Planning: Brunswick terminal station
I wish to raise a matter for the attention of the Minister for Planning. The action I seek is that he publicly release the independent analysis and advice, if any, that he and the government sought or received which informed his recent decision to rezone the site of the Brunswick terminal station.
As members of this house will be aware, I have raised a series of questions and requests of the government regarding the proposed massive fourfold expansion of this station. The response, or lack thereof, has continued to leave the community significantly anxious and concerned. Residents have been given no confidence about the health and safety impacts of the massively expanded facility.
Their own research has shown that there is no exposure standard for a substation of the size proposed for an entirely residential setting, nor is there an example of a substation of the size proposed in a residential setting anywhere in the world.
The government was asked to involve itself in this matter over more than 12 months, given these significant concerns, to assist the power companies to find an appropriate alternative site. The government refused to do this, saying the process that was being undertaken was a local planning process, that this was the appropriate course of action and that the residents should participate in that process and let it run its course.
Pursuant to this local planning process, Moreland City Council twice rejected the massive expansion, with the power companies appealing to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) and a hearing date set for later this month.
In an extraordinary display of contempt and hypocrisy, the Minister for Planning came in two weeks ago, rode roughshod over the local community, ignored the local council decision and rezoned the site. This disingenuous action flies in the face of the government’s own inaction on this matter over the last 14 months, and it flies in the face of its own responses. The government has contemptuously denied the residents the rights they would have been afforded at VCAT, and at the same time it has set up no other independent process.
The residents have rightly called for an independent review of the process and the minister’s decision. Similarly, opposition members in the other place made the same calls for an independent process when the shadow minister yesterday moved a motion to revoke the Minister for Planning’s decision. I thank my colleagues in the other place for the fight they took to the government regarding this appalling decision.
Government members in the other place, however, upheld this government’s contemptuous attitude to the community, members of whom were present in the chamber.
The Minister for Planning failed to respond to questions. The government member whose electorate also covers the site failed to contribute to the debate. Those government members who did contribute to the debate described the debate as a ‘criminal waste of time of the Legislative Council’, which is extraordinarily offensive to my community and other local communities. The fact that in their responses government members pointed to the reasons why wind farms were disallowed for 2 kilometres within sight of a rural town just shows the hypocrisy, given that this power station is located some 2 metres from my residents’ homes.
I reiterate: I call on the minister to release any independent advice sought when he made this outrageous decision.