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Municipal Association of Victoria

BULLETIN

All your local government news this week

Issue 1071: 7 April 2016
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Strategic priorities
  • Council elections: Media interest around council elections has begun this week with our CEO Rob Spence interviewed on ABC Mornings with Jon Faine, and MAV Board Member and Monash Councillor Geoff Lake chatting to Tom Elliott on 3AW about the process of running as an election candidate. The State Government has released a discussion paper about proposed electoral regulations. See news item below for further details.
  • Rate capping: The Essential Services Commission has announced 10 councils have applied for a variation to the 2.5 per cent rate cap. The ESC has two months from receiving applications to make its decision and notify councils
  • Amalgamations: An article published this week via The Conversation discusses outcomes of new research that used 2014 data about New South Wales to compare the performance of merged councils with their unmerged counterparts over 10 years. The research used criteria from the NSW Government’s Fit for the Future program which included, operating performance, own-source revenue and building and infrastructure renewal. It found ‘no statistically significant differences in the performance of the two groups of councils against these criteria’. A full report will be released soon.
The MAV has developed a draft Councillor Code of Conduct to assist our members with the implementation of changes to the Local Government Act 1989. The changes require councils to amend their codes of conduct and engage an arbiter as part of their internal resolution procedure. Changes must be made by 4 July.

Our draft code provides a minimalist compliance approach and we are seeking feedback, not only on the content and format of the Code, but also on incorporating ‘best practice’ provisions on a range of additional matters such as social media or media relations.

Our draft has been sent to all councils. Feedback is due by 13 May to Steve Goldsworthy.

The State Government released a discussion paper on 5 April proposing changes to the Local Government (Electoral) Regulations 2016. Submissions are due on 6 May.

A draft submission on the State’s regulations will be prepared by the MAV and circulated to members for feedback.

The MAV is disappointed with the short consultation period considering the regulations are so significant in terms of the impact they will have on the election process, the candidates and the voters.

Council elections are already a complex process for voters to fully understand and it’s concerning that these proposed changes have been released so close to the next election. Rushing the process will not result in what’s best for councils and communities.

The MAV will establish two taskforces comprising councillors and CEOs to inform our approach to the Local Government Act Review and the Municipal Association Act and Rules Review.

The Taskforces will inform the position taken by the MAV prior to the drafting of any directions papers. These Taskforces will be the primary means for the MAV to understand the multiple perspectives that relate to both the structure and purpose of local government, and the MAV, ahead of preparing directions papers for feedback from the sector.

Further information about the roles of each Taskforce has been sent to all councils.

We are seeking nominations from interested councillors and CEOs to participate in each Taskforce. We seek Taskforce Members who are committed to driving better outcomes for the sector through the new Local Government Act and who are committed to ensuring the MAV is as effective as possible.

Taskforces will meet monthly at the MAV, with the first meetings in the second half of May. If you are interested in becoming a member of either Taskforce, please contact Polly Banks by 22 April.

The Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) for the proposed Infringement Regulations is now available. Councils are encouraged to review the document and provide comments to the Department of Justice by 18 April.

The regulations propose to reduce the Penalty Reminder fees, while increasing lodgement fees and warrant fees. Councils are encouraged to closely review the RIS to assess whether the activity-based costing data is an accurate reflection of the costs of producing a penalty reminder notice.

These proposed changes will reduce council infringement revenue while increasing costs of lodgement and enforcement of unpaid infringements (which is only recoverable in the event the infringement is ultimately paid). As the regulations are based on full cost recovery, it is important that the data used to calculate these fees is robust and reflective more broadly of councils’ costs.

Other matters contained within the regulations include the reporting of infringements to the Attorney General, the information that must be contained within infringement notices, official warnings and other formal notices, and a range of matters relevant to infringement enforcement.

New country-of-origin food labelling laws have been agreed by the Commonwealth and state governments to give Australian consumers clearer and more meaningful information about products they buy.

Under the proposed system, many foods found on Australian retail shelves will be required to include a logo to indicate the food is made, produced or grown in Australia. It will also include a bar chart indicating the proportion of Australian ingredients.

The MAV welcomes the decision to move country-of-origin labelling enforcement from the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code to Australian Consumer Law, and for the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission to be provided with funding to undertake compliance and enforcement activities.

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Google Analytics Training

This practical session on 11 May at the MAV will provide participants with a more comprehensive understanding of the reporting capabilities of Google Analytics, and an introduction to Google Tag Manager and the Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tool).

Participants will learn site usage patterns, how to set up tracking for file downloads, and track marketing campaigns among many other topics.

Registrations can be made online.

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Get Unstuck Workshop

This workshop on 13 May at the MAV will assist anyone who is managing a challenging project or program that has major issues and wishes to become ‘unstuck’.

Participants will benefit from the substantial, combined experience of Dr Nick Fleming and Max Hardy, who have guided strategic, transformative change in organisations, programs and projects over many years.

Registrations can be made online.

  • Entries are now open for the Premier’s Sustainability Awards which recognise outstanding achievements by Victorian businesses, institutes, community groups, government and individuals leading the way in sustainable innovation and practices. Entries close on 27 June.
  • Councils can encourage community groups to apply for a share in the State Government’s $5.2 million for the Threatened Species Protection Initiative to support immediate action on threatened species and habitat protection. Submissions are open until 20 April.
  • Submissions for the 2016 Heart Foundation Local Government Awards are open until 20 May. The awards recognise and showcase councils that are working to improve heart health through building a sense of community, encouraging people to be physically active, smoke-free and make healthy food choices.
  • The Federal Government has opened a 2016 National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) week grant funding round to support events to be held as part of NAIDOC week celebrations in July. Councils holding events on 3-10 July that celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures, achievements and continuing contributions to our country and society are eligible to apply by 29 April.

New MAV Environment Bulletin

The MAV has relaunched our Environment Bulletin to keep the sector up-to-date with the latest environment news.

At this stage it will be distributed monthly.

You can read the latest edition and subscribe online.

To submit an item for inclusion, contact Claire Dunn.

Marine and Coastal Act

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) is developing a new Marine and Coastal Act in order to improve management and oversight arrangements for bays, coasts and marine parks.

Council CEOs and senior officers are invited to a workshop with DELWP to hear about the proposed reforms, and to provide feedback. Councils’ input will help shape a DELWP consultation paper that will be released for community input in mid-2016.

The workshop will be held on 13 April at the MAV, Level 11, 60 Collins Street from 10am-12pm. Registrations can be made online.

  • The State Government has partnered with Code for Australia to run Budget Hack, a digital forum aimed at promoting transparency and helping Victorians better understand government data. The two-night event involved staff from the Department of Premier and Cabinet engaging with the tech community and industry leaders on how Victorians could best visualise, use and leverage 2015 Budget data. Victorian Government data is available online.
  • Landmark research by Deakin University, funded by VicHealth and the Australian Human Rights Commission, has calculated racial discrimination cost the Australian economy an estimated $44.9 billion, or 3.6 per cent of GDP, each year in the decade from 2001-11. The research is a crucial step towards addressing racial discrimination.
  • Privacy and Data Protection Week 2016 is being held from 9-13 May. The annual event is held to raise awareness of the importance of protecting all forms of personal and non-personal information. During Privacy and Data Protection Week, the Office of the Commissioner for Privacy and Data Protection is coordinating free events in Melbourne, Bendigo and Geelong.

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