Victorian Cabinet reshuffle
The new Premier, Denis Napthine has today announced a Cabinet reshuffle. Michael O’Brien is the new Treasurer, while Kim Wells takes over the Police and Emergency Services and Bushfire Response portfolios from Deputy Premier Peter Ryan. A new State Development portfolio has been added to Peter Ryan’s regional and rural development responsibilities to focus on growing the economy and jobs. Heidi Victoria has also been promoted to Cabinet as Minister for Arts, Women’s Affairs and Consumer Affairs.
Constitutional recognition a step closer
The Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition for Local Government has released its final report and recommended that a referendum is held on the date of the next Federal election, 14 September 2013. This position was supported by the Government, the Greens and independents. A dissenting report by the Coalition supports constitutional recognition, but argues that the Government needs to do more to support the preconditions for a referendum, namely, conducting a civic information campaign and obtaining the support of the state and territory governments.
The next formal step towards recognition will be the Government’s response to the Joint Select Committee report. If it intends to progress with a referendum at the Federal election, it will shortly need to introduce legislation into the House for a referendum.
The MAV will write to the new Premier to seek a review of the Victorian Government’s position in opposing constitutional recognition.
Differential rates submission
The MAV has completed its submission to the Ministerial Committee, which expresses concern about the proposed Ministerial Guidelines on differential rates. The MAV submission identifies serious shortcomings for the draft guidelines, which appear to have drafting errors and are non-discretionary, despite the Local Government Act clarifying that any guidelines are advisory only.
The draft guidelines appear to seek to constrain the use of differential rates by requiring categories to only occur at the highest level AVPCC codes.
Our submission identifies strong arguments in favour of local government rates as a form of taxation, the current place of rates within the broader taxation system, and the implications of the draft guidelines, should their apparent intention by successfully implemented. The guidelines appear to attempt to address a problem that does not exist, as most councils do not use many differential rating categories.
Furthermore, our submission makes the case that there are opportunities to provide greater support to councils in developing their broader rating strategies. This would be a far more beneficial project than attempting to constrain councils’ use of differential rates.
For further information contact Owen Harvey-Beavis.
Melbourne, let’s talk about the future draft submission
The MAV has prepared a draft submission on the discussion paper Melbourne, let’s talk about the future. It proposes some new ideas about the framework surrounding the Metropolitan Strategy and we are now seeking council feedback. A copy of the submission has been sent to all council planning directors and delegates of the MAV Metropolitan Strategy Reference Group. Feedback is due by Wednesday 20 March and will be incorporated into our submission before the 28 March deadline.
For further information contact Gareth Hately.
Call for Entries - LGICT Excellence Awards and Innovation Fellowship
Applications are open for the Local Government Information and Communication Technology (LGICT) Excellence Awards which celebrate outstanding ICT achievements in local government. Submissions will not only be entered into the awards, but may also be promoted to showcase the achievements of ICT teams to the sector.
There are three awards up for grabs: team achievement, individual achievement, and environmental sustainability.
The LGICT group will also be offering a $10 000 LGICT Innovation Fellowship to assist one council to fund a current or proposed IT project that best addresses the selection criteria.
All award entries will be assessed according to how well they demonstrate outstanding innovation and outcomes; advance the objectives of the LGICT Strategy; support council business objectives; and influence or assist other councils to improve service delivery.
The Awards and Fellowship will be announced at the LGICT Award Dinner on Wednesday 14 August at the Sofitel in Melbourne.
Funding to improve retail business activity in local shires
Yarriambiack and Northern Grampians Shire Councils will each be offered $18 000 grants as part of the first round of funding under the Victorian Government’s $6 million four-year Streetlife program.
Councils and trader associations are being offered grants under Streetlife to support local initiatives aimed at revitalising trading activity in main street business districts.
Yarriambiack and Northern Grampians will work with Hindmarsh, Horsham and West Wimmera councils to deliver the Wimmera Online Precinct – a program to facilitate the incubation of online businesses, and increase the online activity and capabilities of local retailers.
