Archive:   State Issues

Last Updated  29/3/10



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

Phillip Island Development 'Favour' Claim Against Minister For Planning

Hillbilly Councillors


State Govt Backs Down On Taking Residents' Rights Away In New State Residential Zones  (see Residential Zones archive)

(21/2/09 - P)  Good.  But the government now plans to force VCAT to "fast-track" development so are we any better off?  Submissions on the latest version of the residential zones close on 6 April.  APOLOGIES - Submissions close 9 April


It's a wild world in planning at the moment as more and more of the system is changed to facilitate development. 


Bouquets to the government for backing off removing residents rights to know about and object to planning applications in the new Residential zones, and removing mandatory building heights.  Mega bouquets to all those community people and the Victorian Upper House for standing firm in opposition to these horrid elements of the new Residential zones.  See MRRA's earlier story.


Now comes the brickbats for the State government, which has also announced it will 'work in partnership with VCAT to fast-track development' which is likely pollie-speak for 'VCAT will do as it is told'.  In a nutshell, it seems the government is attempting to remove what it sees as impediments to rushing development proposals through approval processes, so we suspect it will be 'calling in' a lot more applications to circumvent the existing VCAT system (which in itself ain't all that good) and hey presto, the government will make the decisions itself.  Easy-peasey.  The developers will be pleased.  So if you thought planning decisions were already lotteries...


We couldn't find a government press release about VCAT on the changed Parliament media releases site, but you can click here for the Liberal-National opposition's response.


Click here to see the Planning Minister Justin Madden's press release on the new Residential zones, and here to see Shadow Minister for Planning Matthew Guy's response.


As for the new residential zones, they will be on exhibition until Thursday 9 April 2009.  All submissions will be referred to an independent Advisory Committee, who will provide the Planning Minister with advice on the final form of the new residential zones.

More information about the draft new residential zones is available online at

For further information call 1300 366 356 (local call cost) or TTY 03 9603 8806 (8.30am - 5.00pm Monday to Friday).


MRRA Says:


It is in everyone's best interests to check out these 'revised' zones, and put in a submission.  MRRA made a submission on the original draft, and will pore over the new zones and make one again this time round. 


We previously looked fairly kindly on the new Limited Change zone except it, like the other original zones proposed, quashed the community's rights to be consulted about planning applications.  With that nasty gone, this zone is perhaps the answer to many of the difficulties in getting some proper and orderly and RURAL planning in Macedon Ranges.  We could possibly use it.  Gisborne, for starters, comes to mind.


Problem is, we hear the Department of Planning and Community Development has no intention of allowing it to be applied by Councils, other than in very exceptional and limited circumstances.  It was ever thus... beam us up!


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.



Phillip Island Development 'Favour' Claim Against Minister For Planning

(16/7/06 - P)   Minister over-rides Bass Coast Council rezoning on land with Linfox proposal for 506 holiday suites, conference centre and golf course

According to The Age newspaper on Thursday, the Minister for Planning Rob Hulls has over-ridden a decision by Bass Coast Council to zone land Farming, instead making it a Rural Activity zone. The Rural Activity zone does not prohibit the Linfox Property Group proposal (whereas the Farming zone proposed by Bass Coast Council  would).  The Minister's move opens the door for the proposal to be considered, and because the Phillip Island racetrack has now been described as of state significance, also opens the door for the Minister to 'call in' the proposal, and make the final decision himself instead of allowing Bass Coast Council to do so.  The Age claims the Minister's controversial decision is at odds with the State government's own Coastal Spaces strategy, and with the Minister's recent statements about not supporting developments outside existing town boundaries.  Click here to see Age Article


MRRA Says:

Distinctly NOT A GOOD LOOK.  Last year, the Minister baulked at last-minute rezoning changes Bass Coast Council tried to make to its Coastal Planning Framework and said the 'days of hillbilly Councillors were over'.  Click here to see that article where Mr. Hulls said “The days of hillbilly councillors acting outside a proper planning framework may have existed years ago in Queensland but are well and truly over in Victoria,” and “These changes appear to have been made at the last minute without a transparent consultative process and council is in la-la land if they think I would be approving a proposal that has no strategic justification and is at odds with the Victorian Coastal Strategy”    But isn't that what the Minister himself is now doing?


In times past a person who said one thing one day, and did or said the opposite the next, was said to speak with a 'forked tongue'.  If the Age article is correct, could we all not ask, when will the days of hillbilly Ministers end?



Planning Minister Hulls Says “The days of hillbilly councillors acting outside a proper planning framework… are well and truly over in Victoria”

(10/8/05 – SP) So why is it still happening in Macedon Ranges?

In an article which appeared in The Age on Sunday 7 August Age, the Minister for Planning Rob Hulls has said the days of hill-billy councillors are over.  The statement relates to Bass Coast Council’s attempt to exhibit a planning scheme amendment after the Council made last-minute, unannounced changes to the Bass Coast Strategic Coastal Planning Framework.  According to the Age, the Minister has indicated he “may find it difficult to entertain these rezoningswhich would allow some large-scale housing and resort development to go ahead.  Lack of public consultation and the environmental effects of the development are identified as concerns.  See Age Article


MRRA Says:

Well done and congratulations to the Minister.  But please don’t stop there.  Macedon Ranges likewise has its “hillbillies”: those who seem to subscribe to the ‘good idea’, ‘nice spot’ and ‘lovely people’ brand of planning, or seem to believe that a bad decision is better than no decision, with nary a proper planning framework in sight.  MRRA doesn’t think those are acceptable standards and wonders much longer the Minister will allow them to prevail.