Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (11:38:02): I will speak briefly on this as well. I commend Mr Hayes for this bill, and I know that this is something that he has been passionate about. I have really actually enjoyed listening to the other speakers who have experience on local councils and local government.
I must say that I spend a lot of time with my local government in my electorate, and I find them to be a great resource and a great source of information. I think that they do some remarkably good work and that they do represent their community. However, I do not support this bill.
I really have worked hard to bring myself around to this, but I went to the election in 2018 with policies to create reasonable and rational decisions around density in our inner and middle suburbs, as well as expanding our regional cities. We took that policy from the Grattan Institute and from the work of Infrastructure Victoria.
Both of them said that this needs to be a statewide policy, that this need to be consistent and that it needs to be statewide. We are just starting on the homelessness inquiry and the shortage of housing in this state is startling—it is frightening. It is almost too big to even think how we are going to deal with it. Fifty-thousand homes—how are we going to do that? I really believe that we need to have a whole-of-state plan.
This bill will actually dilute that and will result in a piecemeal approach, a council-by-council plan, and I do not think that this will achieve what we need to achieve, what Infrastructure Victoria says we need to achieve, and what is in the research that I read from the Grattan Institute about the sort of density that we are going to need so that we are not constantly building homes over our farmlands and so we are not constantly spreading.
My region goes out to those outer interface councils. To continue to build the infrastructure, to continue to build out, is not the answer. Certainly to support regional cities like Shepparton, Ballarat, Bendigo, Mildura and Wangaratta to expand and take in some of our population growth is something we would do.
I agree that when you look at our planning acts and when you look at this act, it is ginormous. It is one of those pieces of legislation that has been added to, amended, amended, amended, amended and amended. So I support Dr Ratnam’s proposal that we have an inquiry into the Planning and Environment Act 1987.
I think it is actually well worth it to look at it as a whole. I do not think that this bill goes to that point. This bill will make it impossible to implement Plan Melbourne, and I think that would be a mistake. I will not go on. I know this is the platform that Mr Hayes stood on. I commend that.
I would like to see greater consistency. I would like to see local governments not feeling that they were overridden. But I have also been at the other end of local governments making ridiculous decisions that have to be taken to VCAT. This bill would actually close off that opportunity for us to challenge bad decisions by local government.
So while I admire Mr Hayes’s passion on this and I really have actually enjoyed the debate today, I cannot support the bill.
Fiona Patten MP
Leader of Reason
Member for Northern Metropolitan Region
Second reading 13/11/19