Opinion

Coalition needs to detail policy

by
November 09, 2017

Is it really appropriate to compare Shepparton's rates to Toorak's?

How annoying is it to hear people espousing the view ‘‘The council rates in Greater Shepparton are higher than my mother-in-law’s in Toorak, disgusting!

‘‘Besides her place is worth 10 times as much as mine and she pays the same as I do.’’

Talk about comparing pink lady apples with Nellie Kelly passion-fruit.

Just how do you compare, for interest, a developing regional council’s rating structure with a urban municipality that pockets more than $20million smackeroos profit into consolidated revenue just from parking revenue to subsidise property rates?

Then just try and compare the kilometres of roads in the bush with the mainly established pavements maintained in the big smoke.

Then you read of Member for Northern Victoria, Luke O’Sullivan, reportedly highlighting an ‘‘unfair’’ disparity in rates charged by regional councils and their metropolitan counterparts.

Why not contextually explain the reasons why there’s no comparison and advocate some practical remedies? What will he and the Coalition do to unceremoniously scrub the insidious CPI rate-capping Andrews Government policy and compensate the last two years’ losses?

We don’t want city-versus-country rhetoric. We want answers to rate-capping, cost-shifting and diminishing grant allocations, don’t we?

Parking

Just can’t fathom a couple of recent new issues injected into the CBD parking malaise, the first one on social media and the second last week in Shepparton News by way of a letter to the editor, followed by an article featuring a reported discussion with Mayor Dinny Adem.

The first one was a call for maximum parking time limits to be increased to four hours. The second for the basic overstay penalty to be reduced from the current $79 — supposedly to encourage the retention of parkers who have been lumbered.

Before we analyse the rationality of each proposal let’s evaluate the current paid parking which has been in operation for about 50 years.

Basically, the thrust of timed and monitored parking is to turn over customers and it does that extremely well.

Four-hour limits? Not on. Can not see one benefit.

Reduced fines, apparently favoured by the mayor but not mentioned by councillors or submitters at budget time? Isn’t a parking fine meant to be a deterrent and isn’t the view of those who do the right thing that if you cop a ticket, you should ‘‘suck it up Buttercup’’? Besides if you can still perambulate, there is still no charge for two-hour limited car parks east, west, north and south of the CBD for misers like me.

Be interested to see, in these municipal days of lost revenue from rate-capping, inflated electricity and reduced infrastructure grants, which councillors vote to ‘‘give away’’ a $1.3million parking income stream, working on the dubious view that ‘‘free’’ parking, whatever that may be, will rejuvenate the CBD.

Election time

Mayoral election time is with us again, open to the public at 6pm next Tuesday, to be more specific.

Yesterday’s News reports that publicly, at this stage, only one firm candidate has indicated intention to stand — popular current Deputy Mayor Kim O’Keefe. Current mayor Dinny Adem has been keen to continue in the role but has yet to formally confirm either way. Time will tell.

This column proffered the view some weeks ago that there would be considerable coffee chats, garnering individual support, and that has definitely happened.

What’s the process? Well, if it turns out to be a two-horse race, as previously touted, in practice, the winner needs five votes (including their own).

How’s that shaping up? My guess is if there are two aspirants, the call will be close.

Should a pre-meeting pow-wow show a definite winner, we may see the four-or-less-vote candidate stand aside in favour of the majority-holder. The then meeting affirmation on Tuesday will just be perfunctory. The deputy mayoral position is an unremunerated job, not recognised in the Local Government Act, often seen as a useful training-ground for future mayors.

The meeting will also decide whether this coming mayoral tenure will be for 12 months of two years and whether the council appoints a deputy mayor, as it usually does.

Whatever the outcome, we wish the successful contenders well in leading our city into the immediate future.

Shepparton’s John Gray has vast experience in local government, urban water reform and natural resource management.

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