Mary-Anne Thomas MP, State Member for Macedon
It’s time to provide some facts in response to the Macedon Ranges Residents Association’s scaremongering on planning reforms to support local farmers.
Firstly it is the Andrews Labor Government that has delivered the highest level of planning controls available to guard against inappropriate development in the Macedon Ranges; controls the MRRA has been seeking for decades.
Planning controls now protect the many environmental and cultural treasures in our region while guarding against overdevelopment in our townships.
Agriculture is also a vital part of our region’s history and we see that tradition continue today with Macedon Ranges farmers at the leading edge of ethical, restorative and sustainable agriculture.
Importantly our legislated planning protection recognises this legacy and seeks to preserve rural land in our region and ensure it is not encroached upon by housing development.
Alongside these historic planning reforms, the Andrews Labor Government is making it simpler and easier for farmers to farm in the farm zone, while clearly stipulating that permits must be obtained in the rural conservation zone for poultry farms greater than 100 birds and for all pig farms. Chicken farms of more than 10,0000 birds are explicitly prohibited. These reforms recognise that there are already small, low-density farms operating across the Macedon Ranges.
What is happening in the Macedon Ranges is the opposite of industrial-scale farming.
We should be proud to be home to a growing number of small artisanal and premium food producers. From pastured eggs to rare-breed chickens, pigs and cattle, from fresh honey and organic vegetables to cheese and olives, our farmers are growing the foods people want to buy at farmers markets and at premium food outlets.
These producers are part of what makes our region unique and should be celebrated and supported. Our common sense planning reforms are designed to do just that.