Call in Second Retirement Village Application Now!

Legislative Assembly 3 May 2022

Mr MORRIS (Mornington) (19:20): (6344) My adjournment matter this evening is directed to the Minister for Planning, and the action I am seeking from the Minister for Planning is that he call in planning application P21/1949 to the Mornington Peninsula shire planning scheme—it applies to a property at 60 Kunyung Road, Mount Eliza—and reject it.

Speaker, I think with you in the chair I have raised matters relating to this property on many occasions in this house over the last three years, perhaps a little bit longer, most recently with regard to planning scheme amendment C270 for a rezoning.

This is the second planning application on this site. The first one was rejected, quite rightly. The applicant has done what—and I do not blame them for doing it—so many applicants do: they put in the ambit claim, put in the big one, then they come back with a smaller one and say, ‘Well, how does this fit?’.

The first application was rejected, and the second one should absolutely be rejected as well. This is a site outside the urban growth boundary. It is a site in the area that amendment C270 seeks to rezone to green wedge. It is a landmark site right on the southern side of Mount Eliza.

What is proposed here is a development with a footprint of nearly 15 000 square metres. It is not a modest, sympathetic extension to an existing facility, it is a massive development—yes smaller than the first one, but it is an absolutely massive development with numerous three- and four-storey buildings.

As I mentioned, it is outside the urban growth boundary. To approve this application would be totally contrary to planning policies that go back to the 1970s in this area.

There is a Mornington Peninsula planning statement, or localised planning statement, that expressly talks about providing a clear separation of the peninsula from metropolitan Melbourne, protecting the character and functions of the towns and villages, protecting areas of special character and having developments sympathetic with, respecting and enhancing the natural environment.

In this case this is a linear development between towns. It is effectively an expansion of the urban area of Mount Eliza.

To those of you who are familiar with the Planning and Environment Act 1987, this would be contrary to the intent of the Planning and Environment Act, where every expansion of the urban growth boundary needs to be agreed to by a motion by this house and by the other place. So this application is totally contrary to every agreed policy.

I request the minister: call it in and knock it on the head.


Mornington MP, David Morris, has demanded the Minister for Planning “call in” and reject the application for planning approval for a retirement village in Kunyung Road, Mount Eliza.

The first application lodged for the land was rejected by VCAT on appeal, after an initial refusal by the Shire Council. This time the applicant has taken their case straight to VCAT, by-passing council consideration.

Speaking in Parliament this week Mr Morris said:

This is the second planning application on this site. The first one was rejected, quite rightly…the second one should absolutely be rejected as well.

This is a site outside the urban growth boundary. It is a site in the area that amendment C270 seeks to rezone to green wedge. It is a landmark site right on the southern side of Mount Eliza.

What is proposed here is a development with a footprint of nearly 15 000 square metres. It is not a modest, sympathetic extension to an existing facility, it is a massive development—yes smaller than the first one, but it is an absolutely massive development with numerous three- and four-storey buildings…

To approve this application would be totally contrary to planning policies that go back to the 1970s in this area…this is a linear development between towns. It is effectively an expansion of the urban area of Mount Eliza…every expansion of the urban growth boundary needs to be agreed to by a motion by this house and by the other place…call it in and knock it on the head.

Further information: David Morris on 5975 4799

Approve C270 and Protect the Green Wedge Now!

Legislative Assembly 6 April 2022

Mr MORRIS (Mornington) (19:09): (6321) I raise a matter this evening for the Minister for Planning, and the action I am seeking from the minister is that he expedite the approval of amendment C270 to the Mornington Peninsula planning scheme.

Amendment C270—there is a lot of history here—has recently been exhibited, and exhibition closes on Friday.

Normally there would be a very long process from then until the amendment is approved, but I stood up in this house more than two years ago, in February 2020, and asked the minister to expedite the exhibition of the scheme. Two years on, it finally got on exhibition in February of this year. 

Since then I have raised the issue on at least three occasions. The reason I have done that is that this is critical for the future protection of the green wedge on the Mornington Peninsula.

The amendment itself deals with a number of sites that are outside the urban growth boundary but are not currently protected by green wedge provisions.

