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Rural councils tackle top priorities at May Forum

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The Victorian government’s new approach to rate capping, the loss of funding for country roads and bridges, uncertainty about the future of Roadside Weeds and Pests funding and the Australian government’s freeze on Financial Assistance Grants are all on the agenda for the Rural Councils Victoria (RCV) Forum in Melbourne in May.

RCV Chair, Cr Rob Gersch said that many of the 175 representatives from rural councils that attended last week’s Rural Summit nominated these as priority issues for rural communities.

“The Summit was a great opportunity for rural councillors, CEOs, staff and community to get together to share learnings, compare notes and discuss issues of mutual concern. The Mayor, Councillor and CEO Forum, which we hold twice a year, provides an opportunity for a serious conversation about working together on these significant issues,” Cr Gersch said.

“What the issues all have in common is a reduction in the amount of money going to local government or uncertainty about future funding. Both make operating rural councils more difficult than it needs to be, so we’ll be asking for updates on each of the topics,” he said.

“The Hon Jaala Pulford, Minister for Agriculture and Minister for Regional Development attended the Summit and we are delighted that the Minister will also attend the Forum to continue the conversations we started there,” he said.

“In addition, our members will also hear from the Hon Richard Wynne, Minister for Planning.
We are also still hoping the Minister for Local Government, the Hon Natalie Hutchins will be able to attend – it would certainly be a great opportunity for our members to have a constructive conversation with the Minister about these topics.

Cr Gersch said this is a busy period for RCV. At the Rural Summit in Halls Gap last week, Marysville in the Murrindindi Shire was named as host for the Rural Summit next year and Alpine and Moyne shire councils were selected to pilot RCV’s Tomorrow Towns project in Myrtleford and Koroit respectively.

“We then follow that up with the Forum in Melbourne on Thursday, 14 May. We look forward to tackling these issues and hearing from a number of experts, as well as seeking input from the Ministers in attendance,” Cr Gersch said.

RCV is the alliance of Victoria’s 38 rural councils. It supports and promotes sustainable, liveable and prosperous rural communities, including a program of activities focussed on developing practical solutions to issues shared by the state’s rural councils and communities.
Rural Councils Victoria is supported with funding from the Victorian Government’s $3.3 million Networked Rural Councils program.

The RCV Mayor, Councillor and CEO Forum is sponsored by Maddocks Lawyers.

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