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Dear friends and colleagues,

Welcome to the November edition of my President’s Update, Our MAV.

Today is International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. To show my support for a future without family violence, I participated in today’s 11th annual Walk Against Family Violence alongside MAV staff and many other Victorians.

MAV Staff at 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence march

MAV Staff at 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence marchThe Respect Women: Call It Out campaign also commences today as the key focus of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence. This campaign is being delivered in partnership with all councils, Respect Victoria and the Domestic Violence Resource Centre of Victoria. I commend the many activities that councils have planned locally to participate in the 16 days. We encourage you to continue using the published resources and toolkit to further participate in the campaign.

This month we farewell the 2018-2019 mayors as councils formally elect their mayors for the year ahead. I would particularly like to thank all outgoing mayors for your hard work this year, and extend a warm welcome and congratulations to both newly appointed and returning mayors. The MAV is hosting our Mayoral induction event for mayors and deputy mayors on 5 December. You can register your attendance and view the program online. I hope to see many of you there.

I would also like to welcome Cr Peter Brown to the City of Greater Dandenong, who was elected following a countback conducted earlier this month by the VEC.

2019 Local Government Bill

As you would be aware, this month the State introduced the Local Government Bill 2019 to Parliament. We were pleased to see that the proposed community-initiated Commissions of Inquiry were not included, but remain concerned about the introduction of mandated single-member ward structures for a number of metropolitan and regional city councils for the 2020 general elections.

I have sent further details about the Bill to all councils by email earlier this month. We will continue to advocate the sector’s position to the government, opposition parties and independent members of Parliament.

Review of LG Rating System

At the beginning of November we submitted our sector response to the State’s local government rates review. We also issued a media statement calling on the Victorian Government to improve the fairness and equity of our rating system for all ratepayers, which gained some strong media coverage. And together with John Nevins, I presented to the Rating Inquiry and answered questions from the three panel members.

Our submission seeks system reforms to address current legislated rates exemptions that relate to commercial activities, fee-for-service providers and private-sector activities. We also highlighted the current inequity facing smaller rural and regional councils who have a mismatch between their financial capacity and their asset and service responsibilities. We have called for urgent State action to assist these councils.

The MAV also supported this month’s Australasian Property Tax Summit presented by the International Property Tax Institute. I opened the summit and the MAV’s CEO, Kerry Thompson participated in a panel discussion about the future prospects for property taxation and alternative funding options for local government.

Recycling Update

There is still plenty happening in recycling. In late October, Infrastructure Victoria (IV) released its evidence base and key findings to date on the infrastructure required to improve the performance of the recycling and resource recovery sector. We are drafting a submission and will seek council input in advance of the 13 December deadline.

Earlier this month, State and Federal Environment Ministers agreed that waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres that have not been processed into a value-added material should be subject to an export ban. A discussion paper and survey have been released seeking stakeholder views on how and when the ban should be implemented.

The Victorian Parliament Environment and Planning Committee’s Inquiry into Recycling and Waste Management is due to release its final report on 29 November. We and several councils, as well as many other stakeholders, made submissions and CEO Kerry Thompson, Policy Manager Claire Dunn and I presented to the Committee during the course of their inquiry. We look forward to seeing the final report.

And finally, the Victorian Government’s circular economy policy and action plan are expected to be released before the end of the year. How the other pieces of work mentioned above have and will inform the policy and action plan are unclear. The decision to ban exports of waste materials only heightens the urgent need for greater investment in our local processing and recycling capacity.  We continue to call for a container deposit scheme and we stand by our Rescue Our Recycling Action Plan, launched in March, as a roadmap for all levels of government.

Strengthening our reporting transparency

I was pleased to circulate new tailored Member Services Reports to all councils at the beginning of this month. These reports outline the services and benefits provided to your council during 2018 and are the first step towards improving how we report back to you about the value of your MAV membership.

I welcome your feedback on these reports ahead of our project in the second half of 2019 to develop a new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system for the MAV. We would like to automate and improve upon the Member Services Report for next year so your feedback will help inform our CRM design process.

To improve upon our transparency, we have also created a new Our Board Hub on our members-only website where all future MAV Board minutes will be published. You can log-in to view the April Board minutes.

MAV Insurance - Liability Mutual Scheme

I am pleased to advise that we have finalised the appointment of four new independent members to the MAV Insurance Board. They will formally commence in December. This recruitment process responds to a recommendation in the 2018 Victorian Auditor General report into local government insurance risks. The four new members have extensive expertise in investment, finance, broking and compliance within the insurance industry.

Later this week we are hosting a CEO workshop to examine future options for our Liability Mutual Insurance scheme as part of our ongoing reform program to strengthen the operations and sustainability of MAV Insurance. CEOs have also been encouraged to send your Corporate Services Director or key staff who manage your insurance. Further information on the outcomes of the session will be provided to all members.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact me if there are any matters I can help you with or if there are any matters you wish to raise with me.

With kind regards,