Wind back the bail laws? – No, keep the community safe!

Mr MORRIS (Mornington) (17:50): It is some time since I rose to speak on a matter of public importance. In fact if the truth is known, it is probably some years since I rose to speak on a matter of public importance, but I could not help wanting to contribute to this one because, when you look at a couple of points just in the text of the MPI itself, it has:

… the tough on crime politics of the Andrews Labor government …

Tough on crime? The Andrews government tough on crime? The reality is the Andrews government is not tough on crime, has never been tough on crime and will never be tough on crime. So there is certainly an issue with that assertion.

The second assertion that I take issue with is on the second and third lines of that paragraph:

… produced bail laws that systematically imprison women, children and First Nations people for low-level offending …

You may as well say ‘for stealing a loaf of bread’.

The suggestion that any law passed by this Parliament is going to systematically imprison a particular class of people is just plain ridiculous.

The law does not say bail should not be granted to females. The law does not say bail must not be granted to children. The law does not say bail must not be granted to any Aboriginal person.

A law like that would not only not pass this Parliament, I would be very surprised—and we are the 59th Victorian Parliament—if a law like that had passed the first Victorian Parliament. It is just a completely ridiculous assertion.

Such a law would not only be absolutely unacceptable; it would be reprehensible. It simply would not be passed. It is an unsubstantiated and totally false claim, and it is complete and absolute nonsense.

On the second point I wanted to make, again speaking of unsubstantiated claims, let us have a look at some of the figures in this matter of public importance:

from 2010 to 2020, imprisonment of women rose 174 per cent …

Well, the latest figures that I have access to are the published Corrections Victoria figures up to 30 June 2020, and they seem to be the numbers that the author of this motion was referring to.

According to those figures, on 30 June 2010 there were 313 female prisoners; on 30 June 2020, there were 404 female prisoners. That is an increase of 29 per cent, yet this alleged matter of public importance—I do not dismiss the issue; it is an issue that is worthy of discussion, but for goodness sake let us get the facts right: 29 per cent is not 174 per cent.

The second point is:

more than half the women now in prison have not been sentenced …

On 30 June 2010: unsentenced female prisoners, 22 per cent of the total number; 30 June 2020, 43.1 per cent. Now, it is a big increase—it is almost doubled—but it is not more than 50 per cent, not more than half. It is not as bad an error as the first one, but it is still totally wrong.

When we move to the stats on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners, the assertion is that:

from 2015 to 2020—

and I do not know why we did not go back to 2010 or why the author of this matter did not go back to 2010—

the number of Aboriginal people put behind bars—

and I love the emotional language in this, ‘put behind bars’—

rose by 70 per cent …

In 2015 there were 480 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners, according to Corrections Victoria, and on 30 June last year there were 718, a 49.6 per cent increase. Again, it is not 70 per cent, it is 49 per cent.

Is it an awful figure? Yes, it is. I do not argue that for a second. But if we are going to have these debates, and these are important issues—and from what I have heard of the debate this afternoon, people have generally taken the issue pretty seriously—let us for goodness sake get the facts right to start with.

We have seen enough people working on alternate facts, alternate truths. We have published figures. Let us just at least confine the discussion to that.

The central assertion of this matter essentially seems to be that bail laws are the problem and that if you take that sentiment to its logical conclusion and bail everyone, prison numbers would be lower—and yes, they would.

According to those figures, again, they would be lower by almost 2500 prisoners—2418.

Of course it is a balancing act. You need to keep the community safe, and you need to be sensible in the approach to bail. But you do not solve the problem by pretending it does not exist.

You do not solve the problem by pretending it will go away if everyone gets bail. After all, let us not forget what prompted the latest round of changes—Bourke Street. Five people dead, 30 people injured, God knows how much trauma.

How many people are still trying to get over those events by someone who should not have been on bail? So let us not forget why the changes were made. You do not solve a problem, as I said, by pretending the problem does not exist.

Now, if the number of Aboriginal people in prison, the imprisonment rate, is rising, and it is, and it is rising steeply as I said, and if you look at the numbers per hundred thousand, which are probably more comparable—1540.8 in June 2015, 1837.7 in June 2020—if that is what is happening, then you need to do something about the underlying issue. You need to find out why it is happening.

