- The Local Government Amendment (Fair Go Rates) Bill 2015 was this week introduced to the Victorian Parliament. The Essential Services Commission’s final report to Government and the Government’s response were also published this week. Further details about the rate capping framework proposed by the Government are detailed below.
- The Local Government Amendment (Improved Governance) Bill 2015 was passed in the Victorian Parliament without amendment this week.
- The CFA’s new Chief Officer has been announced as Joe Buffone. Currently the Deputy Commissioner of Risk and Resilience for Emergency Management Victoria, Joe will start his new role with the CFA in November. Mr Buffone has previously been a Deputy Chief Officer with the CFA and a Deputy Emergency Services Commissioner for Victoria.
- The Victorian Government is seeking views to inform an update of Victoria’s cycling strategy and development of a new cycling action plan. Community consultation will occur from October to December via an online survey, formal submissions and consultation workshops being held across Victorian from 16 November – 10 December.
Rate Capping Legislation
The Local Government Amendment (Fair Go Rates) Bill 2015 provides substantial autonomy to the Minister for Local Government to establish the detailed features of the rate capping system. The Bill does not specifically require the imposition of a rate cap; rather it provides a legislative base to establish a cap.
The MAV is pleased that the Government has considered our advice in favour of greater flexibility in the cap, with the Bill providing for the Minister to adopt a different benchmark or multiple caps for different classes of councils. At this stage the Government has indicated that it intends to adopt one cap for all councils, based on the ESC’s recommendation of a mixed Wage Price Index and Consumer Price Index.
The ESC will have responsibility for considering rate increases above the cap, and in a substantial change to the draft ESC report, the Bill contains provision for the ESC to partially accept a proposed variation. The Bill also provides a mechanism for the Minister to suspend a council that fails to comply with the rate capping regime ‘consistently and substantially’.
Much of the detail around the framework will be established by general Orders published in the Government Gazette, so significant uncertainty remains about the shape and operation of the rate cap framework for 2016-17 and beyond. These include the financial contributions councils will be required to make towards the operation of the variations system, the actual level of the cap, and whether additional caps will be introduced by the Minister.
As a next step, the MAV will be convening a meeting of our Rate Capping Taskforce to discuss the Government’s response in more detail and identify ongoing advocacy priorities to achieve a fair and sustainable model for communities.
For further information, contact Owen Harvey-Beavis.
2016 Stand for Council
The 2016 local government elections will be held 12 months from this Saturday.
In 2012, we conducted over 80 community and candidate information sessions with councils across Victoria, attracting over 1,000 prospective candidates and our Stand for Council website attracted more than 6,000 visits.
To assist councils in preparing for the elections, our Stand for Council program will be offered to members again in 2016, including local candidate information sessions. Our website and From Citizen to Councillor booklet will be revised and updated over the coming months.
More details will be released shortly, but councils are encouraged to start thinking about when in 2016 they would like to host an information session as the calendar will get very busy from June to August.
For further information, contact Andrew Rowe
Australian Citizenship Information Session
On Tuesday 1 December the MAV will host an information session with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) on Australian citizenship ceremonies for mayors, councillors, CEOs and officers responsible for organising ceremonies.
The session provides councils with an opportunity to receive an update on the Australian Citizenship Ceremonies Code (including conferral of citizenship), and on the proposed Australian Citizenship Amendment (Allegiance to Australia) Bill 2015. It also offers an opportunity to seek clarification and discuss concerns directly with DIBP representatives.
Register by 26 November; limited places are available.
For further information, contact Bianca Nutt.
Alliance for Gambling Reform
Following on from the MAV and councils’ joint Enough Pokies state election campaign, a new Alliance for Gambling Reform has this week launched nationally, together with a new television commercial.
The goal of the Alliance is to secure a $1 maximum bet on poker machines, along with a suite of complementary harm reduction measures, and increased local government and community say over the planning and licencing approval of poker machine gambling.
To date the MAV and 17 councils have formally joined with 22 other organisations as Alliance supporters. Other councils are encouraged to join this initiative so together we can help reduce the harm caused by poker machines. You can follow the Alliance campaign on Facebook and Twitter.
