The State Government’s insidious plan to carve out even more democracy from the planning system using the Suburban Rail Loop as a Trojan Horse is reprehensible, and must be stopped.

These laws, which have passed the Legislative Assembly and will soon face the Council, will give the Government ultimate planning control over areas within a certain radius of future stations.

So far. The Government claims it will be a 1600m radius, which will be earmarked for high density residential and commercial towers.

However, the Bill makes no mention of a 1.6 kilometre radius and reserves the right for the appointed statutory authority, which has no planning expertise, to set whatever boundaries they see fit. The Government may as well hand them the keys to the city.

The process for this blundersome process has been as follows:

- It began when the Government announces the Suburban Rail Loop, in a dramatic song, dance and gloating exercise for the ages.

- Then, the Government realised it couldn’t even afford the Suburban Rail Loop. You would think they would come to this realisation before they announced the project.

- Then, in a masterclass of bureaucratic brainstorming, the Government has devised a plan to weaponize the Suburban Rail Loop into a relentless attack on democratic planning.

- As part of this dubious new scheme, the Government intends to rob planning powers from local councils, nesting it into another departmental behemoth, the Suburban Rail Loop Authority.

- And then, with fingers, toes and legs crossed, they desperately hope the subsequent onslaught of rapid overdevelopment will fund their project.

This is a masterclass in crystal-ball gazing the likes of which we’ve never seen in Victoria. It makes a total mockery of infrastructure planning in our great state and ultimately leads to an abundance of cost-blowouts, which we’re now all
too familiar with.

This is a critical failure in infrastructure planning, and one that would serve well as a Season cliff-hanger for the TV series Utopia.

The underlying goal of this project is to facilitate unprecedented population growth; the likes of which will put further strain on our already crippled public health system.

Hasn’t this Government learned anything from the COVID pandemic?