Posted 23/9/14


Extract from MRRA's Keep Macedon Ranges Rural page



Minister for Planning And Mayor Noel Harvey:  Tag-Team To Shut Down SPP8?

(14/10/08 - P)   Labor colleagues are singing the same song, while Mayor seems to put "party" line before environment and community


There are two parts to this tale:  The Mayor and the Minister. 


The Mayor:


Barely before the ink had dried on Liberal Shadow Planning Minister Matthew Guy's media release calling for the State government to stop plans to urbanise Macedon Ranges, Macedon Ranges' present Mayor and Labor party faithful Noel Harvey fired off a media release under Council's logo, claiming to be presenting Council's position and the facts about protection of Macedon Ranges. 


After pointing out that Mr. Guy's comments were "absolutely outrageous", Mayor Harvey says Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 is old, and "not strong enough" to protect.  On the other hand, he also claims important elements of SPP8 are "enshrined" in our planning scheme.


He then picks up on the government's 2005/2006 line about current rural zones, and how they and "Council's strategic planning program over recent years have strengthened protection". 


He then criticizes Mr. Guy again for not contacting and consulting Council, and finishes by saying Council is mindful of what makes Macedon Ranges "the most liveable rural municipality in the nation".


The Minister:


Last Thursday in parliament, former Macedon Ranges Councillor and now Northern Victoria region Upper House rep Donna Petrovich asked the Minister for Planning  whether he would undertake to finally give the Macedon Ranges the planning protection afforded to the Shire of Yarra Ranges and the Mornington Peninsula; protection which has been eroded by his government's one-size-fits-all planning scheme.  Donna did well by following that up with a supplementary question asking the Minister whether he thought Macedon Ranges' landscape character is more like Yarra Ranges or metropolitan Melbourne.


From Hansard, the Minister, Justin Madden, seemed to think this was something to make jokes about and score political points on (although there seems to have been admonishments all round from the President).


Between bouts of nonsense, he told the Upper House he had in his hand a press release from the Macedon Ranges' Mayor (by happy coincidence, the one referred to above) criticizing comments of the Opposition on this issue.  The Minister twice said the government had had no input into the Mayor's release, although why he would emphasize that isn't clear. 


He then went on and on about how old Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 was, and finally told the opposition that if they wanted to go back 30 years, good luck to them. 


The Minister, rather incredibly, claimed his government had done more than any other government in the history of this state in relation to giving protection to rural and urban amenity.  


He called Mayor Harvey's facts 'pretty accurate' and backed up Noel's comments re Council's recent strategic planning work 'strengthening' protection.


MRRA Says:


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The Mayor:


Mr. Guy's comments are "absolutely outrageous"??   Mr. Guy's a bad boy for not consulting??  Well hello, 'Pot'... meet 'Kettle'!


Here's what's absolutely outrageous: a Mayor purporting to speak for all Councillors, and this community, without consulting them.  A Mayor seeming to give a fair impression of pushing Labor party policy as Council policy.  A Mayor who says "Facts" but doesn't seem to know or stick to them.  A Mayor who seems to be selling out the environment and community he represents.  A Mayor making policy on the run - as far as we know and the minutes show, the Council position put forward in the Mayor's media release is not Council's formal position. 


Mayor Noel Harvey has been on Council for 6 of the 9 years that Macedon Ranges has waited for the State government to deliver its promise to protect this environmentally sensitive area, and has been Mayor 3 times.  At face value he sounds like an experienced councillor, but...


Mayor Harvey, in a new play on words, says SPP8 "isn't strong enough".  Psst... the problem, Noel, is that SPP8 isn't implemented enough.  It's not implemented enough because it's not State policy.  Even Blind Freddy can see that.


Mayor Harvey says Council's recent strategic work includes Environmental Significance and Significant Landscape overlays, when there haven't been any recent ones.  He credits Council with Wildfire Management overlays that were in fact produced by the CFA, State-wide.


