State Budget: impacts on local government
With the State Government’s budget announcement this week, we have welcomed the significant investment in local infrastructure but voiced concern about how funding for regional and rural roads will be allocated.
Highlights for local government include $100 million over four years for sports infrastructure, $50 million for interface councils to maintain vital assets, $50 million for kindergarten infrastructure, $1 million to review the Local Government Act, the previously announced $5.2 million in funding for roadside weeds and pest management over two years, $4.2-$4.6 billion investment in public transport, and $81 million to assist with the prevention of violence against women.
There seems to be significant State investment for repairing roads and improving road safety infrastructure but we are still unsure how much will be allocated to local councils. We will continue to work with the government to achieve the best outcomes for the sector, and will report back when more information becomes available.
Funding boost for 15 hours of kindergarten
We have welcomed the Federal Government’s funding boost of $840 million nationally for the continuation of 15 hours of kindergarten for the next two years.
Of the $840 million about a quarter will go directly to Victoria, and for the first time the funding will be indexed against the Consumer Price Index (CPI). This funding will ensure that all four-year-olds can access 15 hours of kindergarten to prepare them for the following school year.
Councils have done a great job of uniting through our kindergartens campaign to advocate for this important funding.
The two years of funding is a great start, and we will continue to work with all levels of government to ensure longevity. The funding will hopefully complement any announcement by the Federal Government around its families package, expected in next week’s budget.
Meeting with Minister Hutchins and ESC presentation
The MAV met with the Minister for Local Government, Natalie Hutchins last week to discuss a number of issues including implementation of the government’s rate capping policy, and the Essential Services Commission’s (ESC) consultation process.
Other items discussed included the process for the upcoming review of the Local Government Act which received $1 million in the State Budget, and how the Conduct and Governance Bill should best be progressed.
We thanked the Minister for the roadside weeds and pests funding of $5.2 million over two years, and reiterated that this is an ongoing issue for rural and regional councils in particular.
The ESC also presented to the MAV Board last week regarding the rates capping and variation framework review. This was an opportunity for the Board to learn more about the ESC’s terms of reference and the State Government policy behind the review.
The MAV will be providing a comprehensive response to the consultation paper and we encourage all councils to participate in the ESC consultation process. Submissions to the consultation paper are due on 15 May.
Councillor Development Weekend 24-26 July: update
Holly Ransom joins the list of confirmed speakers for the MAV Councillor Development Weekend.
Holly was handpicked by Rio Tinto CEO Sam Walsh at the age of 21 to support him in creating effective change through the organisation. She was also chosen by Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott to work on the World Y20 and B20 conferences in Australia in July and September 2014, and was a 2013 finalist for the Young Australian of the Year. The Financial Review named her one of the 100 Most Influential Women in Australia.
The event program and further details will be released this month. Registrations are now open.
Baw Baw councillor wins Cranlana Scholarship
Councillor Mikaela Power from Baw Baw Shire Council has won the MAV Scholarship to attend the Cranlana Executive Colloquium in June, over a field of strong applications.
The Cranlana Program runs over a full week and explores ideas of leadership, justice and what makes for a fair society.
Local Government Emergency Management Handbook
An updated version of the Local Government Emergency Management Handbook is now available.
The Handbook was first published in 2012 and provides advice to councils on their emergency management obligations as well as recruiting and training emergency management staff.
The update incorporates recent legislative and policy changes as well as improvements suggested by council officers and Emergency Management Victoria. Council officers should replace all sections of the current handbook with the new version.
To ensure the handbook remains accurate and up-to-date the MAV emergency management team relies on feedback from users. Please send corrections or suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For further information, contact Emma Lake.
Productivity Commission final report
On 1 May the Australian Government released the Productivity Commission’s final report into natural disaster funding arrangements. This followed the tabling of an Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) report into national recovery funding arrangements on 30 April. Both reports are critical of the current funding system.
