MAV: Future of Local Government progressing the Inter-Governmental Agreement

The Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) as the collective voice for the 79 local councils in Victoria is calling for sector-wide reform of local government, with the aim of improving community engagement and regional collaboration, in an attempt to secure more equitable funding arrangements from the State and Federal Governments.

In 2003 David Hawker, MP for Wannon (in Victoria) chaired a Federal Parliamentary inquiry into instances of cost shifting between local, state and federal governments. The completed report officially called Rates & Taxes: A Fair Share for Responsible Local Government, but commonly known as the Hawker Inquiry, found that local government was increasingly the victim of cost shifting particularly from State Governments.

As a result the Hawker Inquiry recommended the signing of an Inter-Governmental Agreement with the aim of preventing further instances of cost shifting. In April 2006 the Inter-Governmental Agreement was signed between Federal, State and Local Governments providing local councils a rare opportunity to seek redress to the current imbalance of costs and revenue that exists.

Today I attended a briefing organised by the MAV in its pursuit of furthering the Inter-Governmental Agreement.

Progressing the opportunity presented by the Inter-Governmental Agreement will require local government to identify its core services and to recognise which tier of government is best able to deliver the service expected by the community. For example, in relation to graffiti the State Government would be the best tier to coordinate policy response and monitoring with the empowerment of local government to eradicate and document reported graffiti.

The Inter-Governmental Agreement will only succeed if all tiers of government have the maturity to seek better outcomes for the community. Unfortunately the State Government has typically been the worst culprit in regard to cost shifting and there is little indication that this will change in the near future.

Local Government, has for example, has become involved in kindergartens, aged care facilities and public transport simply due to a reluctance from the State Government to provide adequate investment in such areas. Unfortunately when the State Government uses the word ‘partnership’, such as in the case of school crossing supervisors or walking school bus, it appears to simply be a mechanism to eventually cost shift services onto another tier of government.

Local Government is at the crossroads and is poised to secure a better outcome for the community if it pledges to enhance community facilitation and education on the benefits of widespread reform. The community needs to become actively engaged so that the wider community can map out of the future of their neighbourhoods and recognise which tier of government is responsible for providing the improvements that they seek.

Media Release: Volunteering response overwhelming

In a great display of the sense of community shared by Maroondah residents Maroondah City Council has been overwhelmed by the number of people that have responded to our recent call for volunteers.

It is therefore fitting that Maroondah extended the following opportunity to thank all people that have come forward to offer their time towards volunteering:

Volunteering response overwhelming

Maroondah City Council recently put out the call for volunteers to drive a group of older ladies to their regular exercise class at Ringwood Aquatic Centre.

Councillor Alex Makin said the community response was overwhelming.

“I would like to sincerely thank each and every person who read the article and responded – this strong display of community is truly wonderful,” said Cr Makin.

“The first week the call out appeared in the local papers, Council received enough volunteers to create a roster for the position. This week, four volunteers had a practice run of the 12 seater bus, and passed with flying colours,” said Cr Makin.

“The group of ladies who rely on Council’s bus to get them to a regular exercise class at the Ringwood Aquatic Centre are ecstatic knowing that their program will continue,” said Cr Makin.

“It is wonderful that we are stilling receiving calls and these generous people have been offered volunteer positions with our aged services team to assist our frail and elderly residents,” said Cr Makin.

“We can never have too many volunteers and we are still looking for people who can assist with Council’s Meals on Wheels service,” said Cr Makin.

“The Meals on Wheels program is more than just delivering meals. Our wonderful volunteers also provide much needed social contact for the recipients, spending time talking, catching up on news, sharing stories and building ongoing relationships. This crucial social contact decreases isolation and assists in monitoring the health and well being of our older residents,” said Cr Makin.

“Our Meals on Wheels driver volunteers receive reimbursement for the use of their vehicles, which assists with the cost of petrol and general running of the vehicle,” said Cr Makin.

“Volunteering is such rewarding work and very flexible! If you can spare a few hours a week, fortnight or month I would strongly encourage you to contact Council and find out more about how you can get involved,” said Cr Makin.

“I sincerely thank our current and new volunteers and hope that people will continue to overwhelm council with their sense of giving back to the community,” said Cr Makin.

So why not become a volunteer and help others in your local area, meet new people and discover the joy that comes from giving something back to the community?

