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Planning & Environment Amendment Bill 2021

Mar 18, 2021 | News, Parliament

Mr BARTON (Eastern Metropolitan) (11:26): I rise to speak on the Planning and Environment Amendment Bill 2021. I believe this bill will be vital for maintaining what makes our community so special—our heritage. Across Victoria we have a rich and diverse history that you can still see in our historic homes, our commercial buildings, our parks and gardens, and our monuments and plaques. We have a responsibility to identify those important heritage places and protect them for the current and future generations. Many of these heritage-listed buildings have survived fires, floods and many tenants, and yet the biggest threat to these buildings today is developers willing to unlawfully demolish these buildings. That is because until now developers have simply incorporated the fines for illegal demolition into the business costs, knowing the fines will make a small dent in the profits development would bring them. Currently the maximum fine for someone who demolishes a heritage building without a planning permit is just short of $200 000. This is often insignificant compared to the profits gained by new developments on that land. As it stands, after being fined a planning permit application could still be made to develop the land.

This bill will hopefully bring these callous tactics to an end. We must have tougher penalties for developers who choose to knock down our historic buildings with little remorse or who neglect to maintain them. This bill intends to make it unprofitable for developers to illegally demolish our heritage-listed buildings. The bill allows the government to prohibit development on sites for up to 10 years if the owners are charged with illegal demolition. This prohibition remains with the land and cannot be undermined by simply selling the land. It will also enable existing building permits to be revoked and allow for new permits to be issued for specific purposes, such as building a park or repair of the heritage building. These measures will assist in deterring developers from knocking down our heritage buildings. This is a clear message that they will not get away with doing this wrong thing.

This bill will help keep our rich history intact and give our future generations the opportunity to learn from the past. In my electorate we have many valuable heritage sites that have been protected by this legislation—for example, the Warrandyte Historical Society museum exists in the historic old post office, which operated from 1876 to 1972. This historic post office building survived years of neglect, a demolition order, road-widening plans, a flood and a suspicious fire in 1982 before preservation and restoration became possible. The old post office now is used to exhibit historical artefacts for current and future generations to view and learn about. This includes a room devoted to our gold discovery and its influence on the development of the town as well and an Aboriginal room which contains a history of the Wurundjeri people and their relationship with the land. It is safe to say that the whole community benefits from the restoration and preservation of this historical site. This bill provides peace of mind that these heritage sites can continue to be preserved, contribute to the community and provide a valuable learning experience.

I am also glad to see that this bill has focused on improving the efficiency of the existing system, allowing the public notice of an application and inspection of documents as well as panel hearings to be conducted online. It modernises the existing system and creates more flexibility. It will also make it cheaper for all parties when conducting panel hearings on a small scale. The extractive industry permit expiry change also allows for more efficiency and flexibility in the extractive industry. Quarries will more easily be able to increase and decrease production to respond to fluctuations in the market.

Overall, I believe this bill is fit for purpose. I believe it will be more effective in stopping the unlawful demolition of heritage-listed sites. Moreover, it will improve the efficiency of the planning process and the extractive industry. This is a clear step in the right direction. We must continue to prioritise the community over developers who care little of anything except their profit margin. I commend this bill to the house.

 

Planning & Environment Amendment Bill 2021

Rod rose to speak in support of the Planning and Environment Amendment Bill 2021. This bill is vital in maintaining what makes our communities so special, ou…

I am also glad to see that this bill has focused on improving the efficiency of the existing system, allowing the public notice of an application and inspection of documents as well as panel hearings to be conducted online. It modernises the existing system and creates more flexibility. It will also make it cheaper for all parties when conducting panel hearings on a small scale. The extractive industry permit expiry change also allows for more efficiency and flexibility in the extractive industry. Quarries will more easily be able to increase and decrease production to respond to fluctuations in the market.

Overall, I believe this bill is fit for purpose. I believe it will be more effective in stopping the unlawful demolition of heritage-listed sites. Moreover, it will improve the efficiency of the planning process and the extractive industry. This is a clear step in the right direction. We must continue to prioritise the community over developers who care little of anything except their profit margin. I commend this bill to the house.

 

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