PLANNING MINISTER ANNOUNCES FREE KICKS FOR HUNGRY DEVELOPERS

It seems Victoria’s Planning Minister hasn’t noticed that CBD offices are empty, and that his Premier has expressly said that CBD offices should not yet re-open and that workers who can work from home should continue to do so. This is for a good reason. CBD high rise buildings are not safe in times in pandemics. Why then has the Planning Minister announced the green light for a new 68-storey development, a new 41-storey development, a new 21-storey development and a new 20-storey development all within the CBD? What due diligence has the Government done on the coronavirus risk posed by these new developments, and whether the extra residential and office space will still be needed, or whether the buildings will be empty? Building more and more high rise in the centre of town is old thinking. We need new thinking about how to make Melbourne sustainable, self-sufficient and safe. The Treasurer has admitted that the economic impact of coronavirus will be greater on Victoria than on other States. This is because we have become too dependent on construction, services, and the population growth Ponzi scheme. We need to rediscover our manufacturing capacity and build a more diverse, more resilient, less vulnerable economy. The Planning Minister has also called in from VCAT a proposed $250 million development at Station St Caulfield. Calling in developments defrauds local residents of the right to decide, through their Council, what gets built in their community. Residents are entitled to a say in these matters. Too often property developers are able to get direct access to Government Ministers and get what they want, at the expense of local residents and communities. The Planning Minister’s announcement of this “fast tracking” (“Building Recovery Taskforce Continues Fast Tracking”) quotes the Minister saying his Taskforce is delivering these projects “for the benefit of the building and development industry and for all Victorians”. No-one doubts that this Government does things for the benefit of the building and development industry, to which it is far too close. However the claim concerning “all Victorians” is an afterthought, and one which does not stand up to scrutiny. For most Victorians, trying to turn Melbourne into Manhattan with more and more skyscrapers is short-sighted, and will simply make our city more dense, more congested, more overcrowded, hotter, less liveable, and more vulnerable to pandemics like the one we are experiencing.