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Land (Revocation of Reservations) Bill 2019

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MORRIS (Mornington) (17:10:55): I should indicate at the outset that I only intend to speak for a very brief period on this bill. It is a fairly straightforward bill. In fact it is pretty much a stock standard revocation bill. 

We seem to have one or more of these at least every year. In this case it is to revoke permanent reservations on land in the Frankston area, in the Camberwell area, at Rippleside in Geelong and at the Coleraine Racecourse. Of course the reason we need to be dealing with this in the form of legislation is that these have all been permanently reserved, and while the Governor in Council can permanently reserve land, the Governor in Council cannot unreserve permanently reserved land. If they had been temporarily reserved, of course, we would not be dealing with them.

Essentially, the changes are to deal with Crown land which joins Frankston Hospital and to replace the permanent reservation there with a temporary reservation for hospital purposes—I think there are four sites there and a little bit of freehold land involved; to remove the permanent reservation over Lower Reserve, Camberwell, which is currently managed by the council and to replace it with a temporary reservation for public recreation purposes, which is consistent with the use that it is currently undergoing; and to remove part of the permanent public purposes reservation located at Rippleside.

As I said, these are essentially uncontroversial changes. The very minor controversy, I guess, has been with the Frankston site, where the land encompassed by this bill and a small piece of private land has been occupied by the Frankston Tennis Club for a considerable period. For some time there were some challenges around finding a new home for the tennis club. Of course the purpose of the relocation is to extend the Peninsula Health facility at Frankston, and that is a project that is certainly supported by my colleagues on this side of the house. I think we are unanimous on that, and as an adjoining seat holder whose constituents use Frankston Hospital as their main public facility of course it has my strong support as well.

It is unfortunate that the situation with the tennis club could not have been resolved in a more timely manner, but I understand from press reports as recent as 1 October that that situation is now settled to everyone’s satisfaction. With regard to the Camberwell land, the bill allows part of Lower Reserve in Camberwell to be managed by the Department of Education and Training for use by Camberwell Primary School. The site is currently being leased to the school and managed by the council. I understand it is the old bowling club site.

The current arrangements of course prevent the department from developing new facilities on the site. There are two parts to this reserve. The second part will be re-reserved for recreational purposes, which in fact reflects the current use of the land, and will continue to be used as tennis courts. The Geelong land, I understand, was in fact sold by the Victorian government in 1996 but, as we know, with the reservations and some of the mapping in areas adjacent to the foreshore not all controls are easily identified; some go back many, many generations. In this case there was a portion of the permanent purposes reserve which was not identified and removed prior to the sale of the land.

The bill will confirm the land’s intended status as freehold land, which it is effectively, and allow for development I understand is currently lodged to proceed. The final parcel of land is slightly more interesting in that it is the Coleraine racecourse—not that that makes it interesting particularly. But it is the subject of its own act, the Coleraine Racecourse Reserve Act 1901. It is interesting to look at the act. In fact the preamble following the long title runs to some 29 lines. The actual provisions of the act only run to 20 lines—a very different style of legislation.

Effectively the set-up there was for trustees to operate and manage the racecourse on behalf of the Crown. The change in status here will effectively set aside the current provisions of the Coleraine Racecourse Reserve Act and allow the remaining trustee to retire—I understand they are very keen to do that—and introduce arrangements which will have the racing club itself as a corporation act as the manager of the Crown land, which again is probably an arrangement far more consistent with current practice than with the rather outdated, to say the least, arrangements of tenure that currently prevail.

Just before I got up to speak some amendments were circulated to the bill. I was advised that these amendments would be circulated and of the details of the amendments well prior to the debate coming on today. I certainly offer no objection to them. I understand the intention of the amendments is to simply identify with greater certainty each of the particular parcels of land in the Frankston area that are the subject of this bill.

I should also say I was briefed by the department and the minister’s office last week on this bill. It was the usual thorough briefing, and I thank the minister and her office for that briefing. As I said at the start, this is a stock standard revocation bill—nothing controversial in it—and the opposition will not be opposing it.