Archive:   Public Land: State & Federal

Last Updated  7/10/11



See also VEAC archive



Victorian Upper House Forces Investigation Of Development Of Public Lands

(10/12/08 - E)  Unprecedented move is a fine example of democracy at work

The Victorian Upper House last week referred two long-questioned development projects to the Victorian Ombudsman for investigation: 4th December 2008

Royce Millar wrote:

THE redevelopment of Kew Cottages and the troubled revamp of the St Kilda triangle site are to be investigated by the State Ombudsman. A Legislative Council resolution pressed by the Opposition and the Greens last night sought the investigations following a parliamentary committee's inquiry into the State Government's handling of public land development.  It is the first time the government watchdog has had such a referral from the upper house.


Deputy Ombudsman John Taylor confirmed his office would conduct the investigations... (read the full story here..)


MRRA Says:


Until now attempts to get some scrutiny and accountability on these projects have been thwarted.  Well done to the Victorian Upper House, and well done as well to the Kew Cottages and St. Kilda Triangle groups.  It's been a long time coming...



Public Land Consultancy Report "A Review of the Management of Riparian Land In Victoria" Released

(21/6/08 - E)  Recommends a series of reforms to riparian governance

Riparian Land and the Biodiversity White Paper: The Public Land Consultancy (which publishes Terra Publica) says "We are pleased to be able to let you know that DSE has released our report "A Review of the Management of Riparian Land in Victoria."  The report recommends a series of reforms to riparian governance which we hope will be reflected in the Government's forthcoming Biodiversity White Paper.  The executive summary of the report (1.9 Mb) is at


MRRA Says:

We too hope the report - or anything which prioritizes the environment over economics - is taken up by DSE.  But we aren't holding our breath...



State Ministers To Appear Before Upper House Inquiry Into Public Land

(9/5/08 - SG)  Questions, yes; Answers, ?  Update: (26/5/08)  Seems government land isn't public land...

MRRA has received word that State Ministers Madden and Theophonus have agreed to appear before the Upper House Select Committee investigating the sale and development of public land. Planning Minister Madden is believed to be scheduled to appear on 22 May (time not yet available). The hearing will be at Parliament House in Spring Street.  These hearings are open to the public and you can attend if this subject interests you.


MRRA Says:

The other information we have is that Department of Sustainability and Environment chief, Peter Harris, has already attended but, according to our informant who attended the hearing, refused to answer most questions.  


There are truly deep and meaningful concerns held by the public about 'abuse' of public land, particularly when developers reap major benefits from getting their hands on what they don't own, without the rightful owners being consulted or listened to.  


Minister Madden last year gave an undertaking to attend these hearings to members of Planning Backlash, and it is good to see him keep true to his word.  Go along if you can.


Update 26/5/08:  We've had reports that the hearing went like this:


"A few of us had a rather extraordinary experience yesterday at the questioning of Ministers Madden and Theophonus at Parliament  - over 2 hours of sidestepping questions, ambiguous non-answers, refusal to answer because of claims of the questions being outside the terms of reference, and denying that government land is public land.  The Park at Yarra Bend in Kew, behind the Kew cottages, which has been used by the public for generations, and which has been sold for massive development, they claim is government land and not public land, therefore it can be sold.  Can you believe there is a difference?  What about the Botanical Gardens - maybe that is next..."  and  "we got to see two idiot ministers in action..."



Dealing With A State Government That Doesn't Seem To Understand Or Care

(24/2/08 - SG)  A community activist's response to the Upper House Public Land Inquiry's report, and other observations

MRRA received the following frank reaction to the Inquiry's latest report (see earlier story) and felt that the pain, frustration, dismay and anguish these words represent are worthy of sharing.  You may also wish to follow up on the additional information that now seems to be available by clicking the link below. 

I have just skim read the report...


The letter [from the Inquiry] states that "Further information regarding the Committee including activities in 2008 is available on the Committee's website"


I was concerned about the tenor of the report - but at the same time amazed to read some frank and honest opinions.  I feel depressed for some wanting to achieve the best and right outcomes for the environment of our coast in particular.


Many members of our community speak in casual conversation about the lack of beauty in the entrance to Melbourne particularly from the south eastern suburbs when entering Spencer Street (old name) Station via the bus route.  The replacement of the skyline with ever towering cement and glass and the loss of heritage buildings is enough to make us country people vomit. 


I have some understanding of the dismay at the loss of what remains of public spaces (however defined) when you watch the ever increasing expansion of new hospitals and the demolition of what once made Melbourne a beautiful garden city. 


The damage from the dredging of the Bay is something that will never be reversed - how much easier it would be to reverse the decisions?!  There is something not quite right in the "state of the State". 


The lack of availability of public servants to give opinions mentioned in this recent report is mirrored in my two sets of Yes Minister and Prime Minister.


There is very little pride and no humour in this report.  These are the two things that usually keep me fighting.  How about You?



Victorian Upper House Select Committee On Public Land Development Inquiry

(14/12/07 - P)   Interim Report on the inquiry now available

Go to or (Parliament of Victoria website), then go to Committees/Council/legislative Council Select Committees/Select Committee on Public Land Development



Victorian Upper House Inquiry Into Public Land

(4/12/07 - P)   Submissions now available on the Internet

If you go to the following site you can access all of the 136 submissions, some of which have been presented to the hearing.



Planning Backlash Alert:  Upper House Inquiry Into Public Land - Start 26 Sept

(20/9/07 - P)  Community urged to get involved, attend first hearing at Kew Cottages

The Upper House Select Committee begins hearings on use and abuse of public land next Wednesday at Kew Cottages - a good example of alleged handing over of public land for developers' benefit.  This is an issue which potentially affects all Victorians, so you are urged to be at the hearing if you possibly can.  Click here for more information.



Upper House Committee Launch Inquiry Into Selling Or Alienating Of Public Land For Private Development  - submissions to be in by September

(29/5/07 - P)   Those who fought against handing public land over to pokies in Kyneton can well say "and not before time either..."

Congratulations to Brian Walsh and the team at Kew Cottages Coalition for sticking with it, and congratulations as well to Victoria's new Upper House for truly representing the public interest of the people of Victoria. 


The motion to set up the inquiry was put to parliament by Matthew Guy, Liberal Shadow Planning Minister, on Wednesday 2nd May.  After a 3 hour debate, the motion was carried with only Labor members opposed.  Click here to see the final motion which describes the terms of reference for the committee.   Click here to learn how you can contact the inquiry.


MRRA Says:


As a society we are too often cursed with governments that are all too quick to flog off land that doesn't belong to them, to suit their own purposes - or worse, the purposes of people wanting a free kick by being able to develop or exploit public land.  We see it all the time with an impressive example in Kyneton just last year when the Kyneton Bowling Club got the nod to take over more of the Kyneton Mechanics Institute reserve, a reserve set aside for use by the public, so it could expand its private pokie gambling interests.  MRRA encourages those who fought this proposal to head smartly to the Upper House committee now inquiring into such matters. 


We also note with interest that Macedon Ranges Council is currently attempting to unload a number of open space and park areas that it says it no longer needs.  MRRA knows there is quite some community resistance to some of the proposed 'asset disposal' and fully supports those residents taking the challenge up to Council.


Here's a scenario you might want to think about: 

Should the sale or alienation of public land be something that is decided by ballot?  Tell us what you think by sending an email on