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Melbourne and Olympic Parks Amendment Bill 2016

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Sam Hibbins MP
Member for Prahran
2 September 2016

Mr HIBBINS (Prahran) — I rise to speak on the Melbourne and Olympic Parks Amendment Bill 2016, which changes the reservation status of Crown land in relation to the Tanderrum Bridge to the Melbourne and Olympic Parks Trust. This is a pedestrian and cycling bridge that is connecting Birrarung Marr to the Melbourne Park precinct, which has been discussed by previous speakers, and is undergoing a significant and substantial redevelopment.

The bridge's name is Tanderrum, which is of course an Indigenous welcoming festival. Certainly that is a name that the Greens support, and I think we should be doing much more to incorporate Indigenous language into our city. We have got Birrarung Marr, which has been named in the last decade or so. We have got the William Barak Bridge, which was completed for the Commonwealth Games. The name Prahran itself is a historical name meaning 'land surrounded by water'. The Greens certainly encourage the continued incorporation of Indigenous language in the naming of our city.

It is ironic because the main concern that the Greens have with this bill, although we will be supporting the bill, is the failure or the lack of consultation with traditional owners regarding this particular piece of legislation. I appreciate there has been consultation regarding the naming of the bridge, but this particular piece of legislation should have triggered consultation.

Also there has been a failure to even consider traditional owners within the minister's statement of compatibility.

To further explain, the Wurundjeri people have lodged a threshold statement under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 with the native title unit of the Department of Justice and Regulation, which means the Wurundjeri have lodged a claim for recognition and settlement with the Victorian government. Birrarung Marr is of course an important place. It is registered as a place of Aboriginal heritage cultural sensitivity, as described in the Aboriginal Heritage Regulations 2007.

We note that the minister's statement of compatibility with the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities does not address Aboriginal cultural rights and says there are no people with property rights affected by this bill. However, section 20 property rights do include traditional rights as well as statutory rights. Certainly we will be seeking a fresh statement of compatibility before this bill reaches the Legislative Council to fully meet the needs of consulting with the traditional owners.

We have consulted with Native Title Services Victoria as a stakeholder in the bill, which has in turn consulted with the traditional owners of the land, and we have been informed that the Wurundjeri have not received notice of this bill from the government, let alone been consulted. The Wurundjeri claim is for all of the land that is the subject of the bill. The outcome of the claim could be a land use activity agreement that is negotiated with the state government, which would afford the Wurundjeri procedural rights, such as the right to be notified and consulted where a change in the status of land in the agreement area is proposed.

In these circumstances, even though there is no land use activity agreement in place, given that a claim has been made there would be a reasonable expectation that the Wurundjeri would be afforded the same rights that they would enjoy if a land use activity agreement had been put in place. Certainly that is what has occurred when other traditional owners have lodged a threshold statement but have not finalised a land use activity agreement. We also asked Native Title Services Victoria whether this bill could affect the Wurundjeri claim, and we have been advised that the land status changes could potentially affect the claim.

I appreciate that there has been consultation regarding the naming of the bridge and in regard to the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006, but it is not the same as consultation that is triggered by the existing Wurundjeri threshold statement, the outcome of which could be that land use activity agreement which would have actually mandated consultation on this bill.

We can talk about our Indigenous heritage, land rights and treaties; we can use these names. I note that the government issued a media release today, 'Traditional owner rights strengthened in Victoria', which actually refers to the Traditional Owner Settlement Act and says the government is introducing a bill to strengthen that act, and I note that there was a significant Indigenous involvement in the launch of the northern bike trail strategy, but this needs to be backed up by action in adherence to the laws that we have. I would certainly be asking that these issues be addressed before the bill reaches the Legislative Council.

I would like to move on to discuss another wider issue that has come up post the Rio Olympics. I think the mayor of Melbourne, Robert Doyle, has raised the prospect of investigating whether Melbourne should host the Olympics. This probably comes up every year or so. We had the Committee for Melbourne also coming out and saying that they think it would be a great idea. Certainly this bridge and Melbourne Park would make up the central part of hosting any Olympic Games or any part of a bid that Melbourne made. But before we launch what is ultimately a very expensive, involved and costly exercise I think it is worth exploring that a bit further.

