Anti-career supporters gather for the Mitchell Shire Council community forum
By Colin MacGillivray
ABOUT 40 members of the Wallan community attended a Mitchell Shire Council community forum opposing a quarry project south of town last week, but quarry operator Conundrum Holdings says the council turned him down the opportunity to present their point of view during the meeting.
Council officials and other community leaders spoke out against the quarry during the meeting at the Wallan Multi-Purpose Community Centre, including three local members of the Mitchell Shire Youth Council who said they were concerned about the effect that a career would have on the future of the region.
The quarry was twice pushed back by council before an independent planning committee recommended that the Victorian Planning Authority, VPA, add it to the North West Borough of Beveridge, PSP structure plan. The Beveridge North West PSP had previously been publicly displayed and approved without the inclusion of a quarry.
Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne later called on the Victoria Civil and Administrative Court, VCAT, to appeal against the council against the committee’s decision.
Mr. Wynne has convened a Ministerial Advisory Committee, which is currently hearing the evidence for and against the career and will make a recommendation to Mr. Wynne, who has the final say on whether the project should proceed.
Members of the public who attended Thursday night’s meeting said they felt they had been passed over in the planning process.
Uncle Andrew Gardiner, a Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung elder and former resident of Wallan, said the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation opposed the quarry because it would harm culturally significant sites near Wallan because neither Conundrum Holdings nor the government had hired traditional owners.
“To drop us into a ministerial advisory council is not enough,” he said.
“It’s about how much they can get out of an extraction process and fuck the rest. How does this affect people’s living conditions?
“People moved here because they want quality of life, and now they’re going to be challenged on whether they invested wisely.”
Mitchell Shire Youth Mayor Georgia Fletcher said she fears the quarry will stunt the growth of her hometown of Beveridge.
“I personally don’t want to see…opportunities taken away for the next 30 years,” she said.
Conundrum Holdings chief executive Ron Kerr said the group was denied the chance to present their side of the story at the community forum.
Mr Kerr said the board chose to “create and foster division with its taxpayer-funded partisan approach” rather than engage in open dialogue about careers.
“We, as career promoters and community members, have patiently waited for an invitation from the council to present key facts at this forum,” he said.
“Instead, we had to contact the council directly on May 10 to participate. However, this request was ignored – disappointing but consistent with the Board’s lack of genuine commitment.
“The Council’s one-sided campaign is denying jobs and opportunities in our region, while ignoring our business, our workers and our customers as local taxpayers.
“It ignores a real sense of community seen in comments on the council’s own social media posts.”
The council’s head of strategic planning, Travis Conway, acknowledged the appearance of pro-career comments on the council’s social media posts, but said they represented a minority of Mitchell Shire residents.
“There is clear community opposition. Yes, on social media there are comments, but the vast majority of the community is against it,” he said.
“At [Wallan Market] … there was one night where we spoke to 150 or 200 people and there were two people who said they wanted the career, and the others said no. This is a clear sign of how the community feels.
Mr Conway said the ministerial advisory committee is now hearing testimony from expert witnesses and the council will present its submission on June 6.
“Depending on where we are, the whole planning system is out of balance,” he said.
“To date, the government seems to favor resource policy, but there are other policies that have to be weighed against this. It hasn’t seen the light of day yet. »
Wally Mott, owner of the land on which the quarry is proposed, is also the owner of North Central Review.