Frankston Hospital rebuild front and centre at only live TV election ‘debate’
Analysis: The Frankston discussion, Mike Hast, 22 November 2018
The marginal seat of Frankston was the venue on Thursday night 21 November for the only live TV forum between Premier Daniel Andrews and Opposition Leader Matthew Guy, and Frankston Hospital was front and centre.
Mr Andrews confirmed the decision to rebuild the hospital at a cost of $560 million and, for the first time, Mr Guy said if elected his government also would rebuild the facility. [NOTE: Clarification has been sought from the office of the shadow health minister regarding the details of the Liberal commitment towards Frankston Hospital. As yet no funding has been allocated in the published funding estimates]
The hospital was the first topic raised by one of 100 undecided Frankston voters chosen to witness the debate and ask questions. The “People’s Forum” was held at Frankston Arts Centre just three days before the state election. It was hosted by and televised on Sky News and moderated by Sky’s political editor David Speers.
The forum had an emotional start when a tearful “Jodie” asked about neonatal intensive care beds: “Imagine your wives at 24 weeks’ pregnant being told you have to go interstate to give birth because there [are] no neonatal intensive care beds available.” Mr Andrews said he was committed to spending $560 million upgrading Frankston Hospital, which would be “the biggest ever suburban hospital rebuild in the state’s history”. It would include 120 beds, two floors for mental health, a special care nursery and some neonatal intensive care beds, but he could not say how many. “Health cutbacks matter because they do hurt people. We don’t do that. We invest in more services, more support, more staff, and building the facilities that we need.” Mr Guy spoke next, with a quavering voice, saying he knew what Jodie had experienced because his first son was born premature at 27 weeks when his wife Renae was interstate. His son was given an incubator bed at a Brisbane hospital: “They are exceptionally important when parents need them the most,” he said. The Coalition would also upgrade Frankston Hospital as well as fund neonatal intensive care beds in both Frankston and around the state, Mr Guy said, also without saying how many.
Population, immigration and decentralisation were other topics of interest to the Greater Frankston community. Mr Guy said more than 90 per cent of Victoria’s growth was in Melbourne. “That’s unsustainable. We need to build rail lines, country roads, new hospitals, and encourage regional jobs.” Mr Guy said Victoria’s population growth was right, but was not being spread correctly. He advocated incentives for people to go out to the regions. Mr Andrews said he was not proposing to cut the total number of people coming to Victoria, but a broader conversation was needed. After the forum, Committee for Greater Frankston chief executive Ginevra Hosking said putting in place programs to create jobs locally was vital for the Frankston region to “manage our forecast population growth. Also important is transport infrastructure like the proposed rail extension”.
Other topics covered included the Bourke St terror attack, cancelling of the East West Link contract, cost of living, crime including mandatory minimum jail time for repeat violent offenders, and the Safe Schools anti-bullying program. Earlier in the day, Mr Andrews pledged to fund the stage two upgrade of Chisholm TAFE at Frankston from the existing Building Better TAFEs Fund.
Ms Hosking said regardless of the election outcome, Frankston had plenty to look forward to in 2019. “We have organised a breakfast meeting for Wednesday 5 December so Frankston people can meet their newly elected MPs,” she said. Book on: https://www.trybooking.com/ZLMF
Daniel Andrews wins People’s Forum
Sky news 22/11/2018|3min clip
The Victorian Premier and Opposition Leader have faced off in the only televised debate of the campaign, just three days out from Election Day.
Daniel Andrews won the Sky News/Herald Sun People’s Forum, with 49 of the 100 undecided voters saying they would be more likely to vote Labor. Thirty-three of the participants said they would be more likely to vote for the Coalition, and 18 people said they were still undecided.
The voters asked questions about health and education funding, but also the Premier’s choice to pay over $1 billion to not built a major road project.
Sky news coverage of the debate is at https://www.skynews.com.au/details/_5970086261001
Victorian state election debate: Voters grill Andrews and Guy on big issues
Daniel Andrews and Matthew Guy have squared off over the Bourke St terror attack, the East West Link and the Safe Schools program in a tense and feisty debate on the eve of the state election.
The Sky News/Herald Sun People’s Forum, held in Labor’s most marginal seat of Frankston last night, saw 100 undecided voters deliver a convincing victory to Mr Andrews.
While 18 audience members were undecided, 49 backed the Premier as the debate winner, while 33 handed the honours to Mr Guy.
Their verdict followed a fiery forum marked by regular interjections from a passionate crowd, as the leaders traded blows in the first debate ahead of Saturday’s state election.
Hassan Khalif Shire Ali’s shocking Bourke St attack, which has changed the course of the election campaign, sparked a fierce argument as Mr Guy angrily vowed to lock up anyone who breached bail. Mr Andrews defended police for bailing Shire Ali on minor driving offences, but Mr Guy declared that “bail is a privilege, not a right”. When the Premier retorted that the Opposition’s bail crackdown would stop them being able to afford to build new hospitals and schools, Mr Guy said: “People will not be hurt.”
