Mrs McARTHUR: My question is to the Minister for Local Government. Minister, does the government accept the Municipal Association of Victoria’s (MAV) assessment of the 2019 budget that it does not deliver the level of investment urgently needed to strengthen our fragile recycling system and that, despite $511 million in collected landfill levies sitting in the Sustainability Fund at 30 June 2018, the budget’s commitment of just $34.9 million to tackle the recycling crisis over three years is grossly inadequate given the scale of investment needed?

Mr SOMYUREK (Minister for Local Government, Minister for Small Business): I would like to thank the member for her question. I will answer a component of the member’s question, and regarding the other component relating to the waste issue—as we have established in this place before that the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change has legislative responsibility for that particular issue—I will refer that matter to the minister for environment. But in terms of the budget and the local government sector, I have got to say I have just completed a ministerial statement on $50 million more to the Growing Suburbs Fund, so $2.7 million more for weeds and pests, which the member should be happy with in rural and regional Victoria. We are currently undertaking the $20 million Rural Councils Transformation Program. We are currently seeing what the outcomes of that particular issue are going to be.

I have been travelling around the small rural councils, and I have got to say I have been very impressed with what I have seen, in that you have got a bunch of councils that are trying their best to corroborate. That is why they have put aside their parochial interests and have got on board with the rural councils transformation program. That is all about taking advantage of scale so they can tackle their sustainability issues. But again, I reject the member’s characterisation of this budget as being bad for regional Victoria. This is a very, very good budget for the local government portfolio.

Mrs McARTHUR: Yes, it was the MAV’s characterisation, Mr Somyurek, so you may have to take issue with them. Each year the state collects, largely through local government, more than $200 million in municipal and industrial landfill levies. Given the recycling crisis confronting Victorian municipalities, does the government support the MAV policy that says:

… much more of the State’s landfill levy income must be reinvested into waste and resource recovery—rather than it propping up the Victorian … budget.

Or is the government at odds with the MAV?

The PRESIDENT: I think there are a couple of questions there. I will call the minister to answer one of them or both.

Mr SOMYUREK: There are again a couple of questions in that. If I could again clarify, I do not have legislative responsibility for the waste issue. That sits within the ministerial purview of the minister for environment. I do have responsibility for the Municipal Association Act 1907. I do; that’s a fact. But the fact of the matter is that I do not control what the MAV says. The MAV is entitled to run commentary on various things in the world. That does not mean that I have responsibility to respond to everything that the MAV runs a commentary on. They might be commenting on the international peace process in the Middle East. It does not mean that I have responsibility for that.

6 June 2019