Outer Suburban/Interface Services and Development Committee: livability inquiry

Ms GRALEY (Narre Warren South) — It is a pleasure to speak today on the report of the parliamentary Outer Suburban/Interface Services and Development Committee on its inquiry into livability options in outer suburban Melbourne, which was finally tabled in the
last sitting week of the spring session in 2012.

At the outset I suggest that all members of Parliament, whatever their seat or the location they represent, would benefit from reading the whole report. I acknowledge it is some 556 pages, so it is a big read, but it would make very enlightening reading for many people. It is a report on a comprehensive investigation into an issue that is important for all
of us in the Parliament: how we preserve and develop Melbourne so that it retains its rating as one of the world’s most livable cities. All Victorians want to be able to share in that rating and to say they live in the world’s most livable city.

It was obvious from the committee’s investigations– it received 80 written submissions, received evidence from 118 organisations, heard from about 209 individuals, and visited all the interface municipal councils — that the challenges that are facing outer metropolitan Melbourne are challenges, as I said, for all Melburnians.

One of the issues that was constantly cited — and this is a good example of how one problem in one area influences the way people live in another area — was the extension of the urban growth boundary. The report quite comprehensively discusses this issue. As we keep on extending the urban growth boundary we are not only providing nice places for people to live in with new estates but there is also an impact on farming land — and good
farming land in many cases. If we decide not to extend the urban growth boundary, it becomes an issue for people living in some of Melbourne’s middle suburbs, because we will then begin to talk, as the report does, about increasing density in those suburbs.

These are difficult issues. They will not be solved by the Minister for Planning running out a new planning scheme in an ad hoc manner or releasing a few more press releases. He needs to think very thoroughly about this issue.

One of the things the minister needs to think carefully about is how we will deal with our precious green wedges. On the one hand a lot of people support the retention of the green wedges, and that comes across clearly in the report; on the other hand people are suggesting that there may be some incursions into that land. The report is a little lukewarm about stopping these incursions. I refer to the fact that the minority makes
mention of these concerns, and we voted against the adoption of chapter 6 of the report. I will read from our reasons. Under the heading ‘Chapter 6 … Melbourne’s green wedges’, the report states the minority view:

We draw attention to pages 53-62 and in particular to the comments from the interface councils who asked the committee to consider a

… firm commitment to the green wedge principles (and) the protection of the green wedge areas for sustainable productive agriculture and food security, unstructured recreation and biodiversity

And the request from the Mornington Peninsula Shire to have their ‘priceless’ green wedges ‘protected at all costs’ and for the state government to provide the current green wedge areas with permanent protection. The report the minority notes does not respond to this request.

It goes on to say:

It is our firm belief that this report should provide a stronger articulation and additional recommendations in recognising the importance of the green wedges to Melbourne’s liveability and for assistance to green wedge councils given the need to protect and preserve the green wedges into the future.

May I say there is a need to protect and preserve them for all Victorians. I would also like to draw attention to chapter 4, which is about planning for livability in outer suburban Melbourne. It is a big chapter and, as I said, I recommend that it be read by all members.