Matthew Guy

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The Honourable
Matthew Guy
MP
41st Leader of the Opposition of Victoria
Incumbent
Assumed office
4 December 2014
Premier Daniel Andrews
Preceded by Daniel Andrews
Member of the Victorian Legislative Assembly
for Bulleen
Incumbent
Assumed office
29 November 2014
Preceded by Nicholas Kotsiras
Minister for Planning
In office
2 December 2010 – 4 December 2014
Premier Ted Baillieu
Denis Napthine
Preceded by Justin Madden
Succeeded by Richard Wynne
Member of the Victorian Legislative Council
In office
25 November 2006 – 28 November 2014
Personal details
Born (1974-03-06) 6 March 1974 (age 40)
Greensborough, Victoria
Political party Liberal Party of Australia
Alma mater La Trobe University
Religion Presbyterian[1][2]

Matthew Jason Guy (born 6 March 1974) is an Australian politician, and a member of the Victorian Legislative Assembly for the Liberal Party. He is the current Leader of the Victorian Parliamentary Liberal Party, and therefore Leader of the Opposition, in the State of Victoria.

Background[edit]

Matthew Guy was the Liberal candidate for Yan Yean in the 2002 Victorian State Election but was not elected. At the 2006 Victorian State Election he succeeded as the top candidate on the Liberal ticket for the Northern Metropolitan Region in the Victorian Upper House after which he was soon appointed the then Shadow Minister for Planning.

Guy was re-elected at the 2010 Victorian State Election and was subsequently appointed as Planning Minister.

Prior to entering parliament Matthew Guy was a Ministerial advisor to former Liberal Premier Jeff Kennett and to the Assistant Federal Treasurer, Senator Rod Kemp. He was also the Chief of Staff to Dr Denis Napthine during his period as Opposition Leader.

He has also worked for the Victorian Farmers Federation and for the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and is a member of the St Kilda Saints the South Sydney Rabbitohs, Radio 3RRR and the National Trust of Victoria.

Matthew Guy is married with three children. He is of Ukrainian descent; his mother's family left the Soviet Union in 1949.[3]

In 2014 he successfully contested the Legislative Assembly seat of Bulleen.

Guy was elected as Leader of the Liberal Party in a leadership ballot contested on 4 December 2014, making him Leader of the Opposition.[4]

Planning controversies[edit]

Ventnor land rezoning[edit]

In September 2011 Matthew Guy, overruled Bass Coast Shire and rezoned a 5.7-hectare farming property at Ventnor, Phillip Island, from farmland into the township making it available for development.[5] The rezoning decision was unpopular with one hundred submissions calling for the town boundaries to be retained while only one submission from the developers supporting the rezoning.[5] Opposition to the rezoning included American singer, Miley Cyrus who tweeted to her 2.5 million followers that “Phillip Island is such a magical place, it would be a shame to see it change".[6]

Days later, Guy reversed his decision, advising the Bass Coast Mayor, Veronica Dowman, that he had changed his mind.[7] It is believed that Guy succumbed to backroom pressure from Liberal heavy-weights (including local federal Liberal MP Greg Hunt, Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu and his deputy, Louise Asher) when he back-flipped on his original decision to rezone the land.[8] The developer behind the rezoning, Ms Carley Nicholls, claims to have received a favourable hearing from Matthew Guy when she briefed him on the scheme at a “kitchen table meeting” in her home months before he controversially approved it.[9] Nicholls purchased the property based on the rezoning decision and subsequently sought to sue Mr Guy and have his original rezoning decision reinstated.[9] In defence Guy stated in court documents, that he acted in error in rezoning the land but had relied on the advice of ministerial staff. He says he overturned his decision after learning that the Bass Coast Shire Council opposed the extension of town boundaries at Ventnor. Guy denied discussing the Ventnor project with Ms Nicholls or even knowing of her interest in the property.[9]

Legal proceedings terminated in August 2013 with a multimillion-dollar out-of-court settlement with taxpayers footing the bill.[10][11] In October 2013, the Victorian ombudsman George Brouwer decided to launch an investigation to address Guy's decision to rezone the Ventnor site, against the original advice of his department, the department's lawyers, the local Bass Coast shire and an independent planning panel.[10][12]

In early 2014, Guy overruled his department to block the release of Freedom of Information documents about the botched rezoning of farmland on Phillip Island.[13] In March 2014, Mr Brouwer found that Mr Guy was ultimately responsible for the rezoning decision and that he had refused to hand over important documents requested as part of his investigation[14] However, Mr Brouwer also found that Guy was unaware that his advisers were acting his name when asking for the planning department to change its advice.[14]

