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Huntingfield Housing Land Supply Order

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 5 September 2019

Tags: Kingston, Planning, Peter Murrell Reserve

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Madam Speaker, I will speak to the amendment. Labor has captured the situation fairly accurately. I have a whole range of other things to add to it, but we do not see anything that we disagree with in this amendment. No doubt it has come from conversations Labor has had, as have the Greens, with the Planning Matters Alliance of Tasmania and with many other people in the local Kingborough community who have been contacting me for weeks now. People at the public meeting and people from the Kingborough Council have also been consistently concerned at the process that was used by the Government to bring on the community discussion about the Huntingfield development.

Before I talk about the amendment, it is worth looking at the reasons why the community responded the way they did. In my mind, there were two reasons. One was the substance of the Huntingfield development being specifically on that space and how people felt about what was being proposed. The second is the history of this Government's dealings with the community over planning. The Liberals came to government following a long opposition campaign where they aggressively promoted the idea of a single statewide planning scheme.

They were substantially and openly backed by the Property Council of Tasmania. The Property Council of Australia (Tasmania Division) has written a number of things which are interesting to revisit in light of where we are today with Huntingfield. They made a submission to the Tasmanian Planning Commission on the draft state planning provisions back in 2016. A number of comments were telling. First of all, they boasted how they had advocated aggressively in the lead up to the 2014 state election for a modernised planning regime and that their views were regularly accepted and promoted by the Liberals. They welcomed and strongly supported the appointment of Mary Massina in April 2014 as the Executive Chair of the Planning Reform Taskforce that the Liberals established to create a statewide planning scheme, now known as the Tasmanian Planning Scheme. Mary Massina was previously the director of the Property Council of Tasmania and strongly advocated for, amongst other things, forcibly amalgamating local councils in Tasmania, reducing taxes and council rates, reducing regulation generally for property developers, reforming building regulations, et cetera.

So, the Liberals put into the head job of writing, developing and consulting on the Tasmanian Planning Scheme the previous president of the Property Council. What a surprise that the community was treated with utter disdain in that process; were locked out of having serious and meaningful input into the development of the Tasmanian Planning Scheme.

Where we are today follows the course of the last five and a half years. As a result of the train wreck of damage the Liberals have done to the planning scheme, we have a bolstered community concern and opposition to the sorts of planning reforms that have been completely disregarded. The value of the natural landscape has been completely dismissed and there has been no meaningful engagement with communities about developments that are happening in their local council area. Both of those things have happened under the Liberal Government.

One of the benefits that has come out of that is a strong community has established itself. The Planning Matters Alliance Tasmania (PMAT) has been functioning for a bit over two years. It grew out of the Tasmanian Planning Information Networks (TasPIN). Last time I looked some time ago, PMAT represented at least 60 or 70 community groups - and I am probably underestimating - around the state. They have come together as a body to protect their local areas and natural landscapes, to stop the rampant development and privatisation of reserves, our parks and our conservation areas, which is exactly what is happening. These privatisation attempts are happening all around the state. Let us not forget that Rosny Hill in Hobart is a live discussion at the moment. We also have Lake Malbena. We have so many other examples where the community is totally disregarded and effectively written out of any opportunity to engage because it gets in the way of developers' interests. Developers would like to take the beauty of the Tasmanian landscape and have it for their own to do with what they want for free.

That is the backdrop to anything that this Government does in the planning space. What a surprise that the community did not trust the motivations of the department in how they undertook their activities. What a surprise that people have great concerns. Because of the history of how they have been mistreated in the past, they will look at anything that comes from this Government askance. So they should. They understand that unless they look out for the community's interests, unless they look out for holding onto our public open space, for holding onto spaces for plants and animals that are threatened, to be able to survive and thrive, unless they do that work, this Government will not do it for them.

The other part of this is that the Government has created the space where councils and even the Planning Commission has such a reduced ability to intervene or to make final decisions that are not fiddled with by the minister of the day for planning. In March 2017 the then Planning minister, Mr Gutwein, refused to take a number of recommendations from the Tasmanian Planning Commission about the statewide planning previsions they recommended in their report to him.

As well as having steamrolled through the complex reforms that had gone to the Planning Commission and showing utter contempt for the community through that process of consultation, the Planning Commission delivered its final report of 429 pages, despite having only been given seven weeks to make their consideration on the massive complexity of material they had before them. How contemptuous that the minister contracted the timeframe for the work that the Planning Commission delegates to do such a serious body of work on our planning scheme. Even though they had done this awesome job and made some very important recommendations, the minister chose to disregard some very important ones, including rejecting the commission's recommendation to throughout the natural assets code and to start the process from scratch because the Tasmanian Planning Scheme's natural asset code is built on a woefully inadequate map of information. The Planning Commission stated in their report their absolute lack of confidence in the vegetation mapping that will guide the council decisions about land clearing.

I am not surprised that this Liberal Government would have that view and not want to improve the mapping of threatened species across Tasmania. However, I was shocked yesterday to hear Dr Broad from Labor espousing exactly the same view and complete lack of concern at the impact on newly listed threatened black gums, eucalypts, because it might get in the way of what some farmers want to do on their properties because we might have to look after those remnant critically endangered plants.

