Planning and Environment Amendment (Infrastructure Contributions) Bill 2015
Written on the 16 September 2015
20 August 2015
GEORGIE CROZIER (LIB - Southern Metropolitan)
I am pleased to rise to speak briefly on the Planning and Environment Amendment (Infrastructure Contributions) Bill 2015. This bill amends the Planning and Environment Act 1987 to introduce a new system for leveraging contributions towards the provision of works and service facilities, and plan preparation costs in relation to land development. Contribution levies, as has been stated, are part of a system for providing appropriate facilities and works in areas that need those services. This bill looks at amending the Planning and Environment Act to provide for a new system.A lot of this work, as has been previously stated, was undertaken under the former government by the former Minister for Planning, Matthew Guy, now the Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly. The Standard Development Contributions Advisory Committee was established in 2012 to look at what needed to be undertaken to provide a fairer system and more certainty in terms of community expectations, and also to provide certainty to developers and others in new development areas.
As we know, at the time the minister established that advisory committee to look at a new system that would consider those areas, which include amenities that need support to be provided for any proposed new development. These amenities could include anything from open space to the community facilities already spoken about, such as schools, public transport and medical facilities, and could even include aspects of the planning process such as appropriate water supply and stormwater drainage all the issues that need to be considered when new developments are being undertaken. This contributions tax was a way to enable those amenities to be provided. The reforms introduced by the previous government under the then Minister for Planning were intended to make this possible. This bill is very much a work in progress when compared to what the former planning minister had achieved. The bill attempts to simplify and standardise the contributions tax. For a long time there has been a need for developers and the community to understand what these contributions taxes go towards.As my colleague Ms Fitzherbert who is not in the house mentioned, a contributions tax was to be applied to the development of Fishermans Bend. At the time this was announced by the former planning minister Fishermans Bend was a huge urban development in fact the largest in the nation. It included 250 hectares of land. Other areas close to the city have been developed over a number of years, including Southbank and Docklands, but urbanisation and redevelopment was planned for Fishermans Bend. A contributions tax could provide important amenities for that area. The minister made clear the amenities that were required for Fishermans Bend. As we know, our population is increasing and urban areas are becoming more dense in population. Improvements to amenities are needed for these areas, and more amenities also need to be built. It is disappointing that the current government has not taken the lead that the former government took in providing that necessary infrastructure.
The current government put out a media release earlier this year in relation to Fishermans Bend in which it divided the area into five distinct neighbourhoods. However, this division still does not go to the heart of the amenities that need to be provided for those five distinct neighbourhoods. Despite the fact that the government has said that the community will be involved at every step in an open and transparent way, I do not think that has been the case so far, because many of the services that were to be provided for the area, such as a school near Ferrars Street, have been scrapped. The current government is not planning for an increase in population.I have to congratulate Ms Fitzherbert for her advocacy on behalf of the Port Melbourne and South Melbourne communities to address the shortcomings of the current government in planning for more schools and public transport needs. This is a good example of when there is urban renewal and a contributions levy can be applied to give the community greater certainty in relation to what is proposed. We need to make sure that the current government has the ability to enable the community to have confidence in it providing these amenities.
Mr Davis's amendments draw attention to the fact that we need greater transparency and accountability. The amendments would enhance this bill to provide the community with certainty and confidence that the contributions levy is being applied in the right areas rather than being sucked into other areas or not being made available for the appropriate services.
Overall, the opposition agrees that this bill will provide greater certainty and clarification and also a reduction in red tape.
Our concerns about the need for greater transparency and accountability are addressed by Mr Davis's amendments.