News and resources

Issue 51 March 2016

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

Issue 51, March 2016

CEO contract extension

Last week I circulated advice to members confirming the contract extension of our CEO, Rob Spence for a final term until December 2017 to help the organisation transition to a new leadership after his 20 years in the role.

Rob’s knowledge, experience and long-term dedication to improving outcomes for the local government sector will be invaluable to steer the organisation through council elections in October, Board elections next March, and other time-critical projects including our WorkCare self-insurance scheme application process and the MAV Act review. The MAV Board will commence a recruitment process in the middle of next year to appoint a new MAV CEO for 2018.

State and Federal Budgets

The State Budget is less than four weeks away after the Treasurer this month announced it will be handed down on Wednesday 27 April to avoid a clash with the Federal Budget, which will also be delivered earlier on 3 May.

Our advocacy continues for local government funding priorities in the State Budget, particularly shared funding agreements to provide fairer State funding for shared community services such as maternal and child health, school crossings and the State Emergency Service. We are also calling for priority allocation of the $430 million in unspent landfill levies for local government waste management, resource recovery and climate change initiatives; as well as rural and regional road funding for councils from the Port of Melbourne sale proceeds.

The Prime Minister’s recall of Parliament and the earlier Federal Budget sets the stage for a potential July election. The MAV has ensured the inclusion of priority member issues in ALGA’s pre-budget submission, which was lodged in early February, and seeks restoration of indexation for financial assistance grants, $300 million a year for community infrastructure investment, and $200 million a year strategic investment to support first and last mile regional freight projects.

We are also working with the ALGA to finalise a national federal election campaign to complement the federal budget submission highlighting current priorities for local government. We are well prepared to launch a united sector federal election campaign, and will provide further details on how councils are encouraged to get involved in the near future.

New Act Review Taskforces

I am pleased to advise members that, following the successes of our Defined Benefit Taskforce and our Rate Capping Taskforce, the MAV Board has agreed to establish two new taskforces to guide the MAV’s input to the Local Government Act review and the MAV review.

Our taskforces established to date have proven that, while there may be diverse sector views, coming together through a taskforce process has proved a successful means to express and discuss varied opinions, and then together develop a united position to inform our advocacy efforts.

As we have previously advised councils, the MAV will be working closely with members to ensure your views, expectations and needs are thoroughly captured in our review of the MAV structure, processes and services that will inform a sector position to the MAV Act Review. While individually councils are also encouraged to share your views through the review process the State will initiate, it is important that the sector identifies a united position of how your needs can best be met by your peak representative body – and not have this defined by the State Government.

The LG Act review is comprehensive and wide ranging so it is no surprise that there are a range of sector views on the State’s discussion paper released to date. A taskforce approach will provide an opportunity to enable constructive dialogue on the multiple perspectives of members, as well as a mechanism for members to agree on a united sector position for what you want local government’s overarching legislation to look like.

Next week we will be calling for expressions of interest for councillors and senior officers to join our new LG Act Review Taskforce and the MAV Review Taskforce.

Rate capping

This month the MAV presented to the Parliamentary Inquiry into the Victorian Government’s rate capping policy, and I also issued a statement about the matters we raised at the hearing.  We highlighted that the cap will particularly hurt small rural councils who can least afford it, and detailed how cost shifting by the State continues to rely on ratepayer funds to prop up services that should be funded from the State Budget. Fairer funding provided by the State has now become imperative under their rate cap regime if they don’t want services to be cut to communities.

We have also finalised a written submission to the Inquiry on councils’ experience of the variation process to date, and key issues councils have faced when developing 2016-17 budgets under the rate capping policy, including decisions made to reduce services or infrastructure expenditure and the likely future implications of the policy.

April Member Forums

Next month we will be holding our forum and dinner for metropolitan member mayors and CEOs on 14 April, and our rural and regional forum and lunch for mayors and CEOs on 21 April. These forums are a great opportunity to discuss current issues facing the sector, receive updates on MAV priority activities and provide us with your feedback to ensure the MAV is best serving your needs.

Agendas will be circulated shortly, and I look forward to seeing many of you at these events.

Inaugural Diploma of Local Government graduates

This month I was pleased to attend Australia’s first graduation for the Diploma of Local Government (elected members). This nationally-recognised qualification has been developed to specifically meet the training needs of Victorian councillors in a partnership between the MAV and BRACE Education, Training and Employment.

Congratulations to the first 20 graduates, and we look forward to the next intake occurring in 2017, following council elections later this year.

Royal Commission into Family Violence

The Royal Commission into Family Violence released its report this week, and the Victorian Government has committed to implementing all 227 of the recommendations to help prevent violence and provide support to victims and survivors.

Among the recommendations is a 10 year statewide Family Violence Action Plan based on the Commission’s findings.  A priority component of this Plan is to develop a prevention strategy over the next twelve months, aligned to the government’s proposed Gender Equality Strategy.

The MAV will review the Commission’s report over the coming weeks and keep you updated about the opportunities for local government to work in partnership with the State Government and family violence sector to contribute our expertise to implement this long-term cultural change agenda.

Last week the Government also announced an immediate injection of almost $10 million for vital family violence services, including $600,000 to help councils develop family violence prevention programs. We have sought further details from the State on how this funding will be distributed, and will advise councils when we know more.

May State Council

State Council is coming up on 13 May and we are currently accepting motions from members on issues of significance facing the local government sector. While we will be accepting motions up until 15 April, early motions received by 7 April will be circulated to MAV Representatives on 8 April to allow more time for members to consider a whole-of-council position on motions.

Also on the agenda will be an update on our progress implementing the VAGO recommendations, and endorsement of the MAV’s proposed strategic work plan for the coming year, which will be circulated in draft form for member feedback during April.

Please get in touch with me if there are any matters you’d like to discuss.

Best wishes
Bill