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Victorian Parliament Urban Growth Boundary debate 10:30 am Wednesday 29 July 09

David Davis MP will introduce his resolution for the Outer Suburban/Interface Services and Development Committee of Parliament to hold an enquiry into the Extension of the Urban Growth Boundary at 10:30 am on Wednesday 29 July 2009 in the Upper House. Concerned citizens are urged to attend parliament to watch as our representatives argue the toss of our remaining quality of life and environment in Melbourne. A link is also provided to listen on-line. See also: Other relevant articles about the Urban Growth Boundaries assault

David Davis MP will introduce his resolution for the Outer Suburban/Interface Services and Development Committee of Parliament to hold an enquiry into the Extension of the Urban Growth Boundary at 10:30 am on Wednesday 29 July 2009 in the Upper House.

It will be under General Business. It is suggested that if people would like to attend then perhaps come half an hour earlier to allow time for security clearance. Ask to go to the Upper House public gallery.

(No banners or shouting at ALP members in Parliament!)

For those at home look up on and click on Live Audio Broadcast sign on the home page. You can listen to a direct broadcast. The picture of the member of Parliament speaking comes on the screen.

Below is cut and pasted an extract from Hansard with David Davis' resolution, which is the neatly presented bit at the top. What follows are remarks which may be of some interest. (Note that the links do not work.)

The State Government's plan to extend the Urban Growth Boundary, which heralds amongst other things, the destruction of Green Wedges and imposition of a grossly unfair vendor land tax, will have disastrous consequences for Victoria, if it gets through.

David Davis' Statement to Parliament 090624 on Committees.doc






D. DAVIS (Southern Metropolitan)

-- I move:

    That pursuant to the Parliamentary
    Committees Act 2003, the undermentioned committees be required to inquire
    into, consider and report on the following:

(1) Outer Suburban/Interface
Services and Development Committee

    The impact of the state government's
    decision to change the urban growth boundary on land-holders and the
    environment and plans announced by the government to introduce an increased
    development contribution for land in designated growth areas, including

    1. the likely quantum of the
      collections by government;

    (b) mechanisms to ensure the contributions are directed only to the
    intended purposes;

      (c) the likely impact on the housing
      and development industries;

      (d) any unintended consequences
      including the impact on all land-holders and purchasers to be impacted;

      (e) any displacement or replacement
      of government spending likely to result from the increased collections;

      (f) any alternative options, including
      any used in other jurisdictions;

      and to report by 30 November 2009.

    (2) Environment and
    Natural Resources Committee

      The environment effects statement
      process in Victoria, including the operation of the Environment Effects
      Act 1978, and in particular --

      (a) any weaknesses in the current
      system including poor environmental outcomes, excessive costs and unnecessary
      delays encountered through the process and its mechanisms;

      (b) community and industry consultation
      under the act;

      (c) the independence of environmental
      effects examination when government is the proponent; and

      (d) how better environmental outcomes
      can be achieved more quickly and predictably and with a reduction in
      unnecessary costs;

      and to report by 30 August 2010.

    (3) Family and Community
    Development Committee

      The adequacy of public housing
      in Victoria, including --

      (a) public housing waiting lists
      in Victoria;

      (b) the impact on individuals and
      families of waiting times to access public housing and how this varies
      by each segment;

      (c) the adequacy, quality and standards
      of Victorian public housing;

      (d) the safety and location of
      Victorian public housing and public housing estates; and

      (e) the impact of the failures
      in public housing on specific groups, including women, seniors, the
      homeless, indigenous Victorians, refugees, people with a mental illness,
      substance abuse and/or disability;

      and to report by 30 September 2010.

    (4) Drugs and Crime
    Prevention Committee

      The level, nature and incidence
      of violent crime in Victoria in recent years including –

      (a) rising crime statistics on
      reported assaults and the impact of these levels of violent crime on
      Victorians and Victorian residents, including vulnerable groups, migrants,
      overseas students and the elderly;

      (b) the status of, resourcing of
      and staffing of suburban, regional city and rural police stations including
      an examination of police patrol hours and plans announced recently to
      close or down grade suburban police stations; and

      (c) the importance and role of
      local and community policing;

      and to report by 30 August 2010.

    (5) Economic Development
    and Infrastructure Committee

      The impact and effectiveness of
      increased state government taxation (including land tax, payroll tax,
      stamp duties, state government taxes and charges and development levies)
      and increased state government debt on Victorian --

      (a) development;

      (b) competitiveness;

      (c) sustainability;

      (d) employment;

      (e) job creation; and

      (f) small businesses, including
      their national and international competitiveness under the state government's
      current taxation arrangements;

      and to table an interim report
      by 28 February 2010 and a final report by 30 September 2010.

    This is an important
    motion because it will provide critical work in five different areas
    to the joint parliamentary committees that play a significant role in
    this Parliament's activities. References can be provided to committees
    of both chambers by either the lower house, the upper house or the Governor
    in Council on the recommendation of the government. It is important
    to note that references from the chambers take precedence. The series
    of references I have moved today addresses clear needs in areas about
    which the community has expressed concern, and the results of the committees'

    inquiries should be made available to the community to examine.

