20 June 2019
My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Planning, and the action I seek is for the minister to meet with Highett residents who will be directly impacted by the Andrews Labor government’s decision to re-zone the former gas and fuel land for private high-rise, high-density development so that their valid concerns and questions can be addressed.
Since alerting my community to the Andrews Labor government’s decision I have been frankly overwhelmed by the response from locals: over 1000 petition signatures in just 10 days, a community forum with standing room only, countless emails, phone calls, media articles and messages from residents, all of whom have been utterly disappointed in their state government.
My community has made it abundantly clear that they choose open space, they choose sporting fields and passive recreation areas over added congestion and inappropriate development.
Yes, we understand that as population grows affordable housing opportunities need to become available, but this should not be achieved at the cost of community spaces. There needs to be a balance, and the state government’s current plan simply does not meet that benchmark.
Planning amendment C159 claims that 11 per cent of this land will be saved for community use, which includes footpaths.
There will be no room to play kick to kick, no room to play backyard cricket, no room for a children’s playground or for a multipurpose sports field. Frankly, no room to swing a cat.
Sporting groups are asking for more sporting fields in order to cope with the increasing demands of players—where are their needs included?
Families are asking for more playgrounds, for barbecue areas, for dog parks—where are their needs included?
Environmental groups are asking for more open spaces and for trees of significance to be preserved—where are their needs included?
These community members pay their taxes.
They pay their rates.
They are the soul of our suburbs, and there is no-one who can better plan and design a use for this land than them.
Instead of ignoring their ideas and refusing a contest of ideas, the planning minister would do well to sit down with these residents and hear them out. He may even be inspired, as I have been.
The Andrews Labor government’s plan to sell this publicly owned land for private development is a decision taken in just a moment of time by ministers and bureaucrats far removed from the reality of our community.
But the effect of this decision will affect our community forever.
It is in that spirit, a spirit of cooperation and a spirit of pleading, that I renew my request for the planning minister to meet with local residents and hear from them directly.