Mildura report from the ratepayers vic conference

RV Public meeting Saturday 24 March 2018
As President of the above Ratepayers Association and Committee Member Ratepayers Victoria I was asked to speak on the progress of the Mildura branch and to prepare a report for our web site.
Since the formation of a ratepayers association and the subsequent evolving into part of Ratepayers Victoria, we have achieved significant milestones in Mildura.
From the time we formed in late 2015 we found ourselves under attack from a hostile council and particularly the Mayor. Whether from staff, the CEO or any councillors, the attacks in the main were via the Mayor.
Obviously Mildura Rural City Council(MRCC) saw a ratepayers association as a threat, begging the question “why?”
Through our resilience and remaining focussed on our goals we slowly turned things around. We had a young and energetic businessman elected to council in 2016 and over the past 18 months we have seen a major transformation. I believe key to our success has been my insistence of not retaliating to the negativity or attacks against us by those who viewed us as adversaries. There was plenty of it, however any retaliation I felt was wasted energy and merely gave ones critics the forum to continue the criticism.
We now have a new Mayor, a group of 5 of the 9 councillors who are approachable and we have regular meetings with the Mayor and Deputy Mayor.
I attribute our success to the strength of our team as we have been fortunate to have gathered people who have expertise that actually surpasses that of the executive of MRCC and the Mayor is drawing on that expertise. MRCC staff are finding it more difficult to pull the wool over the eyes of our councillors.
I encourage anyone thinking of forming an association to gather people around them who are energetic and dedicated in the first instance and if possible, some with accounting and business management experience. The latter 2 points are sadly lacking in many councils.
We promote the formation of regional associations as those of us in the regions are actually subsidising the state and therefore metropolitan councils. We pay up to 3.5 times the General Rate and we do not get anywhere near the services that Melbourne people take for granted.
One example, Mildura has not had a passenger rail service since the early 1990’s. This means that every regional community between Ballarat and Mildura has lost a basic service that is available to every major city across the state and services all towns en route.
I believe all regional municipalities would benefit by having their own associations, thereby creating a united force and presenting a single voice through Ratepayers Victoria.

Other matters addressed at the meeting were rate capping and Developer Contribution Plan(DCP)
The Director of the Essential Services Commission, Andrew Chow gave a presentation and explanation of rate capping and how it works.
I thank Andrew for his continued availability and willingness to speak at these functions and we must understand that his function is to explain how the system is set up and how it works, not to enter into discussion of how we would like the system to work. I believe that if Andrew’s level of professionalism was more evident across the board, we would be in a far better place.
The conversation on rates I believe has to be much broader than it is currently. Victoria appears to be the hardest on regional councils than any other state.
By way of example, the model used in Western Australia(WA) sees rates from Albany in the south to Kununurra, over 3500km to its north paying residential rates with minimal variation to Perth. WA rates are struck on the “gross rental value” rather than the “capital improved value(CIV)” as used in Victoria, resulting in a much fairer rating system that is decided by the rental market as opposed to CIV which is calculated by council.
As part of our thrust, should we be pushing for government to look at the various models around the nation?
Note: Rates are a “TAX”, an “AUSTRALIAN TAX”! This is not my opinion; it was a ruling of the High Court of Australia (Sydney Municipal Council v The Commonwealth of Australia ¬–[1904]) and is still quoted to the present day. This makes the application of this “TAX” at least questionable. How has it avoided the principles of equity and fairness that apply to taxation law?
Developer Contribution Plan(DCP)
This whole system deserves some serious scrutiny.
Billions of dollars are involved and in the main, these funds are not being managed within the legislated guidelines and the projects itemised in DCP’s
Developer Contributions, paid by developers for infrastructure is in many cases, are not being used for the projects itemised in specific DCP’s nor are councils wishing to vary from the DCP making the request to the Minister for Planning as required and appear to simply be using the funds elsewhere.
In the case of MRCC, it was found that almost $2,000,000 earmarked for a skate park and a library upgrade not only didn’t go ahead, they were not even mentioned and only came to light because our association was approached to look into the matter. Every requirement laid down in the DCP was not followed in this instance and in our opinion was not intended to see the light of day. This is but one example within a DCP that totalled approximately $48m and is one of 3 DCP’s in MRCC, just one regional council. It appears to be everywhere.
A brief search of DCP’s across the country shows similar anomalies with one council earning $4m interest on DCP funds held begging the question as to where that $4m was used. According to the guidelines, it would have to be part of the/belong to the DCP.
Finally, I want to thank Jack and Beaty Davis, Frank Sullivan and the committee for organising this meeting and look forward to the next conference.
Phil Douglass
President: Ratepayers Victoria-Mildura Branch

Our submission on the review of the Local Government Act

The Local Government Act 1989 provides the framework for the establishment and operation of Victoria’s 79 Councils. It the overarching legislation for Council elections, powers and operations is about 500 pages long and has been amended numerous times. You virtually need to be a lawyer to understand and follow the existing Act.

