Frustrations in relationships between the State and Local Government are demonstrated by the rather amusing presentation of the report at an Ordinary Meeting of Council titled ‘Municipal Strategic Statement – Maps’, presented on the 24th October 2011. The report recommended that Council request the Minister for Planning to reinstate the Municipal Strategic Statement maps (aka framework plans). The absence of maps had given rise to problems with implementing the planning scheme across the City of Port Phillip.
Cr Thomann asked if the maps had ‘disappeared’. The officer’s response was to explain that council’s reference to Fishermans Bend was in part to blame as that had resulted in inconsistencies with what the Planning Minister was planning. A State policy for Fishermans Bend, which had not clearly been announced but contradicted the position taken by the City of Port Phillip, gave rise to issues with implementing the existing planning scheme all the way down in Elwood. Powning questioned reinstating the maps, suggesting that the reinstatement would not deal with the minister’s concerns. The officer suggested that negotiations would be undertaking with the minister. One of the options would be to remove Fishermans Bend. However, as the entire planning scheme is at the mercy of Planning Minister approval, the City of Port Phillip had little power to do anything other than make requests.
Although both of the local papers were represented by a journalist earlier in the meeting, they had left by the time Cr Powning (Mayor at the time and so Chairperson of the meeting) described the actions of the Planning Minister’s office as ‘throwing the baby out with the bath water’ and described the situation as an ‘opportunity for the Minister to make some people happy… [as] he hasn’t had that opportunity.’