This round of Streetlife funding will distribute more than $500 000 to assist councils and trader groups in working directly with small retail businesses to develop marketing strategies, new skills and online capabilities.
Councils are eligible for grants of up to $20 000 on an 80:20 co-funding basis, while business and trader associations qualify for up to $5 000. The grants are invested into new projects tailored to the specific needs of retail businesses in community shopping precincts.
Prospecting areas in national parks
The MAV was represented recently by Cr Nicola Davis at the VEAC reference group for investigation into additional prospecting areas in national parks. Community consultation received 950 submissions, including 60 submissions from community groups. As of June 2012 there were 4 157 Miners Rights issued in Australia for recreational prospecting, which includes the use of metal detectors, picks, shovels, gold pans and sluices.
The nine parks being investigate to open up for prospecting are: Alpine, Baw Baw, Croajingolong, Errinundra, Lake Eildon, Lind, Mitchell River and Yarra Ranges.
The reference group came up with a number of key considerations for VEAC to apply to each park. These included areas to be avoided where there was susceptibility to panning siltation and soil erosion in waterways for drinking water; spread of pests and pathogens to be kept minimal; keep areas close to existing access roads and facilities to allow easier monitoring; and avoid cultural and heritage sites.
National Growth Areas Alliance
The National Growth Areas Alliance recently launched its latest research and website where residents and businesses can tell their story. It is inviting people of all ages who live or work in the outer suburbs to take part in this project. NGAA will collate the themes from the stories and with permission, will make individual stories available so that policies and programs can be informed by local experience. Research focuses on addressing skills and employment gaps and community infrastructure for growth areas.
North Eastern Region Road Safety Forum
VicRoads is hosting a North Eastern Region Road Safety Forum in Benalla. This event will take place from 9.30 am on Monday 25 March at the VicRoads conference room. Council road safety officers and traffic engineers are encouraged to attend. To register, contact Sally Swankie on 03 5761 1882.
If you would like any further information on the MAV’s involvement in road safety, including through the Victorian Community Road Safety Partnership Program and the TAC Community Road Safety Grants Program, contact James Cleaver.
Parks and Leisure Australia Awards of Excellence
The 2013 Parks and Leisure Australia Awards of Excellence are now open. The awards recognise individuals and organisations who have demonstrated excellence in their contribution to the parks and leisure industry.
This year’s Awards are divided into the following categories: events; inclusive and connected communities; leisure facilities; open space development; parks; sustainable initiatives; planning; play space; and the Frank Stewart Distinguished Service Award.
Awards close on 28 March. This year's national winners will be announced at a Gala Awards Dinner at the conclusion of the 2013 National Conference in Melbourne on 16 October.
Sports Sustainability Summit
The inaugural Sports Sustainability Summit will take place in Melbourne on 25 March. It is a forum where discussion will be exchanged on the topic of environmental sustainability and sports.
The full-day summit will include two main panels that will present issues, best practices and stories that will inspire, challenge, and educate participants on sustainability topics. One panel will be focused on built environment issues and the other on stakeholder engagement strategies. These panels are designed to provide possible solutions and ideas, and to illustrate the importance of the good work that local government does.
Sunday 31 March is Neighbour Day. Held on the last Sunday in March every year, Neighbour Day aims to strengthen communities; create safer, healthier and more vibrant suburbs and towns; promote tolerance, respect and understanding; break down community barriers; and protect the elderly and the disadvantaged.
Free resources have been developed for councils to use to promote their own Neighbour Day events. Neighbour Day kits are also available, which include a 'how to' guide, posters, invitations and name tags.
In social media news...
VicRoads has released Road Mode, an app that allows you to drive without distraction, silencing incoming calls and text messages. It’s available for Android and Apple.
The Line Facebook page, a primary prevention social marketing campaign to change attitudes and behaviour that contribute to violence, is the second most popular Australian Government Facebook page (after the PM).
95% of Tourism Australia’s social media content is contributed by its fans. Find out about their success here.