City of Moreland: Planning Scheme Amendment C140

Written on the 29 February 2012

I am pleased to rise to speak on this motion. A number of my colleagues on this side of the house have highlighted the need to oppose this motion. This amendment is going to have an impact on many Victorians. As Mrs Peulich said in her contribution, and even though it is not directly related to my electorate of Southern Metropolitan Region either, the undertakings of the investigation happened at a number of sites, including a site at Kew, which is in my electorate.


I wanted to speak to this motion because it highlights how ludicrously the opposition treats energy security and why energy security is such an important aspect of our day-to-day lives. Speakers from this side of the house have concisely pointed out that energy security is absolutely fundamental to the modern-day economy and democracy that we live in. That is how businesses thrive. Electricity is the lifeline of a modern-day economy. While we are facing challenges to our economy from right around the world, the last thing we need is a disruption to energy supply that could further threaten that.


It has been highlighted that the Melbourne CBD, where thousands of Victorians and Melburnians are employed, drives a large part of the Victorian economy. It would be completely irresponsible if this government did not consider securing the energy supply for the CBD and other parts of inner Melbourne.


The Brunswick terminal station, as Mrs Peulich pointed out, has been located at the same site since 1938. SP AusNet, which is the owner of the station, needs to upgrade works to ensure the continued security of electricity supply. That is part of the planning process to enable a secure supply of energy. Mr Barber said this issue had been first raised with the relevant federal minister and the then Minister for Energy and Resources in this state in 2007, which is five years ago. That is symptomatic of the little regard held by the former government for planning for future population growth, business growth and energy needs.


It is interesting to note the contributions to this debate from the opposition. It has argued about and discussed in some detail the so-called lack of consultation by the Minister for Planning. I find that quite extraordinary, because it is well known that there was considerable consultation over the period during which the planning minister and the Minister for Energy and Resources were having discussions.


As we know, alternative sites were investigated. I mentioned Kew. There are two sites in Kingsville and others in Brooklyn, Newport-Yarraville, Coburg, North Fitzroy and inner Melbourne. The results of those investigations were that the net benefit for energy users was greatest at the current Brunswick terminal station. As it has already been pointed out, a request was made by Brunswick residents and a Merri Creek community group. Statutory regulatory investment test investigations are applied to all new electricity works and were undertaken under national electricity rules.


The Minister for Planning can be congratulated on his approach in this regard. He has taken on board those concerns and listened to Moreland council's concerns. Mrs Petrovich pointed out that that vote in council was fairly divided and split, with quite an interesting result, as she articulated when pointing out who was in favour of this proposal and who voted against it.


It was quite contrary to Mr Tee's comments that the minister was riding roughshod over the community, councils and the planning processes and that bad practices were leading to bad outcomes. Securing the electricity supply for this state and this city will not lead to a bad outcome. In fact this development will secure a sustainable and long-lasting energy supply.


Ms Mikakos and Mr Barber raised concerns about the consideration of the health impacts of this development. I find this to be quite hypocritical of both of those members because they have previously scoffed at similar concerns about the effects of wind farms on communities and at people who have experienced ill effects from wind turbines or wind farms and the low-frequency noise they generate. GPs who have seen patients have raised concerns about this, and in fact a Senate inquiry is investigating those impacts. It is absolutely hypocritical of those members to argue that point.


Mrs Peulich referred to the electromagnetic field and the work that was undertaken by external engineering consultants and by the industry itself. Those findings were absolutely consistent with national guidelines and standards. I understand that Mr Tee and the Labor Party want to continue to scaremonger and make this an issue, but it is really a non-issue. The coalition


government is committed to supplying a safe and reliable power supply to Victorians, quite unlike its federal counterpart, which is going to impose a great big new tax. Mr Finn articulated that issue extremely well. That tax is going to have an impact on every consumer across the state. It is completely irresponsible. We see in today's Australian Financial Review the headline 'Carbon tax hit threatens price blow-out'. The industry says that it is going to pass on those costs to consumers. There is no doubt that is going to occur. Those costs will be passed on to consumers, and that includes Victorians, whether they are small businesses, a pensioner in their home or a large business. Consumers will be paying for the carbon tax one way or another, and it will not make a scrap of difference to the environmental outcomes that it was supposedly designed for.


Without the upgrade of this vital piece of infrastructure, it would be very likely that the CBD and inner parts of Melbourne would suffer significant power outages at peak usage times. This is completely unacceptable in a modern economy. That is why the Minister for Planning has undertaken this very important initiative. With those few words, I would like to commend his actions, and I commend the government for ensuring a secure supply of electricity to Melbourne's inner eastern and central business district areas. Like my colleagues on the government side, I will not be supporting Mr Tee's ridiculous motion.

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