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How the VLGA responded to the Local Government Bill (2018)
How the VLGA responded to the review of the Local Government Bill (2018)

On 23 May 2018, the Minister for Local Government, Marlene Kairouz, introduced the Local Government Bill (2018) into Parliament. The second reading is scheduled for debate in the lower house on 19 June 2018.

Tabled Local Government Bill 2018

In response to the tabled Local Government Act on 23 May 2018, the VLGA made recommendations for changes.

29 May 2018: VLGA’s recommendations for changes to the tabled to Local Government Act

The Victorian Local Governance Association is broadly supportive of the Local Government Bill (2018) which was tabled last week in the Victorian Parliament by the Hon Marlene Kairouz, Minister for Local Government.  However, we continue to hold concerns regarding the Bill and make the following three recommendations. Read more here.

23 May 2018: VLGA’s initial response to the tabling of Local Government Act 2018

The Bill legislates the scope and responsibilities of Victorian councils and councillors and will supersede the current Local Government Act (1989).

These responsibilities are far-reaching, and the Bill highlights the fact that the scope and business of local government are complex, and the role of a councillor is not simple. 

The VLGA specifically advocates for the importance of the role of effective local government, one which models the principles of integrity and transparency. Kathryn Arndt, VLGA CEO, stated “elected representatives at any level of government must act with integrity and show leadership in good governance.  Having been elected by the local community it is vital that councillors serve in the interests of their community and make transparent and accountable decisions”. Read more here.

Release of the Exposure Draft 2017

19 March 2018: The VLGA submitted its response to the Exposure Draft

The Victorian Local Governance Association (VLGA) welcomes the opportunity to provide feedback to the Local Government Bill (2018) Exposure Draft. The Bill’s intention to provide a principle-based Act for the local government sector is welcomed, as are the enabling provisions contained in the Bill. 

The VLGA has identified several issues, and these are summarised as follows. The full submission can be read here.

Issue

VLGA Position

s.3 Definition only refers to bullying “repeatedly behaves unreasonably to another councillor or staff”

To include sexual harassment and discriminatory behaviour as serious misconduct and therefore referable to councillor conduct panel.

s.8 Overarching principles

Adding the word “resilience” to the overarching principles.

s.18 Powers of the mayor

Opposed to mayor to appoint chairs of delegated committees

s.20 Office of mayor to be vacant

Support. Suggested explicit reference to natural justice and procedural fairness

s.37 Setting of allowances for mayors and councillors

Minister must have regard to a set of criteria when setting allowances. OR

Setting of allowances be made by an independent tribunal.

s.52 Audit and risk committee

Adding the word “governance” to the committee name and its operations

s.144 Rate capping

Earlier review date of end of 2020 (instead of 2021).

Sunset clause of rate cap by end of 2020.

14 March 2018:  The VLGA advocated for sexual harassment to be included in the new Local Government Act.

The VLGA recommended that the new Local Government Act include sexual harassment and discriminatory behaviour as serious misconduct by councillors. The Exposure Draft of the Local Government Bill 2018 contains a definition for bullying and specifically defines bullying as ‘serious misconduct’ by councillors. However, currently there are no corresponding definitions for sexual harassment and discriminatory behaviour.

The Equal Opportunity Act (2010) defines sexual harassment and discrimination. The Religious and Racial Tolerance Act (2001) defines religious and racial vilification. Therefore, the Exposure Draft of the Local Government Bill 2018 should be amended to make references to these offences and go further to define these offences as ‘serious misconduct’ by councillors. Read more here.

2 March 2018: The VLGA presented key points from its submission to councillors

The VLGA presented feedback and its draft submission to officers and councillors. This presentation can be accessed here

January to February 2018: The VLGA ran Councillor Briefing Sessions in metropolitan and regional Victoria

The VLGA analysed key sections of this Exposure Draft and, in January and February 2018, presented this analysis to councillors in metropolitan and regional Victoria. We took a principle-based response to the Exposure Draft. VLGA’s submission was written to reflect feedback from these consultation sessions.

How the VLGA consulted with councils

 The VLGA conducted six consultation sessions in partnership with Local Government Victoria and hosting councils. Each session was attended by about 20-30 people, at the following locations:

  • Cardinia Shire Council - Officer
  • Central Goldfields Shire -Maryborough
  • Greater Shepparton City Council- Shepparton
  • Southern Grampians Shire Council- Hamilton
  • Cape Schanck Mayoral Weekend and
  • VLGA Office- Carlton.

18 December 2017: VLGA provided councils with information on the Exposure Draft

 An overview of the Local Government Bill (2018) and key reforms was sent to councillors. They can be read here.

12 December 2017: Local Government Bill 2018 release welcomed, but details need scrutiny

The VLGA welcomed the release of the Exposure Draft Local Government Bill (2018).

The revised meeting rules based on governance rules is a welcome development, as is the requirement for a publicly transparent gift policy for councillors.

There are elements of the Exposure Draft which will require further analysis to ensure the right balance is achieved between the powers of the state government and the roles and responsibilities of local government. Read more here.


 

How the VLGA responded to the review of the Local Government Bill (2018)

The State Government introduced a Bill – the Local Government Amendment (Improved Governance) Bill (2015) - to amend the Local Government Act on governance issues. The Bill had its second reading on 3 September 2015 and will be debated in the Assembly on 15 September 2015.

The stated aim of the Bill is to “amend the Local Government Act (1989) to improve the governance standards of Councils, amend arrangements for local government elections and provide for other matters…”

The Victorian Government released a Discussion Paper in September 2015 so that the sector and community could discuss the legislative framework that governs local government in Victoria.

September 2016: The VLGA commented on the Local Government Amendment Bill

The VLGA welcomed the passage of the Local Government Amendment Bill (2016) through the Legislative Council. Victorian Local Governance Association President, Cr Sebastian Klein, said that the Amendment was a good outcome for local government and local communities.

"I welcome the way in which the Parliament, in particular, the Opposition and crossbenchers have dealt with this matter," Cr Klein said.

June 2016: The VLGA made a submission to Local Government Act Review Directions Paper Act for the Future

The Victorian Government released the Directions Paper in June 2016 and received 333 submissions in response. The VLGA welcomes the opportunity to respond to the Local Government Act review directions paper, Act for the Future. The VLGA supports a new Local Government Act in Victoria and welcomes many of the positive proposals in the directions paper.

The positions outlined in this submission have been formulated in response to our consultation and discussions with the local government sector.

VLGAs response to the Directions Paper can be read here.

2015: The VLGA provided member councils with an analysis of the main changes to the Local Government Act (1989)

The State Government has introduced a Bill – the Local Government Amendment (Improved Governance) Bill (2015) - to amend the Local Government Act on governance issues. The Bill had its second reading on 3 September and will be debated in the Assembly on 15 September.

The VLGA provided councils with a summary of the main changes. Read VLGAs analysis of the main changes to the Local Government Act (1989).

December 2015: The VLGA responded to the Discussion Paper

The Victorian Government released a Discussion Paper in September 2015 so that the sector and community could discuss the legislative framework that governs local government in Victoria. 384 submissions were received in response. Forums were held in metropolitan and regional Victoria. VLGAs response to the Discussion Paper can be read here.

This document provides an overview and comments by the Victorian Local Governance Association (VLGA) at the Discussion Paper released by Local Government Victoria. It is designed to be a resource to discuss ideas and assist VLGA member councils with their response to the paper. This document will, from time-to-time, be updated during the Review of the Local Government Act.


 

 

 

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