Planning: Brunswick terminal station

 I raise a matter for the attention of the Premier, and the action I seek is that he receives a delegation of members of my community, along with elected representatives from Moreland, Yarra and Darebin councils, seeking action on the significant concerns regarding the fourfold massive expansion of the Brunswick terminal station (BTS) in Brunswick East. I ask that he receives this delegation during the next sitting week of Parliament.

As members would be aware, the fight against the massive expansion of the BTS is a very significant issue in my electorate of Brunswick that I have raised on many occasions in this place. Local residents have legitimate concerns about the health and safety impact

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of this expansion on their families and the impact the development will have on the amenity of the Merri Creek corridor.

Next week will mark the one-year anniversary of the unprecedented intervention from the Minister for Planning who, in the dead of night, unilaterally rezoned the land as special use, giving the green light to the development and in the same action quashing the appeal rights of the local community in the planning process that was under way and the scheduled hearing at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

It is now known from the release of documents under FOI that there was significant behind-the-scenes collaboration between the government and the power companies while the supposedly independent planning process was under way before Moreland City Council.

This intense period of briefing and lobbying behind the scenes that was kept secret from Moreland council started in the months prior to council’s ultimate refusal of the proposal and can only be seen as desperation to ram through the massive expansion, looking for state government and ministerial intervention that it ultimately received.

The revelations of this backroom collaboration shocked my local community, and the perversion of process should be condemned. This course of action by the power companies and the state government seeking intervention and also removing the rights of a VCAT appeal was ultimately the product of the failure of the power companies to satisfy residents about their health and safety concerns and also the very reason why the Moreland council rejected the application. Those concerns remain unanswered to this day.

The community continues to rally against this development.

Hundreds of people have been at the site during protests. Over 3300 people have petitioned this house pleading for the government to reverse its decision and a direct plea was made to the Premier requesting an independent review of all the processes involved, particularly the lack of what is seen as basic advice to address the concerns about the health and safety impacts of the development and of how the decision was made to allow the project to go ahead. Those concerns now extend well beyond the suburbs to the north of Brunswick, with unanswered questions about the possible effects for residents near the powerlines with the resultant increased output that will flow from the expanded BTS.

Representatives of the three councils recently met, forming a tripartite group, supporting the local residents group and their particular affected communities. This group, along with members of the residents group, will be attending Parliament House during the next parliamentary sitting week.

As the leader of the government, the action I seek of the Premier is to receive and meet with the members of the delegation personally to hear their significant concerns.

Hansard, 2013