Dr David Holmgren

by Dr David Holmgren | Dec 5, 2019 | Local Law No. 2 Submissions | 0 comments


This submission primarily addresses current and future informal uses of public land by local residents that would be adversely affected if the proposed draft law was adopted by Council in its current form. 


The informal use of public land by local residents has been a strong and continuing practise throughout Hepburn shire that contributes to self and collective provision within household and community non-monetary economies. Although affluence since the 1960’s eroded many of these informal uses, beginning in the 1980s, there has been a reinvigoration of informal use and management of public land especially around the towns of Daylesford and Hepburn that is currently gaining momentum and sophistication. 

The reasons for this increase are many but include factors both local and global. 

  • Increasing costs and red tape required, before even the simplest management can be undertaken (by Council and government departments). 
  • Increasing opposition to conventional methods of management of public land (especially involving chemicals). 
  • Accelerating impacts of climate change, especially bushfire threat. 
  • Rapid growth of interest in wild food foraging, keeping domestic livestock, salvage and repurposing goods and materials. 
  • A broader interest in redeveloping informal non-monetary household and community economies as a hedge against economic recession or depression. 
  • Rapidly mounting concern about more severe impacts of the climate emergency and other growing risks including financial system collapse, geo political conflict and acceleration constriction of civil rights by all levels of government 

As these and other real and/or perceived threats materialise, informal use of public land will certainly explode from the practices of a minority to those of the majority. 

In light of the recommendations made in our consultancy to Hepburn Shire Council on Energy Descent Action Planning (2011) and the more recent declaration of a climate emergency, the proposed General Local Law No2 2019 is a stunning example of governance dysfunction that sets up Hepburn Shire Council for an unwinnable collision with household and community self-provision and self-regulation. 

Whether by ignorance or deliberate push back against the rising tide of local household and community use and management of public land in Hepburn Shire, this law if enacted will; either

  • require a massive increase in pointless and unproductive work for council staff and costs for ratepayers that could be spent much more productively (more of what is technically described as “bullshit jobs”) Or
  • Galvanise a politicisation of action in defiance of this law and lead to a situation where Council and its regulatory functions are ignored by the community.


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