Open Letter to Hepburn Shire Council

Re: Local Law No. 2
Please, if you agree with the sentiments expressed in this letter, write to your local councillor and let them know, and add your name to the growing list of people opposing the law as it currently stands.

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To: The Mayor, Cr Licia Kokocinski
Cr Cottrell, Cr Henderson, Cr May, Councillor Newitt, Cr Redwood and Cr Robson
Hepburn Shire CEO, Evan King
General Manager Infrastructure, Bruce Lucas
Community Safety Officer, David George

Sunday, 12 January 2020

RE: Local Laws No.2


Dear Mayor, councillors and council officers,

We write in regard to the democratic process of the Local Laws review and the proposed laws themselves, as concerned residents from across the Hepburn Shire, and representatives of numerous Shire-wide community groups.

Last year, Hepburn Shire Council commenced a process to revise Local Law No. 2: Community Amenity and Municipal Places (LL2). In its communications with the public via the newsletter and Facebook, the Council referred to issues of numbers of cats and dogs, without referencing the many other areas governed by LL2 (see attached record of the Council’s public engagement). Due to these communications, most residents were left unaware that LL2 also governs ‘scavenging’ from the transfer station, firewood collection, trading in a public place, horse riding, planting on nature strips, and many other activities commonly undertaken in our community. Although the previously held laws that expired after 10 years were restrictive, we saw this as an opportunity to bring LL2 into modern alignment with the strong local values of low carbon living that we are renowned for.

When we became aware of the scope of LL2 in early October, we realised that considered input to the draft was needed. As you know, the level of interest has been very high, and Council extended the period for public submissions to 13 December, and held a Special Council Meeting to hear evidence from submitters on 16 December with around 100 community members and residents of the Shire in attendance.

You can find many of the community submissions on a website we have created at – we note that Council still has not made the more than 100 submissions it received available on its website.

On the Hepburn Community website, you will see a video of the community-led meeting we held on 3 December, This was to provide a democratic forum to air concerns, and to help other locals better understand what LL2 means for all of us, including the negative ways it impacts on our ability to create circular economies, and to achieve our Shire’s ambitious target of zero emissions by 2029 as set out in our community-wide Z-NET Strategy. It was a very productive expression of democratic participation with 150 people from across the Shire in attendance, including three of our seven councillors.

We understand that Local Laws are a normal part of the governance of local government areas, and that Hepburn’s LL2 (which expired on 17 November, 2019) is virtually a carbon copy of many other shires. We are also aware of the Better Practice Local Laws Strategy, and the Local Laws Manual that has detailed guidelines for establishing or amending local laws in consultation with community. It is clear the council’s LL2 Community Impact Statement (LLCIS) did not truly consult the community, and a Regulatory Statement of Intent has not been developed. While we understand these are not statutory requirements for the process, we believe a truly representative LLCIS should have been undertaken, and still could be, given the revised law is yet to be ratified and given the overwhelming interest in these laws and the process of both their making and revision.

What we are seeking from Council now, is a way to recover what has been in our view a process that appears set to result in an un-enforceable new version of LL2 that will prohibit or limit many low-carbon and community-led activities. These include community re-use and upcycling of materials from the Shire’s transfer stations, controlled grazing of goats on public land for community-led weed and bushfire safety, planting of edible and habitat trees on nature strips for community-led food security, and roadside and farm gate stalls which support local farmers and growers – an activity actively supported by the Andrews Government in its excellent work on Artisanal Agriculture.

We believe that LL2 as currently drafted will impose burdensome compliance requirements on these activities, while also giving the impression that they carry more risk than our experience has shown. We are concerned about the chilling effect the law will have on the many (currently unregulated) social activities that bring our community together in the Shire’s public places.

Further, given the climate emergency we have entered, which is further amplified by the current bushfire crisis, we position that there is a strong need and a matched local desire in our Shire for more community-led engagement around protection and management of shared assets. To unlock this potential for greater voluntary participation across the Shire, we need to see bespoke laws that seek to mainstream rather than prohibit this potential.

In the Special Council Meeting (Dec 16) members of the public respectfully called for the establishment of a working group to assist with re-drafting LL2. Re-drafting could constitute diverse members of the community representing many constituencies, especially but not only including First Nations people, youth, farmers, artists and artisans, landless and homeless, low-income members of the community and environmental groups.

