Sale of Land Amendment 2013

Ms GRALEY (Narre Warren South) — It is a pleasure to rise this evening to contribute to the debate on the Sale of Land Amendment Bill 2014. All opposition members are going to speak on this bill because government members, and The Nationals members in particular, are mainly absent from the chamber. We have already seen tonight that this dysfunctional government is too scared to test the numbers on the floor. I notice there is
only one Nationals member in the chamber tonight. That says a lot about what they have to say about this bill.

My father always used to talk about being the farmers’ friend. He would say, ‘Yes, Judith, you must have butter with your toast because we have to support the farmers’. I have noticed over time — andI had experience of this myself at the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council –that when people who have been members of the Victorian Farmers Federation
(VFF) go on to other offices they very conveniently forget who they are supposed to be there to represent; very quickly they turn a blind eye to the farmers they are supposed to represent. The member for Seymour said, ‘Not all farmers are members of the VFF’. But what we do know is that the VFF is a verypowerful association and lobby group, and a very powerful union too, if I could put it that way, which is a very strong advocate on behalf of farmers.

I referred to my experience as a mayor and councillor at the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council. It is good to remind people, even the Acting Speaker, that the Mornington Peninsula shire is still 70 per cent rural. Both the Acting Speaker and I have spent a lot of our political lives trying to make sure that that continues to be the case — that it is just not a place where people come to enjoy the beaches and the wineries but that that rural land stays intact. It was very much my experience that we had a lot of complaints coming to council about people moving into the area and enjoying all these lovely pleasures and landscapes the Mornington Peninsula has to offer, only to then be disturbed and upset by noise, pesticide or odour. As some people might be aware, this was particularly the case when we had complaints about chicken sheds — —

Mr Wynne — Broiler farms.

Ms GRALEY— And broiler farms.

I spent a lot of time visiting chicken sheds and broiler farms because neighbours who had moved into the area were very concerned about them. Council spent quite a bit of time having a look at section 32 statements to see how robust they were and how they could be
enforced. Even though we have heard members of The Nationals get up today and triumphantly talk about the right to farm, we have also heard the VFF say that it is very concerned about a backflip on the right to farm by the people who are supposed to be representing it in this chamber.

The current section 32 notice, which will be deleted by this bill if it goes through the house, states:

‘Important notice to purchasers:

The property may be located in an area where commercial agricultural production activity may affect your enjoyment of the property …’

If that is deleted, I would think a lot of people will use that as an excuse to complain about the change in amenity they will experience when they move from the city — their house in Kew or Camberwell — to places like the Mornington Peninsula, which still has strawberry farms and wineries. As I said, in the past — not so much now, because of the broiler code of conduct — the peninsula had a big problem with odours.

The other problem I had was with very wealthy landowners using their helicopters to go to work. I had a lot of complaints about that. The sibling of a member on the other side of the house used to come to me and complain that a helicopter used to arrive at her place delivering —

–Ms Miller interjected.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Morris) — Order! The member for Bentleigh is out of her place and out of order.

Ms GRALEY — You should behave a lot better than that. You might learn something if you
listen up.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Morris) — Order! Through the Chair!

Ms GRALEY— Lots of activity happens in country areas that people who have grown up in
the city do not understand or appreciate. I understand that sometimes these things become extreme. There is the constant toing and froing of helicopters, and sometimes the odour in a chook shed gets out of control.

However, people have to adapt to living in a new environment, and they must be aware of that before they go through the very expensive procedure of buying land, houses and properties.

As other speakers have said, the purchase of property, land and houses is probably the biggest expense that anybody will undertake. It is very important that people understand that when they undertake that process it comes with lots of forms, expenses, legal fees, conveyancing fees and real estate fees, which are a big concern for people — not to mention
state taxes. Goodness me, you get loaded up with those when you buy property. You should be fully aware of what you are buying into, where you are going to live and what you are going to have to put up with.

I notice that many of The Nationals were talking about the right to farm and asking people to be considerate of that right to farm, but they were not referring very much to the actual things that their chief lobby group, the VFF, has been saying. I refer to a media release from Peter Tuohey, the VFF president, of Wednesday, 5 February 2014. He referred to
the section that I have already quoted from, but he went on to say that in 2010 the Liberal-Nationals coalition — this group of people across from me — in its agriculture policy document states:

… a Liberal-Nationals coalition government would:

require section 32 statements to detail prominent noises and smells to ensure potential owners of rural property acknowledge and accept they exist prior to purchasing; amend section 58 of the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 so food and fibre producers cannot be prosecuted under the nuisance provisions when using industry-accepted farming practices; develop a training unit for those seeking to move to a rural area to ensure they fully understand what to expect and what their obligations to their new communities will be.

If you put this in a policy document and win an election, you are supposed to deliver on these promises and commitments that you have pledged to people. The worst thing politicians can be accused of is saying one thing before an election and doing the opposite after an election.

It reflects very badly on us all when governments get to power and then decide that they do not like what they said before and that it was a huge con on the very people who are true believers in their party.

What does the VFF conclude?

Mr Watt interjected.

 Ms GRALEY — That is unbelievable and appalling behaviour from the member for Burwood.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Morris) — Order! The member for Burwood will desist, and the member for Narre Warren South will address her remarks through the Chair.

Ms GRALEY— I will continue to do so. I would just like to read the final statement from
the VFF media release because it says it all:

The VFF believes the government is a long way —

I repeat, ‘a long way’ –from delivering on these election promises.

I advise those opposite not to put one of their lovely little ‘Policy implemented’ stamps on something like this next time it goes to the house, because certainly in this case they are a long way from the things they promised to do for the people they conned into voting for them. It is a sad day because the people here are certainly not the farmers’ friends.