MP Clifford Hayes spoke to Clay Lucas, from The Age, about the State Government's broken promise to deliver a massive environmental reserve on Melbourne’s western fringe to protect endangered species and ecosystems, which was promised to offset tens of thousands of hectares of farmland it rezoned for housing.

The article can be viewed at:

Clifford said:

Governments make grand promises of environment or heritage protection when they want to get something through, but afterwards the promises quietly slip away.

The story came after Clifford raised the issue in Parliament, asking Environment Mminister Lily D’Ambrosio about the Western Grassland Reserve. 

In Parliament, Clifford asked:

Is it the case that the Victorian Government agreed, at the time it expanded Melbourne’s Urban Growth Boundary, pursuant to the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, to “The creation of large (at least 15,000 hectares) consolidated areas of permanently protected native grasslands outside the Urban Growth Boundary in Melbourne’s west”. (See “Delivering Melbourne’s Newest Sustainable Communities” Program Report).  Is it correct that the Western Grasslands Reserves were to have been established by 2020?

Is it the case that Victoria has so far only purchased around 1200 hectares for this purpose – if not, what is the amount of land that has been purchased for the Western Grassland Reserves?

Will the Western Grasslands Reserves be established by 2020?

Has the Victorian Government received approval from the Commonwealth Government to delay meeting the 2020 timeline?

Is it correct that following contact by the Victorian Government in July 2012, the Australian Government replied in July 2012 proposing that “we continue to work together to develop clear and transparent options to extend the acquisition timeframe for the Reserve”.

Is it correct that this further work was not undertaken?

What action has the Victorian Government taken since 2012 to permanently protect native grasslands in Melbourne’s west in accordance with the undertakings it gave the Commonwealth and the community at the time it expanded Melbourne’s Urban Growth Boundary?

Since then, Clifford has requested that the Auditor-General step in and assess the failure of the Victorian Government’s Western Grassland Reserves program.