DAVID DAVIS MP
MEMBER FOR SOUTHERN
June 2009 LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL
" size="2" face="Verdana">Mr
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
- the likely quantum of the
collections by government;
(b) mechanisms to ensure the contributions are directed only to the
(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;
(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;
(d) how better environmental outcomes
can be achieved more quickly and predictably and with a reduction in
(3) Family and Community
The adequacy of public housing
in Victoria, including --
(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;
(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;
(4) Drugs and Crime
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
(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 --
(f) small businesses, including
their national and international competitiveness under the state government's
current taxation arrangements;
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.
Mr D. " size="2" face="Verdana">DAVIS -- I am trying to be reasonable here and make
some -- --
Mr Barber interjected.
Mr D. " size="2" face="Verdana">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
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.
" size="2" face="Verdana">Mr
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
Motion agreed to; debate adjourned
until Wednesday, 1 July.
David Davis MP
4/976 Riversdale Road
Surrey Hills Vic. 3127
Phone: 9888 6244