One is particularly sensitive and is one I have mentioned on many occasions in this place, and that is an application for a retirement village outside the urban growth boundary in Mount Eliza. The first application was knocked backed by VCAT. It is now the subject of a Supreme Court appeal. The second application is currently on exhibition and closes on Friday.

Just to give the house a sense of the scale of this development outside the urban growth boundary, land that is supposed to be protected, its total footprint is 14 963 square metres. There is the addition of three wings to the existing historic mansion, two four-storey and one three-storey; three freestanding four-storey buildings; two freestanding three-storey buildings; 246 car spaces; and a place of worship. So it is a very, very significant development in a totally inappropriate place.

Further down the road we have another application that is not affected by this planning scheme amendment but which seeks to turn an existing nursing home into a much, much larger retirement village with a significant footprint.

Again and again we are seeing these sorts of applications. In part it is a function of the value of the land—I understand that—but either we are serious as a Parliament and as a state about protecting this area or we are not.

I do urge the minister, as a first step in beefing up the protections for the green wedge, to get on with C270 and truncate the process period to the extent that he can, and let us get it approved.

What is Environmental Infrastructure?

Legislative Assembly 9 February 2022

MORRIS (Mornington) (10:07): I am very pleased to rise to make some brief comments on the report of the Environment and Planning Committee which was tabled by the member for Tarneit this morning.

That inquiry was into environmental infrastructure for growing populations. I think the term ‘growing populations’ in recent history has applied to growth areas, but of course we now have a situation where populations are growing right across the state.

One of the first issues that had to be dealt with by the committee was in fact determining what environmental infrastructure is because people have different views.

The committee determined that we would restrict it to public parks and open space; paths and roads where attached to parks and open space, or particularly that; road and rail reserves; sporting fields; public forests and bushland; botanic gardens; wildlife corridors; beaches and access point; and rivers and lakes.

We also were quite definite in terms of what we believed was not included. While it is detailed in the report, essentially that is private land, and that includes not only private backyards and things but green wedges as well, which are of course largely owned privately.

I also should comment briefly on the impacts of the pandemic on the inquiry. This was the committee’s first inquiry where the hearings were done entirely via video link.

While I think teleconferencing works exceptionally well in terms of the delivery of meetings and the normal administrative meetings of committees and even for discussions where people are known to one another, when you are dealing with strangers, when you are trying to extract evidence, it does not work in anywhere near the same way as face-to-face hearings.

In my view, while necessary for this report and I certainly do not criticise the use of it, we should be getting back to face-to-face hearings whenever possible and teleconferencing should not become the norm; it should not be a way of saving money or speeding up time.

We need to be doing face-to-face hearings. On at least one occasion the witnesses clearly had no idea why they were there. While you can manage that in a face-to-face hearing—you can work your way around that—that particular 40 minutes was just a waste of time for everyone concerned.

And of course there is the broader issue of the impact of the pandemic on staff as well, but that is something as members of Parliament we are only too familiar with. But I do want to acknowledge the work of the committee staff under difficult circumstances.

The report is essentially divided into two parts. The first relates to the benefits to be derived from environmental infrastructure and the impact of a lack of access to environmental infrastructure, and then geographically, so inner urban, middle-ring suburbs, outer suburbs, regional and peri-urban areas, and we tacked on the waterways on top of that. There are a host of findings and a total of 57 recommendations.

In terms of the benefits and the costs, there are recommendations around improved access to walking tracks, bike tracks and biophilic design which, just in case you do not know what ‘biophilic design’ is, means the practice of connecting people and nature within built environments and within communities where access is not necessarily available.

There was also quite a lot of work regarding vegetation cover. We know that there is enormous disparity in terms of vegetation cover, particularly between the west of the metropolitan area and the east. To some extent that is a by-product of natural conditions, but the contrast is stark and given that people are living in both places, it is something that the committee actually provides a serious amount of attention to.

There are a host of other issues. Interestingly, while the incidence and the impact of issues varied across the localities, there were in fact pretty much common factors right across. For example, the inner suburbs are very, very poorly served in terms of environmental infrastructure, so it is more about balance and the factors are pretty common right across.

