PROJECT DEVELOPMENT AND CONSTRUCTION MANAGEMENT AMENDMENT BILL 2020

Mr FREGON (Mount Waverley) (15:29): I will continue on from the member for Thomastown’s wonderful point. I am delighted to stand up and have my opportunity to speak on this wonderful bill, and a very important bill: the Project Development and Construction Management Amendment Bill 2020. Just as an aside, though, it is actually our first bill I believe this year to actually have a 2020 tag on it.

 

Mr Fowles interjected.

 

Mr FREGON: I reckon it is. You can correct me if I am wrong. I want to thank the Minister for Priority Precincts in the other place for the important work that has been undertaken to get this bill before the house. But before I go into detail with my own points of view I just want to comment on what some of my esteemed colleagues have also pointed out. The member for Broadmeadows kicked us off, and I took out of his comments his points about local projects, the local relevance of the bill and the local knowledge from a good local member; the member for Yan Yean similarly so, drilling down on the member for Prahran on his lack of knowledge about the North East Link, and it was a very good point. To the member for Essendon, thank you very much for another history lesson. It is very important to put these things in perspective. I just think, on the relevance of what you were saying about the growth in public transport investment, we can see from the Andrews Labor government how much we have changed. I am still working on changing some of the Henry Bolte primary schools in my area, and I know I will get your support as I am talking to ministers about that. The member for South Barwon pointed us in the direction that this bill, like every other that we do, is aligned with our commitments from the 2014 and 2018 elections, and it is about jobs, infrastructure and the Big Build; more importantly, it is about people. Talking about people, the member for Prahran did something I had not seen in this house before. He raised a point of order on himself. I did not know you could do that. It was a pretty good effort, and frankly, the last time I heard that much or saw that much waffle it had ice cream and maple syrup on it.

 

This is an important bill that sets about clarifying arrangements arising from the machinery of government changes that were implemented on 1 January 2019. Under those changes from the machinery of government, the Department of Transport became the legal successor of the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources. The body corporate created under section 41A of the Project Development and Construction Management Act 1994 is now Secretary to the Department of Transport, so projects that were administered by the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions have been transferred to the Department of Transport. Landholdings, budgets and policies are the responsibility of the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, currently sitting in the Department of Transport. So this bill goes about altering these responsibilities and will also provide a mechanism that future machinery-of-government modifications can be effected under the Project Development and Construction Management Act without the need for legislative arrangements or amendments like this. Acting Speaker, I am sure you realise that that means that once this bill passes we will not get to do another bill exactly like this again because it will be done outside of legislation, and I, for one, will miss the opportunity to speak on that bill that will never happen.

 

A new body corporate will be established called Secretary, Project Development. This will occur with an amendment to the Project Development and Construction Management Act. Initially the Secretary of Project Development will be established by the Secretary of the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions. This bill, however, will allow the Secretary of Project Development to be attached to any other declared department by way of an order in council under the new section of the act. This will provide flexibility to the machinery of government but will also allow the priority precincts portfolio to be managed by the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions while not having to rely on the Department of Transport.

 

When looking at the very long list of important state projects that have been delivered under the original bill and historically effected—I think we had a full list earlier—a couple stand out. The Australian Synchrotron, which is very close to my district of Mount Waverley, is in the heart of the National Employment and Innovation Cluster (NEIC) at Monash. The Australian Synchrotron project was only possible after investments and commitments over many years from our Bracks-Brumby government. It is they we should thank for that fantastic Australian scientific and economic resource.

 

At the opening in 2007 Premier Brumby emphasised that although the Victorian government had provided $157 million out of $221 million in capital dedicated to building the project, the Australian Synchrotron was not just for Victoria but for all Australians and open to international synchrotron scientists. That goes to say that this bill is not just about what is directly listed in front of us or what has been done before but it is about all Victorians, and further on all Australians, and in that case scientists from all over the world that now have a resource they did not have. It is also worthy of note, as I said, that that is in the Monash National Employment and Innovation Cluster, and I will come back to that a bit later.

 

Also in the long list of projects I note the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre (MSAC). It is a fantastic facility that hosted the Commonwealth Games in 2006 and the 2007 World Aquatics Championships. A little less known is the fact that it was the place for infant swimming lessons for my daughter Sophie. That one did not make the news. Bec and I would turn up with baby in tow, and we would all jump in the water. I am not quite sure how much swimming the baby learned that day. We had a great time. It was good to bond and become familiar with water. I think we all want our kids to be safe in the water. I guess I raise that more to say that these projects—the Big Build and the wonderful things that this government is doing in regard to infrastructure and level crossings—mean things as a family as well. They mean things at a personal level.

 

In regard to MSAC, when looking at it I noticed that it has two Olympic-sized swimming pools. As you would know, Acting Speaker, the Olympic-sized swimming pool is one of the measurements of government. You will often hear things referred to in the sense of, ‘That would be 40 Olympic-sized swimming pools’. But another measurement of government is MCGs, and I noticed there was some news about our solar panels being however many MCGs. So I wondered: how many Olympic-sized swimming pools are in an MCG? I am sure we have all asked that of ourselves at times. The good news is that I can tell you that there are 630 Olympic-sized swimming pools in an MCG. So I will just put that on the record to update the house. If you ever hear someone say ‘Olympic-sized swimming pool’, divide it by 630 and that is how many MCGs you have got. It is what I do.

 

Earlier I mentioned the Monash National Employment and Innovation Cluster is where the synchrotron is. This cluster is right next to my district. The Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions has coordination responsibility for this cluster. I know that the Minister for Priority Precincts—and for that matter all of the Andrews Labor government—is committed to ensuring that our employment and innovation clusters are a great place to live, work and invest. It is fitting to also mention that our Monash cluster is one of seven NEICs prioritised for development as part of Plan Melbourne: 2017–2050.

 

In this bill we have a crucial cog in the machine of government, especially in relation to jobs because the Monash NEIC is already the largest concentration of local jobs outside of the CBD. Over 80 000 people work in this area, and these numbers are expected to double over the next three decades. That sounds great, I am sure you will agree, but we will need extra infrastructure in the area obviously. But have no fear, we have the Suburban Rail Loop on its way. It is being planned. Families in my area are waiting with excitement, just like I am, for the Suburban Rail Loop. Geotechnical work is underway outside my office in Glen Waverley right now as we speak. The Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions has coordination responsibility for the Monash NEIC and is working to ensure that all activity in that NEIC is integrated with Suburban Rail Loop planning.

 

Finally, what I would say in regard to the infrastructure agenda of this government is that another area of town that is in this bill is the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. I went there many years ago to see Ray Charles, and Ray Charles, who was awesome, by the way, sang about ‘unchaining my heart’. I think the Andrews Labor government is unchaining the state. I commend the bill to the house.