About 40 members of the No Quarry for Beveridge/Wallan community group protested on the steps of the Parliament of Victoria on Wednesday, presenting a petition with more than 1300 signatures calling to stop the quarry. ​

By Colin MacGillivray

Opponents of a proposed quarry south of Wallan believe their voices are starting to be heard at a state level after protesting on the steps of the Parliament of Victoria last week.

More than 40 members of the No Quarry For Beveridge/Wallan community group gathered on Wednesday to present Member for the Northern Metropolitan Region and Reason Party leader Fiona Patten with a petition calling for the State Government to scrap plans for a quarry.

The final decision on whether the quarry will be included in a future Beveridge North West Precinct Structure Plan, PSP, rests with Planning Minister Richard Wynne.

Mr Wynne will make his decision after a ministerial advisory committee, which is currently hearing arguments for and against the quarry, makes a recommendation about whether it should proceed.

No Quarry For Beveridge/Wallan spokesperson Skye Forster said the people of Wallan had been denied a voice during the planning process because the PSP was amended to include a quarry after being publicly displayed without one.

She said a chance to protest on the steps of Parliament and present the petition bearing 1365 signatures to Ms Patten made the group feel as if its voice was finally being heard.

“It means that in some small part we can make ourselves heard, because our main contention this entire time has been that the community voice has been removed from the process and we’ve had to fight to be included and be heard,” she said.

“[The quarry] was not included in community consultation, so this is really about us forcing the State Government to listen to us in some way.”

Ms Patten thanked the group for presenting its petition and stopped to talk with members of Mitchell Youth Council who attended the protest.

Other politicians including Victorian Greens leader Samantha Ratnam, Liberal Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell, Liberal Member for the Northern Metropolitan Region Craig Ondarchie and Labor Member for Yan Yean Danielle Green also addressed the group.

Ms Ratnam commended the protestors for their stance.

“We’re starting to see real fault lines in our planning and environmental protection systems. This is another case of that,” she said.

“There are opportunities for the government to rethink their decisions. We see this stuff in planning all the time where it seems like decisions are made and then no one will walk back from that.

“You’ve got our backing. We’re going to be raising this in the Parliament as much as we possibly can.

“Keep turning up, keep raising your voices, keep writing letters, keep calling your MPs because it does work and those voices do get amplified in the chamber.”

Member for Yan Yean Danielle Green commended the quarry protestors for exercising their democratic right to protest.

Ms Green stopped short of saying she opposed the quarry but said she was heartened by the community’s engagement with the issue.

“It’s difficult at the moment because there is a process that has to be gone through and I know that its not easy for the community,” she said.

“I’m glad that the community has had its say through that process and is having its say through this [protest].”

Mitchell Shire councillor Rob Eldridge reiterated council’s stance against the proposed quarry.

“We have a master planned community for two huge new suburbs of Beveridge and Wallan, and at the end of that there will be 160,000 people. In the middle of it there will be a quarry,” he said.

“It’s a mortgage belt and it will have disastrous results from an economic, social and environmental point of view. There is no upside to this.”

Ms Forster said she felt hopeful the group’s message was beginning to gain traction.

“[Wallan] can feel pretty lonely in comparison to larger towns that are able to garner more interest because there is something iconic there,” she said.

“There was a fight about [a proposed quarry in] Arthurs Seat, but Arthurs Seat is an iconic Melbourne location and Wallan doesn’t necessarily have that to leverage.

“What we do have is a community that cares really deeply about each other and the place we live.”

In a statement, quarry operator Conundrum Holdings’ managing director Ron Kerr said he respected rights of anti-quarry demonstrators to protest.

“Conundrum Holdings respects the democratic system in our state, which allows each and every Victorian to have a voice,” he said.

“At this time our concentration is focused on the ministerial advisory committee hearing.

“As humble servants of the state, we will continue to respect and participate in the planning process in good faith. We thank everyone who has supported our proposal so far.”

Wally Mott, the owner of the land on which the quarry is proposed, is also the owner of the Review.

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