We understand that Council has signalled an opportunity in subsequently drafting policy to sit behind LL2 to permit some activities with certain controls. We respectfully again submit that LL2, while built upon an expired existing one, now constitutes regulatory overreach, and is in need of thorough redrafting to better align with community leadership and culture, reflect the climate emergency, the shift to circular economies, and to enable and support all peoples’ right to collectively determine and organise our food, agriculture, energy, land management and resource systems. Once again, the Andrews Government’s SaferTogether program, which calls for greater participation between local agencies and the community to address increasing bushfire presence, should be noted here. We need to work together to be safer together.

Our wish is to work in collaboration with our Council. We thank the Council for hearing from the community through our submissions and at the Special Meeting, but believe for a truly participatory democratic process there needs to be open dialogue and a will to engage from all parties. We want our Shire to be an exemplar of a community working closely together with elected representatives and council officers to ensure the best outcomes for all residents. Generic and homogenised laws cannot perform this, they only erode the cultural diversity that makes our Shire a wonderful place to live and for which our Shire is well known.

We hope to work with councillors and council officers in the near future, and we request again, please form a community working group for LL2 so we can attain best practice law making and laws that support the diverse and rich cultural communities of the Shire.

Sincerely, 289 signatories from Bald Hill, Basalt, Blampied, Bullarto, Clunes, Clydesdale, Coomoora, Creswick, Daylesford, Drummond, Eganstown, Franklinford, Glenlyon, Hepburn, Korweinguboora, Lalgambook (Mt Franklin), Franklinford, Lyonville, Mollongghip, Mount Beckworth, Musk, Muskvale, Newlyn, Porcupine Ridge, Trentham, Wheatsheaf, Yandoit:

