LATROBE City Council held its June meeting on Monday, June 3 at Kernot Hall.

It began at 6pm, was closed to the public at 9.20pm and covered a range of subjects, including five addresses from the gallery.


Coal transition

ON April 8, council submitted a response to the Victorian Energy Jobs Plan Consultation Paper, advocating for a fair and equitable transition from coal-powered energy production on behalf of the community.

On March 27, the draft submission was circulated to relevant politicians, including the Minister for Energy and Resources, Lily D’Ambrosio, and the Minister for Jobs and Industry, Natalie Hutchins, for feedback.

Due to the short engagement period, officers could not present the submission for formal endorsement at a council meeting. However, now that it has been endorsed, it will be made publicly available on the council website.

The submission focused on workforce, education, employment attraction, and population retention, with particular attention paid to wind and hydrogen worker training centres.

Guss Lambden submitted two questions about this topic, wondering how many jobs are being created in Latrobe to support the transition from coal.

Latrobe City Chief Executive, Steven Piasente, answered the questions. He said council was supporting renewable energy jobs, including those in solar, on and offshore wind, batteries, and hydrogen.

Mr Piasente said the transition was expected to create 59,000 jobs across Victoria as the state government targets 95 per cent renewable energy by 2035, and that council was advocating for the Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain project to reach commercialisation to create jobs in the region.

Additionally, council has launched the Advanced Air Mobility Precinct at Latrobe Regional Airport to attract private industry, researchers, and start-ups. Notably, Dovetail, a tenant at the airport, is developing hydrogen-powered engines and plans to expand from eight to 90 jobs.

Council will soon release serviced industrial land at the Gippsland Logistics and Manufacturing Precinct in Morwell, with several enquiries predicting more than 100 jobs from the manufacturing, agribusiness, and tech industries.


Don’t forget the Arts

STEPHANIE Morgan attended the council meeting to raise her concerns about the scope of the draft Youth Infrastructure Plan, saying the Arts should not be overlooked.

“I feel that unfortunately, as is often the case, creative recreation activities like theatre and dance are forgotten about in policies such as this draft plan,” she said.

The agenda for the June meeting said the draft Youth Infrastructure Plan was developed in line with the strategic direction under the ‘Healthy’ pillar of the 2021-25 Council Plan.

The draft plan outlines a six-year strategy to enhance outdoor recreational spaces in Latrobe City, aiming to boost physical activity and social connections. By the end of the first year (2024/25), public access to tennis courts will be activated. By year three (2027/28), Yallourn North’s dirt BMX track will be upgraded, and by the end of 2029/30, a half basketball court will be installed at Morwell Recreation Reserve. While the plan includes a list of estimated costs, it notes that funding has not yet been allocated or secured.

Ms Morgan said theatre and dance offer vital recreation and social opportunities in Latrobe. She is involved with Latrobe Theatre Company’s production of Mary Poppins and sees how engaged and excited young people are in the Arts. However, she said there are not enough opportunities or spaces to nurture their passion.

“Including Arts-based recreation activities in these types of policies is sensible, is beneficial to the whole community, and it aligns with not only the healthy pillar but also the creative pillar of the 2021-25 Council Plan,” Ms Morgan said.


Farm Rate Differential

ON behalf of the Latrobe City Farm Ratepayers Association, Graeme O’Hara highlighted the difficulties farmer ratepayers face amid concerns that zone changes from farmland to rural residential are threatening farm sustainability in the region.

The Farm Rate Differential is meant to help set equitable rates, recognising that farmers contribute significantly to Latrobe City’s economy and rate revenue while using fewer council services.

Mr O’Hara underscored the fact that farm ratepayers, despite contributing more than township rate payers, receive fewer council services. He said this inequity, acknowledged by past councils, is compounded by potential zone changes from farm to rural residential, which could increase rates without altering farmers’ land use or income and threaten farm sustainability.

Mr O’Hara voiced concerns about the potential threat to farm sustainability, particularly in light of the influx of city investors with high off-farm incomes, driving up property values. He said this, coupled with recent floods and a 40 per cent drop in cattle prices over the last 18 months, had significantly affected farm incomes.

