|Despite these ten very obvious and
profound differences, the Council and the planners can see no
disparity between trees and potatoes.
LATE last week all those people who submitted input to the previous
PAL Act in the Meander Valley received a 2 centimetre thick document
from the local council.
It declared that there had been 550 pages of input from 221 people,
resulting in a 331 page reply.
The only thing this achieved was a small amendment to the wording
of two subsection paragraphs of 3.6.3.x.x.x relating to errors
and boundary definitions. Every other point and every other submission
has been rejected and the planning department deemed that no change
is necessary to the current PAL Act Amendment. We have totally
wasted our time.
As far as we can gather, the only effective difference between
the new amendment and the old is that the 40 hectare clause has
been dropped - not by any desire of the council, but from instructions
from higher authority. However, the $1 million clause remains,
which effectively nullifies any application for building permission
in the rural areas.
The only consideration for an application is that it must be for
agricultural purposes and must be accompanied by a farm plan prepared
by a suitably qualified person. With the exception
of some tourism, living on the land you own, hobby farms and other
pursuits are disallowed.
The answers in the report have been prepared by the Planning Department,
and the Amendment is expected to be rubber-stamped at the next
Meander Valley Council meeting and submitted to the RPDC. This
report on the local input, which has virtually been rejected in
its entirety, has been laid out in sections and in three columns.
A paraphrase of the question in the first column, a brief stereotyped
reply in the second and the action, which in almost every case
is to recommend no action to be taken, in the third column. I
feel there should be a fourth column added to show the Councillors
response to the Planners, as to whether or not they accept their
recommendations. This would give us a clear indication of where
we stand and just who is standing up for our rights.
We have been told that if the planning department does not conform
with the government instructions, then we risk that the RPDC will
take over this function. In effect it has already happened, and
the local planners are reflecting only those views expressed in
the PAL Act and nothing of the local inhabitants wishes. All the
private and public meetings, petitions and activities of the Action
groups have been completely ignored as though they did not happen.
Any appeals against a planning decision are to the RPDC. There
is no necessity for the Government to take over or amalgamate
the councils as these have already become simply an arm of the
This is one step nearer to dictatorship and a Totalitarian State
and it would appear that our local council concurs with this point
Throughout the replies, we have been informed that the Government
defines plantations as an agricultural crop and states that it
should be treated no differently from any other agricultural crop.
This has eagerly been seized on by the planning department of
the council and has been used to nullify a vast proportion of
the objections. Despite the fact that the residents of the area
can see a difference, apparently the council takes this at its
face value, but when examining the facts, there is a vast difference
between a farm and a plantation. Even the Federal Government acknowledges
this difference, but the RPDC fails to see it.
Firstly, plantations receive preferential treatment at every level
of government, to the exclusion of real agriculture. They are
given a one hundred percent tax break at Federal level, which
encourages the MIS companies to sell lots in advance for huge
profits, and then buy up our productive farmland to satisfy this
appetite for money.
Second, plantations are subsidised at State levels, and where
other land owners are required to pay Land Tax where they do not
live on their property, the new owners are excused this burden.
Third, A PTR or private timber estate only pays a token rate to
the local council, thus putting the burden for this subsidy on
all the other ratepayers.
Fourth, it is given precedence over every other crop, and does
not require planning permission is not subject to all the other
rules that control food farmers.
Fifth, it is allowed to pollute its neighbours with cancer-causing
aerial sprays, and the neighbour has to make way for this chemical
trespass on his own land.
Sixth, plantations are given water rights that the rest of the
community does not enjoy, and they are also responsible for the
depleted and polluted water in our catchment areas.
Seventh, once a plantation has been established, the fertile land
is lost to true agriculture forever, and the soil is ruined and
the crop becomes a major polluter, eventually when it is harvested,
adding substantially to the greenhouse gases of the planet.
Eighth, plantation timber lots are now traded on the stock exchange.
Ninth, however much you boil them, you cant eat trees.
Tenth, plantations do not employ people to run them and do not
support any local activity or business, plus they create unemployment
in the farming and related community.
Despite these ten very obvious and profound differences, the Council
and the planners can see no disparity between trees and potatoes.
It is also noteworthy that the amendment has to be submitted to
the RPDC by the 31st October - the exact date when the new council
is to be declared. This does not allow any new council members
to either examine or have any input into the decisions made for
them by the outgoing council. This is clearly wrong.
It is also noted that the current amendment has not been shown
to the public and is following exactly the same format as the
previous one, and from what one can gather from the council replies
to questions, is almost a direct copy of the old one and conforms
to the requirements of the state government completely. Again,
they have been working in secret There is no pretence of listening
to or representing the local people.
Local councils are becoming simply an organ of the State.
Democracy is DEAD!