Issue 923:                                                      Week ending 29 March 2013

Autumn edition of CiVic Magazine out now
State Council
Fire Services Levy Update
Council Elections Review
Inquiry into the Regulatory Impact Statement Process
Next step towards Constitutional recognition
Victorian Climate Change Adaptation Plan
Victorian Road Safety Committee Inquiry into Serious Injury
Help PIA showcase local government planning expertise
Multicultural arts information session
In social media news...
Events

Autumn edition of CiVic Magazine out now

The second edition of CiVic is now available, with copies posted to council CEOs, councillors and senior managers. The magazine can also be accessed using our free iPad app or through our online e-magazine.

This issue features Greater Dandenong's healthy workplace initiatives being rolled-out as part of Healthy Together Victoria, a robust health prevention program funded by the Australian and Victorian governments which involves 14 councils. Also read about Greater Geelong's women-only swimming program, Nillumbik's 52 Flashmobs, Banyule's multi-million dollar stormwater harvesting project, Whittlesea's new Aboriginal Early Learning Centre and many more great stories from Victorian councils.

The winter edition of CiVic is filling up fast so if you have a story idea or would like to advertise contact our publisher Puffafish: editorial@puffafish.com.au or advertising@puffafish.com.au.

State Council

The MAV State Council and annual general meeting will be held on Thursday 16 May at the Sofitel Melbourne. MAV Representatives will consider the 2013/14 Strategic Work Plan and vote on motions of significance to the local government sector.

Motions can be submitted by members using the State Council motion template form by no later than 18 April. Late motions will require a vote from MAV Representatives at State Council to be included as business on the day.

Formal notification and business papers will be circulated to MAV Representatives in due course.

Fire Services Levy Update

The MAV has issued a members’ brief to update councils on the transition to a State fire services property levy (FSPL), commencing on 1 July. The MAV is managing a central IT project and vendors are currently implementing the system change with pilot councils. The project is on track to be delivered by 31 May.

A statewide information campaign will commence in June to inform all property owners about the new FSPL including a State-branded flyer that councils may wish to include with rates notices, plus advertising and a central website. The State Revenue Office (SRO) is continuing its work with council rates administrators, with an operating manual due to be finalised in May ahead of SRO training for council customer service staff during May and June.

Negotiations are ongoing between the MAV and Department of Treasury and Finance (DTF) about reimbursement of other implementation and ongoing costs. It has proven difficult to accurately determine some cost impacts (particularly relating to customer service costs) and the MAV recommends that councils should maintain detailed records of all implementation costs. We will provide further advice on recording of council costs. This will allow for a first-year review to inform further negotiations between the MAV and DTF for the following three years’ funding that has been committed by the Victorian Government.

Council Elections Review

Following the 2012 council elections, the MAV advocated strongly for a review and we are pleased that the Minister for Local Government has confirmed that a review will be undertaken. We understand that both the Victorian Electoral Commission and the Local Government Investigations and Compliance Inspectorate have provided reports to the Minister and we look forward to the release of a State consultation paper soon.

The broad categories of issues that have been raised to date with the MAV include:

  • Candidate information requirements and community access
  • Community awareness of local government elections
  • Caretaker period constraints on council decision-making and operations
  • Printing and publication of electoral advertisements, handbills, pamphlets or notices
  • Election period certification process
  • Complaints processes and powers
  • Campaign donations.

Prior to commencing work on a detailed assessment for addressing these issues, the MAV seeks council input as to whether there are matters not identified that should be included, or matters identified that do not warrant review in an MAV Local Government Election Issues Discussion Paper.

Feedback by Tuesday 2 April will ensure that our work is targeted to those issues of greatest concern to our members. Contact Alison Lyon.

Inquiry into the Regulatory Impact Statement Process

The Victorian Parliament’s Environment and Planning Legislation Committee is conducting an inquiry into the Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) process.  The MAV has been invited to make a submission to the Committee and also to appear before it.  Key issues we will raise include:

  1. The lack of meaningful consultation with affected sectors, including councils and the MAV, when considering policy options that may ultimately lead to the preparation of a RIS
  2. The need for the RIS process to contribute to policy development rather than function as a compliance exercise with a pre-determined outcome (particularly when reviewing sunsetting regulations)
  3. The tendency of RIS statements to be so technical that they become an obstacle to consultation
  4. The importance of RIS economic modelling satisfactorily capturing the social and environmental costs of a proposed statutory rule.

The MAV invites feedback on our views or additional points that you consider should be included in our submission to the Committee. We would also welcome any specific examples you may have. Please send any feedback, comments and examples to Claire Dunn by Wednesday 3 April.