The initial response to these reports from the government is to engage the states in further consultation. The government is not proposing any radical reductions in the funding support it provides to the states. Instead it will seek to pursue a gradual approach to reform, in close consultation with state governments.
The government will provide a full response to the Productivity Commission’s final report following these consultations. The MAV is providing input into these consultations through our membership on existing state committees. We previously made a Submission Commission’s 2014 draft report and a Submission to Commission’s issues paper.
For further information, contact Martijn Gough.
Level crossing removals and council consultation
The State Budget has announced $2.4 billion to start the Level Crossing Removal Project, which will involve all metropolitan councils.
The first 17 level crossings set for removal have been identified, with many of these situated on the Cranbourne-Pakenham line. Twenty crossings are planned to be removed in the first term of government, with 50 level crossing removals committed to over an eight year timeframe.
In recent meetings with the Level Crossing Removal Authority, it is understood that the Authority has been tasked to create a prioritisation plan in the coming 12 months, itemising the removal of all 50 crossings. The MAV will be arranging a briefing session for all councils with the Authority, to provide an overview of the project, and to discuss mechanisms for councils to facilitate consultation on each project.
For more information, contact Kevin Peachey.
Upcoming social enterprise event
The MAV Social Procurement Category Management session will be held on 27 May. This is a great opportunity for procurement and economic development professionals that want to make a difference in their local communities but are not sure where to start.
The session will include guest speakers, case studies and the opportunity to develop and support a plan to assist councils in implementing social procurement strategies.
The event is free for LEAP participants who can email email@example.com to register. All other registrations can be made online.
Rural Councils Victoria Mayor, Councillor and CEO Forum
RCV’s first Mayor, Councillor and CEO Forum for 2015 will be held in the Bourke Room of the Hotel Windsor on 14 May.
Speakers will include the Minister for Local Government Natalie Hutchins, Minister for Regional Development Jaala Pulford, and Minister for Planning Richard Wynne.
A full program is now available. Registrations can be made online.
Our say on economic development in the regions
The MAV emphasised the important regional development delivery role government can play in stimulating economic develop in the regions during a presentation to the external advisory board of the Department of Economic Development’s Review into Regional Economic Development and Service Delivery.
The great work already undertaken by councils and the State Government including the Rural Planning Flying Squad, which has successfully progressed 112 planning scheme amendments to help create appropriate land use planning framework to enable regional growth and development, was also acknowledged.
The MAV stressed that at a whole-of-State Government approach to regional development is needed to help drive economic development in the regions along with greater structure around the delivery of regional infrastructure and services.
Victorian Energy Efficiency Target consultation
The Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources has released its Setting future Victorian Energy Efficiency Targets consultation paper.
The paper seeks feedback on a number of issues including:
- the approach used to model the costs and benefits of the VEET scheme targets
- the preferred level of the new VEET target
- opportunities for large business to participate in the scheme.
In response to feedback, including from the MAV, the closing date for submissions has been extended from 11 May until COB 18 May. The Department has advised that no further extension will be provided.
The MAV has circulated a draft submission to all councils for their feedback. For further information, contact Claire Dunn.
Review of water-related SEPPs
The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) is commencing a review of Victoria’s water-related State Environment Protection Policies (SEPPs). This review is being conducted in partnership with the Environment Protection Authority (EPA).
Throughout the review there will be a number of formal and informal opportunities to participate including two stages of public consultation:
- Stage One: Formal initiation of the SEPP (Waters) Review by the Chairperson of the EPA, a call for registrations of interest in the review, and the release of a discussion paper in the coming months
- Stage Two: Release of the draft SEPP (Waters) and draft Policy Impact Assessment for public comment at the end of 2015, providing a minimum of three months for submissions to be made, with a range of stakeholder and public meetings to be conducted within that time.
If you would like to receive communications from DELWP as the SEPP (Waters) Review progresses, or have any questions relating to the review, please register your interest via email.
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