I do want to acknowledge my colleagues on the committee, particularly the member for Tarneit as the chair of the committee, and of course the member for South Barwon before that, and certainly the members for Burwood, Yan Yean, Box Hill and Ovens Valley and the member for Eildon, who is at the table.

I think this is a genuine bipartisan report and I commend it.

Regional Status no threat to Green Wedge

Legislative Assembly 9 March 2022

Mr MORRIS (Mornington) (09:57): Last night the member for Nepean during the adjournment debate repeated an assertion that he has made on a number of occasions that according the Mornington peninsula regional status would somehow negate the green wedge controls.

Mr Brayne: Correct.

Mr MORRIS: Correct?

Mr Brayne: Absolutely.

Mr MORRIS: The member knows, and if he does not he damn well should, that the green wedge controls are incorporated in the Mornington Peninsula planning scheme.
If there is any daylight between according the Mornington Peninsula regional status and the green wedge controls, it can be dealt with by the stroke of a pen, by a ministerial amendment.

The member knows that the Minister for Planning is the person entirely responsible for the Mornington Peninsula planning scheme, and if there is any daylight—I do not accept that there is, but if there is—it can be dealt with immediately by a planning scheme amendment.

Now, the fact is that for the last two years I have been seeking to get amendment C270, which will actually protect the green wedge, up—crickets from the Minister for Planning for two years.

Finally, he has done it now. Ten months out from an election he has agreed to it. Do not come in here and tell this Parliament that the Labor Party’s position on protecting the green wedge is superior. And if the member for Nepean—

Members interjecting.

The SPEAKER: Without interjections.

Mr MORRIS: If the member for Nepean needs to resort to scare tactics to get elected at the end of the year, then he needs to reflect on how little he has done since he has been here.

Codes of Practice and Incorporated Documents

Legislative Assembly 9 March 2022

Mr MORRIS (Mornington) (18:32): It is a pleasure to join the debate on the Conservation, Forests and Lands Amendment Bill 2022. Many people say, ‘It’s been an interesting debate’, but I have genuinely found this to be an interesting debate and perhaps a low point in the manner in which we operate as a legislature.

Now, I am not having a crack at any of the speakers on any side, but there have been all sorts of commentary. The ruling is that it is a very wide debate —and again, I am not reflecting on the Chair in any way, because the precedent, I am sure, was established much earlier in the debate. We have had contributions about little penguins.

We have had contributions from this side on the timber industry. We just heard lots about the Mornington Peninsula, and I am tempted to take up a few of the points the member for Nepean made, but I will resist the temptation. And we have also heard great slabs, I am sure, quoted from the briefing books.

The reality is most of the contributions that have been made actually have said nothing about the bill. The suggestion that these amendments incorporate the precautionary principle, incorporate the actual detail, could not be further from the truth.

That is the reality. I mean, the amendment is—I have not bothered to count up the words, but it looks like perhaps 100 words in an amendment to section 31 of the Conservation, Forests and Lands Act 1987, and it is a variation on an existing power that relates to codes of practice.

That is all it is. It is a variation to that power. It does not do anything else. Yes, it potentially provides capacity for the minister to then take further action. It sets up the framework. But it does not do any of the things that have been claimed for it during the time I have been in the chamber.

It effectively says that an incorporated document is not only incorporated in the form that it is when it is incorporated but can be subsequently varied, and it gives that flexibility. And then the bulk of the words in this amendment are simply talking about the requirement to gazette the code of practice when it is varied and that it does not come into effect until it is gazetted.

There is no doubt that the timber industry has been a central part of this discussion, and that has played out in the contributions. Indeed there was a fairly long slab in the second-reading speech that talked about what the minister intended to do with the code in terms of the management provisions and whether they should be an incorporated document or whether they should be formally part of the code. But again, while that was a big slab of the second-reading speech, it is not part of the bill before us today; it is not actually what the bill does.

