This review of local government is the first in 25 years. In that period, over 90 amending acts have resulted in hundreds of changes to the Local Government Act 1989. The review responds to calls from the local government sector and the community for a new Act.
The Local Government Act Review discussion paper, Act for the Future starts an important dialogue between the sector, the community and the Victorian Government as we begin to examine all aspects of the Act.
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The review is an opportunity for both state and local governments to build stronger communities for local residents. It will update legislation to modernise the relationship between state and local governments to better reflect their essential roles and responsibilities.
To create a simple and integrated new Act, the review looking at:
- the objectives, roles and functions of councils
- the powers required of councils to achieve these objectives and perform their roles and functions
- the extent these should be regulated under the Act
- all legislation for which the Minister for Local Government is responsible.
- 2015 – Consultation on issues around the current Act
- 2016 – Consultation on reform directions
- 2017 – Consultation on proposed new legislation.
An advisory committee was appointed to provide independent advice to the Minister for Local Government on the reforms.
The Advisory Committee included current councillor representatives of metropolitan and regional councils and past senior local and state government executives.
Local government peak organisations (Municipal Association of Victoria, Victorian Local Governance Association and LGPro) also contributed to the review through direct consultation with the Minister. They continue to do so through ongoing liaison with Local Government Victoria as the review proceeds.
- Ros Spence MLA (chair), Member for Yuroke – former councillor and mayor at Hume City Council
- Dr Kathy Alexander – former CEO of Melbourne City Council
- Kay Rundle – former CEO of Port Phillip, Greater Geelong and Maribyrnong city councils
- Nicholas Reece, Principal Fellow Melbourne School of Government and senior executive in Chancellery, University of Melbourne, and former Director of Strategy, Office of the Prime Minister
- Mary Delahunty, councillor and deputy mayor at Glen Eira City Council
- David Clark, councillor and former mayor at Pyrenees Shire Council.
The Advisory Committee provided advice to the Minister and to the department of the review.
Review of the Local Government Act 1989 Terms of Reference
The purpose of the review is to revise the current legislation governing local government in Victoria to create a more contemporary, accessible, plain English Act that meets current and future needs of the community and local government sector.
The review will consider all aspects of the current Local Government Act 1989 with a view to more accurately and consistently reflecting policy intent and improving clarity, including provisions setting out:
- objectives, roles, functions, and powers of councils;
- roles and responsibilities of councillors, mayors, chief executive officers, and council staff;
- directions about governance and administrative processes required to be followed by councils directed to ensuