Archive:   MRRA Request For Ministers' Meeting 2006

Last Updated  21/3/07


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Government says Macedon Ranges already protected

Govt says Macedon Ranges already protected


MRRA request for meeting

MRRA request for meeting with State Govt.


Government Response

Planning Minister Hulls Puts Out Labor Planning Policy "Planning In Partnership With Local Communities" Mentions "Macedon"

BRACKS GOVERNMENT SAYS IT WON'T PROTECT MACEDON RANGES Nothing will save Macedon Ranges from becoming a suburb now


MRRA Response

Labor Says NO Again In Response To Liberal Protection Proposal

Joanne Duncan's Final Response Means Only One Thing:   A Vote For LABOR Is A Vote For SUBURBIA

MRRA responds to Bracks Government's advice that it won't be protecting Macedon Ranges


Planning Minister Hulls Puts Out Labor Planning Policy "Planning In Partnership With Local Communities"

(23/11/06 - P)  Mentions "Macedon"

Current Planning Minister Rob Hulls yesterday released a Labor planning policy which encompasses a variety of elements.  The policy doesn't seem to be on Labor's website yet but it can be accessed at Save Our Suburbs' website


On page 11 of the 20? page policy, there is a reference to... Macedon, as follows:


Build Thriving, Sustainable Regions and Towns


"3.Labor Will Support Regions Within Commuting Distance of Melbourne To Manage Growth


Labor will support strategic work to manage the pressures of growth in environmentally-sensitive and agricultural areas located near towns within commuting distance of Melbourne.  Priority areas include Seymour, Bacchus Marsh, Sunbury, Macedon, Warragul, the Yarra Valley and  Mornington Peninsula."


MRRA Says:

We couldn't find any other references but maybe you can.  We'll leave it to you to look at the policy and judge whether you think it would make a difference to Macedon Ranges.


There are some initiatives proposed (hurrying up the Department of Sustainability and Environment's response times (we know that one, we've waited a year for two amendments recently)), and judicial training for VCAT members, that respond to present difficulties and are welcome.  But they won't solve Macedon Ranges' problems.


Labor Says NO Again In Response To Liberal Protection Proposal:

(18/11/06 - SP)  Lies, Damned Lies and More Lies?


MRRA Says:


Here we go again... 


The Bracks government reacted as we've come to expect to yesterday's Liberal Party announcement that, in government, it would act quickly to put planning controls in place at State level to keep Macedon Ranges rural, and protect the area's State level environmental significance. 


Planning Minister Rob Hulls said, incredibly, that the Liberal plan offers less protection because the Liberals would scrap Melbourne 2030! (Herald Sun, 18/11/06).  What a joke.  While parts of 2030 were supposed to protect our catchments, rural land and focus growth in nominated towns, it has turned out to be a horror story, with the regional network corridor between Melbourne and Bendigo instead becoming a hell-for-leather suburban growth corridor (with growth and development driven by the Bracks government), and with those parts of 2030 that Melbourne hates (e.g. activity centres, jammed up and multi-storey development) floating to the top in Macedon Ranges as well.


As for the Minister's statement (Age, 18/11/06) that the Liberal plan would "open the floodgates for uncontrolled urban sprawl to the very foot of Mount Macedon and beyond"...  We have a NEWSFLASH for the Bracks Government: YOU HAVE ALREADY DONE THAT, and that's what is upsetting so many people.


Mr. Hulls went on to say "The Macedon Ranges are already named in the State planning policy, alongside the Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Valley, as an environmentally sensitive region with significant recreational value".   NEWSFLASH #2:  Tell us Mr. Hulls, just how do we put that single policy statement 'on the ground'?  HHmmm?  Those other places have the tools they need to IMPLEMENT that and other State policy, and they have their own rules.  Your government has given us nothing.  See comparison Yarra Ranges/Mornington Peninsula/Macedon Ranges.


The Bracks government hasn't delivered its own series of promises to protect Macedon Ranges and seems in such a state of denial it is spinnnnning uncontrollably to cover up its irresponsible abandonment of a State significant area.  Unbelievable.



“Labor will protect Melbourne’s green belts and sensitive areas such as the Dandenongs, Macedon Ranges and Mornington Peninsula” Labor Position Paper On Planning Policy, August 1998

Labor will make Macedon Ranges’ Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 a State Policy, Minister Thwaites, December, 1999

Bracks government is committed to protecting Macedon Ranges and will act, Minister Delahunty, April 2004



"Hundreds voice Macedon Ranges planning concerns" (16/9/04) and

"Meeting calls for limited Macedon Ranges development" (23/11/04)...  


NEWSFLASH #3:   We remember it... we remember it all too well.