I do have some concerns about the form in which this particular amendment, as minimal as it may be, is being presented and the fact that we are dealing with a discrete bill to add a handful of words into an existing act, on the one hand. I cannot immediately recall the title of the bill that was dealt with last sitting week which incorporated a raft of amendments to a range of justice matters that were so broad that when we were briefed on the bill individual advisers were not able to talk about other sections of the bill, because were the responsibility of a different minister. The only common feature in that legislation was it was in the same department, but it was a very disparate range of matters. And now one sitting week later we are dealing with a bill that simply inserts a handful of words into existing legislation.

But the difficulty I have with this particular bill is not that it is complex. Someone said earlier—I cannot recall who it was—that it is complex. It is not complex. It is 100 words, for goodness sake. It is not complex.

The issue I have is about what it does, because if you work through the impact of the words, what it is effectively saying is that an incorporated document can change but it does not change the code. It really gets down to the point of where the threshold is. How substantial do the changes to an incorporated document need to be before they constitute a change of the code? We do not know that.

A concern I have had basically since I first stood up in this place in 2006 is the fact that so rarely do we actually as legislators have the opportunity to question legislation.

If you read the Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee report on this, it notes that it has an issue—if I can find the report—potentially with the parliamentary oversight. The committee will correspond with the minister and ask some questions about how that will be worked through in the context of section 32 of the act. That is a significant question in the consideration of this bill, which we as legislators should have the opportunity to ask.

But of course the reality is we never get to consideration in detail, so we do not have the opportunity to consider and ask about the impact of this clause. I think that is a problem. Yes, it was certainly a Liberal government that introduced the government business program, the guillotine, but it was in response to ongoing bad behaviour, ongoing overnight sittings and just a complete rort of the opportunity to consider matters in detail.

We have now gone the other way, where we get 10 minutes to speak on a bill no matter what the complexity is and we cannot ask any questions. I think it is very, very difficult for anyone, whether you are government or opposition, to say you are doing your job, you are scrutinising legislation appropriately, when we have the system that we do now. It is a criticism that arises out of questions that come up in this bill.

It will not affect me, clearly, but I think we really do need to have a look at whether we are in fact carrying out our duties and the duties that the Victorian public think we should be carrying out when we process legislation in this way.

The other issue with the potential reduction in parliamentary oversight is again one that is becoming more and more obvious. We have had a series of bills come through where there is an effective dumbing down of legislation. What previously would have been in legislation is in fact inserted into regulation. What would previously have been inserted into regulation goes into a code of practice. The reality is that the only people that win out of that are the Victorian bureaucracy, because they take up the powers that this Parliament is ceding to them by taking that approach.

It is important that we recognise this Parliament and passage through this Parliament should not be considered a mere formality. Processing legislation through this Parliament should not be a rubber stamp, and that is pretty much where we are at the moment.

There are legitimate questions about the impact of legislation, as few the words are, and the opportunity is not there to get that clarification which I think it otherwise deserves.

As others have said, the opposition will not be opposing the bill; however, there are some significant not only process issues but practical issues so we know exactly what the impact is. And as the debate has demonstrated, there is a breadth of opinion on that.

Circular Economy Bill A Complete Hoax

Legislative Assembly 16 November 2021

Mr MORRIS (Mornington) (17:01): The bill before us today is symptomatic of everything that is wrong with this government. It is 169 pages—plus of course the explanatory memorandum—of very little.

When it comes to the environment with this government there is lots of talk—lots of talk, lots of claims—but in fact there is very, very, very little action.

Now, the background to this bill, and the minister identified it in the second-reading speech, is China’s National Sword policy, the policy position that was taken by China in January 2018, almost four years ago.

For 12 months the government sat on their hands. They knew the policy was there, they must have known the implications, but they sat on their hands. And then of course we had the fire that the member for Footscray was just talking about.

Even that did not jolt them into action. Then of course SKM Recycling collapsed in I think it was February 2019, and the issues started to emerge and started to be a little bit obvious, because not only did SKM collapse but effectively the recycling system in this state collapsed.

Thousands and thousands of tonnes of resource that should have been recycled, that should have been re-used, were consigned to landfill. And of course, worse still, we had thousands more tonnes stacked into warehouses—just a time bomb waiting to go off—and we saw the impact of that, we saw the impact of the fires and we saw the environmental damage that came out of that.

