The Reasons for a NO Vote Referendum
Enabling Councils to get financial constitution recognition also implies they then become a recognized third layer of government under the Australian Constitution. Currently, they are NOT officially a third tier of government under the Australian Constitution, but only an administration unit of their States, under State Laws.
Regardless of the type of recognition, the risk is that their recognition in the Constitution is most likely to expand their taxation powers and roles as the third tier of government. When this happens, the ramifications on ratepayers will be worse than what is today:
- There will be 79 “Mini-me” local government entities, called Councils, in Victoria, all little serf kingdoms serving to their own needs by the means funded by ratepayers and taxpayers via State and Federal Government funds. State Government may lose control over Councils and then people will be really over governed (and over taxed) with 3 tiers of government.
- There will be more inefficiencies to fund. CEOs and Senior Council staff will continue to expect higher salary increases because they have to do more to work “harder” with more inefficient operations. Presently, CEOs earn near or over $500,0000 (more than or at par with the Prime Minister) and Senior Council staff between high $200,000 to under $400,000 and with no measurable performance accountability.
- Today, local government have discretion to expand/create functions and services, which many are increasingly duplicating those of State Governments and holding no performance accountability on financial and service quality capacities as increasing rates will always be a generous funding solution.
- More cost shifting games will be played as the Commonwealth Government is another player and possibly a new blame for short funded services.
- Councils will become an increasingly attractive platform for training rookie politicians, and the cost of their mistakes, lack of industry skills and experiences, and poor decision making competencies will be funded by ratepayers.
- Councils’ discretionary powers to raise property tax, ie your rates, will not be curtailed but will be allowed to continue or worse increase. This latent power increase will also give MAV and all its Council-members legitimacy to continue using the unfounded Local Government Index as a benchmark to legitimize budget and hence rates increases above CPI. Today, we are paying 6% increase every year for the next 4 years, which is double CPI in today’s economic slowdown conditions, and next financial year’s 6% hike has not included other state government taxes/levies like fire levies which totals close to 15-20% payments by ratepayers!
- MAV and Councils can continue to not effectively mitigate and prevent future large Defined Benefits superannuation liability. This year, Monash ratepayers are forced to pay a $12+ million liability payout to close an arbitrary book value of Defined benefits superannuation funds, which is also caused by poor revaluation and performance reporting practices and lack of risk management frameworks put in place. Current MAV effort to fix the liability problems is a band-aid solution that offers no guarantee to reduce or stop large future payouts.
- MAV supports the controversial UN agenda 21, which “In a nutshell, the plan calls for governments to take control of all land use and not leave any of the decision making in the hands of private property owners. It is assumed that people are not good stewards of their land and the government will do a better job if they are in control. Individual rights in general are to give way to the needs of communities as determined by the governing body. Moreover, people should be rounded up off the land and packed into human settlements, or islands of human habitation, close to employment centers and transportation. Another program, called the Wildlands Project spells out how most of the land is to be set aside for non-humans” (source: http://www.democratsagainstunagenda21.com/#sthash.D2pkszfp.dpuf). Listen to this video about the possible ramifications in Australia, which includes the risk of eroding our common law rights over property ownership when UN Agenda 21 becomes a key driver for Australian city planning.
The people to benefit from a Yes referendum are Councillors and Council staff, whose salaries and employment become more secure, party political driven people who use Councils as a training platform and strengthening their power-plays with other political parties in State and Commonwealth. More dangerously, a Yes referendum gives MAV to advocate for the UN Agenda 21, which means one day, Councils can take away your common law rights to property ownership and uses.
Many Councils are paying in the vicinity of ~$10 million (total) , each about + $50,000++ to fund MAV launch a marketing campaign to support the referendum. Federal funding does not mean lesser rates, but giving Council more money to use at their discretion initially and inflate their Local Government Index to legitimize excuses to raise larger rate increases in the future. Monash has already committed over $50K for this. Ratepayers everywhere already have no say in these decisions.
The current local government system lacks good governance capacity and injecting more financial powers in the system will only make matters worse for the community, especially ratepayers.
The issues raised are only some examples. They give you insights into the state of play today in Local Government. A Yes referendum would make today look really good for ratepayers in the future.