In the lead up to the 2010 state election, local government called on all political parties to respond to its core priorities identified in the Local government action plan: call to parties.
State and local government have a long history of working cooperatively for the benefit of Victorian communities and this document identifies opportunities for the two sectors to continue working proactively together during the next term of government for the benefit of our communities.
Call to parties outlines the key challenges facing councils across nine policy areas and lists 46 specific commitments and actions sought from all political parties prior to the election on 27 November.
It is the culmination of our long-term strategies on a range of critical policy issues and has been developed based on the strategic priorities determined by the sector, as endorsed by member councils in our 2010 – 2011 strategic plan.
Specific actions sought during the next term of government to remedy challenges affecting Victorian councils and their communities included:
- better long-term funding arrangements to ensure financial sustainability for local government
- a comprehensive review to reduce and streamline the current onerous state reporting and regulation compliance burden imposed on local government
- improved cooperative approach to ensure Victoria’s land use planning system is more efficient and effective, and community input rights are maintained
- better funding and resourcing of fire-prevention activities for all agencies and authorities
- a tripartite government agreement to ensure aged and community care programs are appropriately funded, continue to focus on healthy ageing models and meet individual care needs
- urgent infrastructure funding and workforce investment to deliver 15 hours’ preschool reforms that don’t reduce current kinder programs, restrict access or increase parent fees
- investment in public libraries to adequately support the changing service roles, particularly increased community demand for internet and ICT access
- access to expertise to build councils’ understanding of climate change impacts and funding to help meet the significant up-front capital costs of climate change responses
- accelerated funding for transport infrastructure in all its form, and renewal of the Local Roads to Market program to provide funding for strategically important local roads.
Call to parties was forwarded to the ALP, Liberal – Nationals Coalition and Victorian Greens in October seeking a formal response detailing each party’s commitment to the 46 local government issues and actions sought if elected to the Victorian Parliament on 27 November.
Political party policy commitments
We prepared a comparison summary of state election policy announcements released by the Greens, Labor and Coalition parties that either directly or indirectly relate to local government.
This collated document contains key commitments across a broad range of portfolio areas such as local government, planning, transport, regional development, environment, water, energy, early years, aged care, gaming, emergency services and community services.
The document is intended to inform councils of the various policy positions of each party prior to the election, and summarises actions to be progressed by the incoming government once the election outcomes are known. This is a reference guide only, and the document includes links to each political party’s full policies and media statement available online.
Energy-efficient public street lighting
We launched a campaign in June 2010 to secure a state and federal funding partnership to help local government with the high up-front costs ($114 million) of changing local road street lights over from the 1980’s mercury vapour 80W lamps to more energy efficient lighting.
The Give Our Streets the Green Light campaign website was launched to help inform communities that new technology fluorescent lights can provide an energy saving of around 70 per cent, and a statewide upgrade for Victoria’s estimated 330 000 local road street lights will achieve a 78 000 tonne greenhouse gas emissions reduction and $9.5 million in energy cost savings each year.
The campaign aims to achieve a $45 million combined investment from the Australian and Victorian Governments over four years. This would help fund around one third of the total upgrade costs, with councils paying the remainder of the estimated $350 to $450 for each energy efficient light installed.
During the federal election, the Gillard Government committed to a new $80 million Low Carbon Communities program, which will provide grants of up to $500 000 to assist councils with energy efficient street lighting upgrades. In addition to our advocacy to federal party leaders, ministers and shadow ministers, we have also provided information and briefings at the state level to:
- Victorian Premier, John Brumby
- Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Gavin Jennings
- Minister for Local Government, Richard Wynne
- Opposition Leader, Ted Baillieu
- Shadow Minister for Local Government, Jeanette Powell
- Shadow Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Mary Woolridge
- Greg Barber, Victorian Greens Spokesperson on Energy, Environment and Climate Change
The MAV and councils participated in the Premier’s Climate Change Summit where the premier announced a $15 million new Local Government Climate Communities program over three years from 2012.
Under the initiative, councils will be able to access grants of up to $500 000 towards projects such as street lighting upgrades that demonstrate emissions reductions.
The Liberal – Nationals Coalition announced a $20 million energy efficient public lighting upgrade program for local government and has committed to seeking a matched contribution from the Australian Government.
The major political parties have also been asked to specify their commitment to energy-efficient street lighting upgrades prior to the state election.