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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Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 Is out-of-date, old-fashioned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

(30/10/14 - SP) MRRA: If the government now thinks SPP8 – the policy it promised to retain – is so out-of-date, so old-fashioned, it's the fault of the government which has had 4 years to fix it, and honour its election promise to put it in place as State policy.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): (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Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 – Macedon Ranges and Surrounds (introduced by the the Hamer government in 1975) is out-of-date and old-fashioned.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".

MRRA says:

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.

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Victoria has joined Tasmania as the only states where economic output per resident is shrinking. When account is taken of Victoria's strong population growth, economic output per resident shrank 0.2 per cent in 2012-13. So, without population growth artificially propping up our State's economy, we would fall into recession! Victoria's standard of living almost certainly fell in this period with flat-lining gross disposable income. Victoria now has the second lowest gross household disposable income per person in the nation, ahead of only Tasmania.

SMH:Economic output rates shrink in Victoria, Tasmania

When combined with Ford’s announced closure last year, with a total of 1,200 job losses expected in Geelong and Broadmeadows by 2016, as well as thousands of potential job losses in the Goulburn Valley region in the event that SPC Ardmona closes its operations, it is clear that Victorian manufacturing – once the mainstay of the state economy.

Over the past six years, Victoria’s economic model seems to have been built around endless population growth, with the state leading the nation.

Macrobusiness: Major employment shock coming to Victoria

Letter in The Age- 26th October

Leaders clueless

It is no wonder Lord Mayor Robert Doyle is encouraging population growth. It is the only economic input keeping the state and Melbourne, in particular, from sinking into recession. But population growth will not sustain Victoria. Eventually the added load on its underfunded and underplanned infrastructure will collapse and we will be in a highly perilous state, if we aren't already. The latest CommSec, State of the States, report paints a dismal picture for Victoria. Unemployment at a 10-year high, collapsing commercial and industrial investment and wages lagging behind inflation.

We need to be asking the parties what they plan to do to lift Victoria out of this tired and unsustainable population-driven economy. How will they create a sustainable economy with real wealth and employment growth? The problem is, our leaders and would-be leaders are very quiet regarding this debate because they don't have a clue.

Bernard Ellis, Windsor

The Age: letters

So, we are locked into an economic model based on never-ending growth, and no politician has the courage to bear the brunt of a circuit-breaker - into a recession! With housing the main economic activity, in Victoria, houses and towers must continually be built, even where there's no infrastructure, and the approval system continually deregulated and fast-tracked, to camouflage our economy's inherent weakness!

So, even an iconic, semi-rural area out of Melbourne such as the Macedon district can't be protected from over-development! The real estate Ponzi scheme consumes everything in it's wake, and can't be stopped by runaway housing growth!

The only way is out!

In response to Bernard Ellis's letter, I would say that our leaders are not clueless - except in the moral, long term, thermodynamic and philosophical sense - they are corrupt. They are getting something out of this growth, financially and in terms of power. Maybe some are being blackmailed to go along with it, or threatened with being dropped from the party. I guess there are a number who really are clueless - but they are not the leaders - they would be some of the members of parliament who simply follow, without actually understanding what is happening. I remember raising population with an MP on the Mornington Peninsula more than a decade ago, and he said, "Yes, I don't understand why we have to have population growth either. I wish someone would explain, but I know the party thinks we must.

Doesn't matter which politician or which party because all the parties seem to be dancing to related corporate incentives. The leaders of the parties are like executives implementing policies that further finances. And I don't think it's donations - the parties are corporatised themselves. The main political parties have huge financial investments in banking, land, mines etc and growth in demand via growth in population, grows the party finance and its influence. The hell with the voters. They are just a brand now, with little consumer power, moreover. I worked this out for Labor, (see Australian Labor Governments or Commercial Corporations?with help from other research, and I assume it is the same for the Libs and the Greens; I just don't have the data. If anyone does have data or useful theory, I'll publish it on candobetter (with the usual attention to defamation and documentation).

I quote Mencken.

“The state — or, to make matters more concrete, the government — consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. Their principal device to that end is to search out groups who pant and pine for something they can’t get, and to promise to give it to them. Nine times out of ten that promise is worth nothing. The tenth time it is made good by looting ‘A’ to satisfy ‘B’. In other words, government is a broker in pillage, and every election is a sort of advanced auction on stolen goods.”
? H.L. Mencken

Democracy is a system stale and tired. The idea is corrupted in the minds of people, so far gone that "Democracy" is considered to mean decency, support of the status quo, acceptance of the social norms pushed by the state and by media and rejection of new ideas and contrary thought. Democracy is no longer a process, an ideal, but a concrete thing, which even though harms and represses us, evades scrutiny and attack because it labels itself as "Democracy" and is therefore sacred.

In what Democracy would a nation of people, against their will, have their very homes sold off to Communist China?

In what Democracy would a nation of people be held as captives of a state, unable to scrutinise their government?

I think there is some wilful ignorance, in that it pays not to know, pays not to think. A thinking politician finds themselves in trouble, or alone. Kelvin Thompson has obviously thought about the issue of population and growth, and for that is alone in the party.

Off topic, I'd like to share this interesting link...