What he doesn't talk about is the failure of Amendment C8 - Residential and Industrial Review.  This dud amendment (abandoned in 2004 due to lack of strategic justification ) was initiated and produced during his watch.  Ditto C59, the 2008 disaster-in-the-making Gisborne ODP.  Ditto C62, the 2008 "Municipal Strategic Statement [MSS] Review" which takes SPP8 out of the scheme.  The Department (government?) has said all references to SPP8 are to be removed, and that's exactly what has happened with the 'cleansed' MSS in Amendment C62.  It's so sterile, it could be talking about anywhere in Victoria. 


Important elements of SPP8 are "enshrined" in our scheme?  Hardly, if the government's, department's and Mayor's views - and C62 -  prevail.  Is the Mayor saying he didn't know this?


Mayor Harvey says the 'new' rural zones protect us.  Not quite.  If they did, there wouldn't have been a resort application in a drinking water catchment at Macedon Lodge, or an application for 4 houses in a drinking water catchment upstream of the Woodend Reservoir (both in Rural Conservation zones), or a doubling of new houses going into rural areas since 2001, etc. etc... 


The mild surprise here is the Mayor didn't pick up and run with former Planning Minister Rob Hulls' pitch that Macedon Ranges is protected by Green Wedges, although maybe there's still time...


Mmm...  There's a difference, isn't there, between sounding committed, and sounding like there's an agenda on the line?


DO YOU APPROVE OF THE MAYOR'S ACTIONS?  Send us your thoughts on


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The Minister:


The Minister would have been prudent to research the views expressed by the Mayor before relying on them, although we've noticed in passing that research and accuracy don't seem to be essential (or even desirable) ingredients when it comes to spin. 


How silly to claim this government has done more to protect rural and urban character than any other Victorian government!  Only developers and the faithful would readily agree.  The real world hates what this government is doing to character; some go so far as to say what's happening now is worse than under the Kennett government.


With respect, Minister, as far as Macedon Ranges goes you are quite, quite wrong.  It was the Hamer Liberal government that did more than any other government in the history of this State for Macedon Ranges.  That government introduced Statement of Planning Policy No. 8, the 'Macedon Ranges policy'.  Your own government indeed acknowledges and piggybacks on the excellence of the Hamer government's vision in relation to Green Wedges, but consistently overlooks the fact that protecting Macedon Ranges was part of that same Hamer vision and excellence.


Nor does the limp excuse that SPP8 is a "regional" policy - and is redundant post-Council amalgamations - stack up.  Using that logic, the first to go should be the Upper Yarra and Dandenongs' Regional Strategy.    Amalgamation happened 13 years ago.  Whether it's one Shire or four, the issues haven't changed, and SPP8 has been endorsed by this government and panels as remaining relevant several times since then. 

In 1998, the Labor party promised protection to Macedon Ranges as a sensitive environmental area.In 1999, an independent panel said SPP8 remained as relevant as ever and recommended it be included in State policy.

In 1999, then Planning Minister John Thwaites agreed it should be State policy.In mid 2000, then Planning Minister John Thwaites approved our planning scheme with a clause (21.04) that recognized SPP8 as former State policy, saying it remained as relevant as ever, and included SPP8 in the scheme as local policy (22.01), but not as State policy...

In 2004, then Planning Minister Mary Delahunty agreed to protect Macedon Ranges, and provided $90,000 for the Planning For A Sustainable Future project.  The project would produce a State strategy that embraced SPP8 - to recognize and value the Macedon Ranges as an area of State significance - that would underpin strong protection for Macedon Ranges.  The PFSF project is currently collecting dust.

In 2005, then Planning Minister Rob Hulls told MRRA that SPP8 as local policy was law, and anyone not implementing it was breaking the law.

In 2006, then Planning Minister Rob Hulls said Macedon Ranges was already protected and didn't need State policy:  it had Green Wedges!