    In relation to the
    Outer Suburban/Interface Services and Development Committee, the government's
    sudden changes to the urban growth boundary without proper consultation
    and the urban growth boundary's impact on the environment, on individual
    landholdings and on the way in which the development of Melbourne is
    pursued are matters that should be considered. I am sure my colleague
    Mr Guy will have a comment to make on that. This reference is also important
    because a number of land-holders face significant challenges in terms
    of the state government's decision to impose a growth areas infrastructure
    contribution, which will slug landowners with a $95 000 per hectare
    charge. In recent years we have heard from the government about the
    sacrosanct nature of the urban growth boundary. The sudden changes,
    made without consultation, to the urban growth boundary will have broad
    impacts, and they need to be closely examined.

    The reference to the
    Environment and Natural Resources Committee would, in my view, enable
    a better environmental effects process to be developed in Victoria.

    The state government
    has had opportunities to do that, and there is a need to significantly
    improve the environmental effects process. At the moment we have the
    worst of all worlds in many respects. We have a costly process that
    is not good at getting the right environmental outcomes and a process
    that is subject to lengthy delays. If you design a bad system to tie
    up business and proponents in green tape, you get a bad outcome. I am
    not confident that the system as it is currently constructed is a good
    system for getting the best environmental outcomes.

    What is required with
    environmental effects processes is to consult quickly and completely
    and to do that in a way that enables scientific and other information
    to be collated, examined and analysed swiftly, ensuring that the right
    environmental protections are in place.

    Processes that are
    excessively dangerous to the environment should not be allowed to proceed,
    and projects that can proceed with modifications should be allowed to
    proceed within a reasonable time period and without undue and unreasonable
    costs. The bugs in the system that currently produce delays and poor
    environmental outcomes should be ironed out.

    The Victorian Competition
    and Efficiency Commission (VCEC) has looked at environmental regulations,
    and this is one area that it has singled out. In no way do I diminish
    the work of the commission with this reference. There is a useful pool
    of information at VCEC level, but at the same time this is in a sense
    a task for a joint parliamentary committee, after which it can come
    back with recommendations that can be broadly accepted across the Parliament
    to improve the speed, accuracy and outcomes of environment effects processes.
    It is an old act and an act that needs reforming, and I think that is
    widely conceded. I can point to a number of examples where that is the

    Whatever one's view
    about the channel-deepening project -- and in the end, the opposition
    supported the process -- the first environment effects statement was
    not acceptable and was widely seen to be flawed. Because of that process
    a second environment effects statement was ordered. Whatever one might
    think of the whole thing, it was drawn out and is still in some respects
    inadequate. I am sure others will have something to say about that.

    Honourable members

    Mr D. DAVIS -- I am trying to be reasonable here and make
    some -- --

    Mr Barber interjected.

    Mr D. DAVIS -- The first one was just a shambles.

    In recent cases like
    the Barwon Heads bridge there was an environment effects process associated
    with the planning decisions, and in an extraordinary move the Minister
    for Planning overruled a disallowance motion that had been moved and
    supported in this chamber. What do these environment effects statement
    mean if the minister is prepared to act capriciously? There are real
    questions about that.

    The reference to the
    Family and Community Development Committee is in my view an important
    one. Ms Lovell, as the shadow Minister for Housing, has publicly made
    great points about the growing public housing waiting lists impacting
    directly on families and individuals and about the waiting times that
    have now reached extraordinary levels. It is important that the impact
    on safety and on specific

    groups listed in the motion is looked at closely and is a key focus.
    The waiting lists are at almost 40 000, a seven-year high. This has
    become a scandal in Victoria with a massive impact on many families,
    and it is only right and proper that this be closely examined by the
    Family and Community Development Committee, which is an important committee.

    The issues concerned
    in the Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee reference are significant.
    This reference looks at violent crime in Victoria, the issue of statistics,
    at local and community policing and the importance of police stations
    and the state government's decision to not properly resource and in
    some cases significantly downgrade local police stations. Rising crime
    in terms of reported assaults is something that concerns most Victorians.
    Terrible cases have been brought into public profile.

    There have been terrible
    outcomes for certain groups that have been particularly vulnerable,
    such as the elderly, and more recently there has been a lot of discussion
    in the media about overseas students who appear to have suffered massively
    as individuals. I do not think any Victorian condones or supports that.
    They believe this has to be stamped out, and the state government's
    efforts at policing have to be sharpened and focused on raising protection
    to the levels required. People should feel safe in the community and
    on public transport, but they do not at the moment. Some issues around
    police statistics are significant given what the Ombudsman has said
    in recent reports about the doubtful nature of some statistics.

    The Economic Development
    and Infrastructure Committee reference is also important. It will look
    at taxation levels and increases that have occurred in recent times
    and their impact on Victoria's development, competitiveness, sustainability,
    employment and job creation, as well as small businesses.

    These are, in my view,
    key things in our economy, particularly at this time when we face particular
    stresses. The Victorian community expects the Parliament to respond
    and to understand that a number of these issues have to be dealt with.