High-rise building approvals[edit]

In March 2013, Guy announced that he had approved plans for the tallest tower in the southern hemisphere - Australia 108 - with a height of 388 metres, 90 metres higher than Eureka Tower.[15] This approval drew criticism from the Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle who is concerned the building would cast a shadow over the Shrine of Remembrance and from planning academic, Professor Michael Buxton, who referred to Guy as “Mr Skyscraper.”[15][16] In June 2014, Australia 108 was approved for a second time with a height reduction after Fairfax Media revealed the building violated federal air safety regulations for Essendon Airport.[17]

Prior to Australia 108, Guy issued 19 other approvals for tower projects in Melbourne and inner suburbs ranging from 19 to 71 storeys high and rezoned land at Fishermans Bend, Footscray and North Melbourne for high-rise development.[15] This is despite Coalition policy to create a central planning body to be responsible for all developments within the City of Melbourne that exceed 25,000 square metres.[18]

On the other hand, Guy did intervene and stop an 88-metre apartment tower at 35 Albert Road by imposing height controls. Doing so protected the views to the bay enjoyed by some of Melbourne's richest business people, including active Liberal Party supporters, MP Andrea Coote and former Howard minister Peter Reith who live in a nearby tower.[15]

In June 2014 Guy approved a 75-level tower at 452 Elizabeth Street and a 54-storey building at 84-90 Queensbridge Street providing homes for 4000 people.[17] Opposition planning spokesman Brian Tee said the minister, by approving so many skyscrapers so quickly for Melbourne's CBD, was displaying "a complete disregard for the impact these developments are going to have" over a 15- or 20-year period.[17]

Wind farm laws[edit]

Prior to the 2010 State election, the then Liberal National opposition announced plans to restrict wind farm developments across Victoria, within two kilometres of homes and in the vicinity of regional towns. On 29 August 2011, Minister Guy delivered on this commitment through approval of Amendment VC82 to the Victoria Planning Provisions, prohibiting new wind turbines within two kilometres of homes unless there is written consent from the homeowner.[19] VC82 also introduced no-go zones for wind farms in the Yarra Valley, Dandenong Ranges, Mornington Peninsula, Bellarine Peninsula, Great Ocean Road region, the Macedon and McHarg Ranges, and the Bass Coast.[20][21]

The Coalition government has been criticised for offering little in the way of explanation for no-go zones, the locations of which align with announced projects, extended family members of the former Premier, and land owned by Liberal Party heavyweights.[22] The new planning laws have been criticised by academics on the basis that they: entrench fossil fuel generation in the state, make it harder for Victoria to move towards renewable energy, put local above global concerns and treat wind as more dangerous than coal.[23] Industry has also expressed concern about impact of the wind laws on jobs and investment, as has the State opposition.[24] Wind turbine tower manufacturer, Keppel Prince has threatened to move parts of the business interstate.[25] The Clean Energy Council said the change would cost hundreds of new jobs in regional areas and drive $3.6 billion of investment away from Victoria.[26][27] Pacific Hydro stated that they are not looking at new greenfield developments in Victoria and Windlab Systems stated that the Government’s planning laws had "gone too far" and the company was moving all staff to Canberra.[27][28]

It was reported that the former Premier, Ted Baillieu’s office had a direct role in preparing the wind farm planning laws for Guy’s implementation.[22] Baillieu has opposed wind energy since the early 2000s raising concerns about the approval of projects at Portland in western Victoria and the Bald Hills proposal in Gippsland. He has referred to wind turbines as “towering triffids” and referred to then Premier Bracks as a “coastal vandal” and as someone who avoided visiting the Toora wind farm out of fear of being “lynched”.[29][30]

On 6 March 2013 Denis Napthine became Premier of Victoria. Denis Napthine's electorate is home to the largest wind farm in the southern hemisphere[31] and also hosts wind turbine tower manufacturer Keppel Prince.[32] Napthine has indicated there would be no change to Guy’s wind energy planning laws,[33] despite the significant economic benefits to the Premier’s electorate and the current Premier’s personal admiration of wind turbines.[34] Bloomberg New Energy Finance has stated that the wind laws “could push up the price of electricity for consumers by around $2 billion. This is because the Victorian laws essentially will make it harder and more expensive to build renewable energy.”[35]

