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Editions

Council wants out from obligations

05 Mar 2013

The City of Melbourne intends to request to the State Government to relieve it of its special obligations to Docklands.

At the Future Melbourne Committee meeting on March 5, councillors voted to request legislative changes to dismantle the Docklands Co-ordination Committee (DCC).

If the Government agrees, the council will no longer be obliged to reveal separately the level of the surpluses it reaps from Docklands.

In the last agenda papers of the Docklands Co-ordination Committee, the council reported that it took nearly twice what it spent in Docklands and was running close to a $10 million surplus.

When the council negotiated the introduction of the Docklands Community Forum it promised to keep one annual statutory meeting of the Co-ordination Committee to preserve the reporting arrangements and other legislation protections for Docklands.

The Docklands Community Forum met for the first time on September 26 last year.  But only 15 days later, the council had secured the signature of the then CEO of Places Victoria, Sam Sangster, on a letter of support to disband completely the co-ordination committee.

The first the Docklands community was informed about the council’s intention was at the end of the third forum meeting on January 30 when council urban design manager Rob Moore mentioned that the matter was to come before the Future Melbourne Committee on March 5.

The council says it wants the co-ordination committee formally wound up because the Docklands Community Forum is a better model. The community forum is yet to demonstrate its value but does promise great potential to involve the community in discussions.  But, unlike the co-ordination committee, the forum has no legislative backing and requires nothing of the council.

Since 2007, Docklands has enjoyed special status under the City of Melbourne and Docklands Acts (Governance) Act 2006.  It must report separately to the rest of the municipality on Docklands finance, infrastructure and place management.

In a submission to the council, the Docklands Chamber of Commerce said: “The legislation that created the Docklands Co-ordination Committee was written in order to support and protect Docklands through its development phase and that must continue.”

“Clear, concise and transparent reporting on these matters relating to Docklands is essential,” the chamber said.

The Future Melbourne Committee voted unanimously to request the Government change the law.

However, it also supported an amendment by Cr Rohan Leppert which requests council management to prepare Docklands-specific budgeting information for the next Docklands Community Forum on March 27.

Cr Leppert’s motion calls for reporting on total expenditure allocated in the 2012/13 budget, and also the total expenditure actually committed in each of the 2009/10 to 2011/12 financial years, directly relating to the Docklands for events, sponsorships and destination marketing.

Cr Stephen Mayne said he sensed a great deal of political support for Docklands and he felt that separate reporting was not necessary to demonstrate the council’s commitment.

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