NEW Minister for Planning says State Government will not protect Macedon Ranges before the state election
Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 Is out-of-date, old-fashioned
First published 30 Oct 2014 by the Macedon Ranges Residents' Association (MRRA) on www.mrra.asn.au.
(30/10/14 - SP) MRRA: If the government now thinks SPP8 – the policy it promised to retain – is so out-of-date, so old-fashioned, it's the fault of the government which has had 4 years to fix it, and honour its election promise to put it in place as State policy. Red Alerts Say No To Suburbia Noticeboard
When elected in 2010, the State government promised to protect Macedon Ranges by reconfirming the 40 year policy – Statement of Planning Policy No. 8, Macedon Ranges and Surrounds – as State planning policy.
Before, and many times since that election, the Minister for Planning has repeatedly publicly stated the government would deliver its promise and protect Macedon Ranges.
Last Tuesday (28/10/14), on ABC Radio 774 (Jon Faine show), the Minister for Planning revealed the State government will not keep its promise to protect Macedon Ranges with State policy unless it is re-elected at the State election, now four weeks away.
Listen to the Minister's response to a caller's questions by clicking on the link (starts at 21.57 minutes into the discussion):
https://soundcloud.com/774-abc-melbourne/matthew-guy-on-mornings-with-jon-faine-1 (right click and open in new tab)
The Minister additionally said (mirroring Macedon Ranges Council's argument) that Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 – Macedon Ranges and Surrounds (introduced by the the Hamer government in 1975) is out-of-date and old-fashioned. He said references obsolete planning schemes and policies, and it needs to be 'contemporised' – it couldn't be used in its current form as State policy.
Although Macedon Ranges Shire Council has produced a draft Localised Planning Statement which is not Statement of Planning Policy No. 8, and introduces different policy settings for the Shire, the Minister said Council had produced a document which fulfilled the government's commitment. He attributed the delay in introducing State policy to an "on-going blue" between the local community (i.e. MRRA) and Council, and pledged the State government would act as mediator in the next round of consultation, if re-elected, ensuring neither party took the lead.
When challenged that failure to deliver State policy and Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 is a broken promise, he told the caller "you need to have a conversation with your Council instead of blaming others for your own fights".
At this late stage, for a government that vowed it would protect Macedon Ranges with Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 as State policy, to now say that policy isn't right, and blame the community for the government's failure to deliver, is a cowardly act, and deplorable.
The government has had four (4) years to get this right. Before the 2010 election, the government didn't say it would protect Macedon Ranges if re-elected for a second term. It didn't have issues with Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 when it promised to reinstate it as State policy, and only identifies these now, four weeks from the next election.
To anyone who has attended recent Council meetings, discussion of Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 in terms of "old" and "old-fashioned" will sound familiar, as will the need to "contemporise" its language. Modern policy uses "encourage" and "limit" but Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 is strong policy that says what it means using old-fashioned "shall" and "must" language. This policy, which fits on 2 double-sided A4 pages, has safeguarded Macedon Ranges for 40 years. It's the policy we were promised as State policy and, with such endorsement, can stand alone without reliance on other documents.
The Minister says Council's Localised Planning Statement delivers the government's commitment. But it doesn't. It only "retains" about half of Statement of Planning Policy No. 8's policy, and then only applies that to an area not much more than a quarter of the existing Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 policy area, leaving Woodend, Gisborne, Riddells Creek, Romsey and Lancefield unprotected. SPP8 protects these towns and other areas, Council's LPS doesn't.
It is quite wrong for the government to shift responsibility for its failure to provide the protection it promised to a "blue" between Macedon Ranges Council and a single community group. Doing so fails to recognise that protecting Macedon Ranges and keeping it a rural Shire is a whole-of-community concern. It also overlooks the 3,000 signature petition calling for Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 to be reinstated as State policy handed to the (now) Minister in 2010; the recent 6,000 signature petition calling for Hanging Rock to be protected; and the +80% of 1,100 respondents to a recent survey who said the most important issue is protecting Macedon Ranges' environment and rural character. Any "blue" in this case should have been between a State government committed to Statement of Planning Policy No. 8, and a Council committed to getting rid of it. The State government instead appears to be favouring Council's position over the community's position.
Since Council adopted its deficient Localised Planning Statement on September 24, MRRA has made numerous requests to the Minister and local politicians for meetings and information about where the government stood on protection, the most recent on 27/10/14 to the Minister for Planning; Donna Petrovich (Liberal candidate for Macedon); and Amanda Millar, Wendy Lovell and Damian Drum (Liberal Upper House representatives for Northern Victoria Region).
From 24 September, Amanda Millar alone responded to MRRA but the information we sought was finally obtained, not by responses to our requests, but from ABC's radio call-in discussion. Two emails to Donna Petrovich requesting a meeting with her went unanswered. In contrast, Mary Anne Thomas (Labor candidate for Macedon) recently met with MRRA.
By breaking its promise, the government has failed the Macedon Ranges' and Victorian community, and opened the door for an already out-of-control Macedon Ranges Council to approve all manner of new development that permanently damages Macedon Ranges' environment and landscape. Council's confidence in having such endorsement is already evident in its latest proposal to carve up the south of this Shire into 4ha and 2ha lots and, without the State policy protection the government pledged, it won't stop there.