MAV bulletin - Issue 913

Publish date:

MAV President and Board elections

The MAV President and Board elections will be held on Friday 1 March 2013. The President is elected at large and the regional representatives are elected by the MAV representatives within each region. The method of voting will be postal.

Nominations open on Monday 21 January. Nominations must be received by 4 pm on 7 February, together with a 150 word candidate statement and a photograph of the candidate.

MAV representatives will be given the opportunity to address questions to presidential candidates at a series of three Presidential Candidate Forums. Dates and the locations for the forums will be advised after the close of nominations.

Keegan Bartlett from the Victorian Electoral Commission has been appointed Returning Officer and can be contacted on 03 8620 1145 or 0408 529 795.

For further information contact Alison Lyon on 03 9667 5522.

Constitutional recognition

The MAV, through the ALGA, has this week appeared before the parliamentary inquiry into constitutional recognition of local government. The parliamentary inquiry is a critical step in the progression towards a referendum, and will determine whether there is sufficient support to progress with the referendum, and what form of recognition is preferred.

The MAV and the ALGA continue to argue strongly for financial recognition of local government through an amendment to section 96 of the Constitution, which would allow the Australian Government to directly fund local government. This form of recognition responds to the Pape and Williams High Court cases, and ensures that there is no ambiguity about the power of the Commonwealth to continue to fund the successful Roads to Recovery and Regional and Local Community Infrastructure programs.

In addition, the MAV is finalising its draft submission to the inquiry and will be circulating it to councils for comment shortly. The MAV encourages all councils to provide a submission to the committee by 15 February.

Red tape commissioner 

The Victorian Government has announced the appointment of a new red tape commissioner, John Lloyd, who will oversee the implementation of reforms aimed at decreasing unnecessary regulations. The position will aim to reduce red tape by 25 per cent, boosting productivity in the state and removing unnecessary regulatory barriers.

The community has been invited to provide ideas for regulatory reform to redtapereform@dtf.vic.gov.au and councils can also use this contact address to raise reform priorities with the new commissioner.

Fences Act – proposed reforms

The Victorian Government is considering reforms to the Fences Act 1968 and has prepared draft proposals for consideration. The draft proposals aim to overcome the current lack of guidance on fencing obligations and how to resolve disagreements about fencing works. The intent is to provide more clarity around contributions to fencing works, maintenance obligations, the location and placement of fences and the resolution of disputes about the common boundary. The proposals are also intended to simplify fencing related procedures and minimise costs in an area where legal costs are often disproportionately high relative to the amount in dispute.

A discussion paper notes that councils are not currently liable to contribute towards the repair and maintenance of boundary fences for parks they own and manage, as they are not considered ‘occupiers’ of the land. The proposed shift in liability from occupiers to owners will not affect the liabilities of local government as it is intended to provide that where land is managed by a council for a public park, the council is not the owner for the purposes of the Fences Act.

Should you have any issues or concerns about the draft proposals contact Alison Lyon by Friday 8 February 2013.

VCAT fee changes

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) is reviewing its fee structures. A Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) is out for comment until 15 February. The document outlines staged increases over three years.

Hearings and Enforcement Orders under the Planning and Environment List will increase from $322 and $38 respectively to $1,007.40 in 2015. We note that, like VCAT, councils have similarly been absorbing increasing costs to fund the planning systems and still await a review of planning fees commenced in 2008. We hope that prior to fees expiring on 22 April 2013 they are reviewed to better reflect costs.

VicRoads Traffic Management Prequalification Guidelines

VicRoads has recently developed new Worksite Traffic Management Prequalification Guidelines. Under the new guidelines, all traffic management conducted on VicRoads-managed roads (including council works which intersect VicRoads-managed roads) must now be undertaken by VicRoads prequalified traffic managers. The new guidelines came into effect on 1 January 2013.

The MAV CEO recently wrote to councils with further information, as well as copies of the new guidelines and prequalification application forms. Councils which have not already done so should submit an application as soon as possible. However, works can continue provided that worksite traffic management is carried out as per the Code of Practice for Worksite Safety and Traffic Management and Road Safety (Traffic Management) Regulations 2009, until VicRoads completes the assessment of your council’s application.

For further information contact VicRoads on 9854 2427, or James Cleaver.

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Victorian Cycling Strategy

The Victorian Government has released a new Cycling Strategy: Cycling into the Future 2013-23.

The strategy was released by the Planning Minister when he announced the Darebin Creek trail extension on 9 December.

The Department of Transport is holding a local government briefing session on Wednesday 23 January from 10 am to 11 am at Level 5, 121 Exhibition St, Melbourne.

To register, please email Fiona Calvert with cc to James Cleaver.

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Human Rights Reporting for Local Government 

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC) is preparing its 2012 report on the operation of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities.

Each year the VEOHRC asks councils to report on how they are complying with the Charter through an online survey. Over the past few years all councils have managed to complete this survey. This survey is now available to complete. Reports are due by 15 March 2013.

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Rural Councils Victoria

Rural councillors interested in overseeing the Networked Rural Councils program and leading the Rural Councils Victoria (RCV) Executive Committee should consider nominating for the position of RCV chairperson. Nominations close at 5 pm, Monday 28 January. In the event that more than one nomination is received, an election will be conducted from 1 to 8 February 2013.

Nominations for chairperson must be sent to Janice Raux by 5 pm Monday 28 January.

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National Vehicle Heavy Regulator campaign

The National Vehicle Heavy Regulator (NVHR) has launched a new brochure and three-month advertising campaign to inform Australia’s heavy vehicle road transport industry about what services it will provide when it opens for business on 21 January 2013. Look out for the advertisements in industry magazines and on their respective websites. The brochure will be available from transport department customer service centres across Australia early in 2013.

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Greater Shepparton wins Multicultural Excellence Award for Local Government

The MAV would like to congratulate Greater Shepparton City Council, winner of Victoria’s 2012 Multicultural Excellence Award for Local Government for their introduction of measures to develop an inclusive society. Minister for Local Government Jeanette Powell - joining Premier Ted Baillieu, Minister for Multicultural Affairs Nicholas Kotsiras and Minister for Education Martin Dixon - presented the award at the Multicultural Awards for Excellence last month. Wodonga City Council and Melbourne City Council also received recognition for their service delivery to multicultural Victoria.

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In social media news…

  • The Local Government Association of South Australia is developing the My Local Services App to provide a mobile database of location-based council information including parks, libraries, public conveniences and dog friendly spaces for SA residents and visitors. Find out more here.
  • The Victorian Government Digital Innovation Review contains an environment scan of various state, local and federal agencies to identify digital innovation good practice and the effective use of digital channels. Read it here.
  • Social media is changing disaster response. Find out how here.
  • Boston’s Citizens Connect mobile app has received such positive feedback it’s being expanded statewide. Find out more here.