News and resources

Issue 36 October 2014

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

Issue 36, October 2014

State election news

We have commenced a special state election newsletter, which you can read online or subscribe to receive up-to-date news on our state election advocacy efforts and party announcements of relevance to local government. Issue of the writ for the 2014 state election is due to take place next Tuesday, 4 November.

Following distribution of our Call to Parties document in September seeking a commitment from all political parties to 51 priority actions ahead of the election, we have continued to brief Ministers and Shadow Ministers. We will also be writing to all campaign headquarters next week to remind them that a formal response is sought, which we will publish on our state election campaign page and provide to councils ahead of election day.

This month I was also pleased to be involved in the launch of the Enough Pokies campaign. In partnership with councils, the Salvation Army and the Inter-Church Taskforce on Gambling we are calling for better protection for vulnerable communities from inappropriate placement of pokies machines.

You can find out more about the Enough Pokies campaign on our state election campaign page, or follow the campaign on Facebook and Twitter.

Councillor Service Awards

Last week we celebrated the commitment of long-serving councillors with the presentation of awards for 10, 15, 20 and 30 years’ service to their communities at our annual dinner, as well as conferring 11 Mayor Emeritus awards for councillors who have served three or more terms as Mayor. See the full list of 2014 Councillor Service Awards recipients.

Photos of awards recipients are also available on the MAV extranet. You will need to sign up to access this members-only area of our website if you don’t already have a username and password.

Electric Line Clearance reforms

We are busy reviewing Energy Safe Victoria’s detailed regulatory impact statement (RIS) for the Electricity Safety (Electric Line Clearance) Regulations 2015. The MAV and councils have been advocating for a line clearance regime that balances safety, amenity and environmental considerations ever since the introduction of the 2010 regulations.

Our preliminary view is that the proposed 2015 regulations are a step in the right direction to achieve a better balance of safety and amenity, and we will continue our efforts to ensure the value of street trees is not disregarded in the RIS process. The deadline to provide feedback to the RIS is 13 January 2015 and we will be working in consultation with councils to prepare and circulate a submission prior to Christmas.

Casserole Club launched

This month the MAV was pleased to launch a new pilot project – Casserole Club – in partnership with FutureGov (UK) and three participating councils, with funding support from the Department of Health.

The cities of Boroondara and Moreland, and Macedon Ranges Shire held local launches of Casserole Club, an initiative to match volunteer cooks with older local diners who are not always able to cook for themselves. The concept focuses on neighbours sharing home cooked meals with neighbours as a way to help reduce food poverty and social isolation often experienced by older people who live on their own.

The pilot councils have begun signing up cooks and diners in Brunswick (Moreland), Canterbury and Surrey Hills (Boroondara) and Lancefield (Macedon Ranges). Casserole Club UK began its pilot in 2012 and has since expanded to over 200 local authorities where 4,600 cooks are now signed up and more than 1,100 meals have been shared. Cooks are aged between 20 and 75 years and 80 per cent of diners are over the age of 80, mostly live alone and don’t have regular social contact.

We hope to roll out this exciting community meal sharing concept across other Victorian councils in future years. You can follow the pilot’s progress via Casserole Club Australia’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Electoral Review response

On 3 October the MAV presented at a public hearing held by the Local Government Electoral Review Panel, following release of its reports proposing 55 recommendations to strengthen local electoral processes, enhance candidate conduct and improve democratic participation.

At a special Board meeting last week we also discussed our written response to the Electoral Review Panel’s Stage 1 and 2 Reports. In summary, we broadly support the broadening of the voting franchise in principle, but seek voluntary rather than compulsory enrolment; as well as caps of two permanent residents, two owners, two lessees and non-residents enrolled per property. The MAV did not support compulsory voting other than for those on the State roll, nor do we support the entitlement for permanent residents (non-Australian citizens) to be eligible to nominate as a candidate.

We offer in principle support for additional candidate information to assist voters’ decision-making, however further consultation is needed to work through practicalities of the standard questions. We also support councils being able to choose between attendance or postal voting, but do not support a cap on campaign donations given the current disclosure thresholds and conflict of interest rules already provide transparent processes to manage conflicts of interest. The MAV submission also seeks continued distribution of how-to-vote material to ensure voters know candidate preferences, and we strongly oppose both the proposed increase and fixing of councillor numbers based on the number of voters.

Our submission will be available on the Review Panel’s website shortly.

National Local Roads Congress

The ALGA’s national local roads and transport congress is coming up next month, on 12-14 November in Tamworth. There is a great speaker program, with a focus on highlighting the importance of issues such as Federal funding to overcome road and infrastructure challenges and reinforce the need for increased and permanent funding under the Roads to Recovery program beyond June 2019.

I hope to see many of you at this event to help present a united national local government position with a view to influencing the Federal Government and Opposition road and infrastructure policies.

I always welcome your feedback on any matters you wish to raise with the MAV, and can be contacted by email or on 0437 984 793 at any time.

Best wishes
Bill