EXTRACTIVE INDUSTRIES (LYSTERFIELD) AMENDMENT BILL 2011
It is a delight to be in the chamber to speak on the Extractive Industries (Lysterfield) Amendment Bill 2011. As members of the house have heard, the purpose of this bill is to give legislative effect to amendments to special conditions attached to an extractive industry licence. The amendments have been agreed to by all key players, including Boral Resources (Vic) Pty Ltd in Victoria, the Department of Primary Industries, the Department of Sustainability and Environment, Parks Victoria and Knox City Council.
As the member for Mill Park said at the start of her address to members of the house, the history of this site goes back many years. The agreement between the state government and Boral was first reflected in an act of Parliament in 1986. The categories of matters this bill covers could be broadly put under three headings.
There are matters relating to the configuration and size of the quarry site and its interface with the community, the hours of operation and the lessening of Boral’s red tape requirements, and the reclamation and rehabilitation of the site, including changes to the vegetation that will be required because of that rehabilitation.
In respect of the first issue of the configuration and size of the quarry site and its interface with the community, the bill sets out some really important changes, including a smaller quarry footprint, the retention of 10 hectares of dense native forest, the creation of one lake rather than two lakes, the moving of quarry operations further from residential areas, thereby reducing both visual and noise impacts on the local community, and the provision of 8 hectares of flat land suitable for use by the public, including the lake and the beach, are very welcome additions for those residents who live in the areas surrounding the quarry’s operations.
Then there are the changes regarding the hours of operation of the quarry and the red tape related to the quarry site, giving Boral the certainty it needs. The changes to the hours of operation reflect what is currently happening, and there are further changes that mean there will be less of a regulatory burden on the company in the form of unnecessary paperwork.
With respect to the rehabilitation of the site, as members have heard, changes have been made regarding the native vegetation which will be required to rehabilitate the site to better reflect the ecological sensitivities of that area. As we have also heard, there has been extensive consultation with the relevant stakeholders and, perhaps more importantly, with the local community in the lead-up to this bill coming before the Parliament regarding how the quarry will look now and how it will interact — —
Dr Sykes interjected.
Ms GARRETT — I will, my friend — how it will interact with the local community.
The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Weller) — Order! It is improper for the member to respond to interjections.
Ms GARRETT — My apologies, Acting Speaker, although I felt that a response was appropriate. If we look at these different matters in their totality, we can see that there are many good aspects to this bill and the agreement that has been reached by all the players. These include environmental benefits, an absolute endorsement of the consultation process that has taken place, terrific outcomes for residential amenity, excellent outcomes for business certainty and some excellent outcomes for job protection and creation. I think it is worth touching on some of these in the context of this legislation.
As we have heard, the fact that 10 hectares of dense native forest will be protected, that there will be a smaller quarry footprint, that there will be 8 hectares reclaimed for public use and recreation and that the revegetation process will now be much more ecologically sound augur very well for the long-term environmental condition of the site. I note that in the second-reading speech the Minister for Energy and Resources said:
- The government is committed to making the best use of Victoria’s resources in a way that is compatible with the economic, social and environmental objectives of the state.
At this point we commend the government on the bill to date, but we raise serious concerns regarding other aspects of the government’s activities which we say do not reflect the best economic, social and environmental objectives of the state.
I name but a few, including letting cattle back into the high country and the decimation of the solar and wind energy sectors in the state, which we say do not in any way, shape or form reflect a commitment to advancing the economic, social and environmental objectives of the state. We ask the government to take a long, hard look at itself in that regard.
With respect to consultation, again as I have highlighted, extraordinary consultation has taken place with the community in relation to this quarry site, with several extensive consultations having been held. We understand that the community is happy with the reconfiguration of the site, particularly with respect to the amenity. It will have enhanced amenity in terms of noise and visual impact, and clearly having the public space reclaimed is a wonderful opportunity for the community’s interaction and interface with the quarry site.
Again we highlight to the government the benefits of consultation — the benefits of listening to the community and the benefits of sitting down not just with the community but also, for example, with the unions and workers regarding enterprise bargaining agreements — and point to what can be achieved when you sit down with, for example, the Police Association or the public sector unions.
The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Weller) — Order! The member will return to the bill.
Ms GARRETT — I am on the bill, Acting Speaker, but I am highlighting — —
The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Weller) — Order! I observed that the member was straying, and I ask that she come back to the bill.
Ms GARRETT — Again to come back to the bill, the consultation process that was gone through with the company and the residents has led to an extraordinary achievement for residential amenity and the capacity for the community to have greater access to the area and to be significantly less burdened by the quarry’s operations. We simply highlight that the government should take this approach in other areas, particularly in relation to planning.
I turn now to the issue of business certainty. This bill provides the company with the certainty it needs in regard to its hours of operation and other matters, including its working plans and when they needed to be filed. That is a welcome thing for that company and for the quarry site.
As my colleague the member for Melton pointed out in his contribution, there is a broader lack of certainty for companies such as Boral in the state at the moment, given the government’s failure to pursue major projects in any meaningful sense. It has failed to apply for major project funding or to appear in Infrastructure Australia’s list of applications, which is undermining the very matters that this bill seeks to provide to a very important company in Victoria at a very important site in Victoria. We call on the government to take a similar approach to the economic benefit of the state as a whole. This is a significant company, and it is a significant site for Victoria in relation to job creation and protection. This bill achieves many of those things.
We highlight the fact that an abject failure in relation to industry and jobs policy in the broader Victorian community is undermining the very issues that this bill can be commended for.
Again we call on and highlight to the government the overwhelming and distressing loss of jobs, particularly in the manufacturing sector, across both metropolitan Melbourne and rural and regional Victoria. The government should absolutely turn its attention to what is becoming a dire circumstance for many Victorian workers rather than simply putting out spin and nonsense with tired old lines about attacking unions and their workers — but back to the bill!
Ms Ryall — On a point of order, Acting Speaker, I am appreciative of the fact that the member has come back to the bill, but I draw your attention to the constant straying from the bill. I ask you to keep the member on the bill.
The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Weller) — Order! I uphold the point of order and ask the member to confine her comments to the bill.
Ms GARRETT — In conclusion, this bill does some really excellent things for an important work and industrial site in Melbourne. It allows for some significant environmental gains in the area and some terrific outcomes for residents, including job certainty and job creation.