Last night’s debate comes as the Herald Sun can reveal the Opposition will sell off Melbourne’s sewerage system to unlock $5 billion for its infrastructure plans including an East West Link, North East Link, and fast regional rail. The Herald Sun can also reveal the Coalition plans to deliver a $100 million tax cut to pensioners, handing out stamp duty concessions that will save them as much as $5200 if they downsize and buy smaller homes. As the leaders squared off on last night, the major parties were preparing to deliver their final policy costings today, spelling out how a raft of expensive promises will be paid for.
While 970,454 Victorians have already cast their ballots, last night’s debate will likely prove crucial in shaping the views of undecided voters.
Mr Andrews appeared comfortable talking about education and health, drawing on Labor’s strongest policy areas, but Pakenham grandmother Rickie Dalm caused a tense debate as she grilled the leaders about the controversial Safe Schools program. She said she was “really disappointed” Mr Guy refused to detail his concerns with Safe Schools, as he instead spruiked the Coalition’s alternative anti-bullying program. When Mr Guy said cyber-bullying was the biggest issue in schools, Mr Andrews cut in and said: “You need to talk to some more gay kids Matthew.”
TAFE was another key issue, with questioners asking about the Premier’s popular plan for free courses, which Mr Guy appeared to back as he said his TAFE policy would be “very similar”.
Mr Andrews’s decision to rip up the East West Link contract, costing taxpayers $1.3 billion, caused him some difficulty as a questioner attacked the “monumental waste”. Mr Andrews said he understood the frustration of voters but declared he was “angry” the EWL contract was “rigged” by the former government. Mr Guy attacked the Premier’s “weasel words”, promised not to rip up any contracts and vowed to build the new superhighway.
As an Opposition Leader, Mr Guy has battled to build his profile, and used the debate to reveal more about his family life. In response to an emotional question about neonatal care, Mr Guy shared the drama of wife Renae’s premature first birth, and also spoke about his school teachers, his in-laws, and his cousins being forced to move away from the Latrobe Valley to find work.
Audience member Geoff Silcock said Mr Andrews seemed to be “full of bullshit” and “was being downright bloody rude”. But the Premier successfully sold his government’s record from the last four years and Labor’s new promises including free solar panels, more level crossing removals and a mental health royal commission. Voter Peter Hall said he was impressed with the vision Mr Andrews could bring to Melbourne over the next four years.
Visit the Herald sun website for live clips from the Victorian people’s forum (subscriber only)
A tense stand off under a Frankston Sky for election debate
The Age Analysis, Noel Towell 21 November 2018 — 9:39pm
Daniel Andrews finally said Matthew Guy’s name. Sure, it was only the Opposition Leader’s first name, and it was uttered on Sky News at half-eight at night, so not many people saw it, but a small victory for Guy nonetheless with just two days left in the campaign. It was the debate, sorry, Leaders’ Forum, that Andrews didn’t want to have, unwilling to help raise his opponent’s profile by appearing with Guy on prime time free-to-air TV. So the Premier agreed to the next best thing: going on Sky after dark in Frankston on Wednesday, to share a stage with Guy for the first time in this contest and break his policy of not saying the Liberal leader’s name.
Guy mostly looked his best on his favoured law-and order territory. He managed to have the Premier a little flustered over the bail status of Bourke Street terrorist Hassan Khalif Shire Ali and under attack over the controversial decision to not build the East West Link road. The Opposition Leader had a shaky moment or two of his own, not least when Sky host David Speers, who had earlier char-grilled Guy’s local candidate Michael Lamb in an interview, wanted evidence that Guy’s tough law-and-order policies would actually work.
“I’m not going to rely on evidence when people are getting hurt,” Matthew blurted out.
Andrews had considerable trouble swatting off a lady who really doesn’t like the Safe Schools anti-bullying program. (Nobody seems to feel neutral about this.) But after a strangely muted response from Guy, who is determined to axe Safe Schools if he wins on Saturday, Andrews drew his customary line in the sand. “I’m not proposing to change the program because it saves lives,” the Premier said.
The two men put on a surprisingly entertaining evening, but we didn’t learn much of anything new, unless you didn’t know just how much these blokes hate each other. You could always tell where the respective parties have concentrated their effort in the past four years.
Andrews looked defensive as usual on law and order, while Guy prosecuted his case with fervour, even if he winds himself up to fever pitch sometimes. On education and health in particular, the Premier can come across as a bit of a wonky know-it-all while Guy looked at times very underdone in those areas. He compensated for his lack of policy detail by connecting with the audience using his own family experiences – his own schooling, his son’s premature birth.
