A fanatic is someone who loses sight of their original objective, and redoubles their efforts to achieve it. That sums up the Brumby Government’s approach to planning in Victoria.
What is clear from numerous VCAT and Heritage assessment hearings is the inexorable shift in favour of development at any price. That shift is due to the State Government’s inexorable tightening and controlling of the public institutions and processes that deal with planning issues, to the detriment of local councils and their stakeholders – us!
Melbourne 2030 is a flawed planning blueprint delivering the wrong outcomes in the wrong places, due to
selective exploitation by developers
emasculation of councils & local stakeholders
a captive VCAT review process
Despite clear evidence of hopelessly wrong assumptions and projections about population growth, water capacity, infrastructure and public transport needs, the Brumby Government still says “we know what’s best for you and for where you live.”
The Government’s election pledge seven years ago that “we will protect what you love about your neighbourhood” is exposed as a cynical pledge, never delivered.
If you live in country Victoria and challenge the Government on water allocation, the Premier will call you a liar.
If you’re a commuter and mention the two biggest obstacles to viable public transport in Victoria – Myki and Kosky – you’re ungrateful.
If you’re one of the 120 resident action groups across Victoria that dares to criticize Melbourne 2030, you’re a noisy, elite minority.
The Government’s own review of Melbourne 2030 confirmed what everyone else knew – it was a failure. What was the Government’s answer? It was the fanatic’s response.
- Strip away local council’s planning powers and authority
- Strip away your rights to intervene in planning processes
- Create a new layer of bureaucracy called Development Assessment Committees
- Stack these Committees with unelected Government nominees, and
- Hijack the existing council planning approval process
Make no mistake – the new Committee regime is the Government’s desperate attempt to put Melbourne 2030 on life support.
The precise functions and powers of the new Committees are still a state secret. Mary Drost and I had a meeting scheduled with the Planning Minister Justin Madden, two week ago, but his minders cancelled it at the last minute.
If the postponed meeting actually happens, we’’ll ask about stripping local council planning powers.
We’ll ask about stripping residents’ rights to be heard in planning matters.
We’ll ask if local councils can nominate their own councillors to the new Committees.
We’ll ask if the Minister will surrender his own intervention powers to the new Committees.
We’ll ask about the role of the Municipal Association of Victoria.
The MAVhas an important role in the new regime, because it will chair the 5-member Committees.
The MAV website has a lot of reassuring, motherhood statements about the importance of local government. Try this, from the Future of Local Government Summit, June 2006:
"Local government’s time has arrived – it needs to lead change and pursue self-regulation by being open and accountable.
"Local government will be the centre of government in the twenty-first century but needs to change the way it interacts with the community. Such change is best implemented at the local level and the sector needs to be the active driver of this reform, not the passive recipient."
Well, the question must be asked, what has the MAV done in the face of the Government’s seizure of local government planning powers? The answer is – very little!
Yet its own website confirms that it was established over 100 years ago “to watch over and protect the interests, rights and privileges of municipal corporations. (Municipal Association Act, 1907)”.
Where is the MAV in this debate? The MAV is MIA - Missing in Action!!!
Will the Minister submit his new laws to a vote in the Upper House?
Will the Minister admit that Melbourne 2030 is the problem, and not the answer?
The Brumby Government’s Melbourne 2030 plan is Monty Python’s dead parrot in the pet shop. You’ll remember the disgruntled customer bringing back his dead bird, 30 minutes after he bought it.
Customer: Now that's what I call a dead parrot.
Pet shop Owner: No, no.....he’s not dead, ‘E's stunned!
O: Yeah! You stunned him, just as he was wakin' up! Norwegian Blues stun easily, major.
C: That parrot is definitely deceased…
O: The Norwegian Blue prefers kippin' on it's back! Remarkable bird, id'nit squire? Lovely plumage!
C: 'E's passed on! This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! 'E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker! 'E's a stiff! Bereft of life! 'E's kicked the bucket, 'e's shuffled off 'is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisible!!
And as with Monty Python’s dead parrot, so it is with Melbourne 2030 … whatever Justin says!
July 6, 2008