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Local Government (Highways) Amendment Bill 2019 - Second Reading

Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Tags: Legislation, Roads

Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Madam Deputy Speaker, the Greens will be supporting the Local Government (Highways) Amendment Bill 2019. As most southern members here do, who regularly experience the congestion in Greater Hobart, I find it very hard to get excited about this amendment bill. It is tinkering around the edges of the real problem, which is a lack of vision for transport in and around Greater Hobart - a lack of commitment to mode shift and public transport, passenger transport, cycling and walking infrastructure.

We have some legislation that provides for the use of virtual meters and removes specific references to that quaint notion of cash money. As we all know more and more transactions are being done electronically and coins are becoming a thing of the past. It is interesting to remind ourselves of how quickly that has happened and how quickly technological change can change the way a whole society operates.

It clarifies the powers of a minister I did not know existed before. He is the minister responsible for state highways and municipal councils with respect to controlled parking on state highways. It clarifies that the prescribed penalty on an infringement notices is the sum specified in council bylaws in any particular municipality. It makes a number of minor and technical amendments designed to ensure the effective operation of controlled parking on local and state highways in municipal areas.

We have a new minister for Infrastructure and Transport, a new minister for the poorly named Department of State Growth, but this legislation is a really disappointing start for the new minister in his portfolio. Let us face it though, he is absolutely hamstrung by the realities of the most recent state Budget in relation to Hobart congestion, which allocates $1 million to a congestion study. Excellent; we are all so thrilled. Parents who are my constituents and constituents of other members in the south who get caught in the traffic when they are trying to take their kids to and from school, those people who live just outside North Hobart, and try to get into town some days and are taking a trip that is taking three times longer than it should, they will not be reassured by a $1 million allocation towards a congestion study.

If the minister wants to understand the impact of congestion on the community and on productivity, he should stand on Macquarie Street or Davey Street, or one of the feeder streets. In Barrack Street, for example, the cars sit still long enough for him to do some quite effective vox pops through the car windows and talk to commuters about what they think of a $1 million allocation for a congestion study.

It is now five years since the Liberals came to government. Congestion year on year only gets worse. The public transport infrastructure is inadequate. It is not encouraging people to make the mode shift. We are not investing enough in cycling infrastructure for example, but the Budget allocated $2 million towards matching grants for council for cycling infrastructure. Again, it is a drop in the ocean. What we know is that over the course of this Budget, through the forward Estimates, there is $1.6 billion allocated for roads and bridges. That is $1.6 billion that is only going to intensify the congestion problems that we have in Greater Hobart.

While we are on the subject of planning decisions that only add to congestion problems, let us have a quick chat about Huntingfield. Every person in this House wants to know that the Government is investing in and increasing the supply of social and affordable housing. Every member in this place wants to get behind efforts to increase such housing, that is liveable and energy efficient and part of creating communities. But I do not think that every person in this House wants to see that good intention translated into a planning instrument, which has, in the case of Huntingfield, in all likelihood, trickery at its heart.

We have a proposal from the Minister for Housing, who is not in the House at the moment, to introduce a housing supply order. We will call that 'the order' that would rezone stage 2 of Huntingfield to inner residential. For any member in this place who has not been to Huntingfield as it is now, I recommend you visit and ask yourself whether this lovely piece of currently rural residential land is inner residential. Inner residential land should have the infrastructure attached to it and a plan for infrastructure. We have gone from a situation where, under the previous minister for Housing, the Huntingfield redevelopment stage 2 was going to have 230 houses in it. Now a minister has come in with this tool, the housing supply order, and more than doubled the footprint of that development.

We have not seen the order but what we know is this: it is a massive escalation of the master planning for stage 2 of Huntingfield. There is no sign on the part of the minister that there has been any investment in infrastructure or an understanding of the infrastructure needs that 500 new homes will have. There has been no mention of somewhere between 500 and 1000 extra cars on the road each day, many of them will be travelling down the Southern Outlet into the city, down Macquarie Street. We know that there are hundreds of people who live in and around that area who are really concerned. They too want to see an increase in social and affordable housing. They too want to see government create 21st century communities that are liveable but they do not want to be trodden over or ignored. They want to know that the local Kingborough Council has a seat at the table. At the moment, none of those things are happening.

To be honest, I breathed a sigh of relief this morning when the Huntingfield land supply order was not tabled. I always try to look for the best in people; I see that as both a strength and a weakness of my character. I like to think that it is because Mr Jaensch has come to appreciate the depth of concern about the manner in which he is seeking to increase the supply of housing. The use of a housing supply order to undo all that master planning that went into the Huntingfield site is being viewed with enormous concern and suspicion in parts of the Kingston community. I hope that the Minister for Housing is going back to the drawing board on the housing supply order. I hope that his colleague the member for Franklin, the Premier, and his other colleague the member for Franklin, Mrs Petrusma, have spoken to the Minister for Housing about concerns that are being raised within that community.

We can do this so well. We can create a really outstanding modern housing community at Huntingfield without resorting to planning trickery, but an essential part of that has to be planning for the infrastructure needs of a substantial increase in the number of people living in the Kingborough municipality. I hope that the Minister for Housing has taken stock and thought perhaps there is a better way to deal with this. What is so wrong with going through the normal council process?

This is a piece of land that the state government has owned since Gough Whitlam was prime minister. When I was the minister for housing between 2010 and 2014 we were master planning this piece of land. We knew there would be significant infrastructure requirements in order to make that development the very best it could be to serve the people who buy into or rent in that development when it is delivered in the future.

As a parliament, we need to think beyond simplistic objectives. In this case we all know there is a housing crisis. We all know that people are living in unaffordable rentals, that the housing wait list is the highest level it has been in more than a decade and that there are still people sleeping at the Domain, sleeping in the rivulet, sleeping at the Coleman stadium up there at the Regatta Grounds. We know there is a crisis, but this Government should not use that crisis in order to ram through an approach to increasing a supply of housing, which is alienating a community and a council.

With those few words I indicate to the minister for state highways that the Greens will be supporting this amendment bill.