Land release ridiculed

Blocks of land at Officer, which is one of Cardinia's fastest growing suburbs.

By Rowan Forster and Kyra Gillespie

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy’s bid to release 290,000 lots for new homes in Melbourne’s fringes – including Cardinia – has been ridiculed, amid concerns the region’s infrastructure is already crippling under rapid population growth.

It comes on top of the enormous Pakenham East development – rezoned from Green Wedge by Mr Guy when he was Planning Minister – which will see the construction of 7100 dwellings and accommodate more than 20,000 people.

The Victorian Liberal head has also come under fire for hypocrisy, telling the Gazette several weeks ago that the region has grown too quickly.

“Melbourne cannot continue growing at this pace until our roads, transport and services infrastructure catches up,” Mr Guy said at the time.

“We are spending more time at work, more time stuck in traffic and less time with family and friends.”

Speaking at a Housing Industry Association breakfast at Crown Casino last week, Mr Guy seemingly changed his tune, spruiking his proposed release of land as a way to improve housing affordability.

“This is about flushing the market with land,” he said.

“The current government’s inaction has resulted in huge inequities where, due to land prices, a starter house-and-land package 50 kilometres from the CBD has jumped from around $400,000 to $550,000.”

The plot is dependent on Mr Guy emerging victorious in November’s state election.

Housing Minister Martin Foley said Mr Guy’s back flipping has made him – and his party – appear untrustworthy.

“Who could believe a word Matthew Guy says when it comes to planning,“ Mr Foley said.

“This is the man that brought us Fishermans Bend, Ventnor, shonky dealings and secret meetings with developers in return for political donations.

“And now supposedly we are to believe that after four years of inaction when he was in government, we’re meant to believe that suddenly all is forgiven.”

Casey and Cardinia land prices have continued to skyrocket, becoming the most expensive of any of Melbourne’s growth suburbs.

Cardinia recorded a median land price of $344,000 – an astonishing 41.2 per cent increase since March 2017.

Parklea manager of sales Jarod Mills said the increase in price has been driven by a lack of available land, indicating Mr Guy’s new stance will reduce prices for buyers.

“Casey and Cardinia combined used to contribute around 35-40 per cent of land sales in the growth corridor, however recent data shows that this now only attributes 15 per cent,” he said.

However, for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle lifestyle of Melbourne’s inner-suburbs, the pledge is unsettling.Fiona Clarke, who has lived in Pakenham for nearly two years, said she initially made the move for a “relaxed“ lifestyle.“You move to Pakenham thinking you’re going to escape the congestion and traffic, but it was too good to be true,“ she said.

“It still feels like I’m living in Prahan on a lot of days.“

Federal counterpart, Latrobe MP Jason Wood, has also expressed concerns about releasing further land in Cardinia due to the impact it would have on congestion.

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