Issue 937:                                                     Week ending 5 July 2013

Changes to the Ministry and referendum uncertainty
Proposed VEC boundaries announced for feedback
Collaborative debt procurement delivered
MAV HACC forum
Cranlana Colloquium Scholarship
Inquiry into rural drainage
Governance as Leadership conference
Productivity Commission Draft Report into Regulation of Small Business
Wrong Way Go Back campaign
National Local Government Cultural Forum
Discover Your Own Backyard campaign
In social media news...
Events

Changes to the Ministry and referendum uncertainty

On 24 June the Constitution Alteration Bill was passed in the Senate. However, since 26 June's appointment of Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister, an election date remains unclear, as do the consequences for a referendum.

A referendum has to be held no sooner than two months after the legislation passes both houses of parliament, and no later than six months. The Solicitor-General has advised that a joint referendum and general election will require an extra 18 days - in addition to the two months - to allow for pre-polling. That pushes the earliest likely date to 14 September. We will provide further advice on this matter as Prime Minister Rudd’s position becomes clear, and he confirms an election date.

Prime Minister Rudd’s appointment also brought about numerous changes in the Ministry. Most notable to the sector is the promotion of former Minister for Local Government, Anthony Albanese to Deputy Prime Minister. He is also taking on Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy and will retain his other portfolio of Infrastructure and Transport.

Catherine King is the new Minister for Regional Australia, Local Government and Territories. Minister King is the Member for Ballarat and former Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing.

Chris Bowen has become the new Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation, while Bill Shorten moves to the Education portfolio, along with retaining his responsibilities as Workplace Relations Minister.

Jacinta Collins, Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate, joins the Cabinet as Minister for Mental Health and Ageing.

Tony Burke will be the new Minister for Immigration, Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship, as well as retaining the Arts portfolio.

Julie Collins will join the Cabinet as the Minister responsible for Housing and Homelessness, Community Services, Status of Women, and Indigenous Employment and Economic Development; while Mark Butler will take on the portfolios of Climate Change, Environment, Heritage and Water.

Joel Fitzgibbon also joins the Cabinet as Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

For the full list of changes to the Ministry visit the PM’s website.

Proposed VEC boundaries announced for feedback

The Victorian Electoral Commission last week released maps of proposed electoral boundary changes of the state's 88 lower house seats and eight upper house regions to ensure every district has around 41 000 voters. Submissions are now open, and close at 5 pm 29 July.

Two seats have been abolished, one in Doncaster and the other on the state's northern border, and replaced by new seats in the growth corridors in Melbourne's west and north-west.

Under the proposed changes, more than 1.1 million people - or 30 per cent of Victorian voters - will be transferred to different seats.

Abolished, moved and renamed seats: New or renamed seats:
Ballarat East Ballarat
Ballarat West Buninyong
Benalla Clarinda
Clayton Croydon
Derrimut Eildon
Doncaster (abolished) Keysborough
Keilor Ovens Valley
Kilsyth Ringwood
Lyndhurst St Albans
Mitcham Sunbury (new)
Murray Valley Sydenham
Rodney (abolished) Werribee (new)

Collaborative debt procurement delivered

MAV Procurement has recently completed a tender for debt financing on behalf of forty-two Victorian councils, with the Commonwealth Bank (CBA) the successful tenderer, providing councils with highly competitive rates based on a twelve month variable rate loan.

The objective of this process is to reduce the borrowing costs of councils by consolidating the debt procurement at a larger than usual scale through the defined benefit shortfall and councils’ ongoing debt requirements.

The project was initiated through a working group established by the Defined Benefit Superannuation Taskforce. Ernst and Young were commissioned to examine the feasibility of various alternative funding options available to councils. Ernst and Young concluded that there are benefits available for the sector through a bond issue or collaborative bank procurement structure.

During the review process, large price differences across the banks were identified and therefore a centralised process was established to assist to improve process, probity, pricing and efficiency.

This initial process as an interim step, allowing for consideration and then implementation of a permanent funding structure in 2014, whether by bond or other means.

For further information contact Cameron Spence.

MAV HACC forum

Following the Victorian Government signing up to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), and the agreement that Home and Community Care (HACC) for over sixty-fives will be transferred to the Commonwealth, the Department of Health has been working on a position paper, as the basis for negotiating how “the Commonwealth and Victoria will work together to retain the benefits of Victoria’s current Home and Community Care service system.”

The MAV has provided input to this paper and invited Jane Herington, Director Ageing and Aged Care to speak about the Department’s position at the MAV on Friday 19 July from 2 - 3.30 pm.

All councils are encouraged to attend to ensure they are informed and have the opportunity to comment and provide input. To register your attendance contact events@mav.asn.au.

For further information contact Derryn Wilson.

Cranlana Colloquium Scholarship

The Cranlana Colloquium Scholarship gives one councillor the opportunity to join a leadership program with 20 other leaders from corporate, not-for-profit and government organisations. We offer scholarships to this six-day leadership program twice a year.

