I rise to speak on the motion to revoke amendments VC194 and VC198 to the Victorian planning provisions under section 38(2) of the Planning and Environment Act 1987, the motion brought forward by Mr Davis. The Andrews Labor government is committed to Victoria’s timely social and economic recovery from the global COVID-19 pandemic. Never before has there been a greater need for us to get on with the job of delivering in a timely fashion those critical projects that will not only deliver a public benefit to all Victorians in terms of the projects themselves but create jobs and improve movement and services right across this state.
What this motion seeks to do is slam the brakes on those projects and stop those very important projects, those very important developments. Listening to some of the contributions that have been made here today, the one thing that seems to be lacking in these contributions and in this debate is the facts. Mr Atkinson said when he started this contribution, ‘Just because you say it is doesn’t make it so’. Further on in Mr Atkinson’s contribution he pointed to his own track record: ‘Go back. I haven’t stood in the way of projects. I don’t do that. That’s not me. Go back and have a look at my record’. Well, since I have been in here I reckon Mr Atkinson has voted at least on three occasions, maybe even more, to oppose the development of the Markham estate. So there are examples where people in this place get up and say for a matter of convenience whatever suits in terms of the argument just to prove their own point, but it is important that we get the facts right.
The motion that the house is dealing with implies that the controls that are introduced by VC194 and VC198 into planning schemes diminish the notification requirements for local communities and remove appeal rights from local communities. It is just false. That is not what those amendments do, and we refute this claim. VC194 introduces two new provisions: a states projects provision at clause 52.30 and a local government projects provision at clause 52.31. Those provisions enable the state government and local councils to deliver projects that our communities need, and there are countless projects that fall under these auspices. By blocking those projects through the support of this motion what we will be doing is we will be blocking new and upgraded ambulance stations, repairs and upgrades on Parks Victoria land, train station upgrades, congestion-busting road and rail projects, new libraries, sports pavilions and maternity health centres. Ms Terpstra in her contribution talked a lot about the sports projects particularly in her electorate and the importance of those projects to her local community. Supporting this proposal today would slam the brakes on those very, very important developments.
I want to talk a little bit about some of the projects that actually will cease should we support this proposition. But before I do I want to talk about this issue of consultation. I dismiss the arguments put forward by the Greens, because if you actually go through and have a look at the Greens’ track record, whether it is in the federal arena, whether it is in the state arena or whether it is in local government, they are not really pro-development, are they? They really do not argue in favour of too much development. But instead what they do is they come in here and they sling mud and they put on the record assertions that there is some degree of corruption that is going on in this space. That was largely what Dr Ratnam’s contribution was about. She spent probably 50 per cent at least of her contribution here this morning asserting that there is something dodgy going on between the Minister for Planning and developers.
It is very easy to sling mud in this place. It is very easy to throw those sorts of accusations around. And I would say to Dr Ratnam and the Greens: if you have evidence of that, there are authorities that are available for you to go and talk to and bring those matters to their attention—because it is an appalling approach to a debate about public policy, under privilege in this chamber or in the other place, to suggest things that are completely false and create an air of corruption where it does not exist. I think it is an appalling approach that the Greens have brought to this debate today. I say: if you have got that evidence, go and talk to the appropriate authorities or, better still, have the courage at lunchtime to go out the back on the doors and make those claims where you have not got the protection of privilege. And I bet you that is what you will not see on tonight’s news; we will not see that occurring.
We cannot conflate consultation with agreement or otherwise. Not everybody is going to agree with every project that is being developed around this state—we get that—and people who oppose the development for whatever reason through that consultation process do air their grievance, do air their opposition to the project. But that does not mean that consultation has not occurred. Consultation has occurred, and people have had the opportunity, and those contributions are weighed up before those decisions are made.
If we support this proposal here today, which ambulance stations throughout Victoria are we not going to continue to build? I had the great pleasure of officially opening the Tatura CFA recently, and it was a great privilege. Which of those projects do we stop, where we are developing those very important public assets? But if we support this motion here today, that is precisely what we will be doing. We have delivered 22 new stations since we have come to office, a number of them in my electorate of Northern Victoria—in Broadford, Echuca, Murchison, Mernda, Diamond Creek, Tatura, Watsonia and Preston—and I understand that there are another 30-odd that are under construction at various stages now. Which of those do we stop in Northern Victoria—Beechworth, Rochester, Euroa, Gisborne—and countless others right throughout the state? So we have to understand—to be very, very clear—what this proposal is all about. Mr Davis has come in here today and he has said this will not stop these projects. It is exactly what will happen. That is precisely what will happen.
Let us bring the facts to the debate. Let us bring the truth to the debate. Let us not stand up in this place and rewrite history and tell the world that we have done one thing when we have actually done another, because the record reflects that. Let us not make things up. Let us not throw around unfounded accusations and cast aspersions on people under the cover of privilege in this place. Let us bring the facts to the debate, and the facts are that we are getting on with very, very important projects that will help deliver an economic and social recovery to Victoria as we come through the COVID-19 pandemic. That is what we should be focused on, that is what this government is focused on. We are proud of our record of infrastructure projects in this state and we will continue to build them.