Hon Steve Bracks,
Premier of Victoria,
Level 1, 1 Treasury Place,
East Melbourne, 3002.
Re: Confirmation of State Government’s Position:
Re-instating State Level Planning Protection, Macedon Ranges
Macedon Ranges Residents’ Association [MRRA] is seeking to meet with you, and the Ministers for Planning Rob Hulls, and Environment/Water John Thwaites, in order to clarify, in the lead-up to the November State election, your government’s final position on re-instating State level planning protection for Macedon Ranges.
We note in a recent media release (23 August 2006), the Minister for Planning says that Macedon Ranges is protected as Yarra Ranges and Mornington Peninsula are; that those protections prevent the beauty of Mt. Macedon from being wrecked; that our “magnificent untouched forests and reserves and drinking water catchments” are protected by Green Wedges; that your government is preventing suburbs stretching to the foothills of Mt. Macedon. Unfortunately, this is factually not the case, nor is it an accurate reflection of what is actually happening, under your government’s watch, in Macedon Ranges. There are no State ‘rules’ in the VPPs specific to protecting either Mt. Macedon or (now waterless) ‘open’ water catchments. And while the area has long been regarded as the ‘lungs of Melbourne’, left without an ability to resist damaging development and growth, it is regrettably now on its way to becoming just another suburb of Melbourne.
The Association has attempted for several years to persuade your government to fulfil its 1998 promise to protect Macedon Ranges as an environmentally sensitive area. Your government has indeed delivered for Yarra Ranges (Green Wedge legislation and Clauses 53 and 57 of the VPPs), and Mornington Peninsula (Green Wedge legislation and Clause 57); equivalent protection for Macedon Ranges (no State provisions) has never eventuated.
The need for specific State-level planning protection (which was in place up to June 2000 when your government approved the ‘new format’ (VPP) Macedon Ranges planning scheme), has been previously recognised by your party’s 1998 planning position paper; by then Planning Minister John Thwaites in 1999 when he agreed to elevate Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 – Macedon Ranges and Surrounds, to State policy; and by then Planning Minister Mary Delahunty in April 2004 when she confirmed, at a meeting with the Association, that your government would act to re-instate State level planning protection and provided $70,000 of State funding to begin this process. Here in Macedon Ranges, we are still waiting for both action and results on all of these commitments.
We draw these matters to your attention with the objective of requesting a meeting with yourself, Minister Hulls and Minister Thwaites to clarify the issues raised in the Minister for Planning’s media release, and to ascertain at the highest level whether or not your government does in fact intend to re-instate State level protection for our towns and rural land, and provide Macedon Ranges with protection status equivalent to that provided to Yarra Ranges. Several options are currently available by which this can be achieved – if your government is of a mind to do so.
The Association would therefore greatly appreciate your advice re arranging a mutually convenient time for a joint meeting, and thanks you sincerely in advance for your assistance in this matter. A letter similar to this one has also been sent to Ministers Hulls and Thwaites, and copies provided to relevant State Upper and Lower House members.
Christine Pruneau, Secretary.