White Paper on Reform of the Federation
The Australian Government has released the Terms of Reference for the White Paper on the Reform of the Federation.
This is a major initiative of the Commonwealth Government and is likely to have significant implications for the ongoing roles, responsibilities and funding streams for local government. Along with the taxation review, it will constitute a major component of the overall direction of the Abbott Government.
The Terms of Reference have been developed in collaboration with states and territories, as agreed at the last meeting of the Council of Australian Governments, and the White Paper will be a standing item on the COAG agenda.
We are pleased to note that the Australian Local Government Association is a member of the Steering Committee overseeing the development of the White Paper.
Local Economic Development inquiry
The MAV welcomes the State Government’s response to the Inquiry into Local Economic Development Initiatives in Victoria.
It is pleasing to see the government has not supported Recommendation 34, which sought to create a statutory obligation for economic development to be a priority of the MAV.
It is also pleasing that they acknowledge the significant work that councils already undertake in the economic space.
In both our written submission and attendance at an inquiry hearing last year, the MAV emphasised the State and Federal Government roles in driving economic development by delivering major infrastructure investment, and the role of local government to leverage off that investment with local strategies and a supportive planning environment.
Land Transport Bill
This week, the Land Transport Infrastructure Bill 2014, which includes the extension of the Roads to Recovery program, did not proceed through the senate.
We expect the legislation will be now be debated in the new senate, which will sit from 7 July.
The MAV is working with the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) to receive assurances from the government and the opposition that they both support the extension of the Roads to Recovery program beyond 30 June 2014.
MAV Procurement: ministerial approval
The MAV is pleased that ministerial approval has been granted under section 186(5)(c) of the Local Government Act 1989 in relation to contracts entered into by councils through MAV Procurement.
Approval was granted on the basis that MAV Procurement contracts will provide councils with access to suppliers selected through a competitive process, and that leveraging the combined purchasing power of councils will result in economies of scale and savings.
In practical terms, this means that councils are now able to access all MAV Procurement contracts, irrespective of whether a council approved us as the tendering agent.
For further information, please contact Cameron Spence on 03 9667 5554.
Labor Platform: no rate-capping
Despite rate-capping being announced as an election promise by Victorian Labor, thorough inspection of their 2014 Platform paints a different picture.
Under the local government section of the Platform, the rate-capping policy is absent. It clearly states that Labor will ‘Recognise and support the autonomy of councils in setting rates and municipal charges’.
As the Platform is used to inform future policy we hope that, if elected, the Victorian ALP do not legislate this populist policy. We have made our position clear on rate-capping; it is a destructive policy that severly damaged the funding capacity of the sector for a generation.
Water Bill 2014
On 30 June the Victorian Government introduced the Water Bill 2014 to Parliament. If the new Bill is passed it will commence on 1 January 2016.
The proposed legislation seeks to consolidate Victoria’s Water Act 1989 and the Water Industry Act 1994 into one piece of legislation. This Bill has been introduced into parliament following public and stakeholder consultation. This has included consultation with the MAV.
The new Bill relaxes liability provisions in favour of councils. In the 1989 Act, if it is shown that a council has caused an unreasonable flow of water from one person’s land onto another person’s land causing damage, the council is liable. In the 2014 Bill such water flow must be shown to be a result of intentional or negligent conduct.
The Bill also provides the right for councils to take and use water in their stormwater infrastructure. The creation of specific property rights for stormwater will help councils to develop their stormwater resources and achieve better whole of water cycle outcomes.
Unfortunately provisions pertaining to the installation and maintenance of fire plugs, a cause for concern among councils, have not been substantively changed. The MAV had advocated for water corporations to be made responsible for all fire plug installation and maintenance.
For further information contact Martijn Gough.
Victorian Floodplain Management Strategy
The State Government released the draft Victorian Floodplain Management Strategy (VFMS) for public comment last week.
Through this strategy the government will seek to implement a number of the recommendations from the Victorian Floods Review and give effect to the government's response to the ENRC report on Flood Mitigation Infrastructure.
The MAV is pleased that there are commitments to improving data, mapping and communication. However, elements of the strategy are of concern, particularly the policy regarding levees outside of the Melbourne Water boundary and the lack of direction on coastal flooding.
The DEPI project team will hold 12 public information sessions over the next three weeks.
Our staff will draft a submission for council feedback in the coming weeks and the MAV encourages councils to make individual submissions. Submissions are due 11 August.
For further information, contact Emma Lake on 9667 5532 (Mon-Wed).
MAV finalises Partnership Agreement with the MPA
The MAV Board resolved at its June meeting to endorse the MAV and Metropolitan Planning Authority Partnership Agreement subject to some minor changes agreed to by the MPA. The endorsement concludes several months of negotiation.
The objective is to encourage a cooperative relationship between the MPA and local government, while outlining the broad working relationships between the MPA and councils. This agreement does not prevent individual agreements being developed and should be seen as complementary to any existing arrangements.
Consistent with feedback from the sector, the MAV will pursue several recommendations that fall outside of the scope of the agreement, specifically:
- The establishment of a regular Ministerial forum with mayors and CEOs to discuss metropolitan and regional planning issues and opportunities, and to report back on activities
- The development of criteria with the sector to inform when it is appropriate for the MPA to become the Responsible Authority or Planning Authority for designated sites or precincts
- The notification to a council, in advance, of the MPA becoming the Responsible Authority or Planning Authority for a designated site or precinct.
A copy of the agreement has been circulated to councils and planning directors. It is intended to be reviewed within 12 months of operation.
For further information, contact Gareth Hately on 9667 5596.
Cycling Road Rules Survey for councils
VicRoads is currently reviewing and examining the Victorian road safety rules legislation. The aim of the review is to identify opportunities to make it easier for people to take up riding, for current bike riders to use roads, and better protect bike riders and other road users (e.g. pedestrian) safety.
Councils play an important role in cycling related issues. Not only are councils responsible for much of the infrastructure which enables cyclists and other road users to access their communities, but they may also have insight from their constituents about local issues.
Councils are encouraged to respond to the survey, which closes on 27 July.
If you wish to promote the survey on your council website a suitable image is available by contacting Rachel Carlisle.
Call for abstracts - Flood Forum Victoria
The Mallee Catchment Management Authority is hosting a two day flood forum in Mildura on 13-14 November.
Consultants, researchers, and all others with an interest in floods and floodplain management are invited to submit abstracts for presentations by 28 July.
Presentations are encouraged in the following areas:
- Communicating flood risk
- Building better relationships between agencies and communities
- Levee management
- Cross-border issues
- Climate adaptation (future challenges and potential solutions)
- Lessons learnt from recent floods (planning, response, recovery)
- Insurance issues
- Case studies of innovative developments (technical, social)
Please submit abstracts to Michelle Kelly using the template.
Extension to New Year’s Eve trading hours for licensees
Legislative changes were recently made to the Liquor Control Reform Act 1998 relating to the extension of New Year’s Eve (NYE) trading.
The amendments make provision for the extension of ’ordinary trading hours’ on New Year’s Eve for certain liquor licences. This means that some licensees can extend their trading hours until 1am and some until 3am on NYE commencing on 31 December 2014. Details of which licences this amendment applies to can be found on the VCGLR website.
The VCGLR would like to give councils advance notice of this change and highlight that licensees must still consider any relevant licence conditions or related planning permits issued by local authorities. The VCGLR also has new power to restrict the extended NYE trading hours if there are concerns about the risk of alcohol-related harm.
For more information, visit or call the VCGLR on 1300 182 457.
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