The Government maintains it was a major election commitment to review the Act because it was outdated, flawed, and that the Local Government sector had sought reform for some time. A discussion paper was prepared in 2015 and following an extensive consultation process involving the local government, the community and review of 333 submissions on 6 December 2017 a Draft Bill was released for public comment.

Submissions closed on 16 March 2018 and Ratepayers Victoria made a submission. We indicated that while the Draft Bill is an improvement on the existing Act we consider that it requires substantial improvement before it is suitable for placing before Parliament.

The aim of the Government was the Act would tell people clearly what councils do, how the community can become involved in Councils and be able to better understand the value and role of a Council. However the Draft is still over 300 pages long and our contention is that it remains very difficult for the average person to understand and follow.

An objective of the review was to provide more autonomy for Councils and to cut unnecessary red tape by being less prescriptive. This involved removing prescriptive council decision-making rules and replacing these with high level principles requiring transparency and accountability.

While we agree with Councils being more outcome focused, we are concerned that less prescription will may make it more difficult to make Councils accountable. We are all aware how Councils use the current Act to avoid scrutiny and make it extremely difficult to get answers to probing questions.

Some examples of our concerns about the Act being less prescriptive are:
• Councils can develop their own Governance rules including how they conduct meetings and how they can delegate to committees,
• Council can determine the form and availability of meeting records,
• while the Minister may issue good practice guidelines it is not clear what the penalty is if a Council does not comply, and
• the Draft Act provides for the each Council to produce its own Complaints, Community Engagement and Public Transparency Policies. We do not agree with this requirement as we could have 79 Council with different policies.

Another of our concerns is that the proposed Bill does not address one of the community’s main concerns and that is addressing and satisfactorily resolving community complaints. There are 7 different organisations which deal with complaints or have an overview role of Councillor or Council staff behaviour.

Our suggestion to avoid confusion is that there should only be one point of contact for the community to deal with an unsatisfactory resolution of complaint to a Council and this should be to a Local Government Ombudsman (similar to the Ombudsman for Insurance, Energy and Water, Public Transport, Telecommunications, etc.). If the Local Government Ombudsman becomes aware that a complaint is a possible breach of the Act then the complaint should be referred to IBAC for further investigation. We suggested that the cost to the community for this change will be minimal because it is only a relocation of existing organisations and staff, and does not involve the introduction of a new organisation.

We noted that dealing with inappropriate Council behaviour is still overly complex and difficult to follow. Conflict-of-interest is still mentioned on 19 pages in the Draft Bill and that the various sections relating to the overall Councillor behaviour is unnecessarily protracted and run to well over 100 pages. This also seems to be excessive and overly complex when compared to the relatively few pages which are directed to dealing with staff behaviour.

The Draft Act provides for Minister will appoint a Local Government Advisory Committee comprising 5 Mayors. We have some concerns with the process of appointment and in our submission we called on the Minister to give ratepayers an equal opportunity and establish an equivalent committee comprised of representatives from ratepayer groups.

The Draft Bill proposes that Councils produce a 10 year Strategic Plan, a 4 year Council Plan and for the Mayor to report progress annually on the four year Council Plan. While we strongly support these requirements we believe that this in itself will not make a Council more accountable to the community for its performance.

It is proposed that Chief Executive Officers will be appointed for 5 years with the eligibility for re-appointment for a further 5 years. We oppose a 5 year term and suggest it should only be a maximum of 4 years to be consistent with the term of a Council.

At present there are 5 different models of Ward and Councillor representation. It is proposed that this be reduced to two models. There is no evidence or information provided to indicate that a reduction in electoral representation structures as suggested will, in the Government’s own words, “enhance democracy, and revitalise local democracy and diversity of representation”.

While our major concerns are outlined above there are some aspects of the Draft Bill we support (subject to suggested improvements which we detailed in our submission) and these include:
• deliberative community engagement,
• greater transparency,
• continuation of capping of rates,
• greater Ministerial oversight of Councils,
• Council to establish an Audit and Risk Committee with greater powers,
• Councils to have a gift policy, and
• Mayors to be continue to be appointed for only one year.

