I applaud the delay in implementation of this strategy document, giving those affected by the proposed changes a chance to respond. The strategy appears flawed by some faulty assumptions and leaps in logic. One of the Key Strategic Directions of the policy is a stated aim to “support agriculture and protect rural farmed landscape”. It assumes that increasing the minimum lot size will protect the rural landscape and concludes that 100Ha is the best subdivision size and 250Ha is the right size for a house entitlement, both currently set at 40Ha.
I ask where the evidence for these key decisions is. I would contend that most 40Ha blocks are better managed for weeds, fencing, land care and waterway protection than larger allotments and result in a more picturesque environment for tourists. Another issue discussed in the strategy document and subsequent response to submissions, and causing confusion is land value. There is no doubt that land affordability is a problem in farming, as is the purchase of urban dwellings and commercial land. Unfortunately, rural incomes have not risen at the rate of land values in either rural or urban environments, exacerbating the problem.
Nevertheless, this is not a good reason to deliberately administrate to suppress land prices for farms any more than the state or federal government deliberately devaluing home prices to make it easier for new home buyers. A farm is in most cases a home, a business and superannuation to the farmer and a policy that aims to significantly devalue each of these is morally very wrong. It is bad enough for the consultant group to express that the financial consequences of changes are not their concern but it is intolerable for a local council to support this opinion. I implore the council to reject the change in lot minima as suggested in this strategy document.
Robert Newnham, Glen Forbes.