Electricity: Brunswick terminal station

I wish to raise a matter for the attention of the Minister for Energy and Resources. The action I seek is for him to immediately commence working with the relevant power companies to find an alternative site for the proposed massive expansion of the Brunswick terminal station. As members of the house would know, I have raised this issue on numerous occasions on behalf of my local constituents and requested the same action from the state government and ministers over the course of this year. Similarly, residents affected by this proposal have raised these matters repeatedly with the government and asked that it help facilitate the identification and securing of a site that is not within a residential area or zone.

The responses by the government to my calls for action and those of the community have been to stonewall on the issue.

Both the Minister for Energy and Resources and the Minister for Health have said on several occasions that this is a local planning matter and an issue for the local authority and there is no role for them to be involved. Moreland City Council decided for a second time at its meeting on 23 November to reject the permit application for a huge expansion of the Brunswick terminal station at its current site. This decision reflects the significant local anxiety about the health and safety issues and amenity impacts of the facility — the same concerns that have been conveyed to the government repeatedly over many months.

Given that the local planning authority has now made its determination and we expect this government to respect that decision, particularly given its responses to this issue to date, it is now absolutely imperative that an alternative site in an industrial zone be found. As we have been warning the government for over 12 months, the current site of the Brunswick terminal station is completely inappropriate for the massive expansion proposed.

The reasons it is inappropriate include fundamental concerns about the safety of a hugely expanded facility in what is an entirely residential zone, the absence of any adequate response to the question of what is safe exposure to electromagnetic fields for people living in such close proximity to this proposed facility, the amenity concerns related to an expanded facility being built next to homes, a sporting field used by children and the Merri Creek corridor, and the disingenuous way in which members of the community have been treated, leaving them with no confidence that other, more appropriate sites have been fully explored. Underlying all of these concerns is the fact that a facility of this type belongs in an industrial zone, not a residential zone.

The community fully expects the state government to respect the decision of the local council and would be outraged if the government countenanced any idea of stepping in to fast-track approval of a massive expansion at this residential site.

The action that the community and I seek is the same action we have been calling for all year: for the government and the Minister for Energy and Resources to work with the power companies to secure an appropriate alternative site in an industrial zone for this proposed massive facility.

Hansard, 2011