For further details or to register your interest please call 1300 88 22 33.

Maroondah's Community Grants: BJ Hubbard Reserve

The Friends of BJ Hubbard Reserve consists of local residents who help maintain and look after BJ Hubbard Reserve in Ringwood North.

As part of Maroondah’s community grants program the Friends of BJ Hubbard organised an information panel complete with two carved timber posts that depict the bird, plant and animal life within the reserve.

This afternoon I was invited to view the posts which aim to educate the local community about the local flora and fauna living in the Reserve.

This is just one example of council’s cultural development grants at work. Other applications of the grants include funding of a Southern Sudanese Women’s and Children’s Dance Group to provide a social link for recent immigrants from Sudan.

Application forms for Maroondah’s Cultural Development Grants are available at a council service centre or from the Internet at

The deadline for Cultural Development Grant applications is 5pm on Monday 25 September.

Ringwood Library Refurbishment

Today I attended the launch of the refurbished Ringwood Library. While the works were relatively minor such as the rearrangement of the information desk, improvements to lighting and the creation of additional seated areas will transform Ringwood Library into a place to browse, read and relax rather than a mere place to borrow books.

The transformation of libraries into was is known as the ‘third place’, that is a place to relax and spend time in other than work or home, will renew interest in library facilities and transform them into spaces for the whole of the community to enjoy. Live music from local bands is expected to be a regular feature of the library.

Further work is planned for Ringwood Library including the possibility of opening the garden courtyard over summer months.

Maroondah Journal: Ringwood off the rails

The Maroondah Journal has reported on the delays experienced by thousands rail commuters due to the delay in completing works for EastLink.

Public Transport Users Association spokesman Alex Makin said there was chaos at Ringwood Station and people lining the platforms.

“There were literally people who could not move off the station platform, there were thousands of people everywhere.”

Given that Connex was not at fault the State Government has a responsibility to provide adequate compensation to rail passengers.

The PTUA has called on the State Government to compensate all passengers by refunding the cost of their tickets.

Unfortunately the State Government has failed to act in the best interests of rail passengers through simply shifting the blame and avoiding responsibility.

The State Government has delivered another slap in the face to public transport users.

CEDA on Peak Oil

The Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) is a not-for-profit independent think tank that aims to promote Australia’s economic development in a sustainable and socially balanced way.

Amid the growing concern of rising petrol prices CEDA organised a seminar with Chris Skrebowski, a leading oil analyst who has a background as an oil journalist and a planner and analyst within the industry.

Chirs Skrebowski spoke about peak oil, which is when global oil production begins an inevitable decline because new oil fields cannot offset declining production from ageing fields. Chris Skrebowski’s research has indicated that peak oil is likely to occur in 2010 and possibly sooner depending on the accuracy of oil supplies within the Middle East.

The debate surrounding peak oil has shifted from being a question of IF to WHEN. There is now general consensus that peak oil is real and will occur generally sooner rather than later. This will of course have serious repercussions for Melbourne, Australia and the world.

While alternative fuels obviously have a role to play, it is clear that alternatives such as bio-diesel or hydrogen will not be able to directly replace oil. It will therefore be imperative that fuel sources are used as efficiency as possible requiring increased prominence for public transport.

With no major rail extensions and inadequate bus services, the State Government has failed to adequately respond to the questions surrounding petrol prices. People, particularly in the outer suburbs, are already experiencing increasing financial hardship due to rising petrol prices and yet the government has failed to provide frequent, direct and readily available bus services to the two-thirds of Melbourne located beyond the rail network.

The State Government’s Bus Plan (which was never officially released despite being a key document of Melbourne 2030) clearly stated that a fifteen-minute frequency for direct bus services along Melbourne’s major roads was required to encourage a modal shift towards public transport. Unfortunately the State Government has provided Melbourne’s outer suburbs with nothing more than minimum service levels of an hourly frequency.

The State Government has had ample opportunity to plan for Melbourne’s future transport needs and yet time and time Melbourne has continually been disappointed. With predictions of ever increasing petrol prices the time to act is quickly running out.

Chaos awaits morning commuters

Ringwood Station was the scene of chaos this morning as bridge works for EastLink failed to be completed by their scheduled time. As a result the sight of replacement buses greeted morning commuters as they had to wait to be ferried by bus from Ringwood to Box Hill.

