Issue 31 April 2014

MAV President's Update - occasional report from Cr Bill McArthur, President of the MAV

Issue 31, April 2014

Our metropolitan forums for Mayors, MAV Representatives and CEOs have gone from strength to strength, proving to be a highly popular process for engaging our metropolitan colleagues on issues of common interest where the MAV plays an important advocacy role.

Next week I’m pleased to be hosting our inaugural rural and regional forum as an additional information exchange and opportunity to receive member feedback on topical issues. This will be ongoing as a biannual event and I hope to see many rural and regional mayors, CEOs and Reps attending.

Our Defined Benefit Taskforce will be also be meeting next week to review the work already undertaken by the MAV including our WorkCover self-insurance scheme, our Local Government Funding Vehicle debt procurement initiative and other ongoing activities to improve councils’ capacity to pay shortfalls and provide more certainty into the future.

Kinders advocacy

This week all mayors and CEOs received a briefing paper from the MAV urging united sector advocacy to retain federal funding for 15 hours of preschool (universal access reforms) beyond 2014.

The Victorian Government currently funds 10 hours of preschool at a cost of $204 million and the Australian Government has funded the additional five hours, worth $113 million since universal access commenced in 2013. The community also contributes a further 35 per cent to make up government funding shortfalls through parent fees, fundraising and local government support.

A review of the national Partnership Agreement is due to conclude in June and, as Premier Napthine has previously warned, programs are at risk without continued federal support.

We are urging all councils to write to your Federal and State MPs during May and June to have this matter raised with Ministers, Leaders and in Parliament. On social media, use the #nokindercuts hashtag. Other groups also undertaking advocacy for the continuation of federal funding include the Australian Education Union, the Early Learning Association Australia and parent advocacy group The Parenthood.

Conduct reforms

This week the MAV Board will be considering council feedback on our discussion paper about the Local Government Amendment (Governance and Conduct) Bill 2014.

We have raised a number of concerns, particularly that the Government’s previous discussion paper (PDF - 192KB) in 2013 did not identify nor test many of the ‘solutions’ that are now incorporated into the Bill. An absence of adequate consultation on the proposed changes means that councils’ autonomy will be impacted, and some reforms will increase the administrative burden and costs to councils. We have highlighted a range of concerns in relation to defining the role of a councillor; additional processes for CEO employment matters; the use of Ministerial Governance Directions; and councillor conduct proposals.

We will keep you posted on our response to the Government, once the Board has reviewed member feedback.

State budget

In next week’s State Budget we hope to see the continuation of existing or recently expired infrastructure programs that will provide long-term benefits to Victorians. This includes public library funding, which takes into account $20 million for an extension to the Living Libraries program, flood mitigation infrastructure, and support for rural councils. Our State Budget submission called for an extension of the Country Roads and Bridges Program and the Regional Growth Fund, as well as funding for roadside weeds and pests.

We will provide members with a briefing paper and media release following next Tuesday’s budget.

April edition of CiVic magazine

This month our first CiVic Magazine for 2014 was posted to all councillors, CEOs and senior council staff. It includes a great cover story profiling Whittlesea’s reconciliation initiatives with their community; as well as articles on Darebin’s shimmy bike trails, the culture of innovation being fostered at Hindmarsh by CEO Tony Doyle; the joint Challenge Family Violence Project by Cardinia, Casey and Greater Dandenong councils with Monash Health; and a toolbox of clean energy ideas from our 2013 MAV Fellowship winner, Cr Eve Fisher.

Also a reminder that nominations for our 2014 McArthur Local Government Fellowship close on 2 May so don’t delay if you want to be considered for our annual $12,000 study tour award.

You can read all these stories and more via our CiVic magazine, e-mag or iPad app. Our Editor, Kristi welcomes great story ideas from councils. Get in touch with her via editorial@puffafish.com.au as planning for our August magazine gets underway.

May State Council

More than 50 motions of member business have been submitted to State Council on 16 May. Our draft 2014/15 Strategic Work Plan will also be considered by members for endorsement, and we will announce winners of our Annual Report Awards in eight categories. Shortlisted councils have been published on our website and council finalists have been sent an invitation to attend. Good luck to all.

Business papers will be sent to all councils by the end of this week.

Best wishes
BILL