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Adjournment: Northcote golf course

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Samantha Ratnam
Leader of the Victorian Greens
28 October 2020

My adjournment today is for the minister representing the Minister for Planning.

Over recent months residents across Northcote, Thornbury, Brunswick and Coburg have enjoyed the rolling plains and open green vistas of the Northcote Public Golf Course. This usually quiet, relatively unknown green refuge with just a few putters on it has been opened up to become a vibrant community space, with kids playing and exploring, couples meandering and people jogging.

The Greens are proud to have led local calls for retaining walking access to the golf course beyond the coronavirus lockdown, with a special acknowledgement to Cr Trent McCarthy for committing to take this up as his first piece of business when the new councillors are elected.

This open-space transformation is just one example that shows just how important local green space is to our communities and how we have embraced and cherished it, particularly during the coronavirus restrictions.

With 76 per cent of Victorians living in greater Melbourne, open space is critically important to the livability of our suburbs. Parks improve physical and mental health and provide ecosystem services and urban biodiversity.

Yet as urban infill and development marches on, more and more of our garden and green space is lost. While there are many significant benefits of medium-density neighbourhoods, it is critically important that the livability of our neighbourhoods is not lost.

At the heart of this is having an abundance of greenery and open space.

Successive state governments have provided little oversight, overall direction and strategic planning for the provision of public open space across metropolitan Melbourne. Responsibility for providing open space is allocated to local governments under Victorian planning laws.

But there are no safeguards as to minimum levels and no targets, and few guidelines for councils to work towards. As a result, established inner-city municipalities generally have less open space per person than outer and growth municipalities.

Successive governments have exploited the lack of Victorian overarching open-space protection laws to try to ram through major projects like the east–west tollway and the North East Link, which would see a permanent loss of open space in the affected local communities.

Back in 2014, the first iteration of Plan Melbourne recommended an overarching strategy for protecting and enhancing public green open space in Melbourne. This recommendation also survived the 2017 Plan Melbourne revision and is apparently to be delivered in the medium time frame of the five-year implementation plan.

But six years on we are still waiting.

The action I seek from the government is that they deliver the open-space strategy for Melbourne urgently and that it sets strong targets and protections for open space that can’t easily be undone or sidestepped.

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Samantha Ratnam
Leader of the Victorian Greens
28 October 2020
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