This resulted in not only excessive delays during the morning commute but also severe overcrowding as passengers were literally unable to leave the station platforms due to the lack of replacement buses available.

Thousands of rail commuters were affected by delays in the works for EastLink.

The lack of communication between EastLink and Connex was responsible for the chaos. Time and time again the State Government has simply treated public transport users as second class citizens neglecting the ned to ensure frequent, reliable and readily available services. The clear prioritisation of EastLink above morning commuters has demonstrated just how little concern the State Government has for public transport.

As part of the EastLink works, public transport users were promised ‘flier’ or express trains from Ringwood but yet this commitment was quickly dropped. In this instance, with a situation beyond Connex’s control, the State Government must meet the responsibility to provide compensation in the form of free tickets for aggrieved passengers.

Rail commuters waiting for replacement bus services.

Rail services were not resumed until after 11am.

Presentation to Marlborough Primary

This morning I was invited to speak to grade five and six students at Marlborough Primary School about local government and the role of a councillor.

Marlborough Primary School, located in Heathmont, was in fact my old primary school and it was definitely a rewarding experience to talk to students not only as a local councillor but also as an ex-student.

I was in grade six back in 1992 and the age of 12 years old being elected onto council was probably the furthest thought of my mind.

While my presentation cantered largely on the role of local government my basic message was there is an absence of young people taking an interest in both politics and their local communities. This needs to change to ensure that the interests of young people and the broader community are being addressed.

Maroondah Leader: Bus driver sought for program

Maroondah City Council has issued an urgent call for volunteers to contribute as drivers for a program that supports elderly women and people with a disability.

The Maroondah Leader has followed up on this issue and reiterated Maroondah’s request:

The program supports elderly residents and women with a disability by providing them the ability to participate in a weekly exercise class at Ringwood Aquatic Centre.

“We are in urgent need of one or more volunteers who can drive the bus each Monday for a couple of hours to get them to and from this invaluable program,” Cr Makin said.

He strongly encouraged anyone able to spare a few hours a week, fortnight or month to contact the council as to how to get involved in volunteering.

This program provides exercise and social contact for people that may otherwise lack such outlets.

Croydon Hills resident Pauline Killip has been part of the community program for three years.

Ms Killip, 73, said the outing was an invaluable opportunity to develop social contacts as well as maintain regular exercise disciplines.

Interested volunteers can contact Maroondah City Council on 1300 882 233.

Media Release: Maroondah needs Fair Public Transport Fares

Media release – Wednesday, 22 August 2006

Maroondah needs Fair Public Transport Fares

Councillor for Loughnan’s Hill Ward Alex Makin has called on the State Government to commit to lower cost public transport fares and a reform of public transport zones.

“While Maroondah the outer east definitely need more frequent and later running bus and rail services it is also necessary to look at the pricing of public transport to ensure it is competitive with car travel,” said Loughnan’s Hill Ward Councillor Alex Makin. “Unfortunately the existence of zone three seems to serve the sole purpose of taxing outer eastern public transport users.”

Cr. Makin highlighted the financial burden borne by Maroondah public transport users at the council meeting on the 21st of August where he used his delegates’ report to inform the community on the latest campaign planned by the Eastern Transport Coalition comprising of the seven outer eastern councils.

“The arbitrary nature of zones two and three means that Hurstbridge, which located in zone two, is located further away from the CBD than either Ringwood or Croydon but yet Maroondah residents are slugged with the cost of a zone three ticket,” said Cr. Makin.

“The baseless boundary that places Ringwood in zone three is inconsistent with aims to encourage public transport usage and results in costly traffic congestion through the centre of Ringwood since people choose to park at Heatherdale Station which is the boundary for zone two,” Cr. Makin said. “As a result we have an unnatural demand for parking at Heatherdale which adversely impacts local amenity.”

“A yearly zone one, two and three ticket costs $2000 and the existence of zone three places an additional burden on eastern Melbourne that is not shared by the western and northern suburbs. The Eastern Transport Coalition will be mounting a campaign on this issue to seek fairer public transport fares,” Cr. Makin concluded.

About Alex Makin:
Alex Makin, Maroondah’s youngest serving councillor, was elected onto Maroondah Council in November 2005 after conducting a campaign focused on community engagement, anti-graffiti measures, accessibility issues and greater public transport and environmental advocacy.

Transcript of the Delegates’ Report is available at


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