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Wallan quarry call unlikely before election

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By Colin MacGillivray

Member for Yan Yean Danielle Green says she will be ‘shocked’ if the State Government delivers a verdict on a quarry proposed south of Wallan before November’s election.

Ms Green said with the caretaker period – a time prior to the election during which the government is unable to make significant appointments or policy decisions – looming on November 1, Planning Minister Lizzie Blandthorn was unlikely to have enough time to make a ruling on the matter.

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A decision on whether the quarry will go ahead was called in by former Planning Minister Richard Wynne in 2021, with Ms Blandthorn now responsible for the decision after inheriting the planning portfolio.

Last week the Review reported comments Ms Green made at a public meeting, stating she believed a conflict of interest would prevent Ms Blandthorn from making a call on the quarry.

Ms Green later clarified she had been mistaken and there was no conflict of interest.

Lobbyist Phil Reed, who lists Conundrum Holdings among his clients, is a former director at Hawker Britton – a lobbying firm that employs Ms Blandthorn’s brother John-Paul Blandthorn.

However Mr Reed left Hawker Britton in August 2018 and now runs his own lobbying business.

Ms Green said she mistakenly believed Mr Reed was still affiliated with Hawker Britton when she spoke at the meeting.

“It was my error, because a consultant who was advising the applicant used to work for Hawker Britton but doesn’t any longer. I had made an assumption and I was wrong,” she said.

“Hawker Britton is not acting for Conundrum Holdings. I apologise for the misunderstanding.

“I was trying to be transparent about the decision-making process and show people that [procedures around] conflicts of interest are adhered to.”

Ms Green said she did not expect a decision on the quarry before the State Election given Ms Blandthorn’s status as the Leader of the House in the Legislative Assembly.

“We are so busy at the moment. I’d be shocked if it’s soon,” she said.

“We’ve got a sitting week [this] week and a sitting week two weeks after that.

“I don’t have any inside knowledge, but I’m guessing that she’d be very busy trying to get our legislative program through, and we don’t have long until caretaker.”

Ms Green said it was good to have clarity about who would make the final call on the quarry.

Correction

In the Review’s August 23 edition, an article incorrectly stated that Conundrum Holdings challenged a Mitchell Shire Council decision to deny a planning permit for a quarry at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, VCAT.

Conundrum Holdings instead submitted an application to VCAT under section 79 of the Planning and Environment Act 1987 for the ‘failure of the responsible authority to grant the permit within the prescribed time’.

Council did not deny the planning permit – they failed to make a decision in time, prompting Conundrum Holdings’ action.

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