Authorised by Dan Tehan MP, Liberal Party, Hamilton VIC.

The Heytesbury Settlement began in the 1960s as a soldier settler scheme, and is home to many family farms and small communities in south-west Victoria, centred around the service town of Simpson, and also serviced by Cobden, Colac, Camperdown and Timboon. It is situated within the most valuable agricultural region in the whole of Australia (Food and Fibre Great South West strategy, 2021-2023).

Since the large-scale clearing of that time, many farms have worked to re-establish multi-species native plantings, enhance habitat, manage nutrient and run-off, and improve the amenity of this picturesque landscape. Tourists are increasingly attracted to the area for its rolling hills, lush pastures, native forests, wildlife, birds, and gourmet food and wine experiences.

The wide scale planting of blue gums (‘green deserts’) for wood-chip in the Heytesbury settlement district must be stopped before the landscape changes irreversibly, leading to harm to local communities, to employment, to local services and local food production.

Foreign Investment Review Board decisions are meant to be made in the ‘National Interest’.

We call on the federal government to immediately publicly release the conditions the Foreign Investment Review Board placed on Munich Re (the German Superannuation Company) in approving the purchase of $200m in prime agriculture land in south-west Victoria.

We call on the federal government to detail what environmental assessment it undertook in approving the wide scale planting of blue gums, including on impacts to the underground water table.

We call on the federal government to provide greater transparency on the size and scale of purchases in the Heytesbury settlement by Munich Re.

And we call on the federal government to detail what community based assessment it undertook specifically with regard to the impact on food production of such a large scale purchase of prime agriculture land.

Chief Petitioner
Stephen Hunt ("Pappy")

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