Overview of the Local Government Sector
There are 79 councils in Victoria and they provide a range of essential services to their community. Local government is recognised in the Victorian Constitution (1975) as a “distinct and essential tier of government consisting of democratically elected councils having the functions and powers that the parliament considers are necessary to ensure the peace, order and good government of each municipal district”.
The Local Government Act (1989) sets out the roles and responsibilities of councils, its elected councillors and council administration. Local Government Victoria, as the responsible government agency, provides information, policy advice and support works to councils.
Councils are subject to oversight by the following agencies
- Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC)
- Local Government Inspectorate
- Victorian Auditor General’s Office (VAGO)
- Victorian Ombudsman
In addition, under the Victorian Government’s Fair Go Rates Policy, councils are required to keep annual rate rises at or below the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Councils wishing to levy rates above the CPI are required to submit rate cap variations with the Essential Services Commission (ESC). The ESC also produces compliance reports and conducts inquiries in relation to the rate cap.
There are three peak bodies representing councils in Victoria
- The Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV), established under the Municipal Associations Act (1907)
- LG Pro, an association for people working in local government in Victoria
- The Victorian Local Governance Association (VLGA), an independent member-based association supporting councils, councillors and community in good governance
Local Government Bill 2018
The VLGA actively consulted with its members from metropolitan and regional areas about changes to the legislative framework that governs local government in Victoria.
The Local Government Act (1989) established the constitutional, electoral and operational arrangements for local government in Victoria. Since releasing a Discussion Paper in September 2015, the Victorian Government has undertaken a review process with various stakeholders. In that time, the VLGA has made representations, submissions and released media statements. The Local Government Bill (2018) was introduced into Parliament on 23 May 2018.
The Victorian Local Governance Association is broadly supportive of the Local Government Bill (2018), tabled in the Victorian Parliament by the Hon. Marlene Kairouz, Minister for Local Government. However, we continue to hold concerns regarding the Bill and recommend changes to the Bill. Read the VLGAs initial response and recommendations.
Key dates in reviewing the legislative framework that governs local government in Victoria
19 June 2018 The second reading for the Local Government Bill (2018), was scheduled for debate in the lower house on 19 June 2018.
23 May 2018 The Minister for Local Government, Marlene Kairouz, introduced the Local Government Bill (2018) into Parliament. Read about VLGA's response to the tabling of the Bill here
2017 The Victorian Government consulted with key stakeholders.
June 2016 The Victorian Government released the Directions Paper in June 2016. They received 333 submissions in response. Read about VLGA's response to the Directions Paper
September 2015 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. Read about VLGA's response to the Discussion Paper