Joanne Duncan's Final Response Means Only One Thing:   A Vote For LABOR Is A Vote For SUBURBIA

(14/11/06 - SP)  The opportunity was there to say 'yes', but Joanne Duncan confirms Bracks government still says 'no' to protecting Macedon Ranges


At last Thursday's Meet The Candidates Forum in Gisborne, MRRA reminded Joanne Duncan of some of what she said in parliament on 12 May 2004 (as recorded in Hansard):


"Planned and appropriate development that protects the unique character of our towns, appropriate densities and the protection of farmland are what is needed to make sure that the reasons we move to this area in the first place are preserved for future generations."  


"Macedon Ranges has always been seen as needing special protection.  Assistance to the council in preparing the strategic basis that would deliver this protection is needed.  I ask the minister to work with the council in bringing about this level of protection."


Given that the Bracks government's line since April 2005 has been that it won't help, and it is up to Council to do the work - and that Macedon Ranges is already protected - the questions MRRA asked of Joanne were: 'when did you change your mind, and why won't the Bracks government protect Macedon Ranges?'   Joanne's response went something like this:  It's up to Council to do the work, you wouldn't like it if the Minister told the Council what to do, MRRA is upset because it doesn't like these answers, the government is acting responsibly, Council is being consulted about the Bendigo Regional Plan.  As MRRA pointed out, the Bendigo Regional Plan has been 3 years in the making, and no-one in this community has ever been consulted about it. 


Most of Joanne's 6 minute speech was, disappointingly, a blur of figures supporting claims of Labor having delivered, with a hurried reference at the end to 'planning and climate change need consideration' the only recognition of major water and planning issues affecting the Shire.


MRRA Says:


The Bendigo plan isn't State level protection.  As far as we can tell, it's the government's Melbourne 2030 growth plan for the Bendigo (Calder) corridor.  MRRA's understanding is the plan contains (contained?) "accelerated growth rates", even higher than the inappropriately high growth rates released by the Department of Sustainability and Environment in 2004 (Victoria In Future). This plan certainly isn't the protection from too much growth and over-development the government promised us, or what MRRA, Council (2004) and the Macedon Ranges' community have been calling for, and Ms Duncan should know that.


Joanne should also know is that it isn't just MRRA that doesn't like the government's 'weasel-word' answers or the suburban invasion that is over-running Macedon Ranges under this government's watch.  Little wonder planning and climate change were added almost as an after-thought; there is no amount of spin that can cover-up the government's blatant broken promises on this one.  Never let it be said the government didn't have opportunities to deliver its promises, or wasn't given a chance to change its mind.  MRRA has tried for almost 3 years to get the government to make good its 1998, 1999 and 2004 promises to protect this environmentally sensitive, State significant area. 


It's not as if existing local members Joanne Duncan (Macedon), Geoff Howard (Ballarat East) and the government have never recognised the problem or never agreed with what MRRA is saying.  They have; that much is obvious from the Hansard extract and the promises/commitments the Bracks government has made.  They know Macedon Ranges needs strong protection to survive as an area of State significance.  The fact is, they've changed their minds.  


In 1998, MRRA met with John Thwaites who agreed to protection, and in 1999 agreed to include Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 - Macedon Ranges and Surrounds, as State policy.  In 2004 MRRA met with Planning Minister Mary Delahunty, who agreed to protection.  In 2005 MRRA met with Planning Minister Rob Hulls - our press release after that meeting summed up the Minister's backflip nicely: "No Money, No Help: Macedon Ranges You're On Your Own".   In September 2006 MRRA asked for a meeting with the Premier and Ministers for Planning and Environment.  The answer was NO: there will be no change to State policy, Macedon Ranges is already protected by Green Wedges (which is not true - there are no Green Wedges in Macedon Ranges), there is nothing to be gained from a meeting.


Historically, Macedon Ranges was protected by explicit State policy (as were Yarra Ranges and Mornington Peninsula) and strong, prescriptive planning schemes.  All protection was lost when the Bracks government approved Macedon Ranges' new, Victoria Planning Provisions planning scheme in June 2000, a scheme where our former State policy languishes as local policy (and we all know how easily local policies are ignored). Yet in 1998 and 1999, before approving the new scheme, this government promised to put back protections the Victoria Planning Provisions took away.  It hasn't done it, and now not only refuses to do it, has decided to say it already has. 


Last Thursday, MRRA gave Joanne Duncan (and the Labor government/party) one last chance to stand up for Macedon Ranges and its community. But she/they didn't, again turning away, apparently preferring the party line over the wishes of the people.