We need to be tough on the causes of crime. We need to get to the root of the problem and fix it, and if we have got an increase in the imprisonment rate of that level, we need to find out why.

With regard to female prisoners, the unsentenced number has almost doubled, as I mentioned a few minutes ago. It has almost doubled. Clearly the courts are not keeping up with the pressure of business. We need to find out why that is happening and get the problem solved.

We should not have almost 44 per cent of female prisoners in prison and unsentenced. It just should not happen. But the fact is that it is. We need to find out why we have such a huge backlog, and we need to do something about it.

But pretending this is not a problem and by pretending simply granting bail to everyone is going to solve the problem is not going to do a thing. It is simply going to place members of the community who should not be in danger potentially in danger, and that is not acceptable, I am sure, to anyone in this Parliament.

I just want to briefly comment in the time remaining on the final and fourth point, the calls from the community to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14 years.

We know the attorneys-general have a national working group looking at this issue. It is an issue that must be taken seriously.

The Chief Commissioner of Police put his points fairly forcefully on 3AW a couple of months ago about the police view. I personally have great sympathy for that view but let us not try to solve the problem here. Let us leave it to the experts, the attorneys-general, and see what they come up with when they put their heads together.

Stop Hiding Behind Status Quo – Make the Peninsula Regional

Mr MORRIS (Mornington) (09:57): In June this year I raised by way of adjournment, again, the metropolitan status of the Mornington Peninsula. That was the fifth time I have raised the issue in the Parliament; this time will be the sixth.

The adjournment asked the Premier to take all actions necessary to reclassify the peninsula to regional. On Monday, only three weeks late, the Premier responded.

Did he address the request? No. Did he indicate whether he would consider taking action? No, he did not.

I got an explanation that the chief health officer has responsibility for providing public health advice, which we know.

I got an explanation that the definition of Melbourne is based on the Planning and Environment Act 1987, which I know.

I asked him to take action to reclassify the peninsula to regional; I did not ask the Premier to explain why the Mornington Peninsula is part of the metropolitan area.

The fact that the Premier was not prepared to address the issue directly makes it clear that there is absolutely no justification for the current situation. The response confirms that this is nothing more than a bureaucratic convenience. 

The peninsula is not an extension of the metropolitan area. The standard of government services on the Mornington Peninsula is not up to metropolitan standards. It is not now, and it never has been.

The interests of the peninsula are complementary to the metropolitan area, but there are significant differences. It is time those differences were recognised, and it is time the government stopped hiding behind the status quo and started addressing the need for change.

It’s Homelessness Week – Why is the Minister hiding the waiting lists?

The number of disadvantaged Victorians on Labor’s social housing waitlist is at record levels and growing but is being kept hidden.

Social housing is a key factor in the fight against homelessness, but five weeks after the end of the financial year Housing Minister Richard Wynne is yet to release the social housing waiting list data for the June Quarter.

The number of Victorian applicants on the social housing waiting list has soared since Labor came to power, jumping from a total of just 34,618 in September 2014 to almost 51,000 in the March 2021 quarter, a 47 per cent blowout.

For applicants classified as “priority” the situation is dire. In September 2014, 9,990 priority applicants were on the waiting list, in March this year the numbers had almost tripled to 27,500.

Daniel Andrews has no plan to tackle Victoria’s worsening public housing crisis or provide meaningful support for the tens of thousands of Victorians struggling with homelessness.

This week is National Homelessness Week, intended to raise awareness of homelessness and the importance of social housing as part of a serious solution. The 2016 census estimated that almost 25,000 Victorians were homeless.

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Housing, David Morris:

“The delay in the release of the housing waiting lists makes me wonder just how bad the news is going to be when the Minister finally releases the data.

“Despite their rhetoric, Richard Wynne and Daniel Andrews are guilty of having no plan for those Victorians struggling with homelessness. Instead of wasted billions on metro project cost blow outs and to polish his own public image with secret taxpayer-funded focus groups, Labor needs a plan to focus on delivering real support for Victorians.

“Daniel Andrews is keeping Victorians in the dark on the true state of the waiting list, and must commit to releasing the figures no more than three weeks after the end of the quarter.”