Still the government did nothing—did nothing.

Finally, more than two years after the China sword announcement, the government issued a media release, and it has taken another two years to get from that media release to seeing the bill in this house.

So we are now, as I mentioned, four years on.

This government can bring in a bill to lock up people, to deprive them of their civil liberties—bring it in on Wednesday, guillotine it on Thursday, done. But to bring in a bill to protect the environment takes four years. It takes four years and we still have a shell of a bill. It is a shell of a bill.

Everything in it is left to regulation. There are heads of powers, that is it. But if you want to see what the system is going to look like, it is not in the bill.

You have only got to look at the time lines to see the flaws in this initiative and particularly the flaws in this legislation. According to the second-reading speech we are going to have a glass recycling service, a factor which is an integral part of the contamination issue that we were confronted with four years ago, by the end of 2027—the end of 2027, six years from now.

We are going to have a food and organic recycling system by the end of 2030, nine years from now. As I mentioned, we are already four years in. So that means the glass recycling is going to be 11 years after the need for it became more than obvious—and the food and organics even more. Come on.


The government claim they are there to protect the environment. They claim they are there to take on the big issues. But 10 years, 13 years to fix a policy problem that was obvious is just absolutely crazy.

I think just about everyone will remember the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office report from June 2019, Recovering and Reprocessing Resources from Waste. It was a damning report from the auditor. It was an entirely fair report, but it was damning.

It found that Victoria had not had a statewide waste policy since 2014. We had a statewide waste policy in 2014. We had a serviceable waste policy in 2014. One of the first acts of the Andrews government when they were elected was to scrap it.

The auditor found that the roles and responsibilities in the waste resource recovery sector remained unclear, as they do today; problems with Sustainability Victoria; no clear plan to implement the actions in the strategies; no planning for hazardous waste—wasn’t that obvious?; ineffective monitoring from the EPA; and waste data was inaccurate.

More than two years on, we still do not have legislation in place to facilitate a solution for those things. And of course the auditor also confirmed that $511 million in the Sustainability Fund was being used to support the surplus. Of course that was back in 2019, when surpluses apparently did matter. Things have changed somewhat.

So how did the government respond to that criticism—to that reasonable criticism? The response came from the Minister for Local Government, Adem Somyurek. Remember him?

The Minister for Local Government was the only minister that took any action, and it was a relatively modest one: to issue a statewide exemption for councils to remove administrative barriers to getting their contracts sorted out. He was the only minister in response to that damning auditor’s report that took any action at all.

Beyond Mr Somyurek we heard nothing, absolutely nothing, apart from a continuous stream of self-serving, self-promoting, pork-barrelling announcements in the recycling area—nothing that made a significant difference.

But in stark contrast, on this side of the house the opposition made a series of significant announcements, and I want to just touch on two.

In November 2019 we announced our zero to landfill policy. We made a commitment that by 2035 we would eliminate waste going to landfill, a commitment that the government still has not matched.

It was not just an ambit claim. It was not just a sound bite. We made commitments to reduce waste by 33 per cent by 2025 and by 66 per cent by 2030. Still the government did nothing.

In February 2020 the opposition announced a plan, a cash for containers scheme. Finally we got a response from the government—finally we got a response.

Two weeks later we got not a plan, not a bill, but we got a press release: that there would be a container deposit scheme and that there would be a fourth bin system.

And now, almost two years after that press release, we have got a bill that does not establish a container deposit scheme and does not establish a comprehensive recycling scheme; it establishes a framework for those things.

All the heavy lifting is going to be in the regulations. We are 10 years away from having a proper recycling scheme fully operational—10 years away.

As I said, the second-reading speech made it clear that this is a response to China’s Sword policy, which was introduced four years ago. Thirteen years on from the introduction of that Chinese policy the government is going to respond.

The fact is this bill is simply a hoax. It is an illusion of action when no action is happening. It is a triumph of politics over substance. It is a complete fraud, and it should be recognised for what it is.