While the Kennett government introduced the increasingly despised Victoria Planning Provisions, the Bracks government has the distinction of being the first government in 30 years to not protect Macedon Ranges.   As a result, Victoria is about to lose one of its three State significant areas, all formerly protected by State policy.  The Bracks government has given two of those three areas State level planning protection (Yarra Ranges and Mornington Peninsula); Macedon Ranges alone has missed out.  Equal significance, unequal protection.


In MRRA's view, the Bracks government has another (suburban) plan for Macedon Ranges, but it doesn't have the bottle to come clean and tell us.  It doesn't have to.  By simply not providing protection, by doing nothing, the suburban agenda will happen (is happening), because we just don't have any way of stopping it, because this government won't give us what we need to stop it. 


MRRA isn't indulging in bashing the government or bashing Labor here, the fact is the Bracks government has made it absolutely clear it will not protect Macedon Ranges.  It will not protect our towns or our water catchments, our rural land or our landscapes.  That leaves us to draw but one conclusion:


Macedon Ranges is ear-marked by the Bracks government to become a suburb of Melbourne, and so...




MRRA Responds To Bracks Government's Advice That It Won't Be Protecting Macedon Ranges

(31/10/06 - SP)  MRRA media release says it all: think about what this government is doing - AND NOT DOING - for Macedon Ranges before you vote.

MRRA recently issued a press release responding to the Bracks government's letter telling MRRA it will not protect Macedon Ranges from over-development.  The government in fact said Macedon Ranges was already protected (see previous report, below).


We've noticed (with concern) that our press release did not get into local newspapers covering the south of the Shire.   So we are publishing it here (click to go to MRRA press release)



(14/10/06 - SP)   Nothing will save Macedon Ranges from becoming a suburb now

MRRA has received a letter from the Department of Sustainability and Environment's Bendigo office saying the Bracks government will not act to protect Macedon Ranges from over-development or specifically recognize Macedon Ranges in State policy.  It goes on to say MRRA should maintain close contact with Council on development of strategic planning objectives, and that the Department will be involved in these projects.


The letter supposedly constitutes a response to MRRA's September 22 request for a meeting with the Premier Steve Bracks, Planning Minister Rob Hulls, and Environment Minister John Thwaites to establish the government's final position on reinstating State level planning protection, which it promised to do in 1998, 1999 and 2004. 


The response included a copy of a letter Planning Minister Hulls sent on 1 August to Dianne Hadden (independent candidate for Ballarat East) in answer to Dianne's question in parliament to the Planning Minister: when will the government provide protection?  That letter, like the Planning Minister's 23 August media release, restates the myth that Macedon Ranges already has and is protected by green wedges, an error MRRA specifically wanted to discuss with the government. It is surprising that the government isn't aware that its own legislation applies green wedges only to municipalities within the metropolitan area, whereas Macedon Ranges is a rural shire which sits outside the metropolitan area and is not included in Green Wedge legislation


The copy of the Minister's letter to Dianne Hadden was included in the Bendigo office's response to MRRA because it is apparently considered to make the government's position clear, to the point that little would be gained from a meeting.


It seems to MRRA the government's position is more than clear:  it will not lift a finger to protect Macedon Ranges because, despite documentary evidence to the contrary, it clearly prefers to believe that Macedon Ranges is already protected.


As our towns are assaulted by subdivision after suburban-style subdivision and by increasingly high-rise, high density development; as our water catchments are over-run by tanks, dams and septic tanks to the point of becoming dysfunctional; as our community's wishes and rights continue to be ignored; as your dream becomes a nightmare; and as the trees come down and the developers take over, do you feel protected?


Unless it can be convinced to change its mind, the Bracks government's attitude - if it is re-elected - ensures only one future for Macedon Ranges: suburbia.  


What you can do:



MRRA Asks For Meeting With Premier Bracks and Ministers Hulls And Thwaites

(30/9/06 - SP)  Please tell the Macedon Ranges' community exactly where the government stands on giving us back State level planning protection, says MRRA

MRRA last week sent a letter to the Premier Steve Bracks, the Minister for Planning Rob Hulls and Minister for Environment and Water John Thwaites asking to meet with them to discuss the government's final position before the November 25 State election on whether or not it intends to give Macedon Ranges the planning controls it needs - at State level - to keep the Shire rural, protect water catchments and stop the towns becoming suburbs.  The Bracks government promised that protection in 1998 but has not delivered.


Copies of the letter were also provided to current State Upper and Lower House representatives (Joanne Duncan (Labor), Macedon; Geoff Howard (Labor), Ballarat East; Dianne Hadden (Independent), Ballarat province; John McQuilten (Labor), Balllarat Province), asking for their help and support.  Dianne Hadden has of course already raised the issue in parliament and received a response from Minister Hulls indicating Macedon Ranges is already protected, when it is not.


