Posted 9/11/10 Updated 14/12/10
State Election 2010
A Quick Look At Candidates' Responses
MRRA Post Election Media Release
2010 Victorian Election:
Brilliant Result For Macedon Ranges
With A New Liberal / National State Government
STATE LEVEL PROTECTION!
Welcome to Macedon Ranges Residents' Association's coverage of the State Election 2010, and of candidates in electorates within Macedon Ranges Shire.
MRRA's focus in this election is on what candidates and parties are going to do to stop the suburban invasion of Macedon Ranges.
We want to know who will support re-instating State level policy and planning controls that protect:
the rural character of our towns, our water catchments, open landscapes, forests, native vegetation, natural features, heritage and farming land.
We will be asking candidates/parties:
WHO WILL STAND UP FOR MACEDON RANGES?
Who will act to 'Keep Macedon Ranges Rural'?
If keeping Macedon Ranges a rural area, if getting State government recognition that it is a special area that needs special protection, is important to you, MRRA's advice is "don't vote for anyone who doesn't support you".
What Is State Level Protection?
Why Do We Need State Level Protection?
Why Don't We Have It?
How Do We Get State Level Protection?
What Is 'State Level Protection'?
Put simply, State level protection is having policy and planning controls backed by the State government which are the policy and rules that apply to a specific place, and which take precedence over other State policies and planning controls.
Some other places already have this, for example, Yarra Ranges Shire. Having its own policy and planning controls, which have 'State-level' status, and are specific to Yarra Ranges means those policies and planning controls over-ride the other (generic) State policies and planning controls that everyone else has.
Yarra Ranges has two types of State level protection, and both are recognized in legislation and in the State section of planning schemes: its Regional Strategy Plan (Clause 53), and Green Wedge (Clause 57). Macedon Ranges has none.
If Macedon Ranges had this type of State level protection, State policy would specifically identify and address things that are important in Macedon Ranges, like open drinking water catchments, landscapes, and rural character in our townships, and State planning controls would be targetted to protect them from the type of development that compromises and harms them.
Why Do We Need State Level Protection?
Macedon Ranges has long been recognized as an environmentally sensitive area, with high recreation, natural resource and conservation values that are of importance to the State of Victoria, and all Victorians. It's part of the 'lungs of Melbourne', and plays a major role in making Melbourne more liveable.
In the 1970's, the Hamer Liberal government created Statements of Planning Policy - State level policy backed by legislation - for Yarra Ranges, Mornington Peninsula and Macedon Ranges. Statements of Planning Policy identified these areas as being significant at State level for their natural qualities, and the Policies put standards in place to prevent damaging development and protect natural qualities.
In Macedon Ranges, Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 - Macedon Ranges and Surrounds (1975) was included as State policy in prescriptive planning schemes created for the Macedon Ranges area. These schemes contained zones and 'rules' for development that were tailored to (a) implement Statement of Planning Policy No. 8, (b) exclude development from the most sensitive areas and (c) ensure development elsewhere was done in a way that didn't damage the values in Macedon Ranges that are of State level significance and prized by local residents.
In 1982, Yarra Ranges (Upper Yarra Valley and Dandenongs) received its State level Regional Strategy Plan, which was and still is recognized in legislation. The RSP came about because it was considered that at that time, the Dandenongs were under greater development pressure and needed additional controls.
In 1987, the introduction of the Planning and Environment Act removed the legislation that underpinned the Statements of Planning Policy. Those policies continued to be recognized and respected as continuing to carry weight, but no longer officially had State legislative status.
In 2000, the new format (Victoria Planning Provisions) planning scheme for Macedon Ranges was approved by the Bracks government. This resulted in Macedon Ranges losing all of the carefully crafted controls in its 'old' scheme, and Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 being down-graded to Local Policy (Clause 22.01) in the new planning scheme, even though the planning minister of the day agreed it should be State policy.
For the past 10 years, Macedon Ranges has been left with the same one-size-fits-all planning controls that apply anywhere else in Victoria. These generic controls (the same zones, same 'rules' as apply across the State) don't implement Statement of Planning Policy No. 8. To the contrary, they produce damaging outcomes that are often the opposite of those Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 says are needed.
As a result, towns and rural land are being over-developed by development that doesn't respect other values, and rural character and natural resources are being damaged. In essence, those elements that define Macedon Ranges - its stunning natural features, open landscapes, country-feel towns - are being eroded by inappropriate development, and too much of it.
Residents have tirelessly fought much of this development, protesting its damaging impact and on-going suburbanization of this special area, only to have objections over-ridden at Council and over-ruled by VCAT. The planning controls needed to stop it are no longer in Macedon Ranges' planning scheme.
While residents often find they have no rights to object and are powerless, developers and others (for example, some real estate agents) who profit from this situation are promoting more and more growth and development, and picking Macedon Ranges off at their leisure.
Why Don't We Have It?
The current State Labor government at first said it would protect Macedon Ranges as an area of high environmental sensitivity… then it said we already had protection… then it said it can’t be done... now it's trying to make Macedon Ranges a suburb of Melbourne. .
It was known from 1996 that Macedon Ranges would eventually and inevitably lose its 'old' planning scheme, and its strong planning controls. What would replace them?
