Dear friends and colleagues,
I’d like to begin my update with a warm welcome to new Surf Coast councillor James McIntyre, who was elected earlier this month following a by-election. A second by-election in Surf Coast will be held at the end of August. It’s also great to have the MAV’s new Director of Policy and Advocacy, Troy Edwards and our new Chief Financial Officer, Anthony De Jong both commence with us this month. Troy will be known to many of you through his various local government positions and role at Socom.
140th anniversary of the MAV
Today is a special day for the MAV as it is our 140th anniversary. On this day in 1879, it was unanimously agreed by more than 120 delegates to inaugurate a Municipal Association to consist of all the municipal councils of Victoria.
The first meeting of members in September 1879 considered the Local Government Act and introducing differential rating clauses; increasing municipal borrowing powers; the proposed Width of Tyres Act; and woodcutters’ and carters’ licences. Other notable events of 1879 included heavy snowfalls in Melbourne, women being admitted for the first time to study at the University of Melbourne, and Ned Kelly delivering his ‘manifesto’ (commonly known as the Jerilderie Letter) to the editor of the local paper.
While times have changed significantly, our commitment over 140 years hasn’t. We continue to represent and advocate in the best interests of the local government sector and our communities on the big issues that matter including recycling, the Local Government Bill proposed reforms and the review of the local government rating system which went live with its consultation page this week.
As you will know, last week SKM again ceased accepting materials at its recycling facilities, which has affected 32 councils and communities. We are continuing to work with those councils, the State Government, and waste and resource recovery groups to find both short-term and longer-term solutions.
As we know from the February/March shutdown, there appears to be very limited spare capacity amongst Victorian processors to take on additional material. At our meetings with the Minister last Tuesday and Friday, we again reiterated the sector’s strong desire to see State support to increase capacity at other materials recovery facilities. Where councils have to send to landfill as a last resort, we are seeking for the State to provide some relief on the landfill levy and funding assistance for additional transport costs incurred as a result of the shutdowns. I also shared my speaking notes to help councils with any communications.
We also continue to advocate for the introduction of a container deposit scheme, greater investment in our recycling sector and greater oversight of industry as outlined in our Rescue Our Recycling Action Plan. Solutions require all three levels of government, industry and the community to work together to achieve a sustainable recycling system. We will keep you updated on our advocacy efforts.
Local Government Bill proposed reforms
This week we are co-hosting a further forum with LG Pro and the VLGA for councils on the Local Government Bill 2019 proposed reforms.
It’s clear that the majority of council concerns relate to two proposed reforms – single-member wards and the community-initiated Commissions of Inquiry. We have already raised with the Minister initial sector feedback following our member forum earlier this month. This feedback related to the absence of consultation and a lack of sufficient detail being available through an Exposure Draft of the Bill, unintended consequences of the new proposed reforms, as well as a one-size-fits-all model not being suitable.
Our formal response will be submitted to the Minister this week and a copy circulated to all members.
Councillor Development Weekend
Last weekend was a fantastic two days in Ballarat for our 20th Councillor Development Weekend. More than 100 attendees heard from a great range of speakers including the ABC 7.30 program’s Laura Tingle; Catherine King MP, Federal Member for Ballarat and Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development; and former Mayor Peter Stephenson on his work as a municipal monitor at both Wangaratta Rural City Council and South Gippsland Shire.
We also received a great presentation from Cr Jennifer Alden, 2018 recipient of the McArthur Local Government Fellowship, who presented her study on UNESCO Creative City accreditations, and delegates participated in a range of practical skills development and leadership capacity-building workshops.
Presentations from the weekend will be published on the members-only area of our website and we’ll circulate a link via email to members.
Finally, I am always pleased to highlight activities in our councils. The Mayor of Casey, Cr Amanda Stapledon is walking 10 kilometres a day for nine days starting September 14 in Mayor’s Walk for Disability, raising funds for supported accommodation and awareness for people who live with a disability in Casey. The funds will go to Project 28, which aims to build 28 homes for 28 people by 2028.
Further details are available at www.casey.vic.gov.au/mayors-walk-disability.
With kind regards,