Planning and Environment Amendment (Distinctive Areas and Landscapes) Bill 2017
t gives me great pleasure to follow that stirring contribution on the Planning and Environment (Distinctive Landscapes and Other Areas) Bill 2017. That was an impassioned presentation from the member for Essendon in support of this bill, in support of the great work that the minister at the table, the Minister for Planning, is doing. The member for Essendon was talking about other people that get it. Well, he gets it as well.
I represent a peri-urban area which is the subject of this bill. I am rapt to see that the member for Macedon is in the chamber for this debate and has been so for its duration. The bill is really the embodiment of the work and the passion that she has put in in terms of articulating the desires and wants of her community. Like my electorate, she has the fabulous Great Dividing Range going through her electorate. This bill will give great protection to that area and to so many other areas — iconic areas that throughout the colonial history of this place, let alone now, have been writ large and on the big screen in the imagination of colonial Australia.
The member for Macedon mentioned the Indigenous communities: the Dja Dja Wurrung, the Taungurong and the Wurundjeri people. When we are doing planning we actually respect the oldest continuous culture in the world. The Yarra River Protection (Wilip-gin Birrarung murron) Bill 2017, which the Minister for Planning, who is at the table, brought into this house, saw for the first time traditional Indigenous languages being spoken in this place and treating them with respect. As those three Indigenous peoples recognise, these landforms have been around much longer than they have, and they are part of their journey and part of the journey of this country.
I just think it is unbelievable that those opposite would propose amendments to this great bill. The Leader of the Opposition, who was the most recent Minister for Planning, would not even show his face in the house during debate on this bill. But he sent the junior woodchucks to sit at the table there — one from the inner city, fresh from mum and dad’s place — to do the job of grown-ups, to talk about growth in regional Victoria, something that he knows little about and something that his side have abandoned ship on. They are not speaking on this bill.
I am proud to be on this side of the house because we actually pay a great deal of respect to the Hamer government and Dick Hamer, who was a fabulous Premier of this state. It was during his reign that the notion of wedges came about, but it was on this side of the house that we actually enshrined that in legislation. I was pleased that it was in my first term of Parliament that
wedges in my electorate and all around the urban fringe of Melbourne were protected, unlike under those opposite, when they were chipped away and chipped away and precinct structure plans were just thrown in with little attention to the built form, let alone the natural form and how people would live there. As the member for Macedon, the member for Yuroke and other members in the west and the south-eastern suburbs know, we know about growth. The only time that we hear those opposite talking about growth is when they are trying to talk down
the lived experience of the communities of the south-east and the west for their own political purposes. They play dog-whistle politics, but they never propose any solutions.
When the Leader of the Opposition was the Minister for Planning and he represented the northern suburbs of Melbourne — all of the Yan Yean electorate was in his electorate, which was the Northern Metropolitan Region in the upper house, before he scuttled off to the leafy eastern suburbs — the only thing that he did in planning terms in the Yan Yean electorate was to move the urban growth boundary but to make no plans, not to fund anything and to protect very little. That is the contrast between this government’s approach and the approach of those opposite.
The member for Gembrook, doing the bidding of Mr Davis in the other place, proposed amendments. I have not been in the house the whole time, but I am not even certain that they have had one follow-up speaker to actually support those amendments that are here before the house. We do not support those amendments. We support the bill before the house because it is founded in evidence and it is founded in the well-thought-out desires of the community within the Shire of Macedon Ranges, which the member for Macedon represents.
I know the minister at the table has visited the Macedon Ranges on many occasions, and he has also visited the Yan Yean electorate on numerous occasions. This is a minister that actually gets the full scope of his brief as planning minister. He gets that he needs to plan for growth in the inner city and for growth in the outer suburbs but to also protect what Victorians hold dear. They are things like the
wedges and also significant landscapes in the Shire of Macedon Ranges. I have no doubt that we will be able to continue to use this bill before the house to protect many of our significant landscapes and areas across the state.
As the Parliamentary Secretary for Tourism and Major Events, I cannot stress how important it is to protect these locations, because they are not only important to those who live near them, whether it is that magnificent Hanging Rock or whether it is Mount Macedon — I can hear the panpipes — or the other magnificent landforms. I have just been to a tourist industry function with the Tourism and Transport Forum, which is happening in another part of the Parliament. There were representatives there from the alpine industry, with the Great Alpine Road and other great features, the Great Ocean Road and Gariwerd, or the Grampians.
The demand for nature-based tourism has never been stronger worldwide, and Victoria is uniquely placed to take advantage of that. We are actually running second in visitation from overseas tourists. We have got the fastest rate of growth. We have overtaken Queensland. Who would have thought that little Victoria, the little mouse that roared, would overtake the Queensland tourism juggernaut? But we have in fact done that. It is our culture, it is the built form and it is the compact nature of our state. The compact nature of our state holds many, many treasures. In our great small state there are mountains, valleys and coastlines — no more than in the Shire of Macedon Ranges. They are iconic and they are historic, and this is a bill that will give voice to the community members in the electorate of Macedon.
The bill is consistent with Plan Melbourne: 2017–2050, which contains a commitment to prepare localised planning statements for distinctive areas and landscapes and also to strengthen the protection of the wedges. We will not be diminishing the wedges. I know that the political party, who only seem concerned about what happens in the inner city.