In July 2014, Guy announced a small adjustment to the planning laws allowing existing wind farm permits to be amended, which may assist with upgrading turbine technology.[36]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Q: What do these MPs have in common? A: They are out and proud atheists
  2. ^ The circling has started as Libs look at leaders
  3. ^ The Age, 3 March 2013, accessed 3 March 2013
  4. ^ "Matthew Guy defeats Michael O’Brien in Liberal leadership ballot". Herald Sun. 4 December 2014. 
  5. ^ a b "Coastal Council minister at odds" in The Age, 16 September 2011
  6. ^ "Miley add anger to Phillip Islanders' fury" in The Age, 21 September 2011
  7. ^ "Planning minister reverses Ventnor zoning decision", ABC, 22 September 2011. Retrieved 4 February 2014
  8. ^ "Minister sued for planning backflip", in The Age, 20 January 2012
  9. ^ a b c "The minister, the landowner and the rezoning backflip that is heading to court", in The Age, 26 June 2013
  10. ^ a b "Watchdog to probe Guy's botched land rezoning", in The Age, 16 October 2013
  11. ^ "Taxpayers foot multimillion dollar legal bill after settlement in case against Liberal Planning Minister Matthew Guy", in The Herald Sun, 20 August 2013
  12. ^ The Victorian Ombudsman https://www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au/About/The-Victorian-Ombudsman
  13. ^ "Planning Minister Matthew Guys blocks the release of Ventnor rezoning documents", in The Age, 20 January 2014
  14. ^ a b "Ombudsman slams government over its botched Phillip Island Ventnor rezoning", in The Age, 27 March 2014. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
  15. ^ a b c d "Planning expert blasts legacy of Mr Skyscraper" in The Age, 19 March 2013
  16. ^ "The Sydney Morning Herald" Mr Skyscraper should try to keep his feet on the ground 6 April 2013
  17. ^ a b c The Age "Matthew Guy approves thousands more appartments for Melbourne CBD" http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/matthew-guy-approves-thousands-more-apartments-for-melbourne-cbd-20140626-zsm1p.html 26 June 2014. Retrieved 26 June 2014
  18. ^ The Victorian Liberal Nationals Coalition Plan for Planning http://images.theage.com.au/file/2010/11/18/2051811/VictorianLiberalNationalsCoalitionPlan_planning.pdf Retrieved 30 March 2014
  19. ^ Media Release. Premier of Victoria "Coalition restores community’s rights on wind farm planning", 29 August 2011
  20. ^ Advisory Note 47, Department of Planning and Community Development, July 2012
  21. ^ Victoria Planning Provisions, Retrieved 14 March 2014
  22. ^ a b "Against the Wind", in The Age, 31 March 2012
  23. ^ "Regulating wind farms out of Victoria", The Conversation, 7 September 2011
  24. ^ Brian Tee Media Release, 19 September 2011
  25. ^ "Portland's Keppel Prince fears wind farm changes", in The Standard, 31 August 2011 30 March 2014
  26. ^ "Baillieu's Wind Farm Crackdown", in The Age, 30 August 2011
  27. ^ a b Friends of the Earth - What is the real cost of Ted Baillieu’s wind energy policy? Retrieved 30 March 2014
  28. ^ Australian Broadcasting Commission 17 "The World Today", February 2012
  29. ^ Parliament of Victoria Hansard, 26 August 2004
  30. ^ Parliament of Victoria Hansard, 27 August 2003
  31. ^ Macarthur Wind Farm http://www.agl.com.au/about-agl/how-we-source-energy/renewable-energy/macarthur-wind-farm
  32. ^ Keppel Prince http://www.keppelprince.com/
  33. ^ "Napthine happy with wind farm regulations", in Climate Spectator, 15 April 2013
  34. ^ "I love them but we can't have them everywhere. Premier on Wind Farms", in The Sydney Morning Herald 12 April 2013
  35. ^ Australian Broadcasting Commission - "The World Today", 17 February 2012
  36. ^ Weekly Times 23 July 2014. Wind companies question planning office response http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/news/politics/wind-companies-question-planning-office-response/story-fnkerdda-1226997709510 Retrieved 26 July 2014.
Victorian Legislative Assembly
Preceded by
Nicholas Kotsiras
Member for Bulleen
2014–present
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
Justin Madden
Minister for Planning
2010–2014
Succeeded by
Richard Wynne
Preceded by
Daniel Andrews
Leader of the Opposition of Victoria
2014–present
Incumbent
Party political offices
Preceded by
Denis Napthine
Leader of the Liberal Party in Victoria
2014–present
Incumbent