Issue 977:                                                      Week ending 9 May 2014

Labor’s rate cap policy announcement
2014-15 Victorian Budget
Commission of Audit
Defined Benefit Taskforce
Councils advocacy action for 15 hours kindergarten
Councils of the Future
State Council business papers
National Reconciliation Week
MAV Technology Annual Report out now
Call for entries: 2014 MAV Technology Awards for Excellence
2014 Grants Network Victoria Conference

Proposed amendments to the Racial Discrimination Act 1975
In social media news...
Events

Labor’s rate cap policy announcement

Councils will be aware of Daniel Andrews’ recent announcement that, if elected, a Labor Government will cap council rates at CPI, and any rate increases above CPI will have to be approved by the Essential Services Commission.

The MAV is urging councils to lend your voice to this issue; it is much more than a cheaper rates bill, and communities need to be made aware of what they would miss out on if a rate cap were imposed.

Rate rise restrictions leave councils with two main choices – reduce services relied on by communities or reduce capital spending to maintain assets. This policy will have major mpacts on local government services if it is introduced.

A united voice will send a clear message to all parties that rate capping is not a policy that will be accepted quietly by local government.

Our response to Labor's rate cap proposal is available online.

2014-15 Victorian Budget

The Victorian Budget was released this week and contained significant new infrastructure projects.

The centrepiece of the budget was the funding of the second stage of the East-West project and the commencement of the Metro Rail link, which will construct an underground line from South Yarra to Southern Cross station. Included in the latter project is a rail extension to the airport.

For local government, the budget contained a number of funding programs to support planning initiatives and community infrastructure projects, including sporting facilities and kindergartens.

With no new funding for public libraries in response to the Tomorrow's Libraries project, the MAV will look to engage closely with the state to encourage greater funding for this valuable service.

We welcome the announcement from Minister for Local Government, Tim Bull, on the recurrent funding of $39.52 million to councils as part of the State’s Public Libraries Funding Program. This is the indexation we were expecting from the State. We also look forward to further consultation following release of the Stage 2 Report into the Review of Public Libraries, conducted by the bipartisan Ministerial Advisory Council on Public Libraries.

Our budget submission called for the renewal of the Country Road and Bridges program and the Local Government Infrastructure program and the Putting Locals First program. These will form a central request of our State election campaign.

Our budget summary is now available online.

For further information, contact Owen Harvey-Beavis.

Commission of Audit

The Commonwealth Government last week released the Commission of Audit final reports. The reports recommend significant changes to the federation’s roles and responsibilities and would fundamentally change the role of government with clear implications for local government, if implemented.

The Commission recommended that funding responsibility for local government through the dedicated local roads component of the Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs) and Roads to Recovery funds would be transferred to the states.

The Commission also recommended that the balance of FAGs payments would be transferred to councils. This is consistent with the previous Commission of Audit recommendations in 1996. The MAV believes this recommendation is unlikely to proceed as it relies upon significant reform to the federation.

The Commission has also recommended that Regional Development Australia committees be abolished, along with any associated expenditure. The Local Government Ministers’ Forum is also recommended for abolition. The MAV has greater concerns for the implications of the above recommendations.

At a broader level, the release of the report so close to the Commonwealth Budget appears to foreshadow significant cuts to federal expenditure, which may have a consequence to local government. These cuts may directly affect councils or may negatively influence communities and create greater demand for municipal services.

For further information, contact Owen Harvey-Beavis.

Defined Benefit Taskforce

The MAV's Defined Benefit Taskforce met this week to discuss progress on the implementation of their recommendations.

The meeting noted significant progress in implementing the debt financing project, the move towards a self-insurance model for WorkCover (which would remove top-up WorkCover premiums on defined benefit shortfalls), and improved dissemination of information to employers from Vision Super.

The Taskforce was also briefed by the new Chief Executive Officer of Vision Super, Steven Rowe, on the organisation’s focus, changes to the regulatory environment for superannuation funds and the investment strategy for the defined benefit fund.

The Taskforce agreed an update on the progress of recommendations will be distributed to councils for consideration.

For further information, contact Owen Harvey-Beavis.

Councils advocacy action for 15 hours kindergarten

Approximately 20 councils have advised the MAV that councillors and council staff are contacting local MPs, Federal MPs and the Shadow Ministry to urge them to ensure continuation of funding for 15 hours kindergarten.

