Glen Eira planning scheme amendment (15.11.2017)

Written on the 15 November 2017

15 November 2017


GEORGIE CROZIER (LIB - Southern Metropolitan)


I rise to speak to Mr Davis's excellent motion, which he has put on the notice paper this morning:

That, in relation to amendment C170 to the Glen Eira planning scheme which relates to Ormond railway station, this house

(1)   notes planning scheme amendment C170 was tabled 17 October 2017; and

(2)   pursuant to section 38(2) of the Planning and Environment Act 1987 revokes amendment C170.

Ms Dunn has just finished her contribution and made some very good points. I would also like to acknowledge her support in supporting Mr Davis's motion because she understands that the way the government has handled this particular project has not been in line with community expectations. She also makes some very good points about the concerns that Glen Eira City Council have raised, which were opposing the 13-storey sky tower.

This issue that we are debating today has been something that I have been very aware of for quite some time, because it relates to the level crossing removal project at North Road, Ormond, which, I will remind the house, was funded by the previous coalition government. Despite the Minister for Public Transport and other members of the government claiming credit for it, it was funded and planned for by the previous coalition government to enable that project to go ahead a very worthy project. We all agree that level crossings do need to be removed to make our streets safer and to provide easy access for commuters.

During this particular project I had great concerns, which I have raised in this house a number of times in relation to how that project was actually managed, and there were small business owners who were enormously impacted throughout this project who were ignored, I might add, by the government. Minister Dalidakis is in the chamber, and I am very glad he is in the chamber because he knows very well what I am talking about here in terms of what went on. He and I have had discussions in and out of the chamber about some of the concerns of small business. If you think about what those concerns were, they were not told that the project would be brought forward six months earlier, and they were significantly impacted by that. They had concerns about their businesses being terribly affected by the closure. And that was part of this process of non-consultation or not understanding the full extent of the project that was being undertaken.

This went on for some time, and it was during that process that I had a phone call from one of those businesses that said, 'Georgie, I'm just letting you know that there's this massive concrete pad that's been laid'. It was those very local communities that were telling us what was happening. This was in direct contrast to the secrecy of this government and in contrast to what the government was telling us that they were being open about this project because it was when that concrete pad was being laid and the foundations were going in that people realised that it was not just the railway station that was being built and that clearly there were plans for, as has been described by the government, value capture of that space and then the 13-storey sky tower.

This has caused enormous consternation in the local community, who feel they have been absolutely disregarded by the government, by their local members and by the ministers in particular in relation to this project.

There have been various questions, like 'What will this project actually mean?'. I will just go back a little bit and talk about the time lines. I mentioned that the former coalition government announced this funding, and that was way back in May of 2014. In early 2015 the government went out with great fanfare to reannounce that announcement. They are pretty good at reannouncing announcements. They seem to be doing it all the time on so many projects just to get a media hit, a selfie, a tweet and a Facebook post. However, when they went out and reannounced it in 2015, there was no mention of this value-capture process being flagged with the various stakeholders, including the local community.

In July of 2016 it was discovered that the secret plans to value capture the Ormond station site would have a 13-storey sky tower. That was, as I said, through questioning of local residents. Not even the local council had any idea of this. What is interesting and what has also come to my notice and is of concern to the local community is that there was value capture for this particular site but not for the sites at Bentleigh or McKinnon. Clearly that is to protect the local member for Bentleigh in the Assembly, Nick Staikos. We have seen what is happening out in Northcote with the pork-barrelling going on to save that seat by Labor. They are doing the same thing in Bentleigh because they know that there are many issues that the local community have with this government, whether it is this particular issue that is causing great concern because of the lack of consultation, whether it is the crime wave that is moving across the south-eastern suburbs, affecting areas like Bentleigh, or whether it is the rise in the cost of living the rise of utility costs that are hitting businesses and households. There are many concerns in a marginal seat like Bentleigh. It was very evident that in McKinnon and in the Bentleigh rail station precinct this would not occur.

Last year in around about September Minister Wynne advised that he had referred the Ormond site to a committee, the level crossing removal project integrated development opportunities standing advisory committee, and off this process went. As I said, it was a bit late then, when the concrete had been laid and all was in motion.

I want to put on record my thanks to my colleagues David Southwick, the member for Caulfield in the other place, and Mr Davis and Ms Fitzherbert, who have been speaking with community members. We have had various community meetings to discuss this issue, to hear those local concerns and to bring them to the attention of the government in any way we can. I have raised questions with numerous ministers about this project. Quite frankly I think their answers have been terribly unsatisfactory in many ways in relation to the concerns the community has raised with me. This is becoming evident with these projects, whether it is sky rail, this project or others. The government are just riding roughshod over the community with no regard for their concerns.