Adam Menegazzo, Adele Stevens, Airlie Morris, Alain Piere Babin, Almut Beringer, Amanda Hills, Amity Hudson, Amy Davis, Amy Gross, Amy Roberts, Andrew Dennis, Ani Wade, Anita McKone, Annabel Mazzotti, Anni Coyne, Annie Smithers, Ann-Maree Mackley, Annshar Wolfs, Anthony Petrucci, Anthony Scibelli, Arkie T. Williams, Arlene Scerri, Ashford McGee, B J Crebbin, Barbara Curzon-Siggers, Basil Eliades, Bettina Ralph DF, Bill O’Donnell, Bob Grisdale, Bohdan Evans, Brandon O’Connell, Brendan Eisner, Brenna Fletcher, Brenna Quinlan, Brian Cleary, Bridget Bodenham, Britt Shields, Bronwyn Sherar, Cameron Saunders, Carmel Thannhauser, Caroline Parker, Cassandra J Thorburn, Cate Graceson, Cath Davies, Catherine Byrnes, Catherine Le Roux, Cathy Walker, Cazerine Barry, Chandra Easton, Chantel Leaver, Charlotte Claire Dancer, Chris Fuller, Christy Flaws, Con Xanthos, Connor Ryan, Dale McDonald, Dallas Kinnear, Dallas Payne, Damian Tinetti, Danny Kinear, Danny Wootton, Dave Gill, Dave Marshall, David Grigg, David Holmgren, David Mandara, Debbie Rauber, Debora Semple, Debra Prasada Jai, Deri-Anne and Tim Wyatt, Devon Taylor, Di Parsons, Dianne van Baalen, Donna Snashall, Dora Berenyi, Doralinda Guidici, Elizabeth Huntley, Emily Bodenham, Emily Pullen, Evelynne Barns, Frances Guerin, Gary Thomas, Gerry Rauber, Gillian Trebilcock, Hans Henrik Johansen, Hartmut Veit, Heath Meyers, Heidi Keighran, Helen Davey, Helen Macdonald, Helen Mackley, Henry Mitchell, Herman Van Wichen, Ian Esmore, Ian Robertson, Ian Scott, James Browne, Jamin Walsh Menegazzo, Jan Brereton, Jan thompson, Jane Knight, Janet Gaden, Janet Wheatley, Janni Maree, Jason Dash, Jean-Marc Dupré, Jeff Stewart, Jen Bray, Jenni Draper, Jennie Wilmoth, Jennifer Comber, Jessica Holmes, Joanna Parker, Jodie Hawkins, Joey Arrow, John Nolan, John Ross, Jonathon Swan, Joseph Zizys, Juanita Broderick, Judith McNamara, Judy Harris, June Bowden, Justin Walsh, Jyoti Thomas, Karen and Danny Ellis, Karen kirkpatrick, Karl Fitzgerald, Karyn McColl, Kasie Watson, Kate Tunney, Kate Ulman, Kath Wratten, Kathryn Earley, Katie Gogill, Keith Pyers, Kellie Elisabeth, Kim Middleton, Kim Pender, Kim Percy, Kitka Hiltula, Knud Luke Kristensen, Koos Hulst, Kristen Leigh, Lal Von Steensen, Laurel Freeland, Laurie Varrasso, Lee Graham, Lee Paddock, Leon Rolls, Leon Verbene, Les Futo, Lesley Corcoran, Lily Langham, Lindy Churches, Liz Burns, Lols Jackson, Loris Duclos, Lorne Gerlach, Luana Boothey, Luke O’Connor, Madeleine Cristal, Maggie von Glesch, Maia Irell, Mandy McKay, Manu Green, Mara Ripani, Marcia McGrath, Maria Conti, Mark Dickenson, Marta Ryan, Mary Ellis, Mary Faith Chenery, Maryann Brown Wright, Matt Pearce, Matthew Phelan, Maureen Andrew, Max O’Shea, Meg Ulman, Melanie Brown, Melanie Earl, Melinda Sheared, Michelle Clifford, Michelle Rushworth, Michelle Symes, Mick Lester, Mick Watson, Mika Pediaditis, Mirella Gavidia, miri taube, Miriam Rotstein, Misty de van der Schueren, Moira Macdonald, Morgan Williams, Nada Celeste, Namita Trensky, Naomi Lacey, Natasha Morgan, Neil Jobson, Nicholas Rushworth, Nicole Punt, Nikki Marshall, Owen Rowe, Pamela Kurth, Patricia husek, Patrick Davey, Patrick Jones, Paul Armstrong, Paul Lemphers, Per Bernard, Peter Laszlo, Peter McCurly, Peter O’Mara, Peter Parsons, Peter Schenkel, Peter Tyndall, Petrus Spronk, Phil Hanson, Pierre Martin, Pip Pearce, Poppy Dahmer, River Morley, Rob Roy, Robert Burrowes, Robin Hallett, Rodney Baker, Rosalind Berry, Rosetta Moors, Rosi Ladner, Rosie Cooper, Ross Ulman, Rossco Andrew, Ruby Middleton, Ruth Anaba, ruth o’leary, Sam Parsons, Sambodhi Prem, Sandipa Gould, Sandy McKinley, Sarah Cameron, Sarah Corbet, Sarah Ruby Bird, Scott Rennie, Scott Wooden, Shelley White, Shirlene, Shonel Bryant, Simon Dyer, Simon Trevis, Sonia Shima, Stephan Panhuysen, Stephanie Barron, Stephanie Hodgins-May, stephany panhuysen, Steve Douglas, Steve Futo, Stuart Jonas, Su Dennett, Sue Hart, Sue Hauck, Susan Butcher, Susan Clabburn, Suzie St George, Tammi Jonas, Tania Petrini, Tara Duffy, Taryn Lane, Tegan Tinetti, Teresa Castley, Tessa Gardiner, Tibor Hegedis, Tim Anderson, Tim Burns, Tim Drylie, Tim Waldon, Todd Dales, Tom Logan, Tracy Tozer, Turner Gary, tyson jarred dean holopainen, Valiant Halborg, Vasko Drogriski, Victoria Varrasso, Wendy Goodwin, Yvonne Brosolo, Zachary Casper, Zara Nicolls, and Zoë Fox

This representative group is involved in the following local organisations from across the Shire: Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance, SHARE, Transition Creswick, Trentham Sustainability Group, Trentham Foodhub, Hepburn Relocalisation Network, Hepburn Z-NET, Daylesford Community Food Gardeners, Daylesford Repair Café, Localising Leanganook, Yandoit, Clydesdale and Franklinford Community Planning Group, Goathand Cooperative, Hepburn Wind, Hepburn Wholefoods Collective, Hepburn Seed Savers, Eganstown Cemetery Trust, Bullarto Hall Community of Management, Daylesford Community Opshop, Friends of Daylesford Community Park, Words In Winter Festival, Wild Fennel Herbal Group, Daylesford NYE Parade, Hepburn-Daylesford Community Bushfire Mitigation group, Rural Australians For Refugees Daylesford, Friends of Jubilee Lake, and many other community participants and residents are signed here too.

If you’d like to join the list of signatories to this letter, please fill out the form below: