Land use investigation
THE last assessment into public land use was more than 30 years ago, so in 2017 the Victorian Environment Assessment Council (VEAC) started the central west investigation which includes Wellsford, Mount Cole and Pyrenees Range forests. A draft report of more than 200 pages has been released after the first public submission period and some of the recommendations include:
- Retaining 80 per cent of state forests in the Mount Cole, Mount Lonarch, Beaufort and Glenmona areas providing for timber harvesting and recreation;
- Improved protection for forest ecosystems and the habitat of more than 350 threatened species;
- The game sanctuary declared will be revoked to allow recreational hunting of deer in the Mount Cole-Pyrenees block;
- Government establishes a policy or process that prioritises access to domestic firewood to local communities most reliant on this resource; and
- A framework to cater for increasing recreational use in a way that minimises conflicts between uses and protects the natural values on which they depend.
The Environment Minister said: “These forests and reserves have been loved over many years and under a re-elected Labor Government they’ll continue to remain open for future generations to enjoy.”
There has been an ongoing process to deliberately make people feel worried and fearful with scare campaigns about this particular issue implying that the Victorian public land is being turned into locked National Parks with no access and all activities banned. Our local Liberal MP Louise Staley says she has been at the forefront of opposing changes from forest to national parks in Ripon, has spoken at BUGU (Bush User Groups United) rallies and presented a petition to Parliament. Some interest groups, such as BUGU seem to have at their core the presumption that our protected public land is there for their own individual use as they see fit and it is “un-Australian” or “green” to suggest otherwise.
The Environment Minister’s media release dated August 31 stated: “The Labor Government can assure the community that existing well-loved recreational activities will be protected and notes that VEAC themselves recommend that four-wheel driving, trail bike and horse riding, mountain biking, car rallies, bushwalking and camping should continue – something the Labor Government supports. We understand our gold rush started with intrepid prospectors and we will ensure they continue to have a place on public land through this review.”
VEAC’s second public comment period closes on December 10. VEAC will consider all submissions received to develop the final report before submitting it to the government which then has six months to respond and accept some, all or none of the recommendations. More information can be found at www.veac.vic.gov.au/investigation/central-west-investigation
Veronica Monaghan, Stawell
Calling all band members
IN JANUARY 1869 a committee was formed in order to start a brass band in Casterton. Many of the original instruments were purchased using a generous donation given by George Robertson of ‘Warrock’. It is unlikely that group of men would envisage the band’s survival into the 21st century, but 150 years on – now known as the Casterton Vice Regal Band – plans are underway to celebrate the love of music that must have fostered their original undertaking.
The Casterton Vice Regal Band – given the title in Merino in 1918 by the then Governor of Victoria – has survived fluctuating memberships and changes of name as well as musical formats.
Today it has a membership which ranges in age from eight years to the late 80s. As well as a core member base, the band is supplemented on occasion by members from other local bands and returning members.
A weekend of celebration, simply ‘for the love of music’, is planned for February 16 and 17, 2019. A street parade and afternoon of music followed by a musicians’ dinner are planned for the Saturday; and a massed band tribute to the original founders for the Sunday morning.
Band members are keen to hear from anyone formerly associated with the band so invitations can be sent out. In addition any musicians (whether members of bands or not) are most welcome to come and help celebrate.
If you would like to attend, or want more information, email email@example.com or contact the Facebook page or post to PO Box 64, Casterton, 3311.
Suzanne Kelly, secretary, Casterton Vice Regal Band
Stay safe by the water
DROWNING is one of the leading causes of accidental death of children up to four years. There has been a significant reduction in the rate of drowning amongst toddlers, but we will not stop campaigning until the number of deaths is zero. Our research sadly reveals 965 children aged up to four drowned in Australia between July 1, 1993 and June 30, 2018.
With the warmer weather approaching, many families and children will be spending time around the pool and other waterways to cool off. Please actively supervise children at all times when they are around water. Stay close and within arm’s reach.
Faulty latches and hinges or propped open gates are the primary risk factors in home pool drowning deaths of young children. We urge people to check their pool fence and gate to ensure they are in working order, and never prop the gate open.
It can take just a few moments for a child to slip away unnoticed. Drowning is often quick and silent. We can all play a role in preventing tragedies.
Justin Scarr, chief executive, Royal Life Saving Society – Australia