Petro Giorgiou's inquiry into Local Government could not be more timely and Macedon Ranges Shire Council should be the first recipient of scrutiny.
On September 4, council voted 5 to 4, bypassing its own Framework of Community Consultation, to disfigure Hanging Rock, a local and Australian icon, by approving development of a 100-bed conference centre, cabins by the creek and a yoga platform on the Rock Reserve - sacred site of the Taungurung people.
Stated justification is a $300,000 shortfall in revenue for maintenance. Council cites 'commercial in confidence' for not providing figures for ratepayers to examine in relation to the Development and Investment Plan put out for private investment at Hanging Rock. We are expected to accept this lack of transparency.
Further justification for scrutiny is the passing of the C84 Amendment which, after five years of consultation changed the agreed aims of the Settlement Strategy and opened the doors for large scale development in Woodend. Strong opposition was displayed by Gisborne residents to council plans to develop Daly Reserve, yet council persists.
The Loddon Mallee Regional Growth Plan was on the agenda for this week's council meeting but council failed to notify the more than 100 residents who made submissions to that document. Some councillors need to be reminded of the statutory obligations they have to the people who have elected them.Where is (Planning Minister) Matthew Guy in all this? He made an election promise to the people of the MacedonRanges to restore Planning Policy No. 8. If this promise had been acted upon, we would not now be in the position of acouncil siding with developers and ignoring the community and environmental concerns of its residents.