Motion: Boroondara planning scheme amendment | Sue Pennicuik

Motion: Boroondara planning scheme amendment

The Greens will be supporting the motion moved by Mr Davis that amendment C298 to the Boroondara planning scheme, which applies to the land at 3 and 10 Markham Avenue, Ashburton, which was gazetted on 1 February and tabled on 6 February, be revoked. As Mr Davis has said, we have spoken about the issue of the Markham estate redevelopment several times in this chamber.
Wednesday, March 28, 2018 - 8:30am
Sue Pennicuik

Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) — The Greens will be supporting the motion moved by Mr Davis that amendment C298 to the Boroondara planning scheme, which applies to the land at 3 and 10 Markham Avenue, Ashburton, which was gazetted on 1 February and tabled on 6 February, be revoked. As Mr Davis has said, we have spoken about the issue of the Markham estate redevelopment several times in this chamber.

Firstly, I raised it by way of adjournment and other matters. Then I moved a motion to set up the inquiry which is currently underway chaired by Ms Fitzherbert. It is looking into various matters associated with the public housing renewal program of the government, including the redevelopment of the Markham estate. We need far more public housing in Victoria. As Ms Fitzherbert pointed out in the chamber a couple of weeks ago, we have more than 37 000 applicants waiting for public housing — that is 37 000 applications, not 37 000 people; it is much more than 37 000 people. The public housing renewal program as put forward by the government is not going to make any sort of a dent in that waiting list. We need more public housing; we need to keep the public housing land that we have in public hands, and this planning scheme amendment C298 put forward by the government still proposes to sell off the majority of that public housing land to the private sector, even if that is called by the minister 'affordable housing'.

The incorporated document that I have had a look at with regard to this planning scheme amendment is very little changed from the first one. So we have a planning scheme amendment again coming to this house which has basically no changes in it — fewer apartments and the amount of public housing is exactly the same as it was in the first planning scheme amendment, with no increase at all. The development itself, with 200-odd units on a very small parcel of land in a cul-de-sac in Ashburton, is completely inappropriate for that particular site.

The other thing that is really egregious about this particular planning scheme amendment is that when the previous planning scheme amendment, C251, was revoked by this chamber, the government went away in secret without consulting with the community, even though under the Development Victoria Act 2003 it is meant to consult with the council and the community; it is actually required by law to do that. It then came back with this new planning scheme amendment, C298. I am advised that the council was told about it the night before it was gazetted, so that means consultation — none. Consultation — nil. The council should be the responsible authority. The planning minister has made himself the responsible authority, and in doing that he has given himself the job of selling off our precious public land — our precious public land for public housing to be sold off to the private sector.

I have stood with the community now for more than two years on this issue. I have met with members of the community, I have visited the site many times and I have spoken at rallies. I pay great tribute to the Ashburton Residents Action Group and all the community members that support that group, because right from day one and right up until now their main concern has been that there is not enough public housing there. They want it kept as public housing; they do not want the public land sold off to the private sector, and there is no need for it. The reason we are being presented with this terrible public housing renewal program is that the government has not put enough money into it — $185 million across nine sites — and as I said only this morning in this house, the government is intending to spend another $300 million on the grand prix. Let us put that into public housing. We can easily find more money to keep our public housing land as public housing and really reduce that waiting list.

The community is still very much opposed to this proposal, as is the Boroondara council, who again have been staunch advocates for their community, for keeping public housing on that site and for a better result in terms of a design that is in keeping with the local community and with the precious local environmental surrounds of the remnant woodland et cetera that I have described before. I have gone into what is so special about that site on other occasions; I do not want to spend too much time on it today except to say it is next to Gardiners Creek and there is remnant grassy woodland there. It is very rare to find this sort of thing in metropolitan Melbourne, so to be plonking a huge development next to it that is going to upset the watertable, that is going to result in the loss of the existing very well established river red gums and other trees — it just beggars belief that the government thinks that this is in any way a good program; it is not a good program. This planning scheme amendment should be revoked.

Mr Davis went to the issue that has been raised by some in the community and others that there has been a flurry of planning scheme amendment revocations, and there has been; there has been a couple in a row. As I have said, planning scheme amendments go through this Parliament, laid on the table, every week and are not revoked. When a house of Parliament moves to revoke one it is because there is no community support for it and it is a bad proposal. It is the way that the Parliament can hold the executive to account when they have gone down the wrong path with a planning scheme amendment, against the wishes of the community and the local council and really against the interests of Victorians who want to see our homelessness crisis fixed and want to see people who are on public housing waiting lists put into public housing. We can do so much better than what is being presented by this amendment.