A tale of the PMAV and the quiet death of democracy at the hands of a public appointed minister.
While this isn’t directly a new park story, it may as well be.
Prospectors have had limited access to a number of goldfields parks since they were created through the ECC’s (VEAC’s predecessor) Box Ironbark process.
Government has given ownership of 6 parks to the Dja Dja Wurrung people and are leasing them back. They have transferred ownership in ‘fee simple’ – they own the land outright!
When this process was beginning, the PMAV were assured this would not affect prospector’s access so we stopped engaging in the process. Then the draft joint management plan was released. There were proposals for prospectors to lose access to another 13,500 hectares of public land.
We paid more attention and involved ourselves in the process by making a submission and having the Board preparing the plan at 2 PMAV meetings.
We investigated how we reached this stage in the first place. Various government websites, including VEAC’s, still said that the transfer of ownership would not affect access rights.
So we tried to get a meeting with our phantom Environment Minister, Lily D’Ambrosio to express our concerns. We also tried to meet with the chair of the Board, Graham Atkinson, to negotiate an agreed outcome. Atkinson refused and, despite numerous phone calls and emails we are still to hear from D’Ambrosio or her office.
Imagine our surprise and disgust when we learned the plan had been launched last week. If this is the Andrews Government’s idea of democracy there is a lot lacking.
For those interested in learning more, including the the final plan and PMAV response, please see BUGU information page.
And for you non-prospectors, don’t get complacent.
There are heaps of other restrictions in the plan with more to come.