Re-zone the Mt Eliza Business School Site Now!

Mr MORRIS (Mornington) (19:10): (5955) I raise a matter for the Minister for Planning, and I am delighted to see he is in the chair opposite.

Now, the matter I raise relates to a site outside the urban growth boundary, at 60–70 Kunyung Road, Mount Eliza, and the action I am seeking from the minister is that he immediately proceed to conduct a ministerial rezoning of the site to rezone the land to green wedge.

This government brags a lot about protecting the green wedge. We have had lots of words. It is about time those words were put into actions, and we have seen precious little in the way of actions on this site.

On 19 February last year in the house I asked the minister to expedite the approval of the exhibition of amendment C270. The minister responded in the chamber. He said he would look out for it.

Nothing happened.

On 4 June 2020 I asked the minister to call in an inappropriate development and reject it, and by inappropriate—remember we are talking outside the urban growth boundary, surrounded by green wedge—I mean a development of 23 000 square metres, eight four-storey buildings, three three-storey buildings, 272 apartments in total, 115 nursing beds and 362 car spaces, all outside the urban growth boundary.

Again the minister refused.

The council rejected the application, and of course the proponent appealed. So on 14 October I asked the minister again to call it in and reject it, and again he refused to do that.

In his footnote he said that there was an amendment—I do not think he actually said C270, but that is clearly what he was referring to—that was under consideration and that he would make a decision in due course. We are still waiting.

The minister has had this rezoning request on his desk for 17 months.

Mr Wynne: On my desk?

Mr MORRIS: On your desk.

This rezoning is supported by an overwhelming majority of the community. It is supported by an overwhelming majority of the new council as well.

Let us see if this minister is actually fair dinkum, if all the words that we have heard about protecting the green wedge—and we have seen zero actions in Mount Eliza—are fair dinkum or not, because so far the minister has refused on three occasions to take action to protect this land, which is outside the urban growth boundary.

He has got an opportunity now to make up for those three strikes, and I do ask him to act and act as expeditiously as possible to finally protect this land.

$83 Billion in spending, Zero accountability

Mr MORRIS (Mornington) (15:29):It is interesting to hear the member for St Albans’ enthusiasm for the Main Street level crossing removal, given that it was initiated by the Napthine Liberal government and it was funded by the—

A member: You did nothing on it.

Mr MORRIS: It was funded by the Liberal Napthine government. I was there and I was involved and I know exactly what happened. It was a Liberal project so do not try and claim things you did not pay for. Now, back to the subject, and I mean, the thing I did not say about that is of course the difference with the Main Street —

A member: It is not even called Main Street.

Mr MORRIS: Main Road, I beg your pardon. I have Main Street in Mornington and that is why I am saying that. The point about the Main Road level crossing was it was done properly. It was not stuck up on stilts over 8 metres in the air. But we did work in other seats, and we did work in Labor seats that we could never win—

The ACTING SPEAKER (Ms Richards): Through the Chair, please.

Mr MORRIS: and I will come to that in a minute.

Members interjecting.

Mr MORRIS: We are here to talk about appropriation bills. We are here to talk about bills that have already passed, and I think there are probably two things wrong with that statement.

The first is that we are talking about two bills, and the second thing is that we are debating bills that are long gone. And I will take those two points separately.

The first point is that we are dealing with the Appropriation (2021–2022) Bill 2021 and the Appropriation (Parliament 2021–2022) Bill 2021. The take-note motion deals with those two bills.

Now, it is unusual to debate two bills together, but it is certainly not unheard of to debate two bills together, particularly if they are materially related. But I think the problem I have with this process, and the process we are engaged in now, is that it conflates the debate on the government program for the year and the debate on the resources for the Parliament. 

Parliament is not and should not be beholden to the government for the resources it has available to it, and the former Treasurer, now the Leader of the Opposition, certainly recognised that fact when he determined as Treasurer that the depreciation moneys would not need to be paid to Treasury and sought for them to be returned for investment in this precinct. He made them available to the Parliament, and that initiative has allowed a huge amount of work on what, let us face it, was a building that was rapidly falling apart.