In 2008, Minister Madden says no State policy, no SPP8 - no nothing

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Listening to the Minister and the current Mayor, SPP8 is borderline Methuselah, although from recent events it doesn't seem to be as far past it's 'use by' date as some of our politicians and governments.


There are plenty of documents around that are much older, such as constitutions, law and parliamentary process (probably even some tenets of the Labor Party), that aren’t thrown out because they are ‘old’.  They are retained because the principles in them remain relevant. Ditto 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. 


Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 is the policy that says Macedon Ranges is of State level environmental significance... That says no more subdivision on Mt. Macedon, and all development in urban and rural areas must harmonise with the natural environment and preserve and enhance rural character and high quality landscapes.  The policy is based on sound, timeless planning principles rather than the politics of the day, and prioritizes the things that matter in Macedon Ranges. Now this government, apparently with the backing of the Mayor, wants to take it all away.  Even the former Liberal Planning Minister Robert Maclellan didn't do that.


Back in 1976, the Liberal Planning Minister, GP Hayes, who oversaw introduction of Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 said, "I hope that no one and least of all myself, will ever belittle this policy or the efforts that have gone into producing it." 


Last Thursday, the present Planning Minister belittled the policy, treating it as a joke. 


 Age isn't the problem, politics are.  SPP8 isn't too old, otherwise government would be stripping Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Ranges of their (older) Statements of Planning Policy as well.  Or are they next?


No, SPP8 is not too old.  It's only crime is that it's in the way of pushing suburban development up the Calder Freeway. 


But it seems no-one in government, including the Mayor, has what it takes to 'fess up to this agenda, or consult the people about it.  The preferred method of implementing the agenda is by stealth and spin.  The Emperors definitely have no clothes...  It's not a pretty picture, and it would be ugly whichever side of politics it came from.




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Victorian Liberals/Nationals Say The Government Must Stop Plans To Urbanise The Macedon Ranges

(6/10/08 - P)  Macedon Ranges:  Beautiful one day, suburban the next.


Welcome support for retaining Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 (the 'Macedon Ranges policy') has come from the Victorian Liberal Nationals Coalition, through Shadow Planning Minister Matthew Guy. 


Mr. Guy yesterday issued a media release calling for the removal of the policy to be stopped.  He said that if the removal goes ahead, "the character and rural charm of one of the state's most beautiful regions will be lost forever."


"These [Hanging Rock and Mount Macedon] are some of the most precious natural assets that Victoria has and they should be protected by the State, not seen as fire sale development opportunities."  


Click here to see the full text of the media release.


MRRA Says:


This media release reflects and builds on the Liberal Party's policy position at the 2006 State election, where the Libs promised to not only keep Statement of Planning Policy No. 8, but elevate it to State policy through a McHarg and Macedon Ranges Strategy. 


That position itself built upon the "Hamer Vision" of the 1970's, when the then Liberal Premier, Rupert Hamer, recognized the area's outstanding environmental features and values by introducing Statement of Planning Policy No. 8. 


The depth of that government's commitment and the reasons for it were eloquently expressed by the Planning Minister of the day, GP Hayes, who said of Macedon Ranges:


"...we must constantly remind ourselves of these values and what it will cost us if we fail to plan and manage these valuable resources properly."


"One often hears the argument that the resources of an area like Mount Macedon have no value at all unless they can be useful to man. Of course there is a lot of truth in that suggestion but it must never be used as an excuse for man to act like a pirate, robbing, plundering and exploiting the environment. That kind of irrational or narrowly conceived exploitation is completely unthinkable."


"I hope that no one and least of all myself, will ever belittle this policy or the efforts that have gone into producing it."


The need to protect the environmental assets of Macedon Ranges for future generations is so fundamental, it should never be a matter for debate, or of politics or ideology.  It's a matter of principle and common sense.


Our sincere thanks to the Liberal National Coalition for their support.