Clifford Hayes, MP., of Sustainable Australia Party, asked Mr Jennings MP (Leader of the Government) to investigate selling public spaces to local governments at a nominal amount, given that population growth is driving ongoing decline in open space per capita in Melbourne. Mr Jennings' 'nothing to see here' response smacks disingenuously of avoiding the obvious context of the government's massive population growth-engineering and overdevelopment, which is driving an accelerated reduction in space and all kinds of ammenities, as well as democracy.
Question without notice - Public Land Use (Wednesday 17 October 2019)
Mr HAYES (Southern Metropolitan) (12:11): My question without notice is to the minister representing the minister for finance. I refer to the report in the Age on 9 October by Noel Towell that the government intends to sell off more than 2600 hectares of publicly owned land from over 150 sites in Melbourne and country Victoria. Given the dramatic ongoing decline in open space per capita in Melbourne as a result of population growth of well over 100 000 per annum and the alarming decline in Melbourne’s vegetation cover, will the government investigate offering these parcels to local councils for a nominal amount subject to an enforceable condition that they are turned into, maintained and retained as public open space?
Mr JENNINGS (South Eastern Metropolitan—Leader of the Government, Special Minister of State, Minister for Priority Precincts, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs) (12:12): For the benefit of the house I will just indicate that the Assistant Treasurer is the minister who is responsible, and I will take the question. There is not a minister for finance in the current government, although the function that Mr Hayes has referred to has been the domain of the minister for finance in previous administrations. So with that clarification, in terms of the issues for which Mr Hayes seeks a response, I am certain that the Assistant Treasurer will provide you with a written response.
But as an immediate response, can I indicate to you that there is absolutely nothing that is unusual about the identification of parcels of land across Victoria that may be sometimes considered by the government of the day in relation to what its appropriate public value may be and what alternative use it may be put to. There is absolutely nothing that is unusual with that circumstance. In fact every government does it. They continue to do it on the basis of being aware of the public land estate—there are millions of hectares of public land estate across the Victorian landscape now and there will be into the future—and of identifying small parcels of land that may be able to be put to a multitude of purposes. Some of them may be appropriate in the circumstances that Mr Hayes refers to. Some of them may be appropriate for some form of housing development, some of them may be appropriate for some degree of civic development and some of them may be appropriate for commercial development. It is incumbent upon the state to use its resources wisely in balancing the public interest. It does so on a continual basis and will continue to do so to assess the appropriate way in which we can maximise the value of public land to benefit the Victorian community.
So Mr Hayes may appreciate that. He is certainly a very clear and consistent advocate for appropriate public land values, environmental values and sustainability, and the government should respect that. I believe we do respect that. I look forward to the answer that the Assistant Treasurer will give you to provide you with overall confidence in that. I am not certain whether he will agree to the specific elements of either the terms of transfer or the ultimate use of any parcel of land prematurely, because that should be considered within the appropriate balance of what greater public benefit should be derived and maintained for the people of Victoria, but the Assistant Treasurer may augment my response to you.
Mr HAYES: I have no supplementary question, but I thank the minister and look forward to a written answer.