Run by the Myer Foundation, it challenges participants to examine their values, ethics and vision and reflect on their leadership style, judgement and decision-making capability.

The program equips leaders with a set of value-based frameworks for making difficult decisions where there may not always be a clear choice between right and wrong, and where tensions exist between social, economic and environmental forces such as public expectations and business interests.

This program is valued at $5 500. The next program will run from Sunday 15 September to Friday 20 September. Nominations are open now for this program and close on Friday 2 August.

For further information contact Andrew Rowe on 9667 5549.

Inquiry into rural drainage

The Victorian Parliament’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee tabled their final report of the Inquiry into rural drainage in Victoria last week.

The Inquiry makes a number of recommendations relevant to local government, including recommending that the State Government establish a rural drainage strategy that sets out roles and responsibilities for all parties involved in rural drainage; councils receive protections from liability for flows onto another person’s land; and a principle of beneficiary pays be applied to the construction and maintenance of drainage infrastructure.

The MAV is continuing to work with the Department of Environment and Primary Industries towards the appropriate implementation of some recommendations through the review of the Victorian Water Act 1989.

For further information contact James Cleaver.

Governance as Leadership conference

The MAV is convening a conference on ‘Governance as Leadership’ on 4 – 5 September at the Sofitel Melbourne. This event features highly experienced local government and other identities interacting in an inclusive panel format. With only three keynote speakers, the focus will fall onto these outstanding panellists to debate a range of highly relevant issues and interact with the conference participants. Electronic voting by all participants will determine the outcome for circulation to councils.

The keynote speakers are Maryantonnet Flumian, President of the Canadian Institute on Governance; Diana Taylor, Director of the Geelong Football Club; and Phil Shanahan, former council CEO and current local government consultant. Expert panels will examine a range of issues including the local government electoral system; the role of councillors; the alternative council meeting; regulatory reforms; participative democracy; and the challenge of the future.

For further information contact John Hennessy.

Productivity Commission Draft Report into Regulation of Small Business

The Productivity Commission (PC) has recently released its draft report into Regulator Engagement with Small Business. This report follows the PC’s Performance Benchmarking of Australian Business Regulation: Role of Local Government as Regulator report and the VCEC inquiry into Streamlining Local Government Regulation, both of which were published in 2012.

The MAV met with the PC early in 2013 to reiterate the case put forward in the previous inquires and observed that it would be difficult to get the sector to participate in this inquiry because they would perceive it to be re-covering old ground. None of the recommendations in the draft report directly impact local government - the recommendations are more general in tone - emphasising the need for a sensible and risk-based approach the small business regulation.

For further information contact James Cleaver.

Wrong Way Go Back campaign

The Metropolitan Transport Forum (MTF) has launched its campaign to advocate for the Melbourne Metro underground rail project and the western section of the East-West Link as the State’s highest transport priorities. The MTF is a local government interest group for transport in metropolitan Melbourne that was established 20 years ago. It has 23 metropolitan local government members, as well as a number of associate members including the MAV.

The MTF is advocating to prioritise these projects in order to improve train services and remove trucks from suburban streets. You can support the MTF’s campaign by joining a petition.

National Local Government Cultural Forum

The first meeting of the National Local Government Cultural Forum took place last month in Canberra to coincide with the Australian Local Government Association’s (ALGA) General Assembly. It was chaired by the Hon. Fred Chaney AO and attended by representatives from the seven state and territory local government associations and the eight Australian capital cities, plus the ALGA, the Australia Council for the Arts - Community Partnerships, the Office for the Arts, Global Cities Research Institute (RMIT University) and the Cultural Development Network (CDN).

The aim of the first meeting was to explore the national role of local government in arts and culture and to reach consensus on the medium to long-term objectives for the Cultural Forum.

Objectives addressed in the next meeting’s agenda will include: The National Arts and Culture Accord; the extent of current local government cultural data and indicators; infrastructure development and ‘spaces’ local government and national peak arts organisations; and collecting and utilising case-studies.

The next meeting of the Cultural Forum is scheduled for 15 October in Perth. Further information will be posted on the CDN website and through the state-based local government associations and capital cities.

Discover Your Own Backyard campaign

A number of metropolitan councils are involved in the Discover Your Own Backyard campaign, aimed at encouraging locals to explore the fantastic range of things to see and do in their own area.

This campaign won the best marketing strategy at the EDA awards 2012, and was awarded best marketing campaign at the 2012 Victorian Tourism Awards.

In social media news...

  • The Australian Electoral Commission has released a new Facebook app in the lead up to the 2013 federal election to encourage people to enrol or update their details online, and to share it with their family and friends. Find out more here.
  • The Public Records Office Victoria has developed a recordkeeping policy for social media. Read more here.
  • A budget consultation app now available in Australia is proving effective engagement and strong participation from the community in the UK. Find out more here.
Upcoming MAV events...

12 July

Local government legislative framework workshop

26 - 28 July

Councillor development weekend

6 August

VLGMIN forum

 

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