Land (Revocation Of Reservations) Bill 2012

I rise to make a brief contribution to the Land (Revocation and Reservations) Bill 2012. Coming as I do after my colleague the member for South Barwon, who gave an excellent overview — —

Honourable members interjecting.

Mr WYNNE — Not the member for South Barwon, the member for Bellarine. I had a mental block there. We will get South Barwon next time. It was an excellent contribution by the member for Bellarine.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER — Order! I am sure the member for Richmond was touching on the Barwon Heads bridge.

Mr WYNNE — I was, yes. I was momentarily distracted there by the visage of the member for South Barwon. But the member for Bellarine gave an excellent overview of the bill. The specific issue I wanted to talk about is the Fitzroy gasworks site, which is a site that would be well known to many members of this house. It has a very long and proud history. It was originally — —

An honourable member interjected.

Mr WYNNE — Indeed, as my colleague says, it was originally the Fitzroy and District Gas and Coke Company, also known as Fitzroy gasworks, and was first established at 443 Smith Street in the mid-1800s and permanently reserved and granted to the company in 1862. It became part of the Metropolitan Gas Company in 1878 and was subsequently owned by various parts of the state bureaucracy up to the time it was decommissioned. The site was closed in 1927.

The site is a very significant one. As members would know it borders the Eastern Freeway, Smith Street and Alexandra Parade.

From the point of view of my constituents this is a site that people have had their eyes on for a very long time, not only because of its strategic siting but because my local community, particularly the City of Yarra, has seen it as a very strategic opportunity to achieve a number of key objectives which in many respects would not be out of sync with the broader objectives of government more generally. In particular this site has been identified by the council for a multipurpose recreational facility.

As members would know, these sorts of facilities are extremely scarce in the inner city, particularly in terms of burgeoning sports like netball and basketball. In fact when we were in government we had to close a single-court basketball facility at the old Fitzroy High School whilst that facility was being refurbished and this caused a huge knock-on effect.

Just that one court alone being closed for a period of time meant that many of the players had to go to quite distant areas to play their games, so it is quite an acute issue for us. The council has done an enormous amount of work in terms of its recreational needs study for that area, and it has isolated the gasworks as being a key site.

In that context whilst I acknowledge and support the aspirations of the council we have to recognise that this is a severely contaminated site. The contiguous piece of land has a restricted reserve on it for the purposes of a council depot. I know this is contaminated land as well, because this site has been quite extensively looked at over a long period of time. The big issue for this government, as it was for our government, is how it is going to address the severe contamination on this site and get this site either cleaned or capped so that any future redevelopment of the site is able to proceed.

Whether that be a residential, commercial or recreational outcome remains to be seen, but I know that the last time the cost was explored by our government it was very large; it was somewhere in the tens of millions of dollars.

It is a big issue and one that will have to be addressed as we go on, because contaminated sites like this really ought not lay dormant. They should have a more productive use. Indeed I would argue that the sort of use that the council is proposing will be very compatible with getting a decent return off the site but will also give a net community benefit to my community of the city of Yarra, which has a severe deficit in these recreational opportunities. It is also an opportunity for some modest housing and perhaps some commercial development as well. I look forward to the state government committing to working very closely with the local authority, the City of Yarra, which has done an enormous amount of work in this space.