Members Statement: Prahran Electorate

Mr HIBBINS (Prahran)  — I love living in the Prahran electorate. It has been my home for a decade now. Our shared commitment to values like diversity and equality is what makes it such a special place. When I was elected as one of the first Greens MPs in the lower house I had three local priorities: to make sure the new Prahran High School went ahead, and that is opening next year; to upgrade South Yarra station, which we finally got funding for this year, and we are still fighting for that connection with Melbourne Metro; and to care for people most in need, and our public housing tenants have now had their kinder upgraded and security doors installed on their homes.

In Parliament my Greens colleagues and I have fought and won on dying with dignity laws, a renewable energy target, a ban on fracking and better rights for renters. As a community we have achieved so much together, but there is still more to do: developing a long-term plan to transform public transport by investing in trains and trams rather than tollways; increasing renewable energy and cutting bills by putting solar and batteries on homes and schools; improving housing affordability by building more public housing, not selling it off; protecting our environment for future generations by ending logging of our native forests; and reducing waste. With your support we can do all this together, so I look forward to continuing to keep Prahran livable, holding the other parties to account and fighting for a future for all of us. Let's keep it going.

Could I just put on the record my sincere thanks to all my electorate staff in my office. They work really hard. They do a great job, and I want to put on the record my sincere thanks to them.

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Members Statement: Community mental health services

Mr HIBBINS (Prahran)  — I rise to show my support for community mental health and for the Fund the Gap — Mental Health Matters! campaign being run the Australian Services Union. Community mental health services are so important to the Prahran electorate. We are a community for everyone that looks after people most in need. We have got two really important providers of mental health services in Prahran: Star Health, formerly Inner South Community Health, and UnitingCare, formerly Prahran Mission. We saw the results of what cuts to community mental health services can do with the recommissioning of mental health funding under the previous Liberal government, which resulted in funding cuts and the closure of the Prahran Mission drop-in centre on Chapel Street, something that is still raised with me by former clients of the centre.

Community mental health services play a critical role in providing services to people experiencing mental illness in our community. They are an effective early intervention to ensure people do not end up in crisis at hospital, in the justice system or homeless. Many people in the Prahran electorate who need these services will not be eligible for national disability insurance scheme funding, meaning they will fall through the cracks if the state government rips $75 million away from community mental health. Prahran is a community that cares about people in need, and I urge the state government to fund the gap in community mental health services and work with our fantastic community mental health workers and services to ensure they can continue to meet the needs of people experiencing mental illness in our community.

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Transport Legislation Amendment (Better Roads Victoria and Other Amendments) Bill 2018

Mr HIBBINS (Prahran)  — I rise to speak on behalf of the Greens to the Transport Legislation Amendment (Better Roads Victoria and Other Amendments) Bill 2018. This bill covers a range of areas, primarily looking at the funding of roads, particularly in rural and suburban interface areas. There are some changes to how interlock devices are administered and a number of other administrative and technical amendments that I will address.

I will focus on the roads funding part of it first. Essentially we have got an existing Better Roads Victoria trust account that is used for road funding. This bill will formalise that payments going into that account will be fines from speed cameras and, I believe, other road offences. This bill will add some additional specifications as to where those funds go. There is a section in there providing that funds must be used for the repair and upgrade of roads in outer suburban interface communities, roads and level crossings in rural and regional Victoria and roads and level crossings in metropolitan areas in Victoria. There is an additional requirement on what percentage of those funds need to be spent on both rural and regional roads and interface and outer suburban roads, which has been given as 33 per cent for each, with the balance, I think, to be at the discretion of the government. The opposition has circulated an amendment saying that that should be boosted to 40 per cent. The member for Broadmeadows has said, 'Hey look, we are overcommitting. This is not just a set figure. We are actually overcommitting to that'. But it does look like they are putting into it because perhaps this government or governments cannot trust themselves to actually spend the money required in those outer suburbs and rural and regional Victoria, which is a bit of a shame because much of the urban growth and urban sprawl has been in outer suburbs.

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Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill 2018

Mr HIBBINS (Prahran) — I rise today to speak on the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill 2018 and I am very, very pleased to see that this bill has come before this house before the end of this term of Parliament. I was not sure if we would get there in the end but we have, which is great. The commitment was made, I think, some time ago during the Northcote by-election, so I am glad to see that this bill has been brought before this Parliament before the end of its term. Hopefully, should it pass this house, it will pass through the other place as well, but I know they have got a big backlog of bills to get through.

The reason I want to speak on this bill is that it is important to many people within the Prahran electorate. This bill will have a positive impact on renters in the Prahran electorate. I know that 60 per cent of people in the Prahran electorate are living in rental accommodation. I think that is the highest proportion of any electorate in the state. Improving the rights of renters is absolutely critical to keeping Prahran livable. The reality is that long-term renting and renting for life are a reality these days, notwithstanding that renting is always going to be an important part of someone's life before they own their own home, which of course because of poor housing affordability is more and more out of reach.