Mr O’Hara said, “Our Farm Rate Differential has been in place for 40-plus years. The Minister for Local Government is encouraging all regional councils to reduce the rate burden placed on farms by the use of the Differential Rate System Valuation of Land Act, 1960.”

The draft council Budget for 2024/25 sets the farm rate on farmland at 0.00223179 cents in the dollar.

Council assessed a submission made by Latrobe City Farm Ratepayers Association, and said the 2024/25 Budget supports retaining the farm rate differential set at 75 per cent of the general rate, as it has been in previous years.


Heritage Advisory Committees

COUNCIL unanimously voted to receive a future briefing exploring the establishment of a Heritage Advisory Committee in Latrobe.

East Ward Councillor, Dan Clancey moved the motion, commenting in the agenda that it was timely to explore the establishment of a heritage committee because it can strengthen links between the community and council.

Jenny Hammett shared these sentiments as she addressed the chamber. Ms Hammett said heritage underpins the culture and structure of communities.

“A heritage committee has the potential to bring genuine value to the work of council and offer solutions to the challenges of budgets and capacity,” she said.

“A heritage committee… will develop deeper insights and clearer understandings to council’s briefing process and guide better informed decision around heritage matters or issues.”

Ms Hammett explained that heritage is not about today but about tomorrow.

“It’s about ensuring Morwell’s Rose Garden is still blooming in the year 2124. It’s about acknowledging that 140-plus years of lived experience inside the oldest church building in our city and preserving it as a symbol of belief, not in religion, but in community.”


Answer to the Lord’s Prayer

WEST Ward Cr Sharon Gibson wants to know why federal and state parliaments can include the Lord’s Prayer in formal meeting proceedings, but councils cannot.

Cr Gibson was sick but attended the meeting virtually. Cr Howe read her justification for the motion.

“For decades council has always opened our meeting with the Lord’s Prayer and last year without any motion coming before council, the Lord’s Prayer was stopped,” Cr Gibson’s statement said.

“The community really do not understand why local council cannot still do (the Lord’s Prayer) and want clarification from the government’s as to why there is difference between the governments.”

The council agenda for the June 3 meeting states the Lord’s Prayer was removed from council meetings due to a legal risk to the organisation. Still, Cr Gibson requested Cr Howe write a letter to the state and federal government asking why the Lord’s Prayer was stopped. The motion was accepted by all councillors.


Toners Lane Reserve expansion

CENTRAL Ward Cr Graeme Middlemiss’s request for a report on the current and future uses of Toners Lane Reserve in Morwell, including the potential expansion of the reserve to incorporate land to the north, was unanimously carried.

The councillor said Toners Lane Reserve is one of the last council recreation reserves that can be expanded to meet the needs of existing and future users. He said new housing developments are beginning to encroach on the reserve, affecting the operation of local organisations/clubs.

Some of these include the Morwell Baseball Club, which has three diamonds and must shuttle competitors to Traralgon during the Victorian Junior Championships due to a lack of a fourth diamond; the Dog Obedience Club could benefit from an adjacent off-leash area; Twin Cities Archers have a facility that is one of only three in Victoria suitable for major events, contributing significantly to Latrobe’s visitor economy, but faces issues from housing encroachment; The Morwell Pony Club aims to develop into a full-scale equestrian centre, and believe the northern land is ideal for this.

Expansion would alleviate these pressures. Energy Australia currently owns the land in question. The meeting agenda states that council should learn what Energy Australia plans to do with it when the Yallourn Energy site shuts down in 2028.


Next meeting

THE next Latrobe City Council meeting will be on Monday, July 1 at GPAC at 6pm.

Those wishing to attend in person will need to register before 3pm on the day and provide photo identification before the meeting. The gallery is capped at 60 people.

For more information and to register, visit


Draft Budget

LATROBE City Council adopted the 2024/25 draft Budget at its most recent meeting.
The Budget does not propose new borrowings, and all existing loans will be repaid by June 30, 2030.

The 2024/25 Operating Budget predicts a surplus of $29.9 million after raising rates and charges of $95.2 million out of total revenue of $187.3 million.