Councils are writing letters, demanding meetings and requesting that their local MPs raise the issue in parliament. Many councils have been contacted by the local media to communicate the issue more broadly, and are sharing information through council websites and social media.

Councils are also writing to services (and families) to advise them of their advocacy efforts and requesting services to also take action.

The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development has set up an email address for services to comment on the potential loss of funding.

Councils of the Future

The MAV Future of Local Government Conference on 21-22 May will discuss the fundamental choice facing local government: adopt a ‘Business as Usual’ attitude or pursue a more collaborative strategy and become a ‘Council of the Future’.

The latter will include the development of a digital business strategy for the sector, and will result in more connected, responsive and efficient government.

All Victorian councils will be asked to express interest in participating in the Councils of the Future Program and help to plan the transition.

Registrations for the conference close on 19 May.

For further information, contact John Hennessy.

State Council business papers

Business papers for the State Council meeting on 16 May have been sent to all councils.

The papers comprise of the Agenda, State Council Draft 25 October 2013 Minutes, Draft Strategic Work Plan 2014/15, Draft VSLGA Agreement and Motions from Membership.

The State Council meeting will be held at The Auditorium, Sofitel Melbourne, 25 Collins St from 9.30am-3pm.

National Reconciliation Week

National Reconciliation Week (NRW) is celebrated across Australia each year on 27 May-3 June. The dates commemorate two milestones in the reconciliation journey—the anniversaries of the successful 1967 referendum and the High Court Mabo decision.

It’s a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures and achievements and to explore how each of us can join the national reconciliation effort.

Many councils are planning activities to mark this special week. If you need ideas, consult your community or Reconciliation Victoria.

Our latest edition of CiVic Magazine also profiles how local government can support and embrace Victorian Aboriginal communities.

MAV Technology Annual Report out now

The MAV Technology Annual Report is now available online.

Formerly known as the Local Government Information and Communications Technology Group (LGICT), MAV Technology is comprised of the IT managers from 78 of Victoria’s 79 councils. It was established with the assistance of the MAV in 2004.

The MAV Technology Executive Committee uses the revenue from its member subscriptions to fund and/or support IT projects that help deliver business outcomes for councils and their communities.

MAV Technology also helps members to communicate and collaborate through group procurement opportunities, social media networks and events, including the MAV Technology Annual Conference.

For further information, contact Lisa Bennetto.

Call for entries: 2014 MAV Technology Awards for Excellence

Entries for the MAV Technology Awards for Excellence are now open.

The awards celebrate the achievements of council ICT teams in improving productivity and efficiency for their councils and communities.

Finalists in each category will be announced on 14 July, and will be invited to present their entries to delegates of the 2014 MAV Technology Annual Conference.

The most outstanding entry from all categories will be eligible for the MAV Technology Award for Excellence - The Exemplar Award.

Entries are also open for the MAV Technology Innovation Fellowship: a $10,000 grant to advance a current or proposed ICT, GIS or information management project.

Winners will be announced at a gala awards dinner on 13 August. Entries close at 5pm on 30 June.

For further information, contact Lisa Bennetto.

2014 Grants Network Victoria Conference

This year’s GNV Conference on 23 May is an event to help your council's future grant seeking efforts.

Why you should attend?

  • Advocate to the Victorian Government as part of their review into all grant programs
  • Learn about new grant programs and funding agreement initiatives
  • Speak to those who hold the cash your council needs
  • Network with other councils.

The conference features speakers from across the grants spectrum.

Proposed amendments to the Racial Discrimination Act 1975

The Federal Government wants to change the Act to remove laws which make it illegal to offend someone based on their race, arguing the laws are an impediment to free speech.

Submissions on an exposure draft Bill closed on 30 April. The MAV has lodged a submission, cautioning against any amendments to the Act that may be interpreted as giving licence to race-based bullying, particularly by individuals in positions of influence.

In social media news...

Upcoming MAV events...

20 May

Leadership and what it means to a councillor

21 May

Future of Local Government Conference

21 May

Healthy Eating Forum

 

like us on Facebook  follow us on Twitter  forward to a friend

Copyright© 2014 Municipal Association of Victoria, All rights reserved.
You've received this bulletin from the MAV because you subscribed to it.

Our mailing address is:
GPO Box 4326, Melbourne 3000

 
unsubscribe from this list    subscribe or update subscription preferences