MAJOR TRANSPORT PROJECTS FACILITATION AMENDMENT BILL 2019
Mr J BULL (Sunbury) (14:59:58): I am pleased to have the opportunity to follow the member for Oakleigh this afternoon and contribute to the debate on the Major Transport Projects Facilitation Amendment Bill 2019. In my contribution yesterday to the address-in-reply to the Governor’s speech I spoke extensively about this government’s exciting, big, bold, progressive agenda that we of course took to the November election.
The member for Oakleigh spoke in his contribution about this agenda—this pipeline of projects, these plans that are going to propel Victoria for decades to come. This was of course, Acting Speaker Carbines, as you know from your local community, overwhelmingly endorsed by the Victorian community. I believe, and I am sure government members on this side of the house believe, that that is because this government stands for getting things done and stands for working with Victorians to find solutions to problems rather than just simply political pointscoring.
This government, in my view, was comprehensively voted back in because we are focused on projects and not posturing, focused on delivering a better state, more jobs, new skills and that pipeline of projects and infrastructure that supports this great state.
This is an important bill because it allows for greater efficiency and a greater management process around agreements for major projects. We of course know, and we have heard this afternoon members speak about, the importance of delivering projects on time and within budget—of making sure that these projects can be delivered in a manner that is timely and in a manner that works for the bottom line and, importantly, forms a broader picture, whether it is in roads or rail, schools or hospitals—to be able to do the things that this government is focused on and that are improving the lives of all Victorians.
This bill, as I have said, enhances the efficiency of those agreements struck by utilities to make sure that projects can be delivered in a better way. By flipping, if you like, in many respects the way that we manage and deal with utilities, it creates a better planning system, with more certainty and greater security. It allows us to get on and continue to deliver that extraordinary pipeline of projects that I mentioned yesterday and that other honourable members have mentioned this afternoon. We are making sure that we are doing everything we possibly can to make Victoria the wonderful state that it is. Essentially this is a practical bill where small changes will improve the agreement‑making process and provide greater clarity to all parties.
The Major Transport Projects Facilitation Act 2009 sets out a process for negotiating agreements on how utility infrastructure will be removed, relocated or protected. I have no doubt that further work will be done in this space at a local level. I am sure that a number of members will be able to reflect on the complexities that arise when you are dealing with local community infrastructure and utilities-based companies, whether it is gas, NBN or power, and the time it often takes to relocate services for some of this really important work. A number of members will be able to reflect on local matters where these delays cost money and time and they delay really important projects.
Of course we know that much of our community infrastructure is mixed use, whether it is roads or health, and what needs to happen in many of these examples is exactly what is outlined in this important piece of legislation before the house this afternoon. This bill removes redundant work for the project authority and unaffected utilities by requiring the project authority to notify only those utilities it believes will be affected. We know that some utility providers are geographically limited and will have no assets anywhere near the project, so the change removes the need for a formal exchange where the outcome is already known.
That is in many respects common sense, but it is an important change. It is a change that is going to result in, I think, less compliance but certainly a greater outcome in terms of being able to deliver the project exactly when it needs to be delivered. The proposed amendments will also give the project authority discretion to provide more time for utilities to comply with notification requirements if needed. This is valuable for both the utility and the project authority. If assets are unnotified, there are costs for the utility and risks to the project delivery schedule. It is worth reflecting just on the size, the amount—the Premier speaks about it often, as does the Treasurer and cabinet ministers—and the extraordinary level of projects that are happening in each and every community right across this state, in the city, in the regions, in country areas, in areas of growth and certainly in my area, in Sunbury, and its surrounds.
The member for Melton is over there, and I can certainly see his acknowledgement of the growth of new communities, with new families that want to come and move into our growth corridors. This government is focused on giving our new communities the best possible life: a great local school, access to terrific health care and access to good local roads. We are ensuring that all of the facilities and services are provided certainly for our growth corridors but right across the state. This is an important element of this government’s agenda. It is not just about focusing on those projects that are important today, tomorrow or next year.
I have no doubt that members in the house would have had these conversations at train stations, at street stalls and at community forums, where the Victorian community asks for a greater level of planning and a view for the next 10 years, the next 20 years and the next 30 years. This government is about exactly that. If you look at projects like the Solar Homes package, like the Suburban Rail Loop and like the airport rail link, it is long-term planning that is going to set this state up for many years to come. I have said in this house before that if you could just for a moment imagine Melbourne and Victoria without the city loop and without the projects that the Victorian community relies on each and every day.
I think in 50 years time—although I do not expect to still be around, although possibly—
Mr Pearson: Oh come on, you will live until you are 110.
Mr J BULL: The member for Essendon will still be around, and he will probably still be in this place, I would imagine.
The member for Essendon is just a dynamo.
Ms Williams: He will still be wearing his blue suit.
Mr J BULL: He will still be wearing the blue suit, member for Dandenong; will he ever. The blue suit will be fit and firing in 50 years time.
These projects are setting this state up for the future. They should be universally supported. There should be no disagreement about building the Suburban Rail Loop. There should be no disagreement about the airport rail link.
There should be no disagreement about investing in schools, hospitals and the things that matter. This is what this government has set out to do over the past four years, and we will continue to do so in this term and, if we are given the opportunity, in the next term—and in 50 years time when the member for Essendon is still here.
This is an important piece of legislation. It streamlines the process and it allows utilities to be dealt with earlier on in the cycle of design. It will certainly go a long way to ensuring that this government’s record investment in infrastructure, local services and the things that matter to the lives of local families and Victorian communities right across the state are delivered in a manner that is supported by the Victorian community.
I commend the bill to the house.