Next step towards Constitutional recognition

We are currently awaiting the Australian Government’s formal response to the joint select committee recommendation for a referendum on Constitutional recognition of local government to proceed at this year’s federal election. While former Minister Crean raised concerns that a lack of support from some state governments could harm the chances of a successful referendum, it will be Anthony Albanese who will lead the Government’s response as the new Minister for Local Government, a role he held prior to 2010.

Last week the Referendums (Machinery Provisions) Amendment Bill 2013 was introduced to federal parliament proposing changes to remove the existing constraints on public funding of referendums that occur this year. The ALGA has called on all political parties to support this legislation, which could pave the way for a public education campaign, as well as public funding to support well-developed Yes and No campaigns if the referendum proceeds.

The MAV has also written to Premier Napthine to formally request a review of the Baillieu Government position, which opposed constitutional recognition of local government.

Contact Owen Harvey-Beavis.

Victorian Climate Change Adaptation Plan

The Victorian Government has released its eagerly-awaited Victorian Climate Change Adaptation Plan that was required to be prepared under the Climate Change Act 2010. The Plan provides an outline of the risks to Victoria, the work already completed and foreshadows future work to manage the risks. Importantly, the Plan embeds the consideration of climate risk into the Victorian Risk Management Framework that will influence decision-making of government to reduce and manage climate impacts.

Given the limited external consultation with the local government sector at a sector-wide level, it is pleasing to see that a key action is to work with councils to clarify the roles and responsibilities between the two sectors in relation to climate adaptation. The Plan signals the intention to develop a memorandum of understanding outlining respective and shared adaptation roles and responsibilities.

The Victorian Adaptation and Sustainability Partnership (formerly the Victorian Local Sustainability Accord) will be a vehicle to build this shared understanding and increase cooperation between State and local government. The Partnership will be supported by $6 million for grants and strategic projects, a two-year statewide climate adaptation mentoring initiative that would provide skilled mentors to work with councils, supported by a training package and an interactive adaptation knowledge hub. For further information contact Ben Morris.

Victorian Road Safety Committee Inquiry into Serious Injury

The MAV has been invited to make a submission to the Victorian Parliament’s Road Safety Committee “Inquiry into Serious Injury".

This submission continues the MAV’s engagement in road safety issues through a number of mechanisms, including VicRoads and TAC community grant programs, the Victorian Speed Limit Review, the LG Road Safety Officer Network and the VicRoads Traffic Management Reference Group. The MAV has requested input from councils through the road safety officers and network engineers contact list on the areas of the Inquiry’s terms of reference of most relevance:

  • To determine the correlation between reductions in fatalities and serious injuries (including for different levels of severity) resulting from different road safety counter-measures; and
  • To identify cost effective counter-measures to reduce serious injury occurrence and severity.

If you would like to be included on our road safety officers and network engineers contact list, or provide input to the MAV submission, contact James Cleaver. Submissions are due by 22 April.

Help PIA showcase local government planning expertise

The Planning Institute Australia (PIA) has delivered annual professional development programs for planners through the AusAID-funded Australian Award Fellowship Program for six years.

PIA is excited to be hosting planners from Sri Lanka, Tonga, Papua New Guinea and Argentina.  This talented group of international planners will undertake a six week program of study tours, CPP and other courses and internships in Australian workplaces.

PIA is seeking expressions of interest from councils in the Melbourne metropolitan area who may be able to offer a two-week internship in a planning team between 18 April and 1 May.  If you can assist, please contact sofie.anselmi@planning.org.au.

Multicultural arts information session

On 23 April, the MAV is convening an information session on how councils can more effectively engage culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) artists and communities in their municipal festivals, citizenship ceremonies, arts and culture programs. The session will provide insight into the workings of Multicultural Arts Victoria’s Emerge Cultural Network program - an innovative community cultural development platform which provides pathways into the arts for newly arrived refugee and CALD communities across Victoria. Register online to attend this session.

In social media news...

  • Explore a list of local government apps in a 2012 report by ACELG and ANZSOG Institute for Governance here.
  • The ACCC shopper app helps consumers to know their refund, return, lay-by and warranty rights; store receipts; and find out about common food labelling claims. Find out more.
  • A new catalogue of Victorian Government social media accounts is available at vic.gov.au. View it here.
  • GovHack2013 will take place on 1-2 June in various Australian cities to create new ways to use and access government data. Learn more.

 

Upcoming MAV events...

4 April

Metropolitan strategic planning sessions

18 April

Web accessibility for writers and editors

23 April - 1 May

The future of communities: power to the people

 

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