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Parliamentary Secretary discusses Point Nepean; and welcome home for troops.



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22 May 2003

TRANSCRIPT

THE HON. FRAN BAILEY MP

PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO THE MINISTER FOR DEFENCE INTERVIEW JON FAINE 774 ABC MELBOURNE

E&OE

Subjects: Point Nepean, Welcome Home Parade

FRAN BAILEY:

Good morning, Jon.

FAINE:

The State Government says that they'll make sure that no resort-style developments, or other commercial uses, can be set down for the future of Point Nepean. What effect does that have on the Commonwealth's intentions to sell the land?

BAILEY:

Well, Jon, I was very disappointed yet again with Mr Thwaites' response. I think that his statement yesterday was completely unnecessary. I think it's alarmist and I think it's very ambiguous.

FAINE:

Well, what it's doing is it's costing you money. It costs the Federal Government money if the State Government make these announcements, doesn't it?

BAILEY:

Well, Jon, we've already got state and federal legislation in place. In fact, the Commonwealth legislation protecting the environment and heritage is the strongest legislation we have ever had. That's the Environment Protection, Biodiversity and Conservation Act known as EPBC.

Now, when Mr Thwaites refers to 'gated communities' in his press release, he is simply being alarmist. He knows that there will be no residential development. The Commonwealth has given that undertaking.

And the real planning authority of course is the local government. And the local government authority there, the Mornington Peninsula Shire, has passed a formal motion in council endorsing the master plan, and they too are on the public record as saying that there will be no residential development.

FAINE:

No, but you've been looking at mixed use. You've told us that. That partnerships, you said before, was something that the Commonwealth would contemplate. The State Government's decision costs the Commonwealth money, doesn't it?

BAILEY:

Well, I think that their decision is very, very ambiguous …

FAINE:

But does it cost you money?

BAILEY:

No, I don't believe that it will. When Mr Thwaites says that there can be no commercial development, what in effect he is saying is that the future sustainability of those heritage buildings is at risk, because there is going to have to be some revenue stream to be able to be put back into the maintenance of those buildings.

FAINE:

Well, that doesn't have to come from commercial residential development, though, does it?

BAILEY:

It's not Jon, there will be no residential development. The Commonwealth has stated that publicly now on many occasions. It's part of the criteria for the expression of interest stage that we're in. Now, I'm very limited in what I can say publicly at the moment, because the expression of interest doesn't close until the second of June.

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FAINE:

But everyone's frightened off now, aren't they?

BAILEY:

No, not at all.

FAINE:

Well, we've spoken to developers this morning who declined our invitation to come on the program because they don't want to upset either the State or the Federal Government, but they also, well, no-one's going to touch this with a bargepole now.

BAILEY:

Well, when you say 'developers', Jon, no developer who's interested in residential development need bother apply.

FAINE:

No, but there are other commercial developments, hotel and resort style developments, that also look unlikely now to be approved.

BAILEY:

Well, Jon, we'll wait until the second of June to see exactly how many expressions of interest that we get. But I repeat. Mr Thwaites' comments yesterday are unnecessary. They are alarmist, and they are very ambiguous. And I think it's, really, as far as I'm concerned, his statements are just trying to cover up a serious broken promise that Mr Bracks made that he was going to buy this land.

FAINE:

Fran Bailey, it's reduced the value of the asset that the Commonwealth Government, that you're trying to sell. Has it reduced it to the point where we're back to the beginning, you should just give it back to the people of Victoria, not sell it?

BAILEY:

Jon, I've listened to people making all sorts of comments as to how … what sort of value the Commonwealth has put on this land. Now, that is commercial in confidence, and I'm not going to comment about any value of this land until we've completed our expression of interest and request for tender process.

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FAINE:

But the issue for the public is, if the State Government's snookered you, if they've stripped this of its commercial development opportunities, if it's not going to be a resort golf course style development, then it's of little commercial value, and you should just hand it over.

BAILEY:

No it hasn't reduced either its value or the intention of the Commonwealth. Jon, people have been making assumptions about the Commonwealth's role in this all along. People need to take a very close and hard look at the entire process that the Commonwealth has gone through in this process. For 12 months we held community consultations.

FAINE:

Yes.

BAILEY:

If the Commonwealth had simply been interested in getting a high commercial return for this land, it will have been put out on the market over 12 months ago. That has not happened.

As you know, that we have given 205 hectares, cleaned that up and given that to the state, adding it to the national park. We've ensured that there will always be public access by giving 20 hectares to the local shire authority.

But the area of 90 hectares that remains, which contains the heritage buildings, is going to have to be disposed in a way that protects the heritage and the environment. And in protecting that heritage, there has to be some revenue stream in order to ensure the sustainability of the heritage buildings.

FAINE:

Well, let's see what people come up with when the deadline is passed. Just finally, Fran Bailey, you're off to far north Queensland with the Prime Minister to welcome home some of the troops from the mid-east. Premier Bracks has been trying to get the Prime Minister to agree to a welcoming home reception here in Melbourne. You're a Victorian MP. Are you going to raise this with the Prime Minister?

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BAILEY:

I already have, Jon. But the decision about these marches, of course, is up to the Chief of the Defence Force, and his view has been that there should only be the two welcome home parades in Sydney and Perth, because that's where the majority of the troops are deployed from, and that these men and women of course have been on active service, separated from their families for seven months, and he wanted them to have leave.

FAINE:

Well, what do you feel about that?

BAILEY:

I can understand exactly where the Chief of Defence Force's intentions are, but I have to say also, Jon, I'm a Victorian, and I would love to see a parade in Melbourne. I've had many people contact my office when this was raised a couple of days ago, and I too would love to show my appreciation and my thanks in a very public way with my fellow Victorians.

FAINE:

But will the Commonwealth assist in meeting the travel costs of service personnel so they can attend a parade in Melbourne with their families?

BAILEY:

Well, I'm going to speak again to the Prime Minister about it, but as I said, this decision really is with the Chief of the Defence Force. He is the person that decides whether or not his Defence personnel, the men and women under his command, whether or not he's going to say, well, you know, no, we're going to pull you out of your leave and we're going to take you around…

FAINE:

Yes, indeed.

BAILEY:

…[indistinct] other places.

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FAINE:

The decision to send troops was regarded as a decision that had some -- caused some division in the community, but a parade to welcome them home is something that brings the community together, wouldn't you agree?

BAILEY:

I agree, Jon, I would love --

FAINE:

So it's worth whatever it costs, in my view.

BAILEY:

I would love to see a parade, but , and as I said, I've already passed this information onto the Prime Minister's office. Today I'll get the opportunity to talk to him directly about that, and I certainly will do so.

FAINE:

Thank you indeed for your time this morning.

BAILEY:

Thank you, Jon.

[ends]