Government responds to flood mitigation inquiry
The Victorian Government has released its response to the Environmental and Natural Resource Committee’s Inquiry into Flood Mitigation Infrastructure.
It has supported fully, or in principle all 40 recommendations, signalling a significant shift of responsibility and cost for floodplain management from Catchment Management Authorities (CMAs) to councils for urban levees, on the basis of a ‘beneficiary pays’ principle. This includes a new council responsibility to develop and implement local floodplain management plans. This approach appears to be consistent with an emerging State Government direction that the beneficiaries of certain infrastructure should pay, potentially through council rates.
The Government’s response also acknowledges the State as a potential beneficiary, which will be recognised through its contribution to capital works where appropriate. However the State does not intend to contribute to the maintenance of flood mitigation infrastructure, which seems inconsistent with the principle.
We have previously raised concerns about the beneficiary pays model, and the need for funding support to maintain flood mitigation infrastructure. These concerns are summarised in an MAV Members’ Brief from October 2012, and our 2011 submission to the inquiry.
The Government plans to implement the recommendations via the Victorian Water Act Review, as well as the new Victorian Floodplain Management Strategy. While the MAV has been actively involved with the Water Act review, the section pertaining to the management of flood protection works was absent from the most recent exposure draft. A full public draft of the Bill is expected in November.
In the interim, the MAV is seeking urgent clarification from the Department of Environment and Primary Industries regarding the implementation of these policy changes and will advise councils when it is available.
For further information contact James Cleaver.
Emergency management reforms enter Parliament
The first tranche of legislation designed to reform Victoria’s emergency management arrangements was introduced to Parliament on 17 October.
The Emergency Management Bill 2013 focuses on introducing new governance arrangements including two new bodies, the State Crisis and Resilience Council, and Emergency Management Victoria (EMV).
The MAV CEO is a member of the State Crisis and Resilience Council, which will act as the peak emergency management advisory body responsible for policy and strategy across the emergency management spectrum. EMV will become the overarching body for emergency management in Victoria.
The legislation also allows for the creation of new emergency management roles. One particular role is the Emergency Management Commissioner (EMC) who will supersede the Fire Services Commissioner and take on a broader ‘all-hazards’ scope. The current Fire Services Commissioner, Craig Lapsley has been announced as Victoria’s first EMC. EMV and the EMC will not become operational until after the 2013/14 summer season and current arrangements will continue for the time being.
This legislation is the beginning of the first major overhaul of Victoria’s emergency management system in 27 years. The reform will take a number of years to complete with legislation introduced in stages. The MAV is continuing to engage the State Government and advocate for councils on the progression and detail of reform proposals.
New Public Rooming House Register
The Victorian Government has launched a statewide register of rooming houses to provide information to the public about their location and ownership. This will be of significant benefit for residents, community groups, homelessness services, advocates and enforcement agencies who will be able to more easily identify registered rooming houses and those which are not registered. It will also enable council officers involved in rooming house regulation to see information about rooming houses registered in multiple council areas.
The creation of a state-wide register consolidates the information maintained by councils as part of the legislative requirements they have to register rooming houses under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008, and has involved considerable effort by councils to provide the information to Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV). A list of rooming houses in each local government area is now available on CAV’s website.
Commemorating the ANZAC Centenary
The Victorian Government this week launched a new website for people to share their stories and photographs of those who served in the First World War ahead of next year’s start to the Anzac centenary (2014 – 2018).
The Government will also be working with councils to facilitate local commemorations to celebrate the centenary and will establish dedicated grants programs to support commemoration activities.
Initial information about the Anzac Centenary will be sent from the MAV to all council communications staff this week for sharing with your communities. We are in ongoing dialogue with the Department of Premier and Cabinet about ways to engage with local government as planning for the centenary proceeds.
East West impact assessment to be exhibited
The Victorian Planning Minister, Matthew Guy has announced the public exhibition period for the impact assessment of the East West Link. The Comprehensive Impact Statement (CIS) is an obligation under the Major Projects Facilitation Act which details how specific environmental, social and heritage matters will be addressed during the project construction.
Although it is understood that the Linking Melbourne Authority will commence exhibition shortly, at the time of publication, the CIS was yet to be released on the Linking Melbourne Authority website.
Federal Shadow Ministry announced
Following the recent appointment of The Hon. Bill Shorten as Leader of the Opposition, he has announced his shadow ministry. Anthony Albanese is Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport and Julie Collins becomes Shadow Minister for Regional Development and Local Government.
Full details of the Abbott ministry and Shorten shadow ministry are available on the Parliament of Australia website. The 44th Parliament will open on 12 November.
ALGWA Bursary Award
Are you, or do you know, a woman working in local government who is undertaking tertiary studies? If so, you are encouraged to nominate for the annual ALGWA Bursary.
Established in 1989, the Bursary is an annual $1 000 study award to encourage and assist women in the local government sector to further their education.
Applications are open to current permanent members of council staff, but must be submitted by this Friday 25 October. Further details including application forms are available on the ALGWA website.
The MAV also congratulates ALGWA Vic on its 50th anniversary this week.
Draft Victorian Trails Strategy 2013-2023
Tourism Victoria recently released its draft Victorian Trails Strategy 2013-2023. The draft strategy includes a number of actions to develop tourism opportunities, provide for strategic investment in trails, provide more trail-side facilities and promote trails. A series of stakeholder workshops are planned for 21-30 October, including in Echuca (24/10), Beechworth (25/10), Traralgon (28/10), Melbourne (29/10) and Colac (30/10). For further details contact Margaret.Jonas@tourism.vic.gov.au.
The MAV only received a draft copy of the strategy four days before comments were due on 18 October. We were advised by Tourism Victoria that a copy of the document was provided to councils. If you did not receive a copy, please contact Candice.Basham@dsdbi.vic.gov.au.
We have sought an extension to allow adequate time for submissions from the sector but it is unclear if this has been granted. Councils are encouraged to provide specific comments to James Cleaver to inform the MAV’s response, which will be prepared as soon as possible.
Managing Stormwater Treatment Assets Effectively
Melbourne Water’s Living Rivers program will be launching a Stormwater treatment asset management package at an industry breakfast on Friday 8 November. The package was created in response to an industry knowledge gap identified by councils.
This event will provide tools and real life examples to assist in the management and maintenance of councils’ water sensitive urban design (WSUD) assets. All attending councils will receive the newly released WSUD Asset Management package, including guidelines, life cycle costing data and a WSUD asset inventory.
Councils within Melbourne Water’s operating boundaries are invited to attend the launch from 8am at The River’s Edge in Melbourne. Register online by 28 October.
New Century Local Government
Research by the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government (ACELG) features significantly in a new book on international local government titled New Century Local Government: Commonwealth Perspectives, edited by Graham Sansom and Peter McKinlay and published by the Commonwealth Secretariat.
The book is a collection of papers covering three themes: decentralisation, localism and intergovernmental relations; local government finance and economic development; and, new approaches to governance.
It illustrates the way in which the role of local government is evolving in different parts of the Commonwealth and provides practical examples of new local government at work. It showcases emerging practice, and highlights success stories from new ways of working and challenges confronting local government in both developed and developing countries.
In social media news...