Wimmera councils, MAV to fight Local Government Financial Assistance Grants freezes

Northern Grampians Mayor Kevin Erwin. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

Northern Grampians Mayor Kevin Erwin. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

THE peak body representing Victorian councils will lobby against Federal Government freezes on the indexation of Local Government Financial Assistance Grants.

At the Municipal Association of Victoria’s state council on Friday, representatives from 79 municipalities agreed to fight measures handed down in the Federal Budget.

They also opposed the State Opposition’s policy to cap rates.

Northern Grampians Mayor Kevin Erwin said councils would not be able to absorb both the damaging costs of freezes on federal grants and a cap on rates. 

“One of the hot topics was rate capping and that was very strongly opposed,” he said. 

“It’s difficult enough now for smaller councils and with rate capping it would be absolutely probable to have to close some services as a result.

“Combine that with the Federal Budget and the freeze on any increase on financial assistance grants and it makes it very difficult for us.”

Cr Erwin said councillors had the chance to voice their opposition to the rate-capping plan directly to the Shadow Local Government Minister Richard Wynne.

“I doubt whether Labor’s principle will change but they might have to tweak their policy,” he said.

“There’s plenty of opposition to rate-capping because it hasn’t worked before and it didn’t work in New South Wales.”

The National General Assembly of Local Government will campaign against the freeze on indexation of federal grants when it meets in Canberra in June.

The MAV state council also discussed bushfire overlays. It will ask the State Government to financially compensate landowners unable to build on their properties because of bushfire overlays.

Cr Erwin said the rules on bushfire overlays needed to be reviewed.

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