VICTORIAN Planning Minister, Matthew Guy, has paid a visit to the Western District to discuss planning issues with local shires and brush up on his knowledge of regional Victoria.
Mr Guy dropped in to Jigsaw Farms in Hensley Park to see a shift of lamb shearing in action, along with Western Victoria MP David O’Brien.
“We’re just visiting a couple of country councils, starting at Glenelg and ending up in West Wimmera and Hindmarsh.
“It’s important that myself as a Minister gets out and actually comes with local MPs and sees farms, sees towns, sees councils first hand and has a conversation.
“We made changes to our Farming Zones a few months ago and we’re discussing with councils about whether they’re pleased or whether there needs to be changes or amendments we need to make.”
Mr Guy, a former marketing manager for the Victorian Farmers Federation, was given the chance to see a Greater Hamilton woolshed in action and have a chat with shearers, rouseabouts and their boss.
Mr O’Brien has recently been promoting his suggestion to use changes to Farming Zones to allow more residential subdivisions.
Mr O’Brien said he had asked the Planning Minister to look into ways of making housing and farming land use more efficient.
“The practices of subdivision have tended to be that if you had a larger property you tended to chop it up into 40 to 80 acre lifestyle bocks,” he said.
“We should be reviewing these rules to allow houses to be in closer proximity and to preserve a greater amount of farmland.
“This would obviously be an additional tool but it would be necessarily right for all areas and not something we would impose.”
Regardless of the method used, regional population and economic growth was on the agenda for the Ministerial visit.
Mr Guy said part of the visit involved engaging with areas where “population decline has been a feature for the last two or three decades.”
Full story in the Spectator on Thursday, December 19, 2013