I wish to indicate to the house from the outset that the government will not
oppose this reference going to the Law Reform Committee. However, in saying that
I would like to place a couple of points on the record. The memorandum of
understanding (MOU) between Victoria Police, the Department of Sustainability
and Environment and AquaSure is about protecting public and worker safety while
this important water project is being constructed. Victorians expect the police
to be prepared, they expect workers and the public to be protected, and they
expect major projects such as the desalination plant to be properly managed in
the event of many things, protests included.
The MOU formalises the exchange of information to manage these
When they have such information the police may warn AquaSure
that activists intend to protest and trespass. Anyone knows that any MOU cannot
override things such as the Privacy Act or the Police Regulation Act; personal
information about individuals is protected.
MOUs apply to the Sugarloaf pipeline project as well as
forestry projects, and similar arrangements are also in place for critical
infrastructure such as power stations where police will inform operators of
threats to supply. The MOUs are entered into by Victoria Police at a regional
The reality is that the desalination plant, including the
pipeline and power supply is a very large construction project and will assist
in securing our water supply. It stretches over 87 kilometres — that is, 84
kilometres in pipeline and 87 kilometres in power.
The government believes it is critically important that police
are regularly updated on what is happening on the project and whether there are
any incidents on site. Having made those points, I wish the committee well in
its future deliberations.