Overall our submission amounted to a total of about 60 pages and we commented on about 100 clauses and as our deputy president has pointed out, we only have one opportunity for a new Act to be right as it will be many years before it is will be reviewed again.
Dr. Alan Nelsen
Treasurer RPV

Setting up a Ratepayers group in Shepparton

Ratepayers Victoria are proud to announce that we visited Shepparton on Tuesday 27th February 28, 2018 with the purpose of setting up a ratepayer group in Shepparton.
RPV were interviewed by the Local Channel 9 station regarding this and the interview was shown on the Local Channel 9 news at 6.00pm the same day , which did explain the purpose as to why RPV wants a ratepayer group in Shepparton
RPV have booked a hall to oversee a public meeting in Shepparton to get the ratepayer group up and running
Date 27th March 2018
Time 7.00pm—–9.00pm
Place Senior Citizens Hall Welsford Street Shepparton
Please come along to this meeting and assist us to get the ratepayer group up and running in Shepparton
Any enquires please contact our Vice president Frank Sullivan 0438555805

Ratepayers Victoria Conference

Ratepayers Victoria will be conducting a public Meeting at the Moonee Valley Community Hall 1A South Road Airport West Meways Map 15 H/7 on 24th March 2018 between 1PM to 5pm.
Invites will be sent to all Ratepayer Groups within Victoria.
Guest speaker will be Peter Clarke Mayor Nillumbik Council.
Andrew Chou Director Essential Services
Inviteation have been sent to
Hon.Marlene Kairouz MP Local Government Minister
Tom Elliot Drive 3aw
Mr David Morris Opposition Local Government.

items under discussion will
include Changes to the Local Government Act
State Government changes to Land Tax
And several item of concern that affect Ratepayers and your rates
Question time after each guest speaker
Jack Davis
President RPV Inc.
For more information Contact
0412 238 974
or email
Please acknowledge your attendance

Municipal Association Victoria, Excessive Ratepayers Funds

To the Premier .
Back on the 5th March 2015, the Auditor-General slammed the MAV regarding their operations. That report stated that in that year 2015, the MAV received $56 million in funding from the Federal and State Governments and local councils.
Ratepayers Victoria requested a meeting with the appropriate people to discuss the possibility of obtaining some funding to employ two or three people for us to continue, and increase our support of the ratepayers of Victoria.
RPV receive no funding as a non-profit organization run by volunteers who provide the only united advocacy voice for the ratepayers to councils and Local Government.
RPV believes this would be a tremendous opportunity for the government to further demonstrate its commitment to foster and encourage community engagement and consultation
We await your reply (still waiting February 2018)

Your Sincerely
Jack Davis
President RPV

The state government has publicly stated that Ratepayers Victoria Inc is the only group that represents the Victorian Ratepayers.
Both the Municipal association of Victoria (MAV)Victorian local government association (VLGA)represent the Local Governments.
Both of these groups receive multy $millions of ratepayers funds and do nothing for ratepayers
We have lodge an application with the Government to assist with the costs involved with setting up new branches around Victoria.
We were recently invited by the Parliament Legislative Council public hearing into Victoria s’ Rural and regional Councils held on the 15th August 2017 at Parliament House senate committee to Submit a paper on issues that are of concern to ratepayers ,RPV were interviewed by the Legislate Council regarding Rate Capping on the 23rd August 2017 ,met two managers from the Auditor Generals’ office , had a meeting with the new president of the MAV Mary Lalios and met the new mayor of Nillumbik Council ,Peter Clarke ,who has slashed spending in Nillumbik and has challenged his fellow councils to do as the same.
It is accepted that where there is a ratepayer group that council operate more efficiently, RPV encourage you to join us with our work to make councils more accountable.
Rpv are setting up a new Sub branch in Geelong and hope shortly to open a new sub branch in Bendigo, Sheppartton, Wangaratta and Bairnsdale.
We encourage all Ratepayers groups to contact the President Jack Davis on Email Mildura Ratepayers is the first group to become a sub branch of RPV Inc. President Phil Douglas has stated that they have gone ahead as a sub branch in leaps and bounds and are now a force to be reckoned with

Jack Davis JP

Group Membership list edited March 2018

Ratepayers Victoria Inc
Membership List
Aiming to be the peak advocacy body for all Victorian Ratepayers,we encourage
the formation of new Ratepayers Associations from various cities.
To Date we are proud to be affiliated with the following groups

