Mayoral Column 23 December 2013

Published on 23 December 2013

Tougher rules for breeders on the way

Last week’s unveiling of the Victorian government’s strict new standards for commercial dog and cat breeders was welcome news.

As many will be aware, Loddon Shire has been in the news during the past couple of months over the case of a Pyramid Hill operator whose premises were raided by RSPCA and Council officers, joined by veterinarians and police.

More than 100 dogs and puppies were taken away for health checks and rehousing.

Legal action against the owner of the property is expected to get under way early next year.

Council is also aware of a number of other dog breeding operations in the Shire which are failing to comply with regulations and local laws officers are in the process of auditing these businesses.

There is no place for this sort of operation anywhere – and certainly not here.

Announcing the change, Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh said the government’s new Code of Practice for the Operation of Breeding and Rearing Businesses covered all aspects of care and welfare, including housing, veterinary care, nutrition, exercise, socialisation and retirement plans.

 “This is the first time Victoria’s code has been revised since it was created in 1996,” Mr Walsh said.

“Additions cover breeding limits, staffing ratios, health management plans, annual health checks, new nutritional requirements, extra record-keeping and a clear ban on wire cage floors.

“Businesses who fail to comply with the code now face fines of up to $35,512 and bans on owning an animal for up to 10 years.”

The revised code, which comes into effect on 11 April 2014, can be viewed at www.depi.vic.gov.au/breedingcode

Network looks to 2014

The Loddon Healthy Minds Network has vowed to keep on the move around the Shire in 2014, starting with a get-together in Terrick ward in February.

Meeting in Bendigo earlier this month, Network members agreed to continue their pattern of this year, where they visited different towns for functions every two months.

Loddon Healthy Minds is a special committee of Council operating since 2007 as a vehicle for Council, health professionals and community members to support mental health and wellbeing services in the Shire.

Currently chaired by Cr Condliffe, it organises the annual Sunshine Breakfasts and student art competitions for Mental Health Week, hosts lunches with guest speakers, sponsors relevant training and advocates for Loddon residents.

Director Community Wellbeing Wendy Gladman submitted the Network’s annual progress report to Council this month.

“The committee is working under the Healthy Minds Strategic Plan 2011/2016, which was adopted by Council in December 2011,” she said.

“The six key performance priorities of the Network are community awareness, advocacy, education, promotion, partnerships and good governance.

“Council allocates an annual budget of $5,000 to the committee and all its activities fall within that figure.

“Next year, we’ll start with a meeting in Terrick ward, then each two months will visit Inglewood, Tarnagulla, Wedderburn and Boort wards in turn.  

“We are still looking for someone from the East Loddon/Pyramid Hill area who may like to join the network as a community representative.”

To offer your help, or for any other enquiries, please phone Wendy on 5437 7999.

Volunteers thanked

Inviting 57 people to dinner isn’t something you’d do every day, but that was how Council and the Wedderburn Community House chose to thank the willing volunteers who have helped out this year at the centre and in Loddon’s Visitor Services.

I was pleased to be part of the occasion – held this year at the Wedderburn Hotel – to express Council’s appreciation of the effort our volunteers put in.

Thank you again for your support and encouragement.

Go home with gold

Your very own gold nugget: that’s the prize on offer in a new tourist promotion running throughout the Shire until the end of the school holidays.

From now until 31 January, local residents and visitors alike can lodge a voucher at one of 10 Loddon businesses to be in the running to win.

According to Tourism Manager Robyn Vella, the aim is to “capture postcodes to find out where visitors and locals are going during the Christmas/New Year period”.

To try your luck, look for the entry slips on Loddon tourist stands at the Loddon Visitor Information Centre in Wedderburn, Fusspots at Inglewood, Serpentine General Store, Victoria Hotel in Pyramid Hill, Dingee General Store, Bridgewater’s Red Couch Café, Logan Hotel, Newbridge General Store, Tarnagulla post office or the Boort Resource Centre.

It’s one entry per person and the winner’s name will be drawn at the Loddon Visitor Information Centre on 12 February 2014.

Keep your cool

The sweltering heat of late last week was a tough reminder of how we should all prepare for days like that and manage them as best we can.

The Victorian Government operates a Heat Alert System, through which the Department of Health notifies local governments of predicted heatwaves. 

When Council receives such a warning, it activates its own heatwave plan, which involves sending SMS or email advice to Loddon Shire residents and sporting clubs who have registered their names.

The hope is that, with this system, people will take extra precautions in coping with the conditions.

To receive heatwave notifications, simply download a form from www.loddon.vic.gov.au, phone the Serpentine Office on 5437 7999 or email communityservices@loddon.vic.gov.au

Enjoy the season

I wish all Loddon Shire residents and visitors a most enjoyable Christmas and a bright and prosperous New Year.

My hope is that the goodwill we see so evident during this special season might carry on in our dealings with others as we move into 2014. Look out for those who might be isolated or lonely and treasure your times with family and friends.