Macedon equine industry saddles up for a fight

The push to get an equine strategy back on the Macedon Ranges council agenda is on again.

Councillors voted in February to shelve plans for a state-of-the-art regional equine centre, a central pillar to the shire’s equine strategy which expired last year.

Cr Roger Jukes was the sole voice of opposition and made a bid in March to keep plans for the centre on the table.

But he was voted down to resounding boos from nearly 100 horse enthusiasts who showed their support with placards, riding helmets and a convoy of horse floats.

However, an online petition, created as part of the Save Macedon Equine campaign, has picked up more than 100 signatures in the past week. The campaign’s organiser, who asked not to be named, said the group feels that the council was not acting in the best interests of the industry.

“The equine strategy and centre project has been developed to not only benefit the equine industry, but also the tourism industry, farmers and small businesses, many of whom are struggling to find enough work to support themselves,” the petitioner said.

“Not completing the business case shows a poor understanding of the area and a marked lack of good business sense.”

All other councillors agreed that the leisure components of the equine industry should be dealt with under council’s leisure strategy.

Cr Jukes said at the time of the decision to scrap the strategy and plans for the centre, that council was close to the end of a five-year process that involved community and the industry.

“To lose the strategy from our planning means that equine is considered as a general planning application and has no significance [within the planning scheme] which I find quite unbelievable for a big industry and generator of more than a $140 million,” he said.

View the petition at