federal level family violence leave for the first time to try and enable people to be able to take leave from work when they need to work their way through what it is to keep themselves safe. There’s a lot happening and a lot happening at government levels, but it is – we have to be all in on this. This is everybody. This is not just about what governments do – we always can do more – it’s about what every single person in the community, whether you’re a business, whether you’re a sporting club, whether you’re a parent raising a boy, what you do actually significantly matters. It matters in every community, in every home, in every setting that you’re in. There’s lots more work we all need to do, but I think all of us need to ensure that everything that we do, whether it's from prevention, the investments going into OurWatch, whether it’s the work in schools, whether it’s work with parents, whether it’s work of crisis services, that we are working together to actually end this scourge. 

Happy to take questions about that and, of course, any infrastructure matters as well. 

JOURNALIST: Thanks, Minister King. I’ve just got one question for you on the airport rail link. Mediation has started on the project. Do you have any updates for us? 

CATHERINE KING: I don’t have any. I’m not going to be conducting the mediation in public. I think it’s really important that we allow the mediator Neil Scales to do that work. But what I’d say is a couple of things: this is an important project for the state of Victoria, but it’s also important that we can actually deliver it. There’s a fair way to go in terms of working our way through what the air link rail looks like at the airport site and a fair bit of work to do as part of that. But can I absolutely again say the Victorian state government have been terrific on this. They’ve really worked closely with the federal government on this important project. They’ve been doing the work already at the Sunshine Railway Station to really start what we can do now, the preparatory work. And that mediation will be ongoing until we actually get to a conclusion. 

Thank you. Happy to answer anything else. All good? No? Sure. 

JOURNALIST: Are you disappointed [indistinct] subjected to [indistinct]? 

CATHERINE KING: Well, they are obviously legal matters of the court, and I don’t comment on court decisions. But what I would say, obviously what happened to those women was a really awful thing. And I think most members of the community who are aware of that have that view. But the matter – the decision of the court is a decision of the court. Thanks. 

JOURNALIST: [Indistinct]? 

CATHERINE KING: Well, again, that would be a matter for the – that’s a matter for legal action and not something I can comment on but thank you. Thanks, everyone. Thank you.