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Issue 20 January 2013

MAV President's Update

Issue 20, January 2013

Happy new year and I hope you enjoyed a relaxing break over the Christmas period. This will be my final President’s Update before the MAV caretaker period commences on Monday, 21 January for our Board and President elections on 1 March.

Fire season

Our thoughts are with council colleagues across Victoria and several other states that either have or are currently being impacted by bushfires. At least fifteen Victorian councils have been affected by fires since the new year, with the fire season really only just beginning.

Councils and emergency services authorities have been working tirelessly to respond to bushfire outbreaks. Of particular concern to emergency authorities is that on high fire risk days most parts of the state are being affected, which is an uncommon situation. The Government has also raised concerns about a spate of nearly 200 suspicious fires in both urban and rural locations since December, as well as over 50 bushfires that ignited from unattended campfires over the Christmas-New Year break.  These are timely reminders that vigilance is needed.

During large scale emergencies such as those being experienced in some parts of the state this week, councils play a vital role in emergency relief and recovery.  Many councils will be using the MAV protocol for emergency resource sharing to support each other and also the MECC Central software, acquired through the MAV, to streamline the operation of Municipal Emergency Coordination Centres. Information is also being regularly circulated by the MAV to all councils with template media releases, posters, other resources and updates with statewide fire messages so that councils can reinforce these with your local communities as part of the Victorian Government’s summer fire campaign.

Parliamentary Inquiry: Constitutional Recognition

This week the united national position on constitutional recognition was presented to the Joint Select Committee inquiry by the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) on behalf of the MAV, other state Association members and all councils.

The continued direct funding of local government by the Australian Government is paramount, and financial recognition through a change to section 96 of the Australian Constitution is the preferred outcome. This view was shared by an independent Expert Panel appointed in 2011, which looked at all the options for recognition of local government and concluded that financial recognition had the broadest support and the greatest chance of success at a referendum.

Our submission to the Parliamentary inquiry is currently being finalised and will be circulated to members for feedback. Councils are also encouraged to make an individual submission before the 15 February deadline.

State Budget submission

The Coalition Government has put out a formal call for submissions to inform its 2013-14 Budget, which can be sent to the Office of the Treasurer by no later than 31 January. The Treasurer has advised through the media that requests for additional spending should also identify where equivalent savings are to be made.

At the MAV’s December Board meeting, we endorsed the development of a draft State Budget submission to include priority funding areas for local government such as home and community care, public libraries, youth services, efficiency improvement, transport and infrastructure, and emergency management. Our submission is currently being drafted and should be circulated to members later next week for feedback before it is finalised and provided to the Treasurer.

Deadline for autumn edition of CiVic

As you know, our inaugural edition of CiVic Magazine was launched in December with 2 000 copies posted to councils, plus the release of a free iPad app (which has received 1,500 downloads since its launch) and an e-magazine.

The autumn edition of CiVic will be published on 11 March and the deadline for both editorial and advertising is 15 February. Councils are encouraged to contact the editor, Kristi High of Puffafish with your story ideas as CiVic is dedicated to sharing the great stories of Victorian councils with the rest of the sector, other levels of government, and interested businesses and organisations.

Warm regards