Local government, in Victoria, is made up of 79 councils that represent over five and a half million people. While all councils operate within the same legislative requirements to manage local issues and plan for the community’s needs there is much diversity, from small rural councils to metropolitan councils. To highlight the diversity, let’s compare our council, Hindmarsh Shire and Knox City Council. Hindmarsh Shire has 6200 people and covers 7527 square kilometres. That’s an average of less than one person per square kilometre. By contrast, Knox City Council has 155,500 residents, is 114 square kilometres in size with an average of 1364 people per square kilometre.

Last week I travelled to Melbourne to attend the Rural Councils Victoria (RCV) Forum on Thursday and the Municipal Association of Victoria ( MAV) State Council on Friday.

RCV was established in 2005 to understand, promote, and be a collective voice to advocate for rural council’s issues to the state and federal governments. The value of RCV was evidenced by representatives from 37 of the 38 rural councils attending and most having had to travel quite a distance to be there. The MAV was established to protect the rights and interests of local government and provides advocacy, a range of services and influences policy affecting councils.

Hindmarsh Shire submitted two motions to state council, the first being, that MAV lobby the Federal Government and Federal Opposition to continue the direction of fuel excise revenue to the Roads to Recovery program. It was very pleasing that the result of the motion was one hundred per cent in favour and the motion was carried. The second motion our council submitted, that the MAV investigate options to protect communities and local councils from the financial cost of demolishing abandoned and uninsured properties that are structurally unsound and unsafe, often containing asbestos, was also strongly supported and carried. Hindmarsh Shire Council has had to fund the demolition of several vacant properties damaged by fire and the result would seem to indicate that other councils have experienced the same problem. It is very disappointing to have to direct funds that should have been used for worthwhile community projects, to cleaning up other people’s properties that pose a risk to our communities.

Cr Debra Nelson
Hindmarsh Shire Council.