New Local Government Act 2020

The Local Government Act 2020 (the new Act) received Royal Assent on 24 March 2020.

The journey so far

This journey began in 2015, when a commitment was made to create a new Act. It involved a rigorous consultation process with Councils, peak bodies and the community. The journey of the new Act is outlined below:

  • September 2015: Discussion paper released. It identified the issues in the current Local Government Act 1989 and invited ideas for changes to the legislative framework.
  • Early 2016: Directions paper released. It outlined the key reforms proposed in the legislative framework.
  • Throughout 2017: Targeted consultation was undertaken, comprising of technical working groups, meeting with peak ratepayer groups, key stakeholders and peak organisations.
  • December 2017: Exposure Draft Local Government Bill 2018 (the Bill) was released.
  • Throughout 2018: The Bill was considered in parliament and passed the Legislative Assembly. It was not debated in the Legislative Council prior to the State Council Elections and therefore lapsed.
  • June 2019: Bill was revisited again. A Policy Reform Proposal Paper was released. This lead to the creation of five key reforms, which formed the revised Bill.
  • Late 2019: The revised Bill was considered in parliament and debated over several meetings.
  • November 2019: The Bill passed the Legislative Assembly.
  • March 2020: The Bill passed the Legislative Council and received Royal Assent on 24 March 2020.

What are the five key reforms?

The new Act is based on the five (5) major key reform themes:

  1. Improve service delivery
  2. Strong local democracy
  3. Improve conduct
  4. Community confidence
  5. A new relationship

It provides for a contemporary legislative framework for Councils that enhances democracy, council transparency and responsiveness to the community.

What are the proclamation dates?

The new Act will be implemented in four (4) stages:

  • Stage 1:             6 April 2020 *now in operation
  • Stage 2:             1 May 2020 *now in operation
  • Stage 3:             24 October 2020
  • Stage 4:             1 July 2021

Over time, the Local Government Act 1989 will be repealed as the new stages come into operation.

What key documents will Council deliver in the coming months?

Council will be required to deliver the following key documents, in consultation with the community:

Item

Provision in the new Act

Date to be presented to Council for in-principle support

Consultation period

Final adoption

Council Expenses Policy

Section 41

Monday 29 June 2020

4 weeks

(1 July 2020 to 11.59pm 29 July 2020)

31 August 2020 OM

Public Transparency Policy

Section 57

Monday 29 June 2020

4 weeks

(1 July 2020 to 11.59pm 29 July 2020)

31 August 2020 OM

Governance Rules

Section 60

Monday 29 June 2020

4 weeks

(1 July 2020 to 11.59pm 29 July 2020)

Hearing of Submitters:

10 August 2020 OM

 

Final Adoption

31 August 2020 OM

Revised Community Engagement Policy

Section 55

TBC

TBC

TBC

Councillor Code of Conduct

Section139

TBC

TBC

March 2021 OM (date to be confirmed)

Councillor Gift Policy

Section 138

TBC

TBC

March 2021 OM (date to be confirmed)

What provisions will continue to operate under the Local Government Act 1989?

The following provisions will continue to operate under the Local Government Act 1989, until the new provisions come into operation:

Up until 24 October 2020:

  • Qualification of Councillors,
  • Role of Mayor,
  • Conduct and interests, including Councillor Conduct Panel and offence provisions
  • Preparation and adoption of Annual Budget, Council Plan, Strategic Resource Plan and Annual Report
  • Public notice requirements

    Until 1 July 2021:

  • CEO employment and functions
  • Senior officer requirements
  • Procedure for making Local Laws
  • Application and operation of Local Laws

    Indefinitely, unless an amendment is made to the Act:

  • Types of acceptable rates and charges
  • Categories of rateable and non-rateable land
  • Rate capping
  • Appointment and powers of authorised officers
  • Powers relating to drains, sewers and roads, including the Section 223 process for these matters

What has changed in the new Act?

The new Act is a principles based legislation which is intended to inform the policies and plans that Council will adopt. It contains overarching governance principles which are outlined in Section 9 of the new Act.

The new Act focusses on:

  • community engagement, with new principles and the requirement for a Policy to be adopted in consultation with the community to determine deliberative engagement practices for local laws, Council’s budget and development, Community Vision, Council Policies, Plans and Strategies, Council Plan, Financial Plan and Asset Plan;
  • extensive planning requirements, such as the requirement for the budget to be prepared on rolling 4 year basis, the development of a 10 year Community Vision, a new Asset Plan, a 4 year Revenue and Rating Plan, a CEO Workforce Plan, as well as the requirement for the Mayor to actively meet with their community to inform how Council is tracking against the Community Vision and Council Plan;
  • improved conduct requirements for Councillors with new prescribed standards;
  • changes to Conflict of Interest, with direct and indirect interests replaced with general and material provisions;
  • improvements in service delivery, which includes the requirement for a Complaints Policy to apply to both staff and contractors;
  • stronger local democracy, by making Councillors directly accountable;
  • the shift from multi-level to single member wards, which will be undertaken over the next 4 years;
  • the ability to hold joint Council Meetings and Delegated Committees between neighbouring Councils;
  • the establishment of Community Asset Committees for the purpose of managing Council halls, sporting facilities, reserves or parks;
  • development of Governance Rules, which replaces the Governance Local Law and includes the Election Period Policy and the meeting procedure for Council Meetings, Delegated Committees and Community Asset Committees;
  • the establishment of Delegated Committees, formerly S86 Committees, with the requirement for meetings to be chaired by the Mayor or a Councillor nominated by the Mayor;
  • the requirement for the Audit and Risk Committee to table a report bi-annually to Council, describing the activities of the Committee, including findings and recommendations; and
  • supporting principles of community engagement, public transparency, strategic planning, financial management and service performance, to ensure priority is given to achieving the best outcomes for the municipality and future generations.

Further information

For further information on the new Act, please visit Local Government Victoria’s (LGV) website. LGV’s website includes a link to the new Act.

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