That was done so that the Parliament to that extent had control of its own destiny, and I think if we are debating the appropriation bill and the Parliament appropriation bill together, we are going to conflate them. I have not heard a lot of the debate this afternoon—not that it is been running all that long—but I do not know how many references there actually have been to the Parliament budget and in fact how many members who will speak this afternoon actually realise that the Parliament budget is part of the discussion.

The second point I wanted to make is about the process the government is following in terms of this budget and has progressively followed in the time it has been in office.

Every year we see the budget process diminished. Every year we see the opportunity for the Parliament to exert authority over the funding of the government reduced. And I think it is important to remember that with the last government, like successive governments from both sides before it, the process was: the budget was brought in on Tuesday, the Treasurer spoke, it was adjourned and the Shadow Treasurer responded on Thursday, so everything was done in the same week.

The debate at the end of that day was then adjourned for two full weeks, and that allowed the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC) to examine the budget from one end to the other. Every minister appeared. When the budget came back on for debate, all the transcripts were available, all the ministerial presentations were available and all the questions that had been raised were able to be taken into consideration. 

As we have recently been reminded, that is exactly the process the commonwealth follows, except of course they have Senate estimates, which is an even higher hurdle in terms of transparency.

But under this government we have a one-day budget sitting and then we all go home. The following week we have a two-day sitting where the document is debated, it is guillotined, it is through and that is it. And the point I think is that there is absolutely no scrutiny.

At some point in the future, the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee gets to have a look at the budget, but it is an academic question. The budget has passed. 

The budget has passed without any consideration in detail, with no committee stage, and as we now know, it does not need to pass the upper house either. So it is done and dusted—through the guillotine without any examination at all. Nothing that is uncovered in terms of the PAEC examination of the budget can be introduced into the debate before the bill is passed. 

Now, I know there are some who argue, ‘Well, why does the Parliament need to get involved anyway because it is the government that is spending the money?’. It is called accountability. It is about accountability.

The budget, those two bills, the Appropriation (2021–2022) Bill and the Appropriation (Parliament 2021–2022) Bill, authorised expenditure of $83 billion of taxpayers money and, as I said, the only Parliamentary authority required was a second-reading, superficial debate to cover the issues in the broad—no consideration in detail, no committee stage, zero scrutiny and zero accountability.

I do not care how good a job PAEC does—and, frankly, with the hearings I have seen in the last couple of weeks, they are not doing much. Whatever sort of a job they do, and they are not doing much—

Members interjecting.

Mr MORRIS: And I am looking at one of the people that is not doing much now, I can tell you—absolutely no idea what it is supposed to be doing. But regardless, even if they did a good job, which is against the odds, the bills are passed. The thing is over. It is done. It is a total farce.

The process is a total farce, and I know I am talking about process, but process is important. Process is about scrutiny, process is about transparency, process is about accountability, and the fact is that with this budget there is no transparency and there is no accountability, but the government is spending $83 billion with virtually no oversight.

Now, turning to portfolios in which I have an interest as a shadow minister, I just want to touch on a few points. Firstly, with the local government portfolio—and while there are a number of issues in that portfolio that are worthy of exploring, unfortunately time does not permit—I did just want to focus on the Growing Suburbs Fund.

The Growing Suburbs Fund last year was $75 million. This year it has been slashed to $50 million. In other words it has suffered a one-third cut. Last year, and entirely appropriately, in my view, the applicability of the fund was expanded from simply the interface councils to the peri-urban councils as well, and that is entirely appropriate, I think, because they need that support.

So last year the peri-urban councils’ grants were a little over $20 million, which left around about $55 million available to the interface councils. This year of course there is only $50 million available—full stop. So the interface councils, the councils that are growing the fastest in the state, the councils that are under enormous pressure from population growth—clearly there has been a change in that in terms of COVID, but they are still growing quickly—the amount of money that is available to those councils will be significantly reduced.

Of equal concern in terms of this fund, perhaps of more concern, is the blatant pork-barrelling that has been going on with it, and it is consistent pork-barrelling. The Growing Suburbs Fund last year was two rounds. In the first round, 79 per cent of funds went to Labor seats—79 per cent of funds went to Labor seats. In the second round, not content with that, 79.5 per cent of funds went to Labor seats—79.5 per cent of funds.

