Andrews gets down to business, with focus on TAFE, hospitals

STARTING an audit of the state’s hospital bed capacity, beefing up TAFE funding and setting up a royal commission into family violence are the top priorities for the new Labor government, Premier-elect Daniel Andrews has vowed.

Victorian Labor party leader and Premier-elect Daniel Andrews celebrates his win with wife Catherine and his family on stage at Mulgrave Country Club. Picture: FAIRFAX

Victorian Labor party leader and Premier-elect Daniel Andrews celebrates his win with wife Catherine and his family on stage at Mulgrave Country Club. Picture: FAIRFAX

Before briefings with bureaucrats yesterday, Mr Andrews said Parliament would sit before the end of the year, with back-to-work legislation designed to stimulate job growth set to be the first bill tabled.

Mr Andrews has also promised to release all documents on the East West Link.

“The Labor government has a mandate to release all documentation in relation to the East West Link, a secretive, rushed and botched project,” he said.

Mr Andrews reiterated that Labor would not build the East West Link.

“The road is not going to be built and the contract is not worth the paper it’s written on,” he told the ABC.

But Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he was determined to see the link built — the Commonwealth has committed $3 billion to the two-part project.

In a statement congratulating Mr Andrews on his victory and paying tribute to outgoing Premier Denis Napthine, the Prime Minister vowed to fight on with the project.

“He [Napthine] restored the fiscal position of the state and embarked on a major infrastructure program to get Victoria moving. I share his commitment to the East West Link and I am determined to do what I can to ensure this vital national infrastructure project proceeds to completion,” Mr Abbott said.

“Whilst a significant proportion of the vote remains to be counted, it is clear that Victorians have voted for a change of government.

“The Commonwealth government will work with the incoming government in the interests of all Victorians.”

Mr Andrews also said he would move quickly on a royal commission into family violence and restoring the TAFE sector.

“There has been so much damage done to our TAFE sector,” he said. “I don’t think it can wait until a new financial year for us to provide that funding.”

Labor has pledged a $320 million TAFE rescue package.

An audit of the state’s hospital capacity run by former Australian Medical Association head Dr Doug Travers will begin this week.

The Premier-elect also spoke to his NSW counterpart Mike Baird yesterday about medicinal cannabis and defence jobs. He also spoke to South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill and looked forward to talking to Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

“We are trying to drag that law [medicinal cannabis] into the 21st century,” Mr Andrews said.

NSW, SA and Victoria have vowed to work together to keep defence jobs in Australia. But Mr Andrews’ cabinet is still some days away, with uncertainty over the make-up of the upper house affecting potential cabinet minister Brian Tee.

With the upper house looming as a mix of parties and ideologies, Mr Andrews was upbeat about dealing with a chamber that did not have a government majority.

“I’ve spent many, many hours in my professional career negotiating and bringing people together and finding common ground and that will be the approach I take.”

THE AGE

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