Environmental Justice Australia (EJA) welcomes the Victorian government announcement this morning that an independent Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) will be appointed to advise the Victorian Planning and Water Ministers on protection and enhancement of waterways in Melbourne’s West.
EJA lawyer, Dr Bruce Lindsay said: ‘The inquiry will provide an important opportunity for community input into urban design measures more sympathetic to the health of these waterways and the liveability of the West. It follows a similar process that led to the Yarra River Protection (wilip-gin Birrarung murron) Act 2017.’
Environmental Justice Australia and two local community groups, Friends of Steele’s Creek and the Werribee River Association, are leading the Rivers of the West campaign. The campaign has involved many local groups up and down the west’s waterways, sharing ideas and developing a vision and model for law and policy reform for the western waterways.
Dr Lindsay continued: ‘Communities caring for waterways say that the current approach is unsustainable and that new approaches to the protection and priority of creeks and rivers are necessary. We welcome the MAC taking on and continuing that conversation.’
‘To be successful it is important that the MAC’s remit clearly includes consideration of the values and protection of all the west’s waterways, including the smaller urban creeks of the West as well as the Maribyrnong and Werribee Rivers.’
‘It will also be important that the MAC is given scope to consider any water management issues, alongside land-use planning issues, it considers important to the long-term protection and improvement of the health of these important natural assets in the West.’
EJA was instrumental in getting ground-breaking legal safeguards for the Yarra River passed in the Victorian Parliament in 2017. The Rivers of the West campaign is seeking to have the Maribyrnong and Werribee Rivers and other smaller waterways acknowledged as valuable community assets and better protected in law.