Shadow planning minister David Davis says the “communication and consultation” surrounding the Marong Business Park had not been handled perfectly, but the Liberals would not commit to overturning decisions already made if elected.
Bendigo council last month voted to place a public acquisition overlay on 313 hectares of land owned by the Carter family west of the city for the industrial park, which requires approval by planning minister Richard Wynne, who is still considering the case.
If he signs off on the overlay, the forced sale will go ahead and there are no avenues for appeal.
Mr Davis was recently briefed on an independent panel report into the industrial park and said the plan was focused on job creation.
“It’s clear Bendigo has constraints in terms of its land availability. The information that was provided to me indicates a number of councils over a number of years have worked to progress this (business park),” he said.
“And I have no quibble with the job creating objectives but it’s probably true to say the communication and consultation has not been handled perfectly and there's lessons to be learned from that.
“We're happy to meet with further people but at this point there's no intention to overturn what has been an important search for additional land of this type.”
The City of Greater Bendigo suggested the business park would create 3500 jobs for the region, claims which were queried by former Bendigo mayor Alec Sandner last month.
“Whatever the criticism the overriding imperative is to find sufficient land of this type,” Mr Davis said.
The Carter family earlier this month went to Parliament House to hand deliver a “plea” letter to minister Wynne, urging him not to approve the forced sale of their land.
Tamrie Carter made a statement on behalf of the Carter family on the steps of parliament.
“The council thinks that by offering compensation we would be happy, despite my father telling them from day one we are not for sale,’’ she read.
“How can a family that produces your food and battles the elements that Mother Nature throws at us farmers over the decades be treated like this?”
The debate over whether to publicly acquire private land west of the city for an industrial park has raged for 16 years, and pitted the needs of a broader community against those of a farming family.
The COGB maintained it considered seven other sites for the business park, but the land in Marong was considered most strategically placed. The Carters were contacted for comment.