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Monday, 8 February 2010
Page: 732

Mr HUNT (4:05 PM) —I wish to raise two matters of concern to my constituents. The first is in relation to a plan to cut the town of Baxter in half, and the second is an issue that has been raised in this House today: the difficulties facing Green Loans assessors throughout the country.

The first matter is that the town of Baxter will see the Peninsula Link freeway pass through it. I accept the need for the freeway; I believe that it is an important and valuable project. However, as this new freeway passes through the town of Baxter, instead of having an underpass in the land that is available, which is perfectly suited to the task—there is a wide culvert which has been set aside—there will be an overpass right through the heart of this beautiful town. It is a town where people come because it has a rural quality. It is outside the edge of Melbourne. It is the gateway to the Mornington Peninsula. It is the gateway to a rural lifestyle. People go there for peace and quiet, and what we are about to see from the state government is a plan to cut Baxter in half.

This is not just a social policy issue which can be remedied with the stroke of a pen. Once this overpass is built, it will be there for a hundred years—there is no question about that—and the quality of life for all people in Baxter will be severely diminished. So this is the moment, the time and the place where we must work with the people of Baxter to fight to ensure that their town is not riven in two. So the message to the state and to the contractors is that there is an alternative—it is a feasible alternative; it was put on the table by the state—and that is that there must be a cutaway underpass for the Peninsula Link freeway through Baxter rather than an overpass. That is the only acceptable outcome.

The second issue which I wish to raise relates to a concern brought to me by Joe Barbieri of Somerville and many others in my electorate and electorates around the country. The Green Loans Program was meant to do two things. It was meant to allow households to achieve sustainability through receiving low-interest loans. It was also meant to provide employment for assessors. What we have seen instead is dodgy trainers training up assessors when the trainers have not had the proper qualifications. We have seen a massive oversupply of assessors, who are unable to obtain work.

We on the opposition side have been contacted by literally hundreds and hundreds of assessors who have spent up to $3,000. They are out of pocket. They are out of work. Many were axed last Friday. It is time for the government to have an immediate Auditor-General’s inquiry and to fix another broken environmental program. (Time expired)