President's welcome speech at MR Sustainable Living Festival 2019

The honourable Lily D'Ambrosio, Lisa Chesters, Mary-Anne Thomas, Mayor Janet Pearce, councillors, our local business participants and other distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls,

It gives me great pleasure, as president of the Macedon Ranges Sustainability Group, to welcome you all here today as we celebrate our tenth annual Macedon Ranges Sustainable Living Festival.

Over the years, the festival has aimed to provide a vibrant platform for sustainability leaders, predominately but not exclusively commercial, to showcase sustainable living ideas and practical solutions. That is indeed still the case. However, this year there is a perceptible shift. We are witnessing a groundswell of interest in sustainability issues among everyday people in our communities. These people are passionate and willing to act and dedicate their precious time and energy to bringing about change, whether it has to do with beekeeping, or renewable energy, or eradicating single use plastic bags, or growing and eating their own food, or making their homes more energy-efficient etc. We want to give these local volunteer groups an equal billing with the commercial businesses at today's festival.

One of the themes of the festival this year is that of waste reduction, not simply recycling but actually minimising the amount of waste we produce in the first place. We aspire to make this Sustainable Living Festival a waste-free event, that we hope over time we can develop and provide a model for other events in the region. Please do say hello to Lisa and her crew at the wash against waste van after you have finished with your plates and cutlery.

Minister, it is lovely to see you here. For many years, MRSG has been developing a vision for a community renewable-energy project and we hope, Minister, that you have some good news for us today that will further encourage our efforts.

Finally I must make mention of a number of people and organisations that make the Sustainable Living Festival such a success and enable us to make admission to the Festival refreshingly free of charge

I wish to thank our sponsors and supporters, the Macedon Ranges Shire Council, Trentham and Districts Community Bank Branch, Mary-Anne Thomas MP, Lisa Chesters MP, Essential Solar, the Loddon Mallee Waste and Resource Recovery group, the Woodend Neighbourhood House, the Woodend Library, and the local radio station Highlands 100.7 FM, for their support and close working relationships.

I thank the Festival co-ordinator, Sharon Kittson, for her extra-ordinary talents in promoting and planning for the 60+ exhibitors for this event, and most of all I thank MRSG's twelve very dedicated and enthusiastic action group leaders and their teams. Comprising several hundred volunteers, they have put in enormous energy and countless hours preparing for this event. 

I hope that you all enjoy today.