DUMP Victoria's Local Government Act 2018 bill that gives councils "Authority" status!

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Dear Premier Andrews,

The Australian Constitution 1900 provides for Australians to live in a democracy that people in other parts of the world often envy. 

It is with much sadness that I have read and analysed the Draft Local Government Act 2018 bill (together with the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target 2007 (VEET) legislation) that if legislated, will empower each municipal council throughout Victoria to become an "Authority" and to be able to create and enforce its own laws, which could potentially impose severe Climate Change policies on Victorian households and businesses.  If implemented, I believe such legislation will remove significant chunks from our Australian democracy for the following reasons:

  • ALL "corporations" known as" local councils" will become legitimised as representing "the third tier of government".  Our Constitution does NOT allow for this to happen; nor is it appropriate for a corporation to be both a commercial profit-making enterprise for its owners and an arm of government that serves the people it is required to represent.
  • ALL councils will be elevated to "Authority" status; meaning, they will become laws unto themselves and no person affected by their laws will have any form of appeal to question the decisions councils make.
  • ALL councils will be able to make their own "Local Laws" (which are different to by-laws) and they will be able to enforce them - even utilising the police when necessary.
  • Councils will be required to bring community housing up to the standards specified in the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target 2007.  This means they will send "authorised officers" to people's homes and businesses to produce a list of work required by the landowner to meet their targets for energy efficiency.
  • If the landowner fails to complete the work within the given period, the Council will then arrange for the work to be done at the landowner’s expense.  This could cost $10,000's per “entity”!
  • Once completed, the Council gives the landowner time to pay.  If this fails to happen, the land can then be "transferred" to the Council.
  • The Council will then obtain "market value" of the property and after any mortgage costs, encumbrances, fees and fines are deducted, many people may not see much cash remaining from the value of their former home.  They could also be looking for other accommodation.

Given that Australia’s Constitution allows for only TWO levels of “government” to operate within Australia to enact laws (Federal and State), it does allow under Section 128 for a referendum to be held to permit the people of Australia to vote on any changes to the Constitution.  As there has been no referendum held since 1988 to allow councils to become the “third tier of government”, this fact alone proves the draft legislation to be illegal.

On page 131 and item 151 (2) (b) of the proposal, it says that “the Council is the Authority” when it comes to “compulsorily acquiring any land”.  This means that a private corporation acting as the “the third tier of government” is to be given unlimited power to acquire people’s properties, and the people affected will not have any form of recourse in such matters because each council is the Authority initiating the land acquisition.

Given that for a very long time, councils have been proven to be corrupt and many have been sacked for a variety of reasons, WHY then has the Victorian Government decided to anoint such a group of people (employed by a private corporation) with the power to take whatever private land they want - and in doing so, deny the people affected any rights to challenge such decisions?  In this, Section 155 (1) says that “A Council’s powers to transfer, exchange or lease any land include the power to do so with or without consideration to (a) the Crown; (b) a minister” or effectively anyone else. This is draconian legislation Mr. Premier!

On page 62 onwards and in subsection 130 (1), it clearly states that these new councils “…may sell the property, or cause the property to be transferred to itself, for an amount equal to or more than the estimated value of the property as set out in a written valuation of the property”.  How can anyone guarantee that such POWER given to councils to potentially rob people of their homes and businesses will not be abused if this legislation is passed?  I have not found any provisions in the proposed Bill to prevent this kind of abuse occurring.

Nevertheless, most people today are aware of Climate Change and that more needs to be done to reduce man-made CO2 emissions.  For the Victorian Government to propose such draconian means in these two pieces of legislation to achieve the respective emissions targets, such requirements would see households and businesses having to establish Energy Emission Certificates (EECs) and to trade and diligently book-keep the EEC transactions to a very high level of accountability.  Such a requirement is beyond the ability of most Victorians to accomodate!

To provide an example of just 1 of the 20 penalties mentioned in the VEET, it says on page 20, “An accredited person must not create a certificate that the person knows— (a) contains incorrect information in respect of a prescribed activity”.  This means that just a simple administrative error will cost the "accredited person" of a domestic house 60 Penalty Units which equates in today's money to $9,514.20.  In contrast to this, if the "accredited person" of a body corporate complex commits the same offence, 240 Penalty Units equates to $38,056.80!!

Such ‘penalties’ are ridiculous Mr. Andrews, and are unacceptable!

As this proposed legislation is illegal, and with it being linked to the VEET makes the outcome draconian and totally unfair to ALL Victorians, the only reasonable thing to do is:

  1. DUMP the Draft Local Government Act 2018 bill into the parliamentary bin where it belongs, and
  2. Repeal the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target 2007 legislation as it has no place to be actioned within the Victorian community.
  3. Consider creating more appropriate legislation that allows every Victorian to openly participate in establishing good legislation that aims to combat CO2 emissions in our homes and in our businesses so that a more sustainable future can be achieved for ALL Victorians into the future.


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