Land (Revocation of Reservations – Metropolitan Land) Bill 2016

MS GRALEY (Narre Warren South) — It is a pleasure to speak on this bill because what we do in the planning area is very important for Melbourne’s future and indeed all of Victoria’s future. I would just like to comment that the purpose of this bill is to revoke permanent reservations over three Crown land sites in metropolitan Melbourne: in Cranbourne, part of the Cranbourne racing complex; in Fitzroy, part of the old Fitzroy gasworks precinct; and in Springvale, part of an access track to the Adass Israel Public Cemetery. Revoking the permanent reservations will enable and facilitate the future use and development of the land in Cranbourne and Fitzroy and the sale of the land in Springvale.

As I said at the outset, it is very important that Melbourne maintains its credibility in the planning area. We know that we have inherited, and indeed we are blessed with, green wedges that have been put in place by previous governments. Indeed standing up at government house, you look down over Melbourne and see that Hoddle grid, and you think what foresight our initial planners had when they made sure not only Melbourne was a well-planned city with its streets, houses and commercial buildings but also that they had a real eye for making sure that Melbourne was going to have beautiful public parks that were very accessible to most people.

This is indeed the inheritance of this. Sometimes it has lost its way with various planning ministers, and we will not go there with some names, but Mr Maclellan comes to mind, and the now opposition leader jumps into my head quite readily when I see the number of apartment buildings that have been approved at sky-high heights without any livability factored in. But we have had good planning ministers in the past who have taken on the important role of making sure that Melbourne is indeed the world’s most livable city, and we know this is important. As I said, we have inherited this, but we have got to make sure that in going forward we guarantee a quality of life for future generations, so that they too will be able to live in the world’s most livable city.

As I said, the purpose of this bill is to deal with three packages of land, one in Cranbourne, one in Fitzroy and one in Springvale. I will speak for a moment on the Cranbourne Racecourse land, because it is an area of land that I know well. If you go to Cranbourne, you will see the racing club as it is almost in the centre of town, and I think that is a really lovely feature of Cranbourne — that the community has been able to maintain the racing club there, indeed that it is blossoming and growing. As the member for Cranbourne said, it is not only growing, it is thriving. It is one of the biggest employers in the area, and I know that both the state government, by investing in the racecourse, and the City of Casey have been good supporters of the racecourse. It has meant that this land has got a lot more potential. We have made the investments, and we have also seen that this significant area of land — it is 44.68 hectares in area — and it has lots of facilities already and has the potential for other uses as well.

The existing permanent reserve is being revoked to enable the permanent reservation to be replaced with a temporary reservation. Moving from a permanent reservation to a temporary reservation will facilitate future land use and development decisions related to the Cranbourne racing precinct, and these will be made in accordance with the Cranbourne Racing Complex and Surrounds Investment and Development Plan, which was incorporated into the Casey planning scheme by amendment C166 on 20 August 2015. At this stage there are no definite proposals to redevelop the land at Cranbourne racing complex, so this is a really fantastic opportunity to dream big and think about how the Cranbourne racing complex could become an even better facility for the local community.

The second tract of land relates to the Fitzroy gasworks land, and I noticed that one of the previous speakers, indeed the Minister for Planning — and as we all know he is the well-known and well-respected member for Richmond — was speaking about the fact that he hopes that in the rezoning and revocation of the reserve on this land piece that we will see a beautiful outcome for his community; I think they were his words. As he quite correctly identified, this land is land that has been sitting there for a while. It is a bit of an eyesore, I have got to say; I pass it regularly. Indeed I was saying to the Minister for Planning on my way out that my daughter was a planning student nearly a decade ago and one of the case studies that she and her fellow students were given was to come up with a master plan for the Fitzroy gasworks land. They dreamed big: they were going to have all sorts of beautiful open space and a mixture of housing and social housing and commercial. Really, as students can because dollars are not a big issue when you are doing that sort of planning, they were going to have a very creative and interesting and very appealing development there on that site.

In going forward I really hope that the City of Yarra dreams big. As I have said, successive councils there have had big ambitions for this land, and they have been somewhat hindered by the very fact that it is a very highly contaminated site.

Funnily enough, as time has transpired it may be that we can use modern technology to bring down the cost of reducing or getting rid of contamination on that site, because it really is a fantastic site and whatever goes on there — I know there is talk about a basketball stadium going there; there is talk about some social housing and some commercial activity, and as I said we certainly want to preserve open space in the inner city — this will be a fantastic outcome for the community if we can get it right.

So I am very pleased to see that the Minister for Planning will have a big interest in this. Indeed the City of Yarra will be handing responsibility over to the minister, with a number of conditions. In a rare example of unanimous decision-making all councillors of the City of Yarra decided that this was the way forward.

I do want to comment on the fact that also on this site is the Women’s Mural. I have an interest in women’s history and am very supportive of the fact that the Women’s Mural on the Smith Street boundary really needs to be restored, if that is a possibility. Recently I noticed that we lost the Princess Mary Club site on Lonsdale Street. That is being redeveloped by the Uniting Church in partnership with, I think, Leighton Holdings. In doing that a significant site that featured the history of what the amazing women of Victoria have achieved over the years as well as being a meeting place for them to discuss political and social issues is going to go.

I was very pleased to see that the minister has suggested to the developers of that site that they need to commemorate its importance to the women of Victoria. I would like to make sure that wherever heritage sites are being infringed upon or changed there should be some requirement that the significant contribution that our forefathers and foremothers have made to those sites be commemorated in some way, such as in the form of a plaque, statue or sculpture. I commend the idea that the Women’s Mural also be restored. It did not deserve to be desecrated in the way it was. It was a sheer act of vandalism, and we want to make sure that it is restored to its former glory.

This is an important bill. It also refers to the site at Springvale, but I am sure other speakers will speak about that in detail. As I said, it is an important bill because it is about making sure that Victoria maintains its standing as Australia’s, indeed the world’s, most livable city. Planning is important; it is most important that we get planning right. This bill is a step in the right direction of facilitating the wise use of land. I commend the bill to the house and wish it a speedy passage.