In the meeting agenda, council said the draft Budget had been prepared based on a 2.75 per cent increase in overall rates and charges. The waste services charge and state government landfill levy are excluded from rate increases.


Waste services charge slashed

THE waste services charge (WSC) for Latrobe will decrease by $32 to $394 (a 7.5 per cent reduction) and include an additional waste voucher, bringing the total to three.

This adjustment aligns with the Minister for Local Government’s Good Practice Guidelines for Service Rates and Charges issued in December 2023.

The reduction in the WSC, from $426 to $394, results from a realignment of waste services cost recovery. However, gate fees at the council’s transfer stations will increase to better reflect the actual service cost. To assist residents with this increase, a third waste voucher will be introduced in the 2024/25 budget.


Capital Works

THIS budget marks a $2 million increase in capital works investment from rates revenue compared to the previous year.

The 2024/25 budget for Latrobe City includes a total capital works program of $68.6 million, comprising $29.8 million for current-year projects and $38.8 million for continuing multi-year projects and those being carried forward.

Key projects include $24.1 million for infrastructure renewal, with $13.3 million allocated to the municipal road network, $3.6 million for upgrading the Marshalls Road/Traralgon-Maffra Road intersection, $4.9 million for the Gippsland Logistics Precinct, $23 million for the Regional Car Parks Fund, $5.3 million for flood recovery, and $1.4 million for refurbishing Park Lane Preschool.

For the community’s interest, this budget includes a list detailing the proposed capital works program down to the specific building, park, or street for the first time.

Three new projects have been funded as a direct response to prior Budget submissions.

They include a skatepark at Tyers Community Park, the establishment of a playground at the Range Estate in Morwell, and the resurfacing of tennis courts at the Traralgon Tennis Complex.


Rate changes

FOR the 2024/2025 period, rates will be increased by 1.3 per cent with the following differential rates based on the Capital Improved Value of rateable properties:

General rate: 0.00297572 cents in the dollar.

Farm rate: 0.00223179 cents in the dollar (75 per cent of the General rate).

Derelict properties rate: 0.00892716 cents in the dollar (four times the Farm rate).

The rate for derelict properties will generate $22,072, representing 0.02 per cent of total rates and charges revenue. These rates will apply for 12 months starting on July 1, 2024.

The changes represent a total four per cent increase from last year’s amount raised by general rates. They are estimated to generate about $64.5 million.


No Differential Rate for retirement villages

A DIFFERENTIAL rate for retirement villages in Latrobe City will not be introduced in the 2024/25 budget.

A limited review of Latrobe City Council’s Revenue and Rating Plan was conducted following a resolution at a council meeting in April 2023 requesting the provision of a differential rate for retirement villages.

Latrobe City has nine registered retirement villages, with 447 assessments ranging from four to 158 properties.

The council agenda said introducing a differential rate for retirement villages would shift the rate burden to other ratepayers, including retirees, pensioners, and low-income families. Therefore, it has not been adopted in the budget.


What won’t be funded
COUNCIL received 189 responses as part of the new early community engagement process in November 2023, and an additional 115 submissions have been received regarding the draft Budget.

The Lions Club of Moe requested a shade sail be installed at the All Abilities Play Space in Moe. However, the project won’t be included in the budget. Council’s Play Space Strategy currently states that shade sails are not the preferred option for providing shade to play spaces, with trees and permanent shade structures being the preferred option. A review of the Play Space Strategy is incoming.

A request for funding to complete the drainage system at Andrews Park, Churchill, will not be included in the upcoming budget. Council’s response to the submission said significant works are currently being undertaken at Gaskin Park Oval 2, with the intention of relocating all existing users of Andrews Park West to Gaskin Park within the next 12-18 months.

Consequently, Andrews Park West is expected to become redundant for baseball and cricket. The plan is for all cricket activities to take place at Gaskin Park by the 2025/26 summer and baseball by the 2025 winter.

There was 94 individual submissions requesting funding for the restoration of Budgeree School. However, this project will not be included in the upcoming Budget. A detailed engineering and design process is required to determine the restoration costs, and council has not identified a need for the building to deliver its services.