    Mr Viney will no doubt
    get up and bleat at length about the period of notice. He received the
    details of these references on Friday. I am very aware in this case
    that the government has the capacity to order references through the
    Governor in Council, and this puts parliamentary chambers, particularly
    the upper house, at a significant disadvantage if the government --
    how can I put it kindly -- in a competitive or game-playing way, seeks
    to drop references from on high, from the Governor in Council or elsewhere.
    It is true that references from chambers at committee level take precedence
    over Governor in Council references.

    However, in moving
    this motion at this point and with this time period, I am deeply conscious
    of the fact that the government has begun to send a series of references
    to joint committees in the recent period and not least the one I sit
    on, the Economic Development and Infrastructure Committee.

    I want to say something
    briefly about the work of the various committees. It is incumbent on
    us as members of Parliament to look at the work schedules for these
    committees and ensure that they are sensible and practical, and I have
    certainly done that. I have also consulted a number of people about
    those work schedules. Today the Economic Development and Infrastructure
    Committee tabled its report on its inquiry into Victorian public sector
    information and data, and it has at the moment a single reference regarding
    the manufacturing industry. It has the capacity to do more work and
    hence the clear reference to look at state government taxation issues.

    The Education and Training
    Committee at this immediate point has sufficient work. The Electoral
    Matters Committee also has a number of inquiries going. The Environment
    and Natural Resources Committee recently tabled its report on its inquiry
    into Melbourne's future water supply, an important reference, and I
    compliment the committee on much of the work done in that inquiry, which
    pointed to significant sources of additional water supply for Melbourne
    and elsewhere and some techniques that could be used. At the moment
    it has a single inquiry into the approvals process for renewable energy
    projects, something that would in my view in part dovetail quite nicely
    with the reference on environment effects statements. The committee
    may well be able to do part of the work of these two inquiries conjointly.
    They are not the same reference, but there are certainly areas that
    overlap where the environment effects statement process is a barrier
    to the sensible outcomes that the community would seek to achieve, at
    the same time ensuring that appropriate protections are maintained to
    protect the environment properly.

    The Family and Community Development
    Committee has a number of references at the moment, but in my view,
    having spoken to members of that committee, there is capacity for it
    to undertake an additional reference, and the public housing waiting
    list reference is highly appropriate. This reference would look at the
    explosion of public housing waiting lists in the recent period and the
    impact that has on individuals and families. In my view no other committee
    is as equipped to look at this significant social problem at this point.

    The Law Reform Committee at this point has a number of references and
    does not require work in the immediate future.

    The Outer Suburban/Interface
    Services and Development Committee has just a single reference, with
    a reporting date of 31 March 2010, and it has the capacity to undertake
    this important reference on changes to the UGB (urban growth boundary)
    and the increased development contribution, and to do that quite swiftly.
    This is the obvious committee to do that work, given its focus on the
    interface, and I cannot think of a better placed committee to undertake
    this work to look at the changes to the UGB on the edge of the city.
    There could be no more logical or sensible reference.

    As always, the Public
    Accounts and Estimates Committee has plenty of work in terms of the
    budget process, its oversight of the Auditor-General and following up
    other reports.

    The Road Safety Committee
    currently has two references, and it has sufficient work for the immediate
    period, as have the Rural and Regional Committee, SARC (Scrutiny of
    Acts and Regulations Committee) and the other committees. So the carrying
    of this motion would give a sensible and practical workload to those
    committees to which references have been listed in the motion. It would
    provide the opportunity for the committees to investigate matters of
    significant public concern.

    There is a need for
    greater transparency in relation to a number of issues. We need to get
    to the bottom of some of these issues at community level, and the best
    way to do that is to allow people to have their say through a joint
    committee process. I urge the government and the other parties in the
    chamber to support these references.

    They are sensible,
    they address genuine community concerns, they are practical and they
    are directed to committees that have the capacity to undertake the work
    over the period for which the references are directed.

    The government may
    seek to gazump some of these references with references from elsewhere,
    and I would welcome a commitment from the government that it will not
    do that and will listen closely to what Mr Viney no doubt has to say.

    D. DAVIS (Southern Metropolitan)

    -- I wanted to make some points in response to Mr Leane and reiterate
    a couple of the points made by Mr Hall. The key point here is that the
    government is at a significant advantage with committee references.
    As Mr Hall has outlined, the Assembly can simply move forthwith to deal
    with things, and it does. Equally the government, through the Governor
    in Council mechanism, is at a significant advantage.

    I believe it is entirely
    reasonable for me to have provided Mr Viney and the government with
    five days notice. In the circumstances, given he has provided a commitment
    to the chamber that the government will not produce further references
    in this period, I look forward to gently supporting this deferral, while
    at the same time allowing the mover of the procedural motion to provide
    some indication in his 2-minute summation to the chamber of what the
    nature of the proposed reference to the Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee
    might be.

    Motion agreed to; debate adjourned
    until Wednesday, 1 July.

    David Davis MP

    4/976 Riversdale Road

    Surrey Hills Vic. 3127

    Phone: 9888 6244


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