Advocating For Stonnington At MAV State Council

The City of Stonnington has continued its push to strongly advocate on behalf of our community at the Municipal Association of Victoria’s (MAV) State Council meeting at Melbourne Town Hall on May 17.

The MAV is Victoria’s legislated Local Government peak body and Stonnington’s membership and involvement in State Council meetings forms a critical component of advocating for policy change.

Our Councillors voted in March to submit two motions to the MAV, calling on the Victorian Government to respect the role of Local Government in influencing planning outcomes, and calling on the State Government to ensure that councils are better able to fund core services and infrastructure for their communities. Both of Stonnington’s motions were combined with other Councils’ and carried with significant support from delegates, showing the strength of support for the motions put forward.

While Stonnington fully supports the State Government’s ambition to ease the housing crisis and increase affordable housing, Council has the capability, specialist knowledge and community partnerships to balance extra housing needs while preserving the unique character of our suburbs.

Our City has a highly effective Local Planning System, with 3,099 planning applications assessed over the past two financial years. Of these, an overwhelming 97 per cent were approved and just three per cent were determined by councillors. Council considers that escalating planning approvals from Council to the Minister for Planning will not improve timeliness or clear backlogs, nor is there evidence of backlogs caused by Councils’ current planning processes.

From a funding perspective, the City of Stonnington Draft 2024-25 Budget showed Council remained under significant financial and regulatory pressure from the State Government.

As the level of government closest to the community, Local Government plays a critical role in providing services and infrastructure to our community. Therefore, we will continue advocating for more flexibility to fund critical services and infrastructure and more effectively partner with the State Government to deliver positive local outcomes in future.

Cr Nicki Batagol, Stonnington’s MAV delegate, enjoyed her first State Council and the opportunity to partner with likeminded councils on outcomes for the community.

“Advocating to the State Government for important community issues together with other councils, and our peak body the MAV, is more impactful and ensures our voices are heard collectively by Government. It was great to see such support across the Local Government industry for Stonnington’s motions and it confirmed that we are not alone with the issues facing our community.”

The full motions submitted by Stonnington were:

On Planning:

That the MAV calls on the Victorian Government, in the context of the Housing Statement, to:

  1. Return the right of Local Governments to influence local planning outcomes, and to ensure the integrity of Local Planning Schemes and quality of local development is upheld;
  2. Ensure where the Minister for Planning is the decision-maker for planning approvals and scheme amendments, public and transparent Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are provided and adhered to, to support timely and transparent outcomes for Council and communities; and
  3. Establish a formal cost-sharing and partnership agreement between State and Local Government for Planning approvals.

On financial sustainability:

That the MAV calls on the Victorian Government to use its Inquiry into Local Government funding and services to revise the regulatory compliance, operational and revenue flexibility settings for Local Government such that councils have greater flexibility to fund the provision of critical services and infrastructure and to partner with the State Government to deliver positive local outcomes. The inquiry should consider the relevant models that apply in jurisdictions such as New South Wales and Queensland.

Council will continue updating our community on its key advocacy progress as we continue to pursue important issues both in Stonnington and in Local Government more broadly.

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