There is no doubt that Melbourne would be well placed in terms of its sporting facilities to host the Olympic Games, but it comes at an extraordinary cost, and on an initial viewing you would find it very hard to justify the billions of dollars that would have to be spent for Melbourne to host the Olympic Games considering the transport crisis that we are in and the demand for infrastructure that we need. Justifying the expenditure of that amount of money would be difficult.

Look, I love the Olympic Games; I think they are fantastic. Even though they have probably been taken over a bit by corporate sponsorship — I think McDonald's and Coca-Cola are two of its biggest corporate sponsors — and certainly there are a number of issues with the Olympic movement, the games are athletics at their best. Before we place a bid for the Olympic Games, as has been suggested by the Lord Mayor, we have to ask five questions.

The first question is: what purpose would hosting the Olympic Games serve? What justification can we have for spending significant amounts of money on it. Rio and Beijing, which have hosted the games, are in developing countries. They were probably looking for a chance to put themselves on show to the rest of the world. I thought the London games were good for bringing what is a fragmented country together. We would really have to look very hard to find a legitimate purpose for why we would go through the exercise of bidding for and potentially hosting the Olympic Games.

The second thing we would need to look at is getting at the Olympic Games to turn a profit. A number of cities have suffered severe financial loss because of the Olympic Games, some into the long term. I think only the Los Angeles games in 1984 actually managed to turn a profit. You have to look beyond the sorts of cost-benefit analyses that we use to justify the grand prix, such as for every dollar spent we make X amount of dollars. I think if any city is going to host the Olympic Games, it needs to turn a profit or at least break even. I am talking about the money spent on infrastructure, sporting venues, hosting the games and security compared with the money that actually comes in from revenue, sponsorship, ticket sales and TV rights. It needs to be able to turn a profit or at least break even.

Thirdly, you would need to look at integrity and you would need to be satisfied of the integrity in the governance of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and sporting bodies, the drug testing regime, our own sporting bodies and the bidding process — I think we got burnt when we bid for the FIFA World Cup.

There have been some investigations into the Tokyo 2020 bidding process. The IOC as an organisation is opaque and badly in need of reform. We have seen after the games the Australian Olympic Committee and the Australian Sports Commission at loggerheads, and given the amount of funding we are putting into elite sport, that is completely unacceptable. You would need to be satisfied that the integrity of the governance of the entire Olympic Games process is up to scratch.

Fourthly, you would need to find a way to ensure that, if you are hosting the Olympic Games, there is an expectation, as there was with Sydney, to invest substantially in elite sports to get that medal tally up. I know there is a wider debate on whether we should be doing that, but certainly if you were to host the Olympic Games, you would expect the dollars to flow. You would need to make sure that there is at least some link between money that flows into elite sports and winning medals, and that that is reflected in somehow increasing community participation in sport. There is a wider debate between elite sports and community sports, but we would need to draw that link if we were to justify the substantial investments that would be required to lift the home nation and lift our athletes to be appropriately placed to compete successfully at our own games.

Finally, you would need to ask: what legacy would the games leave? — and not just with shiny new sports stadiums and upgraded facilities. Obviously you would need significant investment in transport infrastructure. Richmond station was built for the 1956 games. You would need to look at what transport infrastructure legacy would be left but also what other social legacy the games would leave. Rio pushed a very strong message of peace and climate change. When Melbourne hosted the Commonwealth Games in 2006 I think, perhaps rather cynically, temporary accommodation was provided to homeless people to, in effect, get them off the streets. About 100-odd units from the Commonwealth Games athletes village were provided for social housing. I think we would need to go a lot further than that. Perhaps if we were to justify bidding for the hosting of the Olympic Games we could use those games as a catalyst for social change and for solving the homelessness problem in Victoria. They would be the five tests I would put before we embark on what is an extremely involved and costly exercise in bidding for the hosting of the Olympic Games.

The Greens will be supporting this bill. The bridge I think is a welcome addition to the sporting precinct and to Birrarung Marr and that connection, as other speakers have said, between the sporting precinct and the CBD, although we are very disappointed with the lack of consultation and the disregarding of the views of the traditional owners that should have been warranted, given that they have put in that threshold statement. We really do hope that, having raised these issues, those matters can be rectified before this bill gets debated in the upper house.

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Sam Hibbins MP
Member for Prahran
2 September 2016




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