Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (16:39): I would just like to rise to make a small contribution to the Melbourne Strategic Assessment (Environment Protection Mitigation Levy) Bill 2019. This bill effectively is trying to legislate what has been practised in policy for the last decade or so using the old Melbourne strategic assessment, and that is something that was done conjunctly with the commonwealth and the state.
For the most part people think it has been operating relatively well. I do not think it has been operating as well as people had expected, and it seems the legislation may well sort of firm up some of the expectations of that levy and also ensure the future of it. There have been a lot of areas where it has not lived up to the promised grassland reserves that it said it would, but it does, I believe, provide some certainty through legislation for a network of large conservation areas. I know there will be some questions during the committee stage, and I will add to that. But given what has been happening over summer and given that 170-odd rare species have lost 50 per cent of their habitat, 50 per cent of their homes, I think anything that we can do that will make a contribution to extinguishing or reducing extinction rates must be done.
I have got concerns, and I will raise them, around some of the really important areas in the north. A number of my constituents in the north have raised their concerns about committing to and ensuring that some of those very important woodland areas in the north are protected.
Again, with the western grassland reserve as well as the grassy eucalypt woodland reserve, although I listened to Mr Hayes saying that it was not adequate, I think it did protect 36 areas of high biodiversity and it did provide some conservation actions for things like the southern brown bandicoot.
Being someone who grew up in the ACT where the notion of green pathways for our habitat was crucial to the development of that city and to the planning of that city, I understand that this again will provide some of those habitat corridors in this very fast growth period that Melbourne has been experiencing for quite some time and continues to experience. I think it is incredibly important that we work to protect those pathways, work to protect those corridors to ensure that we do not find our species being captured and cornered into certain areas with no way to migrate, move, breed et cetera.
I look forward to listening to the committee process for this bill. I think there will be lots of really important questions asked, but at the moment the Reason Party will support the legislation.
Fiona Patten MP
Leader of Reason
Member for Northern Metropolitan Region
Second reading speech 6/2/20