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Monday, 3 November 2003
Page: 21827

Mr BILLSON (9:05 PM) —I rise tonight to raise two issues which are very important to the community that I represent. I notice my friend and colleague the member for Flinders is here—it is the `peninsula combo' talking tonight about issues of concern to both of our constituencies. The first relates to a public meeting I convened on 21 October to discuss the Scoresby Freeway and the great disappointment, strong resentment and disbelief among the community that I represent that the Bracks government has so blatantly turned its back on the interests of our community and has moved to impose tolls on what is the most critical infrastructure project supporting our region.

One clear message came out of the public meeting. It is a message I rise tonight to convey not only to the Bracks state government but, frankly, to anybody who will get behind this project: build what we were promised, Mr Bracks. Build the Scoresby Freeway as it was promised. Build it completely. Build it without tolls, and overturn your backflip decision on the imposition of tolls on this freeway project. There is no question, as we heard at the public meeting, that the Bracks government could do that. It could honour its promise if it chose to. But it has chosen not to. The Bracks government has chosen to support other road projects in the northern and western suburbs of Melbourne.

The community that I represent wants to know what it has done wrong. What has it done wrong? It is a hardworking community, a community that, within the Scoresby corridor, boasts about one in 20 jobs in our country, where there is more than the population of Adelaide using this facility. Why are we not deserving of an arterial ring-road, the same as those in the northern and western suburbs have received, which has driven investment, improved opportunities and improved lifestyle for those people? There is a veritable wagon wheel of freeway infrastructure in the north and the west of Melbourne, and the community that I represent just wants a fair go, to make sure we can put our best foot forward into the future.

What was unexpected at that public meeting was the strong sentiment amongst those present that our local councils had let us down. They referred to the work of Knox City Council and Maroondah City Council in taking the fight up to the Bracks government and saying that this is a project that matters to them. The call from our meeting, unanimously passed on a motion for action from the floor, was for:

... Frankston City Council, Mornington Peninsula Shire Council, Casey City Council, Kingston City Council and the City of Greater Dandenong to stand up for the interests of their communities and vigorously advocate a toll-free Scoresby Freeway ...

That is what Knox City Council have done. That is what is happening further up the corridor. Why are we not getting that representation in our community? There is the capacity to implement that project, and I will talk more at another time about that project and why it is so crucial to the community that I represent.

The second issue that I would like to briefly mention tonight is Point Nepean. My first suggestion is that a lot of people need to settle down for a moment and have a look at what is really going on. Point Nepean is fine. The point is secure. The point is being gifted to the state government as part of the national park. That seems to be lost in some of the rhetoric that is going on, as if that tip of the peninsula—a magnificent part of our region—is somehow not going to be part of the national park. That is wrong. That is part of the 209 hectares the Commonwealth has offered to gift to the state government.

My only regret is not testing the bona fides of the state government to properly manage that point and to properly invest in that area when we see from reports from expert advisory councils to the state government that Parks Victoria queries its own capabilities and its own resources to carry out these kinds of tasks. You would have seen a couple of weeks ago in Monday's Age Parks Victoria itself being part of an inquiry into the agency's performance capabilities and responsibilities and publicly conceding that it is not equipped and resourced to properly manage and conserve many of the built heritage assets under its control. Parks Victoria itself identified its core competencies as being the management of nature conservation areas. So even though 209 or 210 hectares may be within their competence, is the commitment there from the state government? I think that should be tested before any of that land is handed over to make sure they will invest in the habitat restoration and regeneration of native species in that area.

What is clear from Parks Victoria's own evidence to Heritage Victoria is that it is not capable of managing the 65 heritage listed buildings in the area that has gone out for public tender. That is why the community consortium has brought to the table the resources and the expertise to make sure those heritage conservation values that are crucial in that area are currently before the government and the preferred tenderer to look at managing into the future. It is crucial that those resources and those capabilities be provided, and Parks Victoria says it has neither. It has neither the resources nor the competence, according to its own testimony. (Time expired)