In the 1999 State election, the Labor Party (ALP) promised that if it was elected:
" Labor will protect Melbourne's green belts and sensitive areas such as the Dandenongs, Macedon Ranges and Mornington Peninsula and legislate to control the carve-up of highly productive agricultural land near Melbourne."
Yarra Ranges (Dandenongs) and Mornington Peninsula were given Green Wedge status and State legislation by the Labor State government. Macedon Ranges got nothing.
Not only has Labor failed to deliver its promised protection, the current State government has attempted to take the scraps of recognition we still have away from us.
MRRA believes Amendment C62, which on Departmental advice strips Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 (Clause 22.01) from Macedon Ranges' planning scheme, is sitting on the current Minister for Planning's desk, and has been for some time.
In 2008, the current Minster for Planning Justin Madden said, in parliament, that Statement Of Planning Policy No. 8 is 'too old'.
In response MRRA said (Minister for Planning And Mayor Noel Harvey: Tag-Team To Shut Down SPP8?):
Let's make it crystal clear: The principles in SPP8 haven't aged - they are still about sustainable land use management in the context of the environmental significance and sensitivity of Macedon Ranges, and the issues and pressures SPP8 addresses are still here.
MRRA subsequently ran a petition calling for Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 to not only be retained but elevated to State policy. The Association handed its 3,000 signature ‘Keep Macedon Ranges Rural’ petition to the Liberal party after it was made clear to us that even 3,000 signatures would have no influence over the Labor government or deviate it from the suburban path it has laid out for Macedon Ranges. Protection 'can't be done'.
Earlier this year, the only statement left which identifies Macedon Ranges as a special area (former Clause 14.02) was deleted from the new State Planning Policy Framework [SPPF]. This action, together with Amendment C62, obliterated all references to Macedon Ranges as an area of high environmental sensitivity. Macedon Ranges was no longer to be identified as 'special'. Strong objections to the removal of the statement from the SPPF have seen it re-instated. There are no guarantees it will remain after the election.
MRRA believes the current State government now has plans to convert at least part of Macedon Ranges into a suburb of Melbourne that absorbs some of that city's population overflow.
This belief is based on:
The government's refusal to provide the legislative, policy and planning control protection it promised - which Macedon Ranges needs to survive.
The government's attempts to strip all recognition of Macedon Ranges being a special, environmentally sensitive area from planning schemes.
Expansion of Melbourne's urban growth areas right up to Macedon Ranges' southern boundary, creating development pressures that Macedon Ranges doesn't have the planning tools to withstand.
The government's unseen Regional Strategic Plan which is understood to push some 20,000 additional people into Macedon Ranges by 2036. The government has already made it law that this secret plan drives what happens in Macedon Ranges, even though the community has never seen it.
Council's Settlement Strategy over which the Department of Planning seems to have control - this Strategy also pushes some 20,000 additional people into Macedon Ranges by 2036, delivering the current State government's agenda for population growth.
Intense pressure from big business (Committee for Melbourne) which is lobbying the current State government to officially include Gisborne and Riddells Creek inside the Metropolitan Melbourne boundary.
New legislation that enables the creation of Development Assessment Committees (DACs) which take over Councils' powers to make planning decisions. DACs make the decisions for us.
Changes proposed to planning legislation which give almost unfettered power to developers and the Planning Minister to, amongst other things, allow developers to rezone land to suit development proposals, and allow private planners to approve permit applications.
The government is also under pressure from the big business lobby to expand the Metro area to include parts of Macedon Ranges. Click here to see the Committee For Melbourne's map and aspirations.
How Do We Get State Level Protection?
Macedon Ranges Residents' Association has met with Labor planning ministers John Thwaites, Mary Delahunty and Rob Hulls, asking for Labor to live up to its 1999 promise.
Current Brumby-era Planning Minister, Justin Madden, has not agreed to our severaI requests to meet with him.
MRRA believes there is convincing evidence that under a future State Labor government, Macedon Ranges is doomed to be forced to accept population growth and development that will destroy it as a 'special', rural place.
Southern towns and the Calder Corridor (Gisborne, Macedon, Woodend, Kyneton) are under greatest threat to simply become outer suburbs of Melbourne, in nature if not by name. Macedon Ranges will be a place to dump some of Melbourne's excessive population growth and the suburban development that comes with it, regardless of the damage that does to other important values, contrary to community wishes, and in defiance of the area's very high bushfire risks.
Macedon Ranges will become an even bigger target for even bigger developers. And because this will be driven by the State government's policies, implemented by VCAT, we the people of Macedon Ranges will be unable to stop it, no matter how hard we try.
This State election is our last chance to save Macedon Ranges. MRRA has issued a media release asking residents to think very seriously about this issue, before they vote.
If keeping Macedon Ranges a rural area - if getting State government recognition that it is a special area that needs special protection - is important to you, MRRA's advice is "don't vote for anyone who doesn't support you".
We believe the current State Labor government doesn't support you, and has betrayed Macedon Ranges. We believe that for 11 years it not only hasn't provided protection but now has firm plans to take Macedon Ranges in a suburban direction.
Before you vote:
Find out WHO WILL STAND UP FOR MACEDON RANGES, WHO WILL GIVE MACEDON RANGES THE PROTECTION IT NEEDS.
MRRA will be asking candidates where they stand, and publishing their answers on this website.
Related MRRA links:
Keep Macedon Ranges Rural Noticeboard
Say NO To Suburbia Directory