20th of February 2024, 12:55
Legislative Council of Victoria, Melbourne

David ETTERSHANK (Western Metropolitan):

My constituency question is to the Minister for Environment in the other place. My constituent volunteers for a conservation group in the west and is passionate about native temperate grasslands of Victoria’s volcanic plains, which once covered a third of the state.

Announced in 2010, the Melbourne Strategic Assessment promised to protect 15,000 hectares of grassland through the western grassland reserve. More than a decade later only 18 per cent of that land has been acquired.

My constituent noted that multiple reports, including the parliamentary inquiry into ecosystem decline, a 2022 Victorian Auditor-General’s Office report and a 2023 state of the environment report, all underscore that we must move quicker to protect our critically endangered grasslands and the threatened species that inhabit them.

So my constituent asks: what is the government doing to accelerate the timely acquisition of western grassland reserve land, including sourcing alternate funding sources?

Written Answer
Received: 02 April 2024
Hon Steve Dimopoulos MP
(Minister for Environment, Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events, Minister for Outdoor Recreation)

I thank the member for his question regarding the Western Grassland Reserve.

The Melbourne Strategic Assessment (MSA) Program ensures that urban development in Melbourne’s four growth areas meets the requirements of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth), as well as Victorian environmental laws. The program is delivering a range of conservation actions to protect threatened species and ecosystems and secure their future with the aim of achieving ‘no net loss’ in biodiversity values.

The program streamlines the assessment and approvals process for developers, saving both money and time. Through this process, developers must pay the MSA levy to offset any impacts of their development on biodiversity. The levy goes towards securing and managing conservation reserves and programs, including acquisition of land for the 15,000-hectare Western Grassland Reserve. 

As of February 2024, we’ve made significant progress in meeting the target. We’re actively purchasing land as revenue is collected from developers via the MSA levy. We have also acquired land in 16 conservation areas around Melbourne and are fully committed to meeting the targets under the agreement.

The rate of land acquisition ensures offsetting keeps pace with development. This meets the requirements of the agreement between the Australian and Victorian Governments. Delivering the MSA program is entirely funded from the levy.

Find out more at www.msa.vic.gov.au


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