Thursday, 21 March 2024

Questions without notice and ministers statements

Renewable energy infrastructure

Melina BATH, Jaclyn SYMES

Renewable energy infrastructure

Melina BATH (Eastern Victoria) (12:38): (483) My question is to the Attorney. Minister, why has your government removed the rights of primary producers to challenge energy projects on their land in VCAT and forced them to now go to the Supreme Court?

Jaclyn Symes: Ms Bath, you might want to direct that to the Minister for Agriculture. It is a common misconception that all laws and all legal matters are a matter for the Attorney-General, but in this instance that is not my view of the question that you have asked.

Melina BATH: On a point of order, President, the minister is the chief lawmaker. It is her job to protect people’s rights. The action that your government is doing is eroding their rights. I call you to actually answer this question.

The PRESIDENT: The minister has said under the executive orders this particular issue does not fall under her administration, and I believe she has offered, because she is representing the minister who represents the Minister for Agriculture, for someone who represents the minister to pass it on to that minister to get an answer.

Melina BATH: I am happy to rephrase that. Minister, what are you doing to ensure that sufficient resources will be in place to cope with the increasing demand of Supreme Court cases as farmers and primary producers now take their objections to the Supreme Court as you have removed their rights through VCAT?

Jaclyn SYMES (Northern Victoria – Attorney-General, Minister for Emergency Services) (12:40): I regularly consult with the courts in relation to their requests for resources. In relation to the budget, they are independent and make their own advances to Treasury, and CSV are responsible for that, not me.

Melina BATH (Eastern Victoria) (12:40): Noting that, was the government’s idea in relation to this removal of rights simply to clear the backlog of cases in VCAT?

Jaclyn SYMES (Northern Victoria – Attorney-General, Minister for Emergency Services) (12:41): What I might remark on, Ms Bath, is not so much the way that you have characterised your question, but in relation to the jurisdiction of VCAT, any changes to VCAT’s jurisdiction most recently have been the result of Commonwealth decisions in relation to the jurisdictional limitations of VCAT. I would like as many matters to be dealt with at VCAT as possible – because it is low cost, it is accessible et cetera – and we are looking at potential High Court action in relation to some of those matters. How that interacts with your question I am a little unclear. I will have a look at it because it is a matter that I am looking at more broadly in a policy sense, but not specifically motivated by the specifics of your question.