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Melbourne Water Land – No subdivision by stealth!

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Mr MORRIS (Mornington) (19:00:14) — (14 292) I raise a matter this evening for the Minister for Water.

The action I seek from the minister is that she direct Melbourne Water to cease any actions that may result in land owned by that organisation, that is situated in the Mornington Peninsula green wedge or adjacent to it, and less than 40 hectares in area, being disposed of.

As the minister is aware, Melbourne Water holds significant land on the peninsula. There have been indications that they are keen to dispose of land that is surplus to their requirements, but until now that has been confined mostly to residential areas. It now appears that there is an intention to dispose of land acquired as part of the construction of the south-east outfall that is outside the urban growth boundary and either in the green wedge zone or adjacent to it.

I am advised that in many cases these lots were acquired compulsorily from farmers. They are of course much smaller lots than would be permitted in the green wedge area, which has a minimum subdivision size of 40 hectares. It is quite reasonable that they should be severed from larger lots, given the purpose for which they were acquired, but apparently there is no longer a need to retain those lots and there is an intention to dispose of them.

In March this year the Dunns Creek Landcare Group wrote to Melbourne Water seeking a lease on a particular allotment. I should indicate that the land I am about to speak of is not in the Mornington electorate; it is in fact in the Nepean electorate, but it is an issue that covers both. The group wrote:

Please find attached an application by Dunns Creek Landcare Group, Mornington Peninsula for an area of land PNT230164 at Moats Corner, on Dunns Creek Road, Dromana.

Supporting information is … provided.

We look forward to receiving a positive outcome for this application …

The response was:

On behalf of Melbourne Water we thank you for your application to license this land in Dromana.

Unfortunately this land is not available to license as this parcel is surplus land and is therefore on the Melbourne Water sales program planned to be sold within the next 0–3 years.

That response unfortunately was not particularly helpful. I understand the desire of Melbourne Water to rationalise their property holdings, but they should not be allowed to effectively circumvent the zoning provisions for the area, nor should they be allowed to dispose of compulsorily acquired land that was only able to be subdivided by virtue of that compulsory acquisition.

The impact of this on the peninsula is potentially significant. By some estimates there could be several hundred properties, which would significantly increase the number of vacant lots in the green wedge zone and have an impact on settlement density.

I think it is important that all government agencies, including Melbourne Water, abide by the rules put in place by the government itself. They should not be allowed to use their special status as government enterprises to circumvent the rules that apply to ordinary citizens or ordinary companies.

I do urge the minister to consider this problem urgently and to issue a direction that where allotments are below 40 hectares in area they will not be disposed of.