Ms Ward: We do have a lot of seats.

Mr MORRIS: So almost $4 in every $5 in the fund went into Labor seats.

Ms Ward interjected.

Mr MORRIS: It may come as a surprise to the member for Eltham, but you do not have 80 per cent of the seats in this house. You would love to, I am sure, but you do not have, and you are going to have a lot fewer in 2022, I can tell you that.

The interesting point was that not only was there some very specific targeting in terms of local government areas, there was particularly specific targeting in terms of areas within local governments.

So if you take, for example, the Mornington Peninsula shire, there are three seats. Two, Hastings and Mornington, are quite a lot closer to Melbourne and experiencing pressures—nothing like the Caseys and so on that are growing as rapidly as they are, but still significant pressures.

Yet of the three seats in the Mornington Peninsula shire, one seat received grants: not Mornington, not Hastings—it was Nepean. $6.55 million—9 per cent of all the funds available in the Growing Suburbs Fund—went into one highly marginal Labor seat. So do not tell me this is not a pork-barrelling fund; it is an absolute pork-barrelling fund.

Now, a couple of points around the ageing portfolio, which while nowhere near as blatant, were of concern. Last year there was an initiative called the ‘Elder abuse primary prevention, health service response and early intervention initiative’ which, according to the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee questionnaire, is a program which was lapsing but has been continued. It has got a new name, but it is the same program.

The difference this year, though, is that last year it was $6.7 million a year and this year it has been cut to $1 million a year. Now, the minister at the hearing said, ‘Oh, no, no, it’s been split up; it’s gone to other portfolios’. There is no evidence of that in the response to the questionnaire. The department says it is the same program, but it has been cut by 85 per cent.

Secondly, there is an output called the ‘Aged support services’ output, and that supports a range of services that enable older Victorians to continue to go about their daily lives. It is not glamorous, but it is very, very important to the people that are affected.

Last year there was $124.4 million provided, and it is on target to be pretty much all fully spent. For no reason that could be given, this has been cut to $108.8 million, so it is basically a $12 million cut. Yet we have no idea what actual services that are going to be cut will be affected.

So I do identify those two issues as of concern in that portfolio. I do not think time will permit me to talk about the housing portfolio, but of course we have the hearing for that next week, so no doubt there are a range of issues that will be able to be explored.

I just wanted to turn to the cost blowouts that we are all very much aware of, and when you look at the list, there are 33 projects that have exceeded their anticipated cost by $10 million or more, 21 of those by more than $50 million and 15 of those by $100 million or more.

There are cost blowouts of $26.678 billion, depending on where you round the numbers, on total projects of $26.2 billion. It is just complete and utter incompetence.

And that is one of the things that concerns me about this whole budget. Again and again and again we see examples of complete and utter incompetence. We have got the West Gate Tunnel, which was supposed to cost $500 million and will cost $5.5 billion—just a lazy 1000 cent blowout.

It is traditional to talk about initiatives in your own electorate and projects that are going to be undertaken in your own electorate, but unfortunately apart from a couple of sewerage installations, there is nothing in Mornington, so I do not need to worry about that.

If there is a Victorian Trump look at the Labor benches

Mr MORRIS (Mornington) (09:54): Last sitting week, before the Parliament sat, the Shadow Treasurer publicly asked a series of legitimate questions about the background of the Premier’s recent medical absence.

In any other workplace accident of this nature WorkSafe Victoria would be called upon to investigate, but in this case, for reasons we all accept and understand, that did not occur. But in the absence of an investigation and in a vacuum caused entirely by the government’s complete silence on this matter rumours have abounded, many of them fanciful, some apparently scurrilous.

The simple way to resolve this issue is to provide a full explanation of events. There was no attempt to invade the Premier’s privacy; it was simply a desire to get to the truth of the matter.

What was the reaction of the government?

The Shadow Treasurer was accused of peddling rumours and of invading the Premier’s privacy. In fact she was subjected to a full-scale assault on her integrity, and the opposition was accused of doing a Trump.