Opposition members interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order, please.

Dr WOODRUFF - No, this is absolutely what Labor did. This is an absolute disgrace. Labor has got to this point where they do not regard our threatened species at all, as well as going ahead with the Adani mine in Queensland, championing the mine and the loss of species that that mine will bring on, not just in the local area of the Carmichael mine itself but for the whole planet.

Ms STANDEN - Point of order, Madam Speaker, under standing order 201, relevancy of the debate, that the debate shall be confined to the clause or amendment before the committee. I fail to understand why the member's contribution on Adani, trees and all manner of interesting things relating to her arguments against Labor has anything to do with the amendments on social and affordable housing in her own electorate.

Madam SPEAKER - That is a big one and I am not certain how to rule on that. We are on the amendment and the member should be addressing that.

Dr WOODRUFF - Thank you, Madam Speaker. It is very interesting that Labor is happy for me to go into a history lesson about what the Liberals have doing in planning over the last five and a half years when it suits them but, when the spotlight shines on them, all of a sudden they are jumping up and dusting off ancient standing orders which have never been used in my time in this place to try to shut me down and derail me from the conversation.

Let us go back to the topic at hand. We were talking about threatened species and the importance of planning and protection -

Opposition members interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order, let us have some composure.

Dr WOODRUFF - The example of Labor and the Adani mine means that we have to have laws that are strong enough to do something about what is obviously such a planet-damaging development as the Labor-supported Adani coalmine. In Tasmania -

Ms Standen - Oh, we're back on Adani?

Dr WOODRUFF - It is not a laughing matter, Ms Standen. There are plenty of children who are crying themselves to sleep at night at the thought of that mine going ahead.

Ms Standen - Affordable housing in your electorate and Adani is the best you could bring up?

Madam SPEAKER - Order. I ask Ms Standen to obey the rules.

Dr WOODRUFF - Madam Speaker, there are many things that this planning scheme has done badly and the community is enlivened to the problems within it. They understand all too fully that they have now limited opportunities for meaningful engagement about many things that may concern them about local developments.

Within that context, it is not surprising that 300 people turned up to a community meeting in July to talk about the concerns they had over a proposed subdivision at Huntingfield and the planning process in particular. It was the planning process and the consultation that really concerned people.

In addition to that, there was a whole raft of issues people raised as concerns about that subdivision, as they would about any subdivision that was being proposed, and they were very relevant questions to ask - about stormwater flow and the impact on local nature reserves, in this instance the Peter Murrell Reserve which is much loved by people because it protects remnant vegetation and animals and is a beautiful recreation area for all the people who live in this now increasingly intensely developed part of southern Tasmania.

People also talked - particularly from Tarremah and St Aloysius - about their real concerns about the placement of the business district and its very close location to their schools. There were many concerns about road and traffic flow and the extremely high density of dwellings that was proposed in the initial consultation, which was to be far higher than anywhere else in Tasmania. There were so many issues that people wanted more information about. They were very concerned that the Premier and member for Franklin, Will Hodgman, was not at the meeting, and although the premise for this housing land supply order was to provide affordable housing to people in the Kingston region, they were also very concerned that the order did not specify an amount and did not define 'affordable'.

The Greens remain concerned with those issues as well. I made this point a number of times to the minister's staff in the briefing the other day, and I thank the minister's staff for the comprehensive briefing we had on this Huntingfield land supply order. It was very much appreciated, so thank you for the time and detail that was provided. We are concerned, however, that a land supply order which is created under an act specifically to increase the amount of affordable and social housing does not specify the proportion that will be used towards that.

I want to see more detail because I do not understand how that would play out in real terms in terms of houses on the ground. But the case has been made and it is understandable that the purpose of intensity is to enable smaller and cheaper houses to be built, because by definition by being smaller and on a smaller land base they will be more affordable.

There are many questions about what affordable means, and affordable to whom. We will continue to push the minister to make sure that the work that is being done in this area is supported by TasCOSS, by Shelter Tasmania, and by the other groups that are working hard every day trying to find solutions for what is a housing crisis in Tasmania.

Ms O'Connor will also be speaking this afternoon on this. We have much more to say about the motion that the Labor amendment is an amendment to. It is an outrageous piece of rubbish to put on the Notice Paper. It is disgraceful that this Government is showing contempt for parliamentary process. There was much more important legislation that could have been brought on today. This is a PR exercise. It is using parliament's time for propaganda releases from the Government about the Budget and on which they have wasted parliamentary time already. This has nothing to do with the supply of affordable housing, this is talking about investment in infrastructure.

This is a joke and a very poor joke. We do not need to have this debate today. We could be debating important legislation. This is totally unnecessary - it is a PR exercise for the department. You had your Government time this morning. Bring on legislation that is going to change people's lives.

This has given me a chance on behalf of the Greens, people in Tasmania and community groups, to put on the record, this Government's appalling performance in housing planning policy mismanagement, their disregard for the community. The only the way you treat the community is with fear and loathing. The voices of the community are something to run away from as fast as possible unless it is from the Property Council and a few other pet bodies that get listened to whenever the door is knocked on.

Mr Jaensch - Do you support the amendment?

Dr WOODRUFF - I have already said we support the amendment. It is the amendment I am speaking to.