Ports and Environs Advisory Committee report: request for production of report

Written on the 2 May 2012

I am pleased to rise to make a contribution to Mr Tee's motion 333 in relation to the order by the resolution of the Council that the Ports and Environs Advisory Committee report be tabled in the Council by 12 noon on 27 March. The report has not been received by the Council, and there are a number of other issues relating to the motion.


In his contribution Mr O'Donohue laid out succinctly the events that the Minister for Planning has instigated in relation to this motion and in particular the letter he has provided to the Legislative Council that clearly explains his reasons as to his response. The letter states:


'The government is in the process of responding to this resolution.'


'As the response to the report is yet to go through the cabinet process and it is appropriate that both the report and response are released simultaneously, the government is not able to respond to the Council's resolution within the time period requested. The government will respond as soon as possible'

I know there has been some commentary in relation to that issue in the debate, but I reiterate what Mr O'Donohue said in relation to Mr Tee's comments in that the terms of reference for the review of planning controls for the port and environs took some time to be delivered by the previous government. As Mr O'Donohue indicated, they were finally released.


Why is it that Mr Tee is pushing this issue now? When he was in government it took a significant amount of time, but it is now a matter of urgency. I am curious to know why he did not bother to raise the issue when he was in government.


Now that he is in opposition it seems opportune that he is raising this issue. In his contribution he requested -- --


[Mr Lenders] -- It is curious that the Liberal Party wants to direct what the Labor Party does rather than govern.


I suggest to Mr Lenders that it is very curious that this was not undertaken when he was in government. Mr Tee failed to push this as an urgent issue then. That is the crux of my commentary in relation to Mr Tee's issue with urgency. It is no secret that the government is taking this situation seriously. The government has undertaken extensive consultation within the ports and planning portfolios. I know that Mr Tee was questioning whether the cabinet ministers actually speak. He asked that question number of times in his contribution. It is clearly laid out, as I said, in relation to the letter that has been provided by Mr Tee about why there has been this delay.


I would like to go to the crux of this issue, which is the port of Melbourne. The port is a vital piece of infrastructure to the Victorian economy. The port of Melbourne has been a part of Melbourne's economic activity since settlement, and I think it is interesting to note that as the city has expanded so has the port of Melbourne. As has been highlighted by a number of members, the port plays a significant role in Victoria's economy. As Mr Tee noted, it is the largest container port in southern Australia in terms of the numbers of imports and exports that move through it each year.


The expansion of the port, which was announced by the Minister for Ports and the Premier last week, is going to benefit not only regional Victorian producers for whom the port is a main source of activity but also those closer to Melbourne, including the retail sector.


As Mr O'Donohue highlighted, the press release issued by the Premier says that the project will directly create 700 jobs and will indirectly support employment for a further 1900 people, many of whom will be located in regional Victoria. The benefits will flow on to the retail space in inner Melbourne, and that is good in light of some of the economic challenges that we have faced. We are all aware of the challenges we have faced from a Victorian perspective. We are heading into the federal budget next week, and the federal Treasurer has expressed concerns about the challenges the nation faces. Anything we can do to support our important trade industries and regional areas.


[Mr Barber] -- Just hand over the document!


I remind Mr Barber that it is important that this issue be noted, because it is about a very important project. I ask Mr Tee why, if it is such a huge issue now, was it not such a huge issue for the former government? I want to reiterate that this is going to be a vital part of the Victorian economy into the future. Mr O'Donohue has already indicated that those opposite, including Mr Barber, should be embracing this and looking at it. In her contribution Ms Pennicuik asked what happened to Hastings. There have been a number of announcements, but you cannot build infrastructure that is going to cater for this increase in activity overnight.


[Ms Pennicuik] -- I said I'm glad it's gone.


I know Ms Pennicuik is not supportive of the port of Hastings development, but it is a medium to long-term imperative for the entire state. In the meantime the port of Melbourne has to be upgraded so that it has sufficient infrastructure capacity to cater for the forecast increase in export trade. That is good for the state economy and for all Victorians, so it should be supported by those opposite.


I advise Mr Tee that this is definitely a planning issue because it is taking into consideration the ongoing growth and the needs of Victorians and it also takes into view the port of Hastings and how that will develop over the coming years.


In his contribution Mr O'Donohue highlighted issues relating to the transport congestion that this development might cause. It is not surprising, I suppose, that an article published a few days ago in the Maribyrnong Weekly stated that the opposition ports spokesman, Mr Pallas, the member for Tarneit in the Assembly, said he expected the report to recommend Webb Dock be expanded to have the capacity for 1 million containers. That will obviously have an ongoing impact on the traffic congestion. The need for ongoing road movement was highlighted in this project, and that has been factored into that area of planning so that the capacity can be met.


It seems to me that those opposite are not very supportive, with a number of members commenting on the road congestion. Despite the opposition having done nothing about it, even though it had its own plan and terms of reference in relation to this issue some years ago, it is now discussing congestion planning.


We are considering all those issues and they are being factored in. This activity will take place around the port of Melbourne, and it is nothing new.


Trade has been coming in and out of that port for as long as Melbourne has been settled. Those living around it -- --


[Mr Lenders interjected].


To take up the interjection from Mr Lenders, I was not in the house when that was debated. It is all about future expansion and being able to cater to what the Victorian economy needs. The Minister for Ports and the Premier made the announcement last week, and it is good news for the Victorian economy, it is good news for regional jobs, it is good news for regional exporters, it is good news for those in retail. Mr Lenders, along with other members of the opposition, should be supporting the growth of this project and the growth in jobs that that will entail.


Mr Tee said Mr Guy gave a pathetic and lame excuse. In the time he has held the planning portfolio as the Minister for Planning Mr Guy has undertaken enormous planning initiatives, and he should be congratulated on the consultation he has undertaken in conjunction with the Minister for Ports.


In conclusion, the Victorian government reiterates that once the cabinet process is concluded the report will be released to the public. I reiterate what Mr O'Donohue has said, that we will not oppose Mr Tee's motion.

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