Bureacracy building won’t help the Environment

Legislative Assembly 5 October 2021

Mr MORRIS (Mornington) (11:16): I must say that there has generally been a tradition in this house that at least the first speaker for the government talks a little bit about the bill— about what is in the bill and how the government, beyond the detail required in the second-reading speech, actually came to the position it did and why it is implementing the changes—and generally makes an effort to respond to the issues raised by the lead speaker for the opposition.

By my count it took until the last 28 seconds of the Member for Footscray’s speech for her to actually address an issue that related to the bill at all, and I think that is absolutely a record.

I know debating standards in this chamber—I am not talking about behaviour, but the standard of debate—have been declining for years. But could we at least have a situation where the first speaker for the government actually talks about what is in the bill—not the history, not what may be happening in another party in another state, but actually what is in the bill? That might be helpful.

The Water and Catchment Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 is fairly straightforward, amending the Water Act 1989 and the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994.

This is I think in many ways an unremarkable bill, but it is also a significant bill because it is abolishing the Victorian Catchment Management Council. It is reassigning the duties of the Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority (CMA), which has been operating since—what, 1997? Something like that.

Of course, as the Member for Footscray did finally mention, it is merging City West Water and Western Water and turning them into Greater Western Water as well. But it is doing a lot more than that.

The Member for Euroa particularly talked about the changes to the Water Act and the way they apply. The area that is likely to be most affected is of course the Murray River and particularly the issue of water supply downstream of the Barmah Choke.

Now, I know what the Barmah Choke is, I know where it is and I know a little bit about the issues around that, but I certainly do not pretend to be an expert. But it is clear that if you have reduced flows and you have increased utilisation of water downstream, then you are going to have issues. I think while, as the Member for Euroa mentioned, there are some concerns with the mechanism and there are some concerns with the regulation process still to come, the actual initiative, as she mentioned, was actually proposed by the coalition, by the Liberal and National parties, prior to the last election, and clearly it is an area that we are actually supportive of.

I did want to concentrate most of my remarks on the abolition of the Victorian Catchment Management Council and the issues arising from the Port Phillip and Westernport CMA merger with Melbourne Water.

Now, with regard to the catchment management council, they characterise themselves in their annual report, and I think it is borne out by the legislation, as the government’s peak advisory body on catchment management. They say that they are uniquely placed, that they are able to take a long-term view and that they are able to influence change in working towards their vision for catchment management, working towards the government’s vision for catchment management.

In particular, they talk about ecologicallyand sustainable and productive  catchments. Now, I think that is an ambition that we would all consider to be reasonable, so it does beg the question of why this body is to be abandoned. I particularly refer to the report State of the Environment 2018—we have another one coming in 2023, but this one came out in 2018.

While it has a range of indicators in it, the ones I am always interested to look at relate to biodiversity. Remember, ecologically sustainable and productive catchments and biodiversity are inextricably linked—they are inextricably linked.

Yet when you look at the report and the biodiversity indicators, 35 of them, none were good—none at all were considered to be good. Seven were considered to be fair, 21 were considered to be poor and seven we just do not know—we just do not know. So 80 per cent of the indicators are either poor or unknown, and the balance are to be considered fair.

You would have to say that is an appalling record when it comes to biodiversity. Yet here we are today debating the abolition of the Victorian Catchment Management Council, which is about ecologically sustainable and productive catchments.

I really find that rather surprising, I have got to say.

The other aspect, as I foreshadowed, that I want to talk about is the merger of the Port Phillip and Westernport CMA with Melbourne Water. Now, of course Melbourne Water is the successor of the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works, a bureaucratic juggernaut that was well and truly due for winding up when it was broken up in the 1980s.

Of course it has a history well outside simply the supply of water, particularly when it got into planning and other matters, but that is really outside the scope of this debate. But the Melbourne Water of today, being the successor of that body, is still primarily a water supply body.

When you look at the annual report, again:

We manage water supply catchments, treat and supply drinking and recycled water, remove and treat most of Melbourne’s sewage, and manage waterways and major drainage systems in the Port Phillip and Westernport regions.

