News | 18th Oct, 2012

Senior Lib admits green wedge fears

Thursday, 18 October 2012
Jason Dowling, The Age

A senior member of the Victorian Liberal Party has taken a swipe at the Baillieu government's stewardship of Melbourne's green wedge areas.

In a speech to be made to the Mount Eliza Business School tonight, the federal member for Flinders, Greg Hunt, says ''my father instilled in me the notion that as policymakers, if we fail to think in generational terms then we are in effect stealing the future from our grandchildren. In that context I understand community fears about proposed changes to the state's planning policy and the green wedge, which has enjoyed bipartisan support for 40 years''.

The Baillieu government has extended Melbourne's urban boundary into green wedge areas and is proposing to relax development rules there as part of wider planning changes.

In his speech, Mr Hunt says the Mount Eliza area ''carries with it an historic lesson in terms of leadership and vision''.

He said his father, former state politician Alan Hunt, battled to protect the area in the face of leadership of the party strongly supporting ''clearing away the rural buffer between Mount Eliza and Mornington to allow housing across the area''.

''On the other hand, the local community, much of the planning community and those with a general love of the region felt that this would destroy the peninsula's unique place as a sanctuary and green oasis for all of Melbourne.

''In the end, dad chose the people over the party. Ultimately he won support of then Planning Minister Dick Hamer. The battle was won but his career was deferred. The two then worked to create the green wedges policy, which was formally adopted in 1968 and legislated in 1971,'' he said.

Alan Hunt was later Planning Minister in the Hamer government and helped develop green wedge policies.

The Baillieu government's proposed changes to Victoria's planning zones, including green wedge areas is believed to have generated thousands of submissions. It is unclear if the submissions will be made public. 

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