Updated April 2018

3228 Residents association inc
Ararat Rural City Ratepayers Association
Bansdale Ratepayers
Bass Coast Ratepayers and Residents Association Inc.
Baw Baw Shire Ratepayers & citizens Association
Bayside Ratepayers
Bendigo Ratepayers
Boroondara Ratepayers
Cardinia Ratepayers
Casey Ratepayers
Central GoldFields Ratepayers
Colac Otway Ranges Ratepayers & residents
Darebin Ratepayers
East Gippsland Shire
Fawkner Residents Association
Frankston Save our Suburbs
Geelong Ratepayers
Golden Plains Ratepayers & Residents Association
Greater Dandenong Ratepayers
Horsham Ratepayers
Kilmore Ratepayers
Knox Ratepayers Ass
Latrobe City Ratepayers Ass
Loddon Shire Residents & Ratepayes
Macedon Ranges residents Ass
Monash Ratepayers
Morland Shire Ratepayers
Mornington Peninsula Ratepayers & Residents Ass.
Moyne Residents and Ratepayers Action Group Inc.
Mt Martha Ratepayers
Nepean Ratepayers
Nillumbik Ratepayers Association
Ratepayers Victorian Mildura Branch
Shepparton Ratepayers
Swanhill Rural City Ratepayers Ass.
Wangaratta Ratepayers
Warrnambool Ratepayers
Whitehorse Ratepayers& Residents Ass.
Whittlesea Ratepayers Ass.
Yarra Ranges Ratepayers
Yarraville Ratepayers

Victorian Ratepayer Groups Unite Jan 2018

Victorian Ratepayer Groups Unite Jan 2018
Ratepayers Victoria have over recent months been very active in the forming of new ratepayer groups around Victoria.
In early November 2017, Ratepayers Victoria called a public meeting in Geelong with the purpose of forming a Local Ratepayer group.
Out of that meeting Geelong have now got their own Ratepayer group and already have been very active.
RPV did likewise in Bendigo early December 2017 and as a result of that meeting, a ratepayer group has been formed and the new committee meets for its first meeting at the end of January 2018
Early January 2018, RPV were contacted by a disgruntled Ratepayer from Yarraville and as a result of
that, a member of our committee is meeting some residents from Yarraville shortly , to discuss ways that RPV can assist them and also to suggest to them that they form their own Ratepayer group. Councils do not like ratepayer groups (watchdogs) because it keeps them honest,
One of RPV biggest successes has been the forming of a ratepayer group in Mildura in early 2015.
The President of our Mildura Branch has done a brilliant job up there and has now got the present councilors working together with the Mildura Ratepayers in the interests of their ratepayers.
Another new ratepayer group in recent times has been Darebin, they also are doing a great job.
As a result you can see of the power of a Ratepayer group. If you do not have a Ratepayer group in your area, contact us and we will give you the advice and assistance to start your own ratepayer group.
Lets keep them honest and listen to their Ratepayers.
Our contact details are
Phone 0412 238 974

Jack Davis
Ratepayers Victoria Inc.

Violence in our streets

Ratepayers Victoria Inc
To all Ratepayers and Residents

Ratepayers Victoria is concerned at the increasing violence across our suburbs
Ratepayers Victoria seek the support of Ratepayers and residents to lobby Governments to address our out of control street violence.
A letter of support on your letter head expressing your concerns would be appreciated.
The recent assault of a female police officer who was kicked in the head and the courts action with a slap on the wrist was an insult to our Police Force in Victoria.
Note the thug was on probation at the time of the assault.
His history was as a 17 year old at the time of the assault of serious criminal offences, including aggravated and attempted aggravated burglaries and car theft.
The police Association stated that it added insult to injury when the thug was bailed after just 4 days in custody.
This is an example of what disrespect is like for our police
It is time for action, the courts are a disgrace and are not providing justified punishment to suit the crime.
Jack Davis President RPV
Mobile 0412238974

Just received a Xmas assault
Christmas eve at approx 7.15pm a 45 year old male going for his daily walk was a assaulted by a 16 year old youth on drugs.
It was witnessed by approx 10 young adults and to their credit, gave assistance to the adult victim who had been belted around the head and upper body and had his mobile and wallet stolen.
One young person contacted the local police, ambulance and the victim’s father.
Police and Ambulance attended. Five (5) Police vehicles and two (2) Ambulances.
Luckily one of witness got the car’s registration number of the car, that the offender got into, and gave it to police.
The victim was taken to hospital and was released approx 3.00am Christmas Day.
The police new the vehicle and went and visited the owner of the vehicle, who gave the Police the name of the culprit.
The culprit has been charged with theft and destruction of an expensive mobile phone, and the theft of money from the wallet.
The youth faces the children’s court.
The police say he will get a slap on the hand because of his age; he also has other charges to follow.
The victim spends 6 hours in hospital in a lot of pain.
He is out of pocket with Loss of his phone and the money stolen from his wallet. Plus he now feels uneasy going for his daily walk.
The family thanks all the people who helped the victim.
It won’t be long before, rate payers and residents will take their own action as the magistrates and government are toothless.
Who can blame them?