News and resources

Issue 42 June 2015

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

Issue 42, June 2015

Funding announcements

The MAV welcomed funding announcements from both the state and federal governments this month. The first was the State's announcement it will boost kindergarten funding by $83.7 million so councils and providers can implement new staff-to-child ratios beginning in 2016.

The new ratios are part of the National Quality Framework which came into effect in January 2012 and will see the current ratio of one educator per 15 children shift to one educator per 11 children.

This is a great win for councils and the MAV who have been advocating for this funding since the 2016 ratio was first announced.

The second funding announcement came from the Federal Government and will see a further $1.105 billion poured in to the Roads to Recovery (R2R) Program nationally over the next two years. This money will be generated from the government's decision to re-introduce indexation of fuel excise to inflation meaning that those who use our roads will be helping to improve and maintain them.

On top of this round two of the Federal Government's $300 million Bridges Renewal Programme has now been announced. A further $100 million is now available through this program and unlike last year, this funding is exclusively available to local governments. Round one of the program saw councils compete with the State Governments for funding.

Victoria is expected to receive an extra $61.1 million in 2015-16, and an extra $163.9 million in 2016-17 – this is on top of the government's announcement that it will double R2R funding for 2015-16.

Rate capping

The Essential Services Commission will release its first report on the implementation of the State Government's Fair Go Rates policy (rate capping) in July.

Our CEO expressed the sector's thoughts and concerns about this initiative at the first meeting of the government's Local Government Sector Reference Group this month.

The MAV has welcomed the Legislative Council's Inquiry into the Rate Capping Policy which will see six monthly reviews into the ongoing impact any rate capping measure will have on council operations, services and infrastructure, as well as the local communities they serve.

If you haven't already it's worth taking a look at the 2015-16 State of the Regions Report – Inequality between and within regions – which was launched at the assembly. The report states that reducing the inequality of income distribution within and between Australian regions will be pivotal to strengthening Australia's economy and bridging the employment fallout from the subsiding mining boom in low income regions.

National General Assembly of Local Government

This month I had the privilege of co-chairing the 21st National General Assembly of Local Government in my capacity as the Deputy President of the Australian Local Government Association.

More than 800 delegates attended the event which marked the 175th anniversary of the establishment of local government in Australia. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, Warren Truss presented at the event along with Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, Australian Greens Leader Dr Richard Natale and 2015 Australian of the Year Rosie Batty.

It was great to see our work in the prevention of family violence space acknowledged with councils nationwide urged to replicate our Prevention of Violence Against Women - Leading Change in the Victorian Local Government Sector (Word - 0.99MB) booklet.

The NGA also provided an opportunity to again raise concerns about the Financial Assistance Grants indexation freeze. I'm very pleased to see that 32 councils have passed a motion to support our campaign and 47 have completed our questionnaire calling for concrete examples of how the freeze is constraining the ability of the sector to deliver infrastructure and services to the community. Please continue letting us know if you are supporting this important initiative to not only see the indexation freeze lifted, but also for the Federal Government to consider the adequacy of the quantum of Financial Assistance Grants, and the indexation methodology in the future.

Councillor Development Weekend

The MAV Councillor Development Weekend is fast approaching. The program for the event has been released with guest speakers set to include 2015 Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty, Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, and global strategist Holly Ransom.

The weekend will also involve a number of interesting and insightful workshops and an opportunity to network with counterparts from other municipalities. The event will be held on 24-26 July at the RACV Torquay Resort and I encourage anyone who hasn't already registered to consider attending.

CiVic magazine

Finally the June edition of CiVic is out and contains a great overview of the exciting work taking place in local government across Victoria. If you haven't already seen a copy you can view it on the online or download the CiVic app.

Best wishes
Bill