Mayoral Column 25 June 2018

Published on 25 June 2018

Basin Plan progress welcomed

The Murray River Group of Councils (MRGC) has welcomed outcomes of the Basin Plan Ministers’ meeting on 8 June.

Water Ministers met in Canberra to discuss the Basin Plan amid fears the $12 billion project was close to falling apart. However the agreement that emerged from the meeting has seemingly put it back on track.

The Ministers agreed that the States and Commonwealth would develop additional criteria for future water recovery programs that could take into account regional impacts and the cumulative impacts of water recovery on communities. This is good news for our communities.

In mentioning this progress, I note that the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) recently released research about the impacts of the Basin Plan on communities in New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria.

The research recognises that the impacts of the Basin Plan have been variable across and between regions. However it does state that water recovery has contributed to damaging social and economic changes in some communities, especially where water is recovered through direct purchase.

According to the MDBA, some regions have been able to adjust quickly to impacts to employment through growth in other sectors. In other regions, however, the impacts are more significant and there are fewer opportunities to diversify local economies.
 
Importantly, the MDBA is taking the information on board from its research when it comes to the future implementation of the Basin Plan.

This research follows on from MRGC earlier this month releasing insights into the personal cost and social impact the Murray Darling Basin Plan is having on communities in northern Victoria irrigation districts.

As the MRGC research highlighted, northern Victoria communities are not against the Basin Plan, but rather that it needs to be implemented in a way that maintains our communities’ way of life.

Local Government National General Assembly

Last week, together with my fellow Councillors Neil Beattie and Gavan Holt, and Chief Executive Officer Phil Pinyon, I attended the National General Assembly of Local Government in Canberra.

The event sees representatives from all 537 councils across Australia in attendance. The theme for this year’s conference was Australia’s Future: Let’s make it local. This is a reflection of Local Government’s ability and potential to influence the political agenda for the upcoming federal election.

As well as an important opportunity to meet and discuss issues affecting councils with Mayors, Councillors and senior officers from across Australia, the assembly provides the chance to meet with political leaders and bring to their attention issues affecting our region.

A number of motions are also put to the National General Assembly and voted on by councils. Mobile blackspots and internet access, waste and recycling, roads funding, housing affordability, health and aged care, regional and rural population and economic growth, were some of the motions raised at this year’s assembly.

Telecommunications submissions

The 2018 Regional Telecommunications Review is calling for submissions from people, businesses and community groups in regional and remote Australia regarding its recently-released issues paper.

The Regional Telecommunications Independent Review Committee wants to get a comprehensive understanding of any issues communities are facing, particularly with increasing reliance on online services for everyday tasks. It also wants to hear about opportunities for maximising benefits of communications services in regional Australia.

To share your views visit www.communications.gov.au/have-your-say and click on “Current Consultations” and “2018 Regional Telecommunications Review”. Submissions close at 5pm Sunday 5 August.

Public consultation sessions in several regional areas across the country will also be held, with session times to be published online once confirmed.

The Committee will report to the Minister for Regional Communications Senator Bridget McKenzie by 30 September 2018.

Reconciliation Action Plan survey closing soon

A reminder that the survey regarding a proposed Reconciliation Action Plan for Loddon Shire will close at 5pm, Friday 29 June.

You can complete the survey online at www.surveymonkey.com/r/GRDPK9V

Hard copies of the survey are also available from the Boort Resource and Information Centre (BRIC), Pyramid Hill Neighbourhood House, Inglewood Community Neighbourhood House, Wedderburn Community House and Council’s Serpentine and Wedderburn offices.

For more information regarding the survey, please contact Council’s Policy and Strategy Officer Christine Walters on 5494 1239 or email cwalters@loddon.vic.gov.au