End the secrecy

In an excellent speech to Parliament on February 4, local member, Amanda Millar, stated that "hundreds of concerns" have been raised with her about the proposed development at Hanging Rock. 

She further stated that "many locals have raised with me their concerns about a lack of transparency, accountability and consultation".

This should not be the case - MRSC has a comprehensive consultation policy, which should have been implemented long ago in this process. 

The council will say that there has been public consultation, as they called a meeting of the Hanging Rock Advisory Committee for the night before the council meeting at which the consultant's report was to be discussed. The advisory committee was given a PowerPoint presentation, and sworn to secrecy. No minutes were kept of this meeting, in contravention of council policy. 

The advisory committee, which should have teeth, doesn't - it appears to be a de facto cheer squad for the council, as it is made up mostly of councillors, council officers and organisations whose interests are best served by keeping council on side. It rarely meets, and is very poorly attended when it does. 

MRSC also has an admirable policy which says that any errors made by council will be corrected at the first opportunity. 

The pile of errors in documents and utterances about Hanging Rock continues to grow, but not one has been corrected. The decisions that council has made have largely been based on demonstrably incorrect information, and as a result a seriously flawed and skewed 'consultant brief' was prepared, titled 

Hanging

Rock 

Reserve

Development

 & 

Investment

Plan, 

dated September,

2011

The plan presents a list of stakeholders in the Rock - ominously, there is no mention of the community, residents, ratepayers or visitors. Adding insult to injury, I was astonished to find that access to the document, which directs the fate of the community-owned East Paddock, had to be obtained under Freedom Of Information (by Hanging Rock Action Group). No doubt the consultant's expensive report (costing $100,000, which would have been better spent on works at the Rock) will be the same.

It is time for MRSC to end the secrecy and fully inform the community of the real facts of this project; it is also time to genuinely consult with, and listen to, that community, before this embarrassing and costly folly goes any further.

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