When you contrast the activities of that with what the Port Phillip and Westernport CMA is largely engaged in, when they talk about their summary performance they are talking about a collaborative strategy, they are talking about supporting Landcare, they are talking about working with the Indigenous communities and working with the broader community.

The thing that really struck me when I looked at the numbers here was that they are working with 86 Landcare groups in the Port Phillip and Western Port region and they are working with 4500 volunteers. They are also working with 25 councils. It is very much about partnership, it is very much about work on the ground, and we know that probably the most significant impact you can have is through this work on the ground.

Now, I am not being in any way critical of Melbourne Water. Melbourne Water work closely with a number of my community groups. They provide the funding. They do quite a decent job.

Members interjecting.

Mr MORRIS: I will tell them to shut up in a minute, Acting Speaker, even if you will not. I cannot hear myself.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Ms Connolly): Order! Can I remind the Members in the chamber that the Member for Mornington is debating this bill, and I am unable to hear his contribution.

Mr Battin interjected.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Ms Connolly): Member for Gembrook, I am looking at you.

Mr MORRIS: Thank you, Acting Speaker. I am not being in any way critical of Melbourne Water, but they are very, very different bodies, and I am not sure that this is the best model.

The theory that bigger is better, in my view, does not apply in this case, particularly when you have got such an appalling record in biodiversity, as I mentioned earlier.

The system is not working. Consolidating existing units and just making it bigger is not going to help, in my view. It is not going to help.

Land management or catchment protection—yes, it needs to be integrated, but is that the best model in terms of the Port Phillip region? I really have some significant concerns that it is not.

Because you only need to look at the map here—this is a region that stretches almost but not quite to Geelong, a bit like the metropolitan area, up to Ballan, across the slopes of the Great Divide. It then goes across to Healesville and down to West Gippsland.

It is a very, very big area, and while it does reflect the catchment boundaries it does not in any way reflect land use. It cannot. When you look at the land use outside this door and you look at the land use on the slopes of the Great Divide, it just could not be more different. It does not in any way reflect the conditions. It does not in any way reflect the terrain.

So I am not sure that this is really the best opportunity. I have significant concerns with the legislation. I have greater concerns with the approach of the government. We have got an agenda driven by a need to suit the convenience  of the government. It does not do much for the communities, it does not do much for the environment, and while the opposition will not opposing the bill, I am not sure that this is really a solution.

Immediate Action Needed on Kangaroos

Legislative Assembly 5 October 2021

Mr MORRIS (Mornington): (6041) I raise a matter today for the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change.

The action that I seek from the minister is that she immediately take action to ensure the safety of a mob of eastern grey kangaroos at Cape Schanck on the Mornington Peninsula.

Last week there were distressing reports of a large mob of kangaroos, by some estimates up to 280, that had found themselves on the wrong side of a fence between private property and Greens Bush, which forms part of the Mornington Peninsula National Park.

Now I’m aware that there is debate about how the animals came to be where they are, and certainly conflicting views regarding the effectiveness of the fencing, particularly whether holes may have been cut in it. If it has been damaged, that is a matter for the police.

I do not seek to enter into that debate, nor do I ask the minister to become involved, beyond ensuring that the fence at Greens Bush is appropriate.

The fact is there are a large number of kangaroos on a property of approximately 70 ha. If the reported numbers are correct, that equates to four kangaroos per hectare, a density which is clearly beyond the capacity of the land and must inevitably result in starvation if no action is taken.

I understand that the Conservation Regulator has issued a statement confirming that the land manager at the property is in possession of an authority to control wildlife permit for the legal control of eastern grey kangaroos. There is also a kangaroo management plan in place. I also understand that authorised officers are actively monitoring activities in the area.

There are no known breaches of the Wildlife Act at this time, yet, but that is not the point.

We cannot have a situation where the minister and the authorities sit back and wait until someone breaks the law or the animals die of starvation. A large number of kangaroos are at potential risk, and quite frankly the longer we wait the greater the risk becomes.

This is a situation that requires ministerial intervention, and it requires immediate intervention.

I urge the minister to act immediately to ensure that every kangaroo that is at risk is relocated to a safe place as a matter of urgency.

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.