But let us look at the facts: it was this government which refused to provide any information, following their tried-and-true formula that the public does not need to know; it was this government that refused to have a royal commission into the pandemic and relied on its own hand-picked commissioner; it is this government that continues to peddle misinformation and call it the truth; and it is this government that has time and time again reached beyond its legal powers to impose its will on the people.

Sound like anyone?

If there truly is a Trump impersonator in Victoria, look in the direction of the government benches. It is certainly not on this side.

Andrews attitude to sole traders – Unreasonable and Unfair

Mr MORRIS (Mornington) (14:42): (5925) My question is to the Minister for Industry Support and Recovery on behalf of a constituent who writes:

We are an established, non essential retail business of over 10 years, with no online trading and only a ‘bricks & mortar’ presence which was mandated to be closed for some 173 days … over the past four Victorian lockdowns. Even though no income was generated during this period, we were still required to pay commercial rental, utilities and other running costs.

I confirm we have had NO state government assistance or grants whatsoever … due to our entity status being a ‘Partnership’ even though each time a grant has been offered, we have met all the other criteria including our ANZIC Industry Classification.

She goes on to indicate that there have been at least three grants totalling $10 000—$3000, $5000 and $2000—extended to sole traders but not available to their business.

So it is clear that there has been a failure to deliver support to partnerships.

It is unreasonable and unfair, and the question to the minister is: what is he going to do about it?

Carbon capture and storage – A real opportunity in the quest for Zero Emissions

Mr MORRIS (Mornington) (18:51): It is a pleasure to rise and actually support a bill, which does not happen very often, as we know. But I think this is one of those rare examples where parties of different colours and even across different jurisdictions have come to a common point.

I know there will be no opposition to this bill from either of the major parties. I am not sure whether there is going to be any opposition from any of the other parties, but if there is not, they have certainly missed the debate.

I am a strong supporter of the federal system. I am also a strong supporter of the principle of subsidiarity, but of course that is a slightly different matter. But one of the consequences of a federal system is that we do have this multiplicity of structures.

One of the challenges that we have, and we have it in common with the United States, is that we have this system of state waters or coastal waters that run out to the 3-nautical mile limit, or 5.5 kilometres, and then we get to the territorial sea, which runs out to the 12-nautical mile limit.

Of course this is not about the area of the sea or the water column but of the seabed and the geological structures underneath it, and managing to cross and utilise a geological structure that transcends those boundaries is the subject of this bill.

The other important aspect of this bill is that it is about utilising carbon capture and storage—and utilising carbon capture and storage where a suitable site exists. The member for Gippsland South talked extensively about the appropriateness of the site and so on, but carbon capture and storage is also an important opportunity, an important option, in terms of our journey towards a carbon-constrained environment and hopefully to a zero-carbon future. Carbon capture and storage is a tool that can assist to get us there.

Since I was first elected and in fact long before—but certainly since I was first elected—I have argued that climate change is real and I have argued that climate change is anthropogenic. My focus has always been on solutions.

In fact if we go back to 2008—and you would remember, Speaker, the house sat at Churchill—we debated not the original legislation in terms of this bill but complementary legislation at that sitting. I think probably it is fair to say that the application of carbon capture and storage has evolved since that time.

The practical application of it, the purpose of it, is different, but the nature of the beast is exactly the same—‘beast’ is probably not the right word to use at the moment in the context of other debates.

But at the sitting in the Latrobe Valley the government largely talked about the way carbon capture and storage gave us an opportunity to continue to utilise brown coal, and the debate again and again talked about the significant resource we of course had in the Latrobe Valley and talked about 500 years of use or whatever.

I noted in the debate that we were talking about pipelines, and I think there had been a convention of the Australian Pipelines and Gas Association just before that sitting. The point was made that the Latrobe Valley was an ideal location because it had these geological structures close to the point of emission whereas other states do not. In Queensland I think it is 500 kilometres away; in South Australia and New South Wales it is considerably further.

So the emphasis was on continuing to utilise brown coal.

We then talked about the essential requirement to get the framework right and, as I mentioned, we talked again and again about the abundance of brown coal and the importance of it to the state’s economy.

The intervening 12 years of course have seen rapid advancement in the field of renewables, and I think even the most optimistic, probably, at that time would not have seen how rapid that advancement would be. So the question now is no longer if we can get to a renewable-run energy system; the question is how quickly.

