Major Transport Projects Facilitation Amendment (East West Link and Other projects) Bill 2013

 I rise to make a contribution on this, quite frankly, outrageous piece of legislation that has been put before the house. This government is trying to ram a massive road through our suburbs with a proposal that was not put to the people. Now it is trying to ram a piece of legislation through this house that strips away the community’s rights to speak about this project and to have a say. In the same way that it is trying to bulldoze our homes and parklands, it is trying to bulldoze our democracy, and we on this side of the house will stand firm against it.

I am not surprised that the Minister for the Arts, who is now exiting the chamber, spent most of her contribution talking about the past and not about this particular project — this dog of a project.

An honourable member — This dud.

Ms GARRETT — This dud that was not put to the Victorian people. In fact members of this house will remember — or maybe those on the government benches will not — that a central tenet of the then opposition’s campaign to form government in 2010 was about public transport. It was going to fix the problems in public transport. It was going to build for the future. The public transport system was groaning, and it was going to come in and do something about that. Was there a mention or a skerrick of a whisper that the incoming government’s major project was going to be a dud road tunnel through the middle of our suburbs? There was not a mention. This project has been dreamt up in haste in the mind of a Premier who was not elected and who came to the seat on the back of a government that had gained a clear reputation for doing nothing. In answer to its reputation for doing nothing it grabbed something out of the sky and is holding onto it for dear life — with no business case.

Mr Nardella — No business case?

Ms GARRETT — No business case. Infrastructure Australia is low on the list of priorities. No proper modelling was done. No proper finances were worked out. But the government is hanging onto this like grim death as if it were a ball of smoke. The new Premier — the unelected Premier, the Premier who came to office on the back of a dithering do-nothing Premier — has staked his reputation on this project without putting it to the people and doing the work that was necessary. We in the opposition will not stand idly by and let this blatantly political attempted fix to get this government out of a hole destroy our suburbs.

I will talk at great length about the inner city, my home that I love, and I will talk about how people standing up to protect heritage, to protect parkland and to protect cultural precincts has made Melbourne the great international city that it is today. If those who were members of this house before us had let the conservatives have their way, we would not have the wonderful cultural precincts that form inner Melbourne. We would not have the buildings that have been protected, the parkland that has been protected and the cultural centres that make Melbourne an international tourist destination.

Mr O’Brien interjected.

Ms GARRETT — The Treasurer, who is at the table, is shouting, and I understand why he is shouting. I understand why the minister is agitated.

Mr Nardella — He is embarrassed.

Ms GARRETT — He is embarrassed, and I would be embarrassed. He is around a cabinet table making dodgy decisions like this.

If it were me, I would be highly embarrassed. Not only is the government trying to ram this road through our community and ripping up homes and parkland with no mandate to do so, but it is also silencing the voices of our councils.

This is where I come to this bill. It is important that I refer to correspondence from councils, particularly councils that will be affected directly by this massive road running through their community. As a former mayor of the fine City of Yarra — —

An honourable member — The people’s republic of Yarra.

Ms GARRETT — I note that again the minister is laughing at that community. He seeks to deride the community that has stood up for its residents to say, ‘We don’t want our homes ripped up.

We want a vision not only for our part of the city but for the whole state that is a vision for the future, that is planning for a city of the future, that takes its lead from the great cities of the world and says, ‘What infrastructure do we need to make sure Melbourne remains a livable, vibrant and beautiful city?–‘. We on this side of the house say those goals will not be achieved by putting all our infrastructure eggs into this dud of a road tunnel basket. The government is not only attempting to do this to our community but it has introduced a bill which really tries to silence dissent. I can assure members that the City of Yarra will not be silenced, I can assure members that the City of Melbourne will not be silenced and I can assure members that the City of Moreland will not be silenced and that they will continue to fight against this project and stand up for their communities.

I will just reflect on some of the comments made by the representatives of the communities that are directly affected.

Firstly I refer to Mayor Jackie Fristacky.

Mr Wynne — Doing a splendid job.

Ms GARRETT — I certainly concur with the member for Richmond in his praise of this mayor. She has done an outstanding job.

Mr O’Brien — Do you support Stephen Jolly?

Ms GARRETT — She has done an outstanding job, as has Cr Jolly, as have many councillors on that council in standing against this.

Mr O’Brien interjected.

Ms GARRETT — Again, I understand why the minister is agitated.

I ask him to reflect on that level of agitation and perhaps address the concerns with this project. I go to a letter from Cr Jackie Fristacky, mayor of the City of Yarra, who said:

In all these regards, the bill is considered to further severely impact the public interest in effective project scrutiny. The act and bill are considered to severely impact local governments to actively and productively participate in the process and proceedings of major projects on behalf of their communities.

That should send a shiver down the spines of not just the people of the cities of Yarra and Melbourne but the people of every municipality in this state. It is outrageous. We then go to a letter from the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, that well-known socialist representative.

Mr Wynne — Commo!

Ms GARRETT — Yes, an absolute commo.

Honourable members interjecting.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER — Order! I remind opposition members that the member for Brunswick does not need their assistance. I ask them to cease.

Ms GARRETT — That well-known socialist, the Lord Mayor, said:

Under section 45, a council must consent to the creation or surrender of a right of carriageway before a transfer of land can be registered.

As the member for Richmond leaves, I note that he is passionate about this issue, as he should be — it is his community that will be directly affected.

The Lord Mayor went on:

Without the ability to have a say in the creation or abandonment of carriageways, council cannot adequately plan for and manage the flow-on effects of such changes. Accordingly, the proposed section puts at risk the ability to deliver informed traffic and pedestrian management solutions within the city of Melbourne.

Here are just two of many councils expressing grave concerns about the provisions in this bill, which are really designed to silence dissent and in this case silence dissent on a project for which there is no mandate. It is completely and utterly outrageous. It is outrageous for our communities. All Victorians have been shocked by the hasty, ill-informed and badly prepared approach to this massive white elephant. This bill compounds and reinforces the major problems that this project presents for the Napthine government.

We have heard the member for Melbourne speak passionately about people who are directly affected in terms of the proximity of their homes to flyovers, people who bought off the plan in West Parkville, people who will be affected as they live where this mammoth thing is proposed to start and the ripping up of Royal Park. These treasures of our community make Melbourne what it is — iconic. They make our city beautiful. We stand and condemn the Napthine government for its lack of responsibility, lack of vision and lack of mandate. The government is hanging onto this project as a desperate political fix to get it out of a hole because it did nothing for the first couple of years. We condemn this bill, and we condemn this project.

Hansard, 2013