Tuesday 20 November 2012

Hansard of the Legislative Council

PARLIAMENT SQUARE PLANNING PERMIT BILL 2012 (No. 57)

Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Thank you very much to the officers who enabled us to look through the planning, the proposal and the buildings that need to be refurbished - that is, the St Mary's Hospital - and then, hopefully, the removal of a couple of buildings at 2-4 Salamanca Place. It was interesting to go through because I spent quite a bit of time in the old Printing Authority building because my two brothers did apprenticeships there as printers. It was a little walk down memory lane for me, but it does not mean that I have a real feeling that it should be retained. It was interesting to hear the description of it as the first specifically designed printing building in the southern hemisphere or something like that, but it is not a museum and I do not think it serves much of a purpose in the state it is in now.

Looking over these buildings gave us some idea of the magnitude of the project by the developers who will take on the development, particularly the St Mary's Hospital part of the site. There were mixed emotions there because you could see from the fa├žade, the history and the wonderful building and how in keeping it is with a lot of the retained heritage buildings and properties that we have in Hobart and other parts of the state. Inside you could see where the work will need to be done and where it will gobble up the money that will need to be spent on the building.

Most of us will appreciate that the site will be fantastic when it is developed. I liked the whole idea and the concept of what the government is trying to achieve there. However, when you take away the right of the Tasmanian public to have a say in something that they are ultimately paying for you provoke opposition and alienation.

The government argues that the appeals process for this $100 million project has gone on for long enough and I think that is right. It has been a long journey for people who want to see this come to fruition. The government also claims that the Parliament Square project has solid community support.

We heard in the second reading speech that construction industry jobs are the reason for urgency; 400 jobs were mentioned in the facts that we were given. We were told that the appeals have gone on for too long and in fact could continue for substantially longer. Against that, Mr Deputy President, in making provisions of this bill supreme over the provisions of any other act, planning scheme, special planning order, interim order or any other instrument, what we are being asked to do as far as the Parliament Square project is concerned is cast aside all provisions ensuring that there is proper planning in the state. Why do we have planning provisions if they can be cast aside by parliament at the government's behest? The government uses the argument of jobs as it did with similar fast tracking of the proposed Tamar pulp mill. People are still aware of my position on that. Parliament went along with the argument then and we only have to look at where that project ended up.

I am concerned that in this case the public will be lumbered in the future with whatever the government determines for the square, although 'lumbered' might not be the right word. When I was involved with the Centenary of Federation, part of that involvement was a journey to Melbourne for the re-enactment of the centenary of 1900 in the Exhibition Hall in Melbourne. Part of the trip was having a look at the new Federation Square under construction at that time. The criticism from Melbournians was absolutely vitriolic about what was being proposed there. Yet I got it, when they were talking about the link between the Yarra and the city.

Mr Wilkinson - You're a man ahead of your time, that's why.

Mr FINCH - Thank you very much. Nobody else has noticed that. The material that was being used, the way it was being planned, I switched onto it and I loved the idea. Look at it now, look where it is now. It is a community gathering place and somewhere people can have all sorts of events and functions, and celebrate community and those historic events that are being celebrated now in Federation Square. I can see the same thing happening here so I am not averse to the idea.

I know that the developer has planning permission for its specific design, but at this stage I am reluctant to take away public input into this project. I do not think that I can support this bill.

[7.52 p.m.]