As others have said, it is not as if people do not accept that development needs to be undertaken and will be undertaken. That is not what the community has said. They understand that, and they are very willing for that to occur. What they are most concerned about is the way this government has treated them with complete contempt and not given them the opportunity to understand the scale of the project and the way the government has just gone ahead without consultation.

As I said, the project was opposed by residents and the Glen Eira council. They wanted a more reasonable development at that site they understand that development needs to be undertaken but this was not the case. It is very curious that the mayor, Ms Delahunty, who is well affiliated with the Labor Party of course, is now backing away from her position. I think that is disappointing. But I would urge the Glen Eira council to stand strong with the community, push back on the government and ask them why they are treating the community like they are and not providing them with the opportunities that need to be provided on such a project.

Mr Leane in his contribution talked about developments undertaken by the former coalition government. He talked about where they were undertaken in high-density areas. That is what we have always said: high-density areas need to be planned for and have the appropriate services and infrastructure in place to cater for them. But what we are seeing with this government is a free-for-all across our suburbs, where there is

Mr Dalidakis interjected.

Ms CROZIER Well, there is.

Mr Dalidakis There is not.

Ms CROZIER There is.

Mr Dalidakis If you want to talk about a free-for-all, talk about what Matthew Guy did. That is outrageous and hypocritical.

Ms CROZIER Mr Dalidakis, this is exactly what the community feel. They feel that you are putting this sky tower in the middle of this zone, where this area is

Mr Dalidakis interjected.

Ms CROZIER I have just said this is a 13-storey sky tower, which you gave the community no consultation on or say in.

Mr Dalidakis interjected.

Ms CROZIER You did after the fact. You had laid the concrete platform. I will go back to Mr Leane's contribution in which he was criticising the area of high-density approvals. There is no doubt that the high-density areas were identified by the previous coalition government and undertaken. This is an inappropriate development for this site. The fact is that the government provided no ability for the community to have a say on it.

I want to just read some of the comments from community members, because these are the people that are affected, Mr Dalidakis:

Thirteen storeys is excessive given the highest building in Ormond is only around four or five.

Another comment:

The amount of secrecy on the project's high-rise plans is most surprising to many local residents. We've been kept well-informed on construction phases and deadlines until now, mostly by mailbox flyers, but beyond crossing completion little has been said about future plans for the project. Local residents want to know, why all the hush-hush?

That is the tenure of the concerns regarding those communities. Have you been out speaking to the community, Mr Dalidakis?

Mr Dalidakis I live in the community. Unlike you, I live in the community.

Ms CROZIER You do live in Bentleigh, and therefore you should be listening to your community on this. I am very pleased that I, like my colleagues, do represent Southern Metropolitan Region.

Mr Dalidakis Poorly.

Ms CROZIER You might think so, but let me tell you that the households and the businesses that have been represented by you and the local member in the Assembly, Mr Staikos, have a very poor view of how you have treated them.

Mr Dalidakis I will have my say in a moment; you better believe it.

Ms CROZIER You can. That is what we are here for.

The ACTING PRESIDENT (Ms Dunn) Order! Through the Chair, please.

Ms CROZIER That is what we are here for, Acting President. We are here to debate this issue, and I am very pleased to have been able to stand with Mr Davis and others. I note the comments from the others on social media this morning in relation to the Liberal candidate for Bentleigh, Mr Judah, who has also been out there speaking to the community.

Mr Dalidakis Mr Property!

Ms CROZIER It is just a bit like you being the representative for the forestry industry and now you have backed away.

Mr Dalidakis interjected.

Ms CROZIER Through you, Acting President, I realise that the time for my contribution is nearly up, so I want to say finally that, like you, we have got great concerns about how the government has provided the consultation process or lack thereof in relation to this project. We do not believe that there should be a free-for-all where developments are just going to be popping up in suburbs like mushrooms. This government has got a track record of arrogance. They are disingenuous with the way they consult with communities. We have seen that with the sky rail development around the Pakenham-Cranbourne line in particular, but it is now occurring elsewhere.

I think the Victorian community is well aware of how this government operates. This community, to their credit, have wanted to speak to us and have done so because they believe they have been poorly represented, and I would concur with them. I say again: it is not what the Glen Eira council and those residents originally wanted. They did not want to 13-level sky tower. They were accepting of a development, but something as large as this with no consultation just demonstrates again the tenure of this arrogant government.


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