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Tuesday, 19 November 2002
Page: 6787

Senator MARSHALL (7:52 PM) —Tonight I want to raise the matter of planning issues in Victoria and, specifically, Mr Petro Georgiou's article in last Thursday's Melbourne Age in which he discussed the Victorian government's Melbourne 2030 plan. By any fair analysis, Mr Georgiou's article was misinformed at best and scaremongering at worst. The Bureau of Statistics projects that the Melbourne area will have an additional 620,000 households in the year 2030. The Melbourne 2030 strategy reflects the challenges facing the Victorian government in accommodating these people while, at the same time, protecting the things we value most about Melbourne. The Liberal opposition in Victoria attempt to paint this projection as an invention of the Bracks government. They should be reminded that, as an independent assessment, that projection stands irrespective of who is in government in Victoria. The key difference is that the Bracks government have a plan to meet that challenge and the Liberal opposition do not.

Mr Georgiou attempts to discredit the Melbourne 2030 plan by disingenuous arithmetic. He takes the projected increase in households, divides it by 31—that number being the number of metropolitan councils— and uses the resulting figure to announce that each of those councils must accommodate that additional number of people. Mr Georgiou fails to acknowledge that where people live is a matter of choice and that the Melbourne 2030 strategy caters for, and supports, that choice. Melbourne 2030 breaks the larger projection down so that regions in Melbourne have an idea of the growth they will have to accommodate. Across the board, it is projected that growth will be slow over the next 30 years.

In existing suburbs, the degradation of suburban streets that was so evident under the Kennett government will be prevented by encouraging development around activity centres. The nature of that development will be determined by all interested parties—residents, councils, developers and the government—in the knowledge that no two centres are the same. With regard to the urban fringe, Melbourne 2030 has two key principles. Firstly, it stops the ad hoc and damaging sprawl of the city into green wedges set aside by Sir Rupert Hamer. It does this by introducing an urban growth boundary and by special laws within the wedges. Secondly, it provides for ongoing development in five designated growth corridors. Crucial to the success of this strategy is the ongoing supply of land to ensure that it remains affordable. Land supply will, of course, be closely monitored. The combined effect of these two principles is that the things we value about Melbourne are protected. Melbourne 2030 ensures that we are building communities, not just housing estates.

This plan allows the Victorian government to better focus on the delivery of the whole range of government services to our communities, particularly on the fringe. Providing services closer to home and smarter public transport links will allow the government to start to reduce our dependence on cars. Mr Georgiou would have us believe that Melbourne 2030 is without any intrinsic merit or support from interested parties. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Planning Institute of Australia states that Melbourne 2030 is:

... the best plan we've seen from a State Government in over thirty years, possibly even the best since the very first 1929 plan.

This appraisal of the Bracks government plan is echoed by the Property Council, the Housing Industry Association, Save Our Suburbs and many green-wedge groups across Melbourne. Support for Melbourne 2030 has also come from international organisations. Sir Peter Hall from the Institute of Community Studies in London said:

It builds on Melbourne's strengths as a major Australian city. The main elements—strengthening centres, maintaining green wedges—all make eminent good sense and are mutually reinforcing.

Mr Josef Konvitz of the OECD said:

The Strategy recognises the fact that uncoordinated, small-scale efforts ... will only perpetuate problems. I am very impressed by the clarity and balance between general and particular.

This level of support for Melbourne 2030 more than justifies the two years spent in its creation and is a clear endorsement of the consultation undertaken by the Bracks government. Far from seeing consultation as the negative Robert Doyle would like it to be, the Bracks government actively involved thousands of Victorians in the formation of the strategy through information forums, submissions and focus groups. Currently, consultations on the implementation options are taking place with community, industry and council representatives. In Melbourne 2030, the Bracks government has a strategy that has attracted local and international accolades, built on community consultation and involvement. The opposition have nothing—no policy and no direction on planning issues. Their attitude to planning issues is best remembered in the approach of the Kennett government. Remember the `Good design guide'—the callous removal of community involvement in the planning process, the culture of development at all costs? Victorians have not forgotten either.