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Adjournment matter: Public Transport

Mr HIBBINS (Prahran)  —  My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Public Transport, and the action I seek is for the minister to put in place a long-term plan to transform our ageing, unreliable public transport network into a reliable, frequent, high-capacity system. I enjoyed debating with the minister at the Melbourne town hall the other day, so what I am about to say probably will not come as much of a surprise, but the reality is at this moment this government does not have a transport plan, and in fact we have not had a transport plan for many years. The absence of such a plan is why we are seeing these mega toll roads like the West Gate tunnel, which is only there for Transurban. We see these pop up and we have at times just piecemeal investment in other forms.

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Constituency question: Pigeon Infestation

MR HIBBINS (Prahran) —  My constituency question is for the Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing, and it concerns the ongoing pigeon infestation problems at the Horace Petty public housing estate in Prahran and in particular in this instance at the TRY South Yarra Preschool. The pigeon issue has always been a problem but has gotten significantly worse and is causing considerable distress to children and their carers. Staff are reporting that the pigeons are harassing kids, jumping on their lunch boxes, trying to eat the food that the children are holding in their hands and pecking at their legs. Having lunch or morning tea outdoors is now sadly an incredibly stressful time for these kids.

I have regularly raised the issue of pigeon infestation across public housing estates in the Prahran electorate, and whilst in response there has been some funding provided for some cleaning and some pigeon spikes, I now ask: what will the government do to fix the problem of pigeon infestation at the TRY South Yarra Preschool? Enough is enough; this problem needs to be solved.

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Homelessness Week

MR HIBBINS (Prahran)  — Yesterday morning I enjoyed breakfast, a coffee and a chat with locals at Uniting Prahran Mission on Chapel Street as part of their winter breakfast, where they serve a free hot breakfast throughout winter. I certainly agree with one attendee I was chatting to that it is one of Melbourne's best breakfasts, so thank you to everyone for their company yesterday morning and well done to the staff, volunteers and clients of Uniting for being such an important part of our community.

I attended there as part of Homelessness Week. Given it is Homelessness Week, it is really important to reaffirm that it is absolutely critical that we fix the housing crisis by building more public housing and supporting people to maintain their tenancies as well as other measures to fix the housing crisis, such as giving renters better rights and ending those unfair tax breaks like negative gearing that make housing unaffordable.

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Members Statement: Homelessness

Mr HIBBINS (Prahran)  — Today was another freezing morning. In fact it has been one of the coldest starts to Melbourne's winter in 36 years. I want to take up one of the boldest ideas that came from the audience at my recent Homelessness Action forum. I call on the government to provide immediate relief to every person sleeping rough in Melbourne this winter. If New Zealand can do it, we can do it for three months during one of Melbourne's coldest winters.

I want to thank everyone who turned out to the forum. It was a big turnout that really showed that our community cares, sees the rise in homelessness and wants to take action. We heard from experts and from people who have experienced homelessness: Maurya Bourandanis from Voices of the South Side, Lucy Adams from Justice Connect, Cr Kat Copsey from the City of Port Phillip and Dr Sam Ratnam, the Leader of the Victorian Greens. We heard a range of solutions from prevention to building more social housing — not selling it off, as the minister wants to do — and making sure that we have support services to meet people's needs. Of course we also heard about the power of community — making sure we see people who are experiencing homelessness as part of our community, not separate from our community, and making sure we build those important connections to support each other.

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Electoral Legislation Amendment Bill 2018

Mr HIBBINS (Prahran)  — I rise to speak on behalf of the Greens on the Electoral Legislation Amendment Bill 2018. This bill has been a long time coming, and I am going to particularly focus on the donations reform part of this bill. It has not been canvassed that much by previous speakers, but I am sure I will be able to make up for that in my contribution, because donations reform comes after a long time over which the Greens have been calling for reform, particularly in Victoria, where we have some of the weakest laws in the country. In fact one could almost say we have no laws, given that we have simply been relying on the weak federal donations laws.

This reform is really important because it goes to the heart of the integrity of our political system, the integrity of our democracy and the core principle that we should be here acting in the public interest and for the public good and should not be seen to have conflicts of interest where there are favours or special deals for vested interests or for those who fund our political campaigns — that is, where there is a blatant conflict of interest between politicians or a political party and the donations they receive, which are often from highly regulated industries. I am referring specifically to property developers, to the gambling industry and to energy companies, where often with just the stroke of a pen the government can make a decision that affects their profits.

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Constituency question: South Yarra Primary pedestrian crossing

Mr HIBBINS (Prahran) — My constituency question is for the Minister for Roads and Road Safety, and I ask: will funding from the school area safety initiative announced in this year’s budget be allocated to fix the South Yarra Primary School crossing at Punt Road? Parents have regularly raised this dangerous crossing with the government over a number of years — a crossing that was made worse by its botched relocation by the former government. Through my campaign to fix local pedestrian crossings, the minister would have received almost a hundred letters from parents calling for it to be fixed before a serious accident happens. In his most recent answer to my question about the crossing, the minister stated that as a result of the road safety audit VicRoads notified the maintenance team to install a different colour tactile ground surface indicator as the need arises. Well, I would say the need is there. The question now is: will this occur? I am also advised that there is no crossing supervisor at Punt Road and Commercial Road, which is a busy intersection. If this is the case, will funding be provided for that?

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