Planning and Environment Amendment (Public Land Contributions) Bill 2017

I am delighted to join the debate on the Planning and Environment Amendment (Public Land Contributions) Bill 2017. I find it a bit curious that the member for South Barwon could not even make 10 minutes on his speech. He talked about the issues his electorate of South Barwon has in dealing with growth pressures. He is so passionate in standing up for them that he could not even make the 10 minutes required. I have not been in the chamber for all of the debate, but I know that the speaker who led off the contribution from the opposition and proposed a series of amendments was also another growth MP — the member for Gembrook. I simply do not see how these two gentlemen can look their communities in the face and say, ‘I’m not going to support developers actually making a contribution to local council to ensure that new communities get the infrastructure that they need’. It is nonsense, what we have heard about this being a new tax. It is not a new tax; it is simply indexation.

The Leader of the Opposition, when he was the Minister for Planning, did absolutely nothing for growth communities, and certainly not in the north, which I represent. He collected a whole lot of growth areas infrastructure contribution (GAIC) funds. He introduced in-kind contributions that could only be overseen by himself with no input from councils, and then the money that was collected was not used. Only $4 million was actually set aside for it, and we have now committed $144 million. This includes $30 million for new schools, $27 million for a new railway station in Melton and $7.4 million — this is one of my favourites — for an extra station at Hawkstowe on the Mernda rail line that we are extending. And isn’t that project going well; it is going like the clappers. There is $8.5 million from the growth areas infrastructure charge to purchase land for six new ambulance stations, including at Mernda.

Mernda is getting a great benefit from the growth areas infrastructure charge, while the previous Minister for Planning, who actually represented the north — he was a member for Northern Metropolitan Region in the Council — sat on that GAIC money and did nothing. The population of Mernda and Doreen — that same postcode — between 2011 and 2014 actually doubled. He did nothing on schools, on new ambulance stations, on police stations or on public transport — actually only cuts to public transport — and certainly spent not one dollar on roads.

I cannot believe that these people come into this chamber and think that they are going to lecture us. They propose amendments that will mean that councils continue to have inadequate funding from developers to provide the necessary community infrastructure, like sporting fields and open space that keep our kids fit, the intersections and non-state roads that are provided. On kindergartens, I know that the member for Mill Park, the Minister for Suburban Development, in her contribution talked about growing up as a little girl in Fawkner and how her brother got to go to kindergarten and she did not. We are not going to see that sort of thing happen. We are going to make sure, whether it is with this bill or whether it is with other measures, that those communities have got facilities, services and infrastructure in place as the communities are growing.

I was with the Minister for Planning only last week — and with my great friend, my next-door neighbour, the member for Yuroke — when he released precinct structure plans for Donnybrook and Woodstock. These are old locality names that have existed for a very long time, but they are now going to be new suburbs. They are actually completely planned. The schedules show the community what is going to be delivered there and that there is some certainty, unlike when those opposite were in government. The community already has a train station at Donnybrook. It is a bit old and dilapidated, so in this year’s state budget we said that we would upgrade that. There is going to be a bit of GAIC money going into that as well.

We are looking to the future with new train stations at Lockerbie and Beveridge, in between Donnybrook and Wallan. There will be schools delivered in a timely manner, and there is funding for roads. I am sure that we will see buses travelling along those roads, getting kids to school and to the train station, to work and to study. That is in complete contrast to what the member for Bulleen, the then Minister for Planning, did when Mernda and Doreen’s population was going troppo.

Those opposite have made mention of taxes, saying there are new taxes. I am actually proud that we have had a redistribution of taxes. We have got an issue with an overheated market, with investors and overseas investors buying off the plan and not paying stamp duty, and then our first home owners have been struggling with housing affordability. We make no excuse when we say we think that those who should benefit from a stamp duty exemption are our first home buyers so they can get into their first home for their family. Those who try and say that they never raise taxes, that they are the good guys, cannot kid anyone that they ever built infrastructure and services, because we can all see the emperor has got no clothes with that.

When the member for Malvern was the Treasurer — a pretty ordinary Treasurer — in 2013–14 state taxation revenue grew by 8.8 per cent. In 2014–15 this grew again by 8.5 per cent. In 2014 alone the member for Malvern also hiked motor vehicle taxes by over $580 million. At a time when the local car industry was on its knees, he did something like that. We are now getting on with the job, and we are not wasting a day getting infrastructure and services, and catching up on the deficit that those opposite left us with.

Trust those opposite to trash our communities, to try to prevent a levy for services that had not been updated since 2004. The figure of $1150 had not been raised from the $900 that it had been set at in 2004. So I actually think that is quite a reasonable increase, given it has not been increased for some 13 years, and that it should be indexed. I think people in growing communities want to see that. The member for Ivanhoe, speaking before me, talked about his community, so it is not just in the growing suburbs. People in established suburbs need some of this contribution for open space and other things when development is occurring.

I recall this when the member for Warrandyte was opposing the growth areas infrastructure charge that we introduced in 2009–10. He and I were at a Warrandyte Community Association political debate, and I made the point then why did he think that the infrastructure that was required in new communities — like the one I represent in the Plenty and Hume growth corridors — should be solely footed by other taxpayers, including his own residents in Warrandyte. He had no answer for that. I think the answer to that is that he did not care whether people in new communities had infrastructure or not.

The community does see that there is a role for developer contributions, and these should be clear and up-front. It is good for councils to be able to plan what they need to do in delivering infrastructure, so this allows councils to do their jobs in a cooperative way with developers. With our work with GAIC, and now the introduction — I see the Minister for Suburban Development is in the chamber, who is also working with GAIC, and the Minister for Local Government with the infrastructure growth fund — I commend the bill to the house, and I am against the amendments.