Sector Conversation: Transport
The MAV will host a sector conversation to give councils the opportunity to facilitate discussions and share innovative approaches to transport plans and strategies with other councils.
Nine speakers will present on a range of topics including: community consultation for transport plans, community transport, metropolitan freight, rural freight, transport advocacy, integrated transport plans, cycling, walking, traffic and parking.
This free event will be held at the MAV from 10am – 12.30pm on 25 November and you can register online to secure your spot.
For more information, contact Kevin Peachey.
Fire Ready 2015/16
Last week the MAV hosted a briefing session for council communications and emergency management staff with Emergency Management Victoria and other State agencies providing an overview of the summer fire campaign, including Fire Action Week (1-8 November), heat health and related information for the upcoming summer bushfire season.
Copies of presentations from EMV, CFA, Victoria Police, the Department of Justice and Regulation, and the Department of Health and Human Services are now available on the MAV members-only Comms Hub. Fire Ready key messages to be used by all State and local government organisations when communicating with communities are also available on the Comms Hub. A user name and password are required to log in, or click the ‘sign up’ button if you are a new user from a MAV member council.
The CFA has also launched a new online tool to make it easier for people to check whether they can clear vegetation, including trees and branches around their home, without a permit.
A 2-minute video and online information can also assist people to better understand what they can and can’t do without a permit depending on where they live, and whether the 10/30 and the 10/50 vegetation clearance rules might apply. Councils are encouraged to promote the availability of these resources to your communities.
Resilient Melbourne project
The development of Melbourne's first resilience strategy is progressing well. In October all 32 metropolitan councils were invited to contribute to a stocktake to understand existing initiatives currently in place that contribute to building social and economic resilience across our natural and built environments. The results of this stocktake are being used to see what projects have the potential to be scaled up in scope or geography.
Looking ahead to the Resilient Melbourne strategy launch in April 2016, metropolitan councils are invited to nominate team members to join a communications working group to help develop and implement the communications for the project.
The MAV is participating on the Resilient Melbourne Steering Committee. For more information on the communications working group or to download the communications toolkit visit the MAV members-only Comms Hub. You can also sign up to the Resilient Melbourne newsletter.
Recognising councils’ work
- Congratulations to Maroondah City Council for winning the 2015 READY Award for its Start the Conversation project to engage with local young people. Highly commended achievements also went to Greater Dandenong City Council for their IMPACT program and Whittlesea City Council for their Youth Equity Strategy. Information on the projects of all finalists are detailed in the 2015 awards booklet.
- The 2015 Victorian Community History Awards have recognised the City of Boroondara for Boroondara Remembers: Stories of World War 1 (Local History – Small Publication Award) and the City of Stonnington for Suburbs of War: The Cities of Malvern and Prahran during the Great War (Centenary of World War One Award). Congratulations to both councils for helping to share local historical stories so communities can honour past events and people.
Social justice leaders’ event
The Funding Network, a not-for-profit organisation with a focus on creating powerful social change, is hosting an event on Thursday 29 October in Melbourne to tackle the tough questions of how we can make Australia a fairer nation, and curb poverty and discrimination.
Hear from social justice leaders including the Alliance for Gambling Reform, the Human Rights Law Centre and the Flemington Kensington Community Legal Centre.
The event is on from 5.30-8.30pm at the AMP Auditorium, Docklands. Book tickets
News in brief
- The Australian Government is considering the final report of the National ICE Taskforce, which was led by Ken Lay APM.
- Bill Shorten unveiled his new Shadow Ministry ahead of next year’s federal election
- A new and improved independent energy price comparison tool lets consumers compare their electricity, gas and solar tariffs. It also includes improved support for culturally and linguistically diverse users, and people with literacy or visibility issues
- Crime Stoppers is commencing two new community initiatives: an update of their website to better support people wanting to report family violence, and a new campaign about personal safety awareness on public transport.
- The Australian Parliament will trial a Constituency Question Time until the end of the year to allow for Members to ask questions related specifically to their electorates and matters raised with them by constituents.
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