MAV President's Update

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MAV President's Update - 17 May 2024

Dear friends and colleagues,

I'm sending you this update just after we have wrapped up our May State Council here at Melbourne Town Hall.

As always, State Council provided another fantastic opportunity for our sector to come together and discuss the issues most pressing across the state.

In an election year, it also serves as a chance to highlight the key priorities local government is addressing to a broader audience, including potential candidates and engaged communities.

As well as debating and voting on a number of motions today, the delegates also got to hear about the work happening within the organisational arm of the MAV.

In that spirit, below I'm providing an extract of the update I gave during my President's Report earlier today.

Warm regards,
Cr David Clark
MAV President

In this issue

Senior MAV staff gathered around a planning document in the park


Planning remains our headline issue as we continue to work publicly as well as within the corridors of the bureaucracy to ensure the voice of local government is part of the ongoing discussion both in the design as well as the implementation of Plan Victoria.

In late 2023 we released specific Metropolitan (PDF - 1.42MB) and Rural/Regional (PDF - 1.35MB) planning discussion papers, developed by SGS Economics and Planning.

In April we reinforced these original themes through a Joint statement with the Planning Institute of Australia (PDF - 184KB).

In this statement we outlined the keys to a successful Plan for Victoria.

These keys include:

  1. Within the planning framework, separate plans for metropolitan and for regional Victoria
  2. A Professional Reference Group for the plan, with MAV and LG at the centre.
  3. Reinforcing that local employment, connectivity and amenity are the key drivers of where people choose to live, and
  4. A focus on implementation, not just on the big picture and the fancy words.

Plan for Victoria offers all Victorian’s a significant opportunity to get the planning pathway clear across the whole State, provided it gives us the details we need to make our suburbs and towns the livable places we need them to be.

We will continue to work with the State, and to unashamedly continue to lead the public debate on why good planning is part of the solution, not part of the problem.

We have significantly changed the rhetoric on planning from the September 2023 release of the housing statement to today.

We all know there are in excess of 120,000 dwellings with planning approval that are yet to be constructed.

Each council has between two and five planning scheme amendments awaiting the approval of the Minister.

Our role is simple. Councils need to have land zoned correctly, so it can be developed and to have a clear and consistent pathway for planning approvals in each of our municipalities.

Financial sustainability

Our sector is in a unique position this year to address the financial sustainability of the sector with almost concurrent Federal and State level inquiries into Local Government.

The Federal inquiry is in essence all about the money, while the State inquiry is much more about what we do and the constraints and limitations imposed upon us.

The State has finally recognised the challenge we knew about when we framed our 2022-23 budgets, inflation of 22 per cent for infrastructure projects.

Our rates meanwhile have risen by just 4.5 per cent in total over these past two years.

As we know 20-30 per cent of our annual spend is on infrastructure renewal, to ensure our communities can walk, ride or drive safely, play close to home, shop and see our kids play the sport of their choice.

As each of you prepare your submissions to these respective inquiries, make sure you note that for every dollar of revenue Victorian councils take, we must maintain $10 of infrastructure. This compares to $4 of infrastructure for the Victorian Government and $0.40 for the Commonwealth.

We encourage each of you to highlight how a financially secure local government sector contributes to a prosperous, healthy and safe local community, as well as what your own communities need to achieve this.

As our next Federal election approaches, point out what you could do for your community, should the promised ‘fair increases’ in Financial Assistance Grants materialise for councils across Australia.

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Stand For Council

The MAV's Stand for Council campaign is now in full swing, with two of our Community and Candidate Information sessions having been held in Yarra Ranges and Macedon Ranges.

We have had around 75 attendees to the first two sessions, and with another 20 sessions to go, we’re looking forward to spreading the word further.

The campaign is designed to highlight what a councillor’s roles and responsibilities are, the importance and breadth of our sector, and to encourage as many high quality candidates as possible to stand.

Stand for Council has been a huge team effort by the MAV staff and I congratulate those involved for all the work so far – and to come.

Every council is involved in the campaign – which is fantastic – and I encourage your teams to continue their work in amplifying the Stand for Council campaign via your social and local media and community groups.

People at a Stand for Council Meeting

Ongoing engagement

I wanted to provide an update on our other engagement activities, particularly with you and your Council.

The first is a partnership between the MAV and the University of Melbourne to provide a course on Recognising and Managing Disinformation.

We know this is a growing challenge to us all and will no doubt continue to grow as we head into the election. This pilot course will tackle head on sources and styles of disinformation as well as how to counter it.

MAV recognises the key role we have a headline view, consistent across the many representative groups we each participate in.

Whether it's Regional Cities, M9, Rural Councils Victoria, The Murray Councils or Western Metro, we each participate in a range of these groups because we share an interest with others.

At MAV we will keep working with each of you to ensure we can identify the key issues for the sector and are consistent with our messaging on them.

At MAV we have moved consciously to using facts and research to lead the debate on all things local government.

This is not without risk and we have invested significantly in our engagement with your Council organisation, as well as with you directly.

It will mean at times that MAV is describing the future in terms that are not universally endorsed by us all. In order to shape the debate and influence where we need to be, the MAV must be at the front of decision making pack and not following behind it.

Invitation – Men Promoting Gender Equality – Opportunity to hear from Dr Jackson Katz

Violence against women has – unfortunately – been thrust back into the spotlight. We know the good work councils do to promote gender equality and navigate how council services can aid prevention of violence against women, but so much more continues to be needed.

We’re therefore pleased that MAV is able to offer councils the opportunity to hear directly from Dr Jackson Katz who will be visiting Australia at the end of May. Dr Katz is internationally renowned for his activism and thought leadership in the growing global movement of men working to promote gender equality and prevent gendered violence. You can read his biography, and watch his TED talk.

This hybrid event is being held on Tuesday 28 May, 10:00am – 11:30am.

We are seeking your support by nominating a senior officer to attend this unique professional development opportunity, either in person at the MAV office, or online via zoom. Dr Katz is an engaging speaker so in-person attendance is encouraged.

Please note in-person attendance will be capped at the first 60 registrations.

We thank and acknowledge Communicare, White Ribbon, Jesuit Social Services, Our Watch, and No to Violence for sponsoring Dr Katz’s trip and enabling the MAV to host this event for you.