Mr GRIMLEY (Western Victoria) (14:26): I wish to speak briefly to the Great Ocean Road and
Environs Protection Bill 2019, a bill which underlines the importance of one of Victoria’s greatest
assets, which I am sure that we all over our time have driven. Some of us have cycled it over the
journey. We often take drives down the Great Ocean Road, having lived in that area for a number of
years. As a matter of fact, we are going down there this long weekend, down to Bimbi Park, using
those environments, and it is just fantastic down there.
I would like to start off by stating that we as Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party will be supporting this bill.
The importance of the Great Ocean Road cannot be overstated. The economic and environmental
importance of the region is truly immeasurable. After all, the road itself was driven on by 6.1 million
international and domestic tourists, who spent around $1.4 billion, in the year ending March 2019.
At the core of this bill is the establishment of the Great Ocean Road Coast and Parks Authority, an
authority which will play an integral role with its decision-making on behalf of the region. I would
like to state early on that I support the establishment of this authority, but my support is contingent on
the authority actually working in the region’s interests. It should be noted that the vast bulk of regional
planning considerations stay with the local councils and the relevant minister. This is understandable.
Councils and departments are best resourced to determine intricate planning requirements.
It should also be noted that, while not outlined in the bill, the chairperson of the new authority board
will most likely be selected by the minister and then the cabinet. It is my hope that this is not purely a
symbolic or political appointment but instead a constructive appointment.
While I support this bill and it what seeks to achieve, this should not be another opportunity for our
metropolitan counterparts to tell regional people how to live, trade and travel. This should be an
authority which actively seeks community input. This should be an authority which actively hosts and
respects members of the community, whether they be residents or local business owners, and this is
exactly what the amendments which I will circulate intend to do. I might ask now for those
amendments to be circulated.
Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party amendments circulated by Mr GRIMLEY pursuant to standing
Mr GRIMLEY: All too often we in this chamber pass bills which impact the way people and
businesses function without hearing what needs to be improved. Making decisions with people, not
on behalf of them, is essential if the authority is to function in the region’s interest. Local residents
within the relevant municipalities should be given equal or similar regard as the Indigenous owners
and the various authorities and be involved early in the strategic planning process. While the
government may argue that the board should be comprised of people selected on a skills basis, I believe
there should be a mandated requirement for locals to be appointed to the authority board.
Now, I understand that the minister argues that there is a follow-up bill to come. Supposedly for
drafting reasons the government is introducing two separate bills to legislate similar changes. This is
understandable, but I could not simply wave through one bill on the promise that another will
compensate for this bill’s shortcomings.
This legislation has nearly no provisions to include the local residents in decision-making. While the
bill does not actively prevent community involvement, it does not seek it or mandate it either.
We did have previous amendments to other clauses in the bill. We had an amendment to clause 27 of
the bill, with which we sought to insert after ‘persons’, ‘at least one of whom must be a local resident
or business owner from within the municipal district of a relevant municipal council’. That would have
ensured that the new Great Ocean Road Coast and Parks Authority had to consult with the public by
mandating it. This complements point (3) of our old amendments, which required the authority to
formally engage with local residents and business owners.
It was pleasing to hear that the government has introduced a house amendment along the lines of
‘engaging with local communities in the development of public land management plans and local
policies that are of particular relevance to that community and to report publicly on such engagement’.
To have such an amendment mandated in this regard is significant, and I thank the government for
considering our previous amendments in this matter in drafting their house amendments.
The bill proposes the following constitution of the Great Ocean Road authority board:
The board consists of—
a chairperson …
a deputy chairperson; and
a nominee from each specified Aboriginal party; and other directors.
The board must consist of no more than 12 directors.
While our amendments do not seek to alter the number of the people on the board it is important that
local business owners and residents are represented on the board. Our proposed amendments to
clause 56 mandate the need for the board to include at least three local residents and three business
owners from within a municipal district of the relevant municipal councils, and I shall talk about that
Once again, as businesses and residents are primary stakeholders in the region, they should be
represented in the new board, which is supposedly going to perform a central role in decision-making
for the region. I welcome all sides of the chamber to support our amendments. Like I said, I will discuss
these later on during the committee stage. But in the meantime I thank the house and say we will be
supporting this bill