Landmark Legislation To Protect The Yarra River

22 June 2017

The Andrews Labor Government is enshrining in law the protection of one of Victoria’s most cherished treasures, the Yarra River.

Minister for Planning Richard Wynne joined Wurundjeri elders in Victorian Parliament today to introduce the Yarra River Protection (Wilip-gin Birrarung murron) Bill 2017.

The Yarra River holds a special place in Victoria’s heart and is part of our first people’s rich story. It has a celebrated history, and we’re giving it a safe and secure future.

In an Australian first, the Bill identifies the Yarra River and the many hundreds of parcels of public land it flows through as one living, integrated natural entity for protection and improvement.

The Yarra River Protection (Wilip-gin Birrarung murron) Bill combines the ‘Caring for Country’ wisdom of Traditional Owners with the most modern river management expertise.

For the first time in the Victorian Parliament’s history, the Bill is co-titled and part of its preamble is written in Woi-wurrung, assuring Traditional Owners a permanent voice in the governance and protection of the Yarra River.

The Bill will strengthen the protection and management of the Yarra River by

  • Developing a Yarra Strategic Plan to coordinate 14 public entities that operate along the river corridor
  • Establishing a new statutory body, the Birrarung Council, to act as an independent voice for the river
  • Requiring regular reporting by the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability on the environmental condition of the river and its parklands
  • Designating the parklands and open space along the river as the Greater Yarra Urban Parklands
  • Ensuring future governments protect the Yarra River

The Labor Government has already introduced stronger planning controls to protect against inappropriate private development along the Yarra River, setting tougher rules to prevent overshadowing, and introducing mandatory height limits and minimum setbacks from the river’s edge.

Quote attributable to Minister for Planning Richard Wynne

“Today is an historic day for Victoria. This is all about celebrating the rich history of the Yarra River and safeguarding its future for many generations to come.”

Quote attributable to Minister for Water Lisa Neville

“The Yarra River is the heartbeat of Melbourne. With the right management in place, we can manage our most cherished waterway properly.”

Quote attributable to Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio

“The iconic Yarra River is a vital part of Victoria’s environment, so it’s crucial we give it the care it deserves. The Yarra belongs to all Victorians, and this Bill ensures everyone has their voices heard.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Indigenous Affairs Natalie Hutchins

“The Traditional Owners have been the protector of the river for thousands of years. For it to be protected in legislation is a real testament to their connection to land, water and the Woi-wurrung language.”

Reviewed 19 August 2020

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