MRRA has received a response from the Premier, who has referred the matter to Ministers Hulls and Thwaites.  Click here to see MRRA's letter.  Click here to see Minister Hulls' press release.



A Sad, Sad Day For Macedon Ranges:  Minister For Planning's Media Release Says His Government Protects The Beauty Of Mt. Macedon And Stops Suburbia Stretching Into The Foothills Of Mt. Macedon - That's Just Not True

(3/9/06 - SP)  Tells Dianne Hadden Macedon Ranges is already protected too.  How can a Minister get it so wrong?

The Minister for Planning's media release (23 August 2006) says the Liberal party’s policies would be bad for Macedon Ranges: e.g. a brutal plan that will wreck the beauty of Mt. Macedon; will come at a cost of losing the ‘lungs of Melbourne’; will threaten the water catchments (on Melbourne’s doorstep) that provide drinking water; will see suburbs stretching into the foothills of Mt. Macedon and unbridled development instead of preserving the things that make us special. 


How would that differ from what's happening under the Bracks government? 


The government that has failed - refused - to deliver its 1998 promise to protect the Macedon Ranges as an environmentally sensitive area, instead implementing a not-so-hidden growth agenda... that has allowed Macedon Ranges to become a speculator’s dream, abandoned to subdivision and suburbanisation...  that has allowed Macedon Ranges to go from a drinking water catchment area that provided water to Melbourne, to a place which now depends on drinking water from Melbourne... that has left our communities, towns, rural land and fragile environment reeling.


Ironically, the Minister describes the sensitivity of Macedon Ranges with words similar to those MRRA has put to the government trying to convince it to re-instate State level planning protection, to give Macedon Ranges equivalent protection to that Yarra Ranges has.  We have asked in vain.  The stumper is, Minister Hulls seems to think the government has protected Macedon Ranges.  That's not what the facts say; that's someone's 'spin'.  Who?


The Minister goes further off track in his response to a request from independent MP Dianne Hadden in parliament on 7 June, 2006.

Dianne said, in part: "The action I seek from the minister is to urgently restore the state significance policy protection status for the Macedon Ranges before the local communities and magnificent rural land and ranges are lost forever."


In reply, the Minister compounds the errors in his media release by saying his government is protecting Macedon Ranges with a policy statement [that same statement isn't enough on its own to protect Yarra Ranges], with strategic planning, i.e. the Gisborne Outline Development Plan [stalled, we hear, at Bendigo DSE because the Department wants more people in Gisborne than the ODP plans for]; the Planning for a Sustainable Future project [out of money, brief not completed]; the Bendigo Corridor Strategy [no consultation with the Macedon Ranges community]; and the Kyneton Urban Design Framework [how does this project further protecting the Shire's State significance?]. 


The Minister goes on to say that having Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 as Local Policy provides equivalent protection as State level policy does for Yarra Ranges, and that Amendment C48 stops the carve up of rural land. 


He disagrees the Macedon Ranges are "having to accept outer Melbourne suburbia in their green wedges" [?], and says "typical suburban type development can only occur in urban zones in the towns" - isn't that one of the problems?.  


He finishes off with "the government is committed to the autonomy of local communities creating their own future... and it would be inappropriate for the State to determine how Macedon Ranges Shire Council and community should develop its planning scheme" [which translates as the State government will continue to turn its back on Macedon Ranges Shire and its community, and on its responsibility to protect this State significant area].  So it seems the government is saying our future is in our Council's hands.  Not a comforting thought, is it?  Some might say that on that basis, Macedon Ranges doesn't have a future...


Click here for:

Minister Hulls'  Media Release

Dianne Hadden's Question in Parliament & the Minister's Response 


MRRA Says:

If ever there was a case of 'black' being called 'white', this has to be it. 


The Bracks government promised protection for Macedon Ranges in 1998;  former Planning Minister Thwaites agreed to elevate Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 to State policy;  former Planning Minister Mary Delahunty agreed to protect, and put up $70,000 to start it off the same day in 2004 she met with MRRA and made the commitment.  Doesn't the Bracks government look just a tad silly to now say "You're protected"?  To say Macedon Ranges has green wedges when it doesn't?  To say local policy has the same weight as State policy when much of the State is up in arms at local policy being overridden by State policy at VCAT?  


As MRRA said after we met Minister Hulls last year, the government's message to our residents then was "No Money, No Help: Macedon Ranges, you're on your own".   After these latest responses, and despite a looming election, that message doesn't seem to have changed, and the government still doesn't seem to think "Macedon Matters". 


Our thanks to Dianne Hadden for raising this matter in parliament, and sharing the Minister's response with MRRA.