The two leaders will meet again on Thursday morning on ABC Radio, where we can expect more snark but don’t hold your breath for any surprises.
Victoria election: First televised debate between Daniel Andrews and Matthew Guy treads well-worn path
Analysis ABC news, Danny Tran, 22 November 2018
- Premier Daniel Andrews and Opposition Leader Matthew Guy faced a grilling from 100 undecided voters in Frankston
- The pair clashed on Safe Schools and crime
- Mr Guy defended his position on changes to the bail system,
- Mr Andrews defended the decision to scrap the East West Link
There was a point, about halfway into their first televised debate, when Premier Daniel Andrews quipped that he and the Opposition Leader were strangely in sync on a lot of issues. “We’re having a contest of agreement here this evening on most things,” Mr Andrews told the audience at the Herald Sun People’s Forum in Frankston on Wednesday night, where 100 undecided voters sat to grill the pair. “Most things,” agreed Matthew Guy.
But the uneasy peace between the pair was short-lived. And suddenly, it was almost like they were across the parliamentary table again, fighting the same old battles. As with many disagreements during the last four years, it started with crime and the devastating attack which killed Sisto Malaspina in Melbourne’s Bourke St almost two weeks ago.
Under the Coalition’s proposed laws Mr Malaspina’s killer, Hassan Khalif Shire Ali wouldn’t have been on bail, according to Mr Guy. He pledged, once again, to implement mandatory minimum jail terms for certain types of offenders. “You are not being served well by the criminal justice system,” Mr Guy said. “I understand that some people don’t support mandatory minimum jail time but for repeat violent offenders, I’m sorry, I don’t have sympathy for them. I’m more worried about the people they’re hurting. I think enough is enough.” Mr Guy told the audience in Frankston that bail was a privilege, not a right, and people who break it should face jail time.
It was all the Premier needed to pounce. “For the most minor of offences. So there won’t be any more hospitals built. There won’t be any more TAFEs built. There won’t be any more public transport,” Mr Andrews said. “You’ll be building prisons and that’s all you’ll be building for traffic offences,” he said. “That’s just ridiculous,” Mr Guy said.
The debate was fluid and questions ranged on everything from aged care to education. Mr Guy seized the opportunity to defend his party’s record on education and his own pedigree. “I’ve heard ads saying somehow I want to cut the public school system,” he said. “Why would I want to do that? My children are in the state school system. I’m a product of the state school system which is rare amongst politicians. I want the state school system to thrive.” But the flashpoints, like in Parliament, were saved for the most well-worn issues.
Premier defends Safe Schools program. Mr Andrews fired up when he was forced to defend Victoria’s Safe Schools program from one voter, Ricki, who demanded that parents be given a chance to opt-out. The Premier stressed that Safe Schools was a resource for teachers and was not part of the school curriculum. “It is not taught to any student,” Mr Andrews said. “When teachers face the reality as they do, kids being bullied for many, many different reasons, they are able to provide support and assistance to those students.” But Ricki, refused to accept this, and claimed the program advocated gender fluidity. “Don’t shake your head,” she said to the Premier. “It is simply not accurate. I’m being as respectful as I can,” Mr Andrews said. “Same-sex attracted adolescents, young people in secondary school, six times the rate of suicide. I’m not going to accept that,” he said. “I am not going to accept that and if making sure teachers know how to combat homophobia in schools is unpopular, well that’s my position. “I’m not proposing to change the program, because it saves lives.”
Mr Guy, for his part, said he would scrap Safe Schools in favour of “traditional anti-bullying programs” which would focus on cyberbullying.
East West Link would have cost Victorians $20b And then there were the ghosts of elections past. Barbs flew between the pair over Labor’s decision to tear up the East West Link road project when it stormed to power. The debacle cost taxpayers more than $1 billion, according to Victoria’s auditor-general, who condemned both sides of politics for wasting public money over the issue.
“It is a criminal waste of money to spend more than $1 billion not to build a road, rather than building a road which was sensible,” Mr Guy said. “You promised them it wouldn’t cross a cent. It cost $1.3 billion … that’s more money than it cost to build the Royal Children’s Hospital. “When I told that story to my cousin from Eastern Europe she thought I was joking. She thought we lived in a banana republic and I guess we really kind of do.” But Mr Andrews refused to wear that, telling the undecided voters that he took the decision to an election and had a mandate. “The contract was not written by me, sir. I understand you’re frustrated. I understand many people are frustrated,” he said. “I could push on, not at the cost of $1 billion, but a cost at closer to $20 billion, and build that road which the experts tell us makes congestion worse, and therefore not deliver all of those level cross removals. “I could deliver the project that Victorians had not voted for or I could deliver what I had put forward as our positive plan. I made that choice.” The Coalition has committed to building a revamped East West Link if elected, to connect the Eastern Freeway with CityLink.