Planning and Environment Amendment (Infrastructure Contributions) Bill 2015

Ms GRALEY (Narre Warren South) — It is a pleasure this evening to speak in the debate on the Planning and Environment Amendment (Infrastructure Contributions) Bill 2015. I would just like to make a very brief contribution.

It has certainly been my experience in local government, as a community activist, as a resident and as a representative of the outer suburbs that the issue of developers’ contributions has been an ongoing, thorny issue. I note that the Minister for Emergency Services, who is at the table, spoke about a report of a committee of which we were both members, the Outer Suburban/Interface Services and Development Committee in the previous Parliament. It highlighted in glaring detail the need to catch up with the infrastructure provision so dearly needed in the outer suburbs.

I have lost count of the number of times I have heard local government accusing developers of not providing adequate funds to develop infrastructure, developers complaining about paying too much to local government or about the costs of and red tape involved in bringing land to market. Residents are caught up in the middle of this and are still waiting for much-needed community infrastructure. Everyone wants this problem solved. With this bill, we have the opportunity of going a long way towards getting a solution for these ongoing concerns. I note that the existing developer contribution schemes have become uncertain. They are very costly, and there is no doubt that they have been a barrier to new developments.

There is too much variation between what various councils are doing and between the conversations one developer is having with one council and another is having with another council. It has just become too complex. It is a lose-lose situation that we have at the moment. Sadly, it is the residents who lose the most because they do not get the infrastructure they need. We have to go down the track of making sure that the contribution scheme is clearer, more transparent, easier to administer and cost-effective.

We do not want to waste any more money on the schemes that we have had in the past. I know that many people have complained to me that they are waiting for that train station, roundabout or neighbourhood house to be built. The constant refrain is that it has taken too long and is too costly, and we hear bickering between local government, state government and developers all along the line.

Without further ado, I commend the bill to the house. It is an overwhelmingly sensible planning solution and a financially responsible way of going about dealing with complex financial and planning matters. In sum, it will be a good thing if we can pull this off. I commend the opposition and the Greens party for supporting the government in this project. I commend the bill to the house.