But carbon capture and storage still has a very important role to play, and that is why this bill is important. Perhaps that role is not as central as we expected in 2008, but it is important in terms of the transition.

Cheap, reliable energy is a bedrock requirement for any economy. It is as much a requirement now as it was when the State Electricity Commission of Victoria first began operations in the Latrobe Valley about a century ago.

Unfortunately we are not yet at the point where 100 per cent renewables will provide that cheap and reliable source, particularly  reliability but also price. Prices are continuing to fall, and that trend, as expertise develops and as capacity is added, is going to continue. Storage opportunities will also expand. Network reliability will improve.

We are moving in the right direction as a state and internationally, but we are not there yet and I doubt very much if we will be there in the time frame that we would like to be, because we need to cut emissions rapidly and we need to cut emissions more rapidly than current technology allows.

Now, I know there are some who would argue that we should abolish all fossil fuel based systems tomorrow, that we should not engage in carbon capture and storage and that we should simply rely on wind power, on solar power and on those options. But the fact is we are not there yet, and we are not going to be there for a considerable period.

Until the storage equation is solved in some way, whether it be pumped hydro or whether it be Mr Musk’s major batteries, we need other ways of bridging that gap.

If you care about jobs and if you care about people, then you know we have to have these transitional measures in place. Carbon capture and storage is a real opportunity to make that transition—to get to where we want to go, to get to a zero-carbon economy and to do so in a way that is not only safe, cost effective and reliable but particularly makes an economic contribution to the region and to the state. As I think the member for Frankston mentioned, there are plenty of jobs attached to this opportunity as well.

So this is a rare example, as I said, of parties of different colours—different jurisdictions even—being in accord on this particular issue, but I think it is an excellent opportunity. It is a shame, perhaps, that it has taken as long as it did to get to there— (Time expired)

The SPEAKER: I will interrupt the member there. I am required to do that under sessional orders. The member will have the opportunity to continue his speech when this matter is next before the house.

Business interrupted under resolution of house of 8 June.

Make the Peninsula Regional Now

Mr MORRIS (Mornington) (19:20): (5909) I am pleased to raise a matter for the Acting Premier this evening, and the action I seek from the Acting Premier is that he take all actions necessary to reclassify the Mornington Peninsula as a regional area and to do so as a matter of urgency.

As many will know, I have been talking about this issue for a very long time, initially from a planning perspective. I have long had concerns about including the peninsula in the metropolitan area for planning purposes. I think it was the Bracks government in the early 2000s that moved it from Western Port to the metropolitan area.

The Mornington Peninsula Localised Planning Statement was an effort to rectify the issue from a planning perspective, but the pandemic has really made the issue front and centre as far as the community is concerned more broadly. Until that, the reality was that most people who live on the peninsula thought we were regional in any case.

I have written directly to the Premier twice on this issue and not had an acknowledgement. I have also raised it four times in Parliament—this will be the fifth time. I had one response from the Premier the last time I raised it, and it was a bit like question time: he circled all around the issue but did not actually go to the nub of the question. I got lots of words about COVID but not much about the actual regional status of the Mornington Peninsula.

There are a range of practical issues which time really does not permit me to go into, but the fact is we have got water on three sides. In fact the peninsula only became a part of the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ metropolitan borders for Melbourne as a bureaucratic convenience.

If you think it is not country, try getting something delivered—you certainly pay for the privilege. When you say it is metropolitan, they just laugh at you and say, ‘We’ll have your money anyway, thank you very much’.

It is an issue that has been going on for quite some time. Seventy per cent of the peninsula landmass is outside of the urban growth boundary, and we all hope that is the way it stays. If the Minister for Planning at the table does not proceed with the transitional provisions for the green wedge, then I think we will be delighted with that too.

I did want to just comment on a point that has been peddled certainly by the member for Nepean, but I have heard it from others as well, that suggests that should we cease to be part of the metropolitan area, the green wedge is up for grabs and could all be subdivided. That is complete and utter nonsense—I am sure the minister at the table agrees with me—but that is the story that has been peddled.

I ask the Acting Premier to act to resolve this historic injustice with all dispatch.