Archive:  Local Government Act Review

Last Updated  19/7/16

 

 

State Government Announces Next Stage Of Local Government Act Review Consultation.  Submissions close September 16

(19/7/16 - C)   A completely overhauled Local Government Act and substantial changes are proposed.  A quick look suggests plenty of good moves, but others aren't as welcome including Mayors being elected for 2 year terms, removing some requirements for Councils to report to / gain consent from the Minister, and - gulp - some assumptions that Councils 'will do the right thing'.   What?  In Macedon Ranges Shire?? 

 

The Minister for Local Government, Natalie Hutchins, last month released the Local Government Act Review Directions Paper, "Act For The Future", for public comment.   Relevant documents include the full "Act For The Future" report, and a short version of it, both available from the Your Council, Your Community website.  This website also provides information about the several ways to have input through submissions or a Quick Poll of key issues (you can complete the poll at the Your Council Your Community website).  

 

MRRA Says:

 

Our suggestion is to at least read the first 24 pages of the report which gives an overview of what is proposed.  Some changes are definitely a step in the right direction, others... not so sure.  What do you think?  Publishing the CEO's remuneration policy on Council's website, policy for customer complaints including an independent process to address them, having the CEO do a police and ASIC check of Council election candidates / requiring candidates to provide this information at nomination, new regulations for an "engagement strategy", using the new Senate 'partial preferential' voting system for Council elections, expanding allowed the number of councillors from 12 to 15, removing matters about employment of council staff and the CEO from the Local Government Act, and so on.   

 

There's a real difficulty with proposals to empower Mayors (to the point of making a Mayor "the boss" and privy to information other councillors aren't).  Most residents would tell you they elect nine councillors here, not 8 councillors and a mayor.

 

We will do some more homework and let you know the "big" issues in time for you to make a submission. 

 

 

Local Government Act Review - Submissions On Discussion Paper Due 18 December

(24/11/15 - C)   Here's your chance to get improvements to how councils behave - who could resist that? 

The State government is reviewing the Local Government Act, which is the Act that empowers and controls what Councils can do and how they are supposed to behave.   The government has published an excellent Discussion Paper that provides a clear "English" explanation of the Act, what it does and what might be improved - and why. 

 

The government has said it wants to make local government more 'community friendly', so community participation is critical

 

 Find out more from http://www.dtpli.vic.gov.au/local-government/strengthening-councils/local-government-act-review  and download a copy of the Discussion Paper from http://www.yourcouncilyourcommunity.vic.gov.au/

 

Submissions can be made by downloading the submission form, then either uploading it to the government's website or posting it.  Find out more or lodge your submission from http://www.yourcouncilyourcommunity.vic.gov.au/submission

 

MRRA Says:

It's a big ask, but a worthwhile one.   Every person even thinking about running for Council next year should attempt to read the Discussion Paper, because it explains local government in a way which is easily understood.  Residents too - there's not much point complaining about Council if you don't do something when the opportunity comes along, is there.... 

MRRA Submission Local Government Act Review  18/12/15

 

 

MRRA recently met the Minister for Local Government, and asked her the following question:

When councils (administration and councillors) do not operate democratically, openly or accountably, or act as a board of directors, it is deeply offensive to be told “you can change that at the ballot box”, not least because the ballot box can’t change a council’s administration.   Councils have over time been afforded some of the privileges of parliament, without equivalent ‘checks and balances’. The current ‘accountability’ system is failing communities, and does not provide ‘accountability’ authorities with sufficient legislative jurisdiction to even address complaints.  The result is it appears councils – no matter how badly they behave – are ‘teflon-coated’, and no-one has, can or will take responsibility for a council that operates outside the spirit and the letter of the law, and community expectations.   Does the government have intentions to strengthen legislation to provide more ‘checks and balances’ for councils, including a means by which communities can hold their councils to account , and if so, what changes are proposed?

The Minister looked a little shocked when we added a Councillor has said our community group has "corrupt opinion" and our community group has been publicly defamed in Council chamber, on more than one occasion (and it has).  She responded that more work was needed to improve Councillor and CEO/staff performance standards and accountability.   She urged community members to get involved in the Local Government Act review. 

 

And so does MRRA.  Please, make a submission by December 18.  It doesn't have to be a lot, a little will do.  Here are the Discussion Paper chapters to get you thinking:

 

Chapter2: The role of Councils (stop acting like a board of directors!).

Chapter 3: How councils are elected (we would also like to know how a community can un-elect a council)

Chapter 4: How councils operate (there has to be a way of getting better performance and behaviour than Macedon Ranges' Council provides)

Chapter 5:  Planning and reporting (holey-moley - this is about how council spends and tells us it spends our money)

Chapter 6: Council Rates and Charges (you will know the drill on this one!)

Chapter 7: Service delivery and financial decision making (plenty of scope here)

Chapter 8: Councillor conduct, offences and enforcement (our favourite)

Chapter 9: Ministerial powers (please expand them to allow instant dismissal of rotten councils)

Chapter 10:  Harmonisation of the Local Government Act (looking at other acts that confer powers on councils)