Green wedge pledge | Herald Sun

Jacqueline Freegard

November 15, 2006 12:00am

TED Baillieu took the election race out east yesterday with a promise to safeguard public land from development.

The Liberal leader pledged to legislate if elected premier to ensure Melbourne’s green wedge areas stayed protected.

A register of significant public land will also be established for the community to voice concerns over land earmarked for development. And ministers would have to publicly justify the sale of any public land.

Mr Baillieu said that under a Liberal government the community would have an input into what land was to be sold under the policy.

“In future people will be able to have a say and a minister, a government, who wishes to sell land will have to put a statement on the record and justify that position,” he said.

Mr Baillieu said that land at Royal Park, Yarra Boulevard and Kew Cottages had been sold for development by the Bracks Government.

But Planning Minister Rob Hulls said Mr Baillieu could not be trusted to save Melbourne’s green wedges. “The fact is there is a public land register. Any sales of public land go through a thorough process,” he said.

Mr Baillieu used the announcement to highlight a lack of open space in Melbourne’s south-east, outlining the policy at a block of land earmarked for development in Wantirna.

“We want to ensure that public land is accessible and used in the public interest,” he said.

The Liberals suffered massive seat losses along the once blue-ribbon eastern corridor at the 2002 state election. But the party is expected to regain a swag of seats in response to the Bracks Government’s backflip on tolling the EastLink motorway.

And a relaxed Mr Baillieu was doing his best yesterday to win over more voters with another street walk.

He toured Mountain Gate Shopping Centre in the marginal Labor seat of Ferntree Gully, pressing the flesh with locals and patting puppies at the local pet shop.

Mr Baillieu received a warm reception, with residents keen to chat about a lack of dental services and public housing in the area.

The lanky leader seemed happy to be out on the hustings, and even bought four red apples from the centre’s greengrocer.

With just 10 days to go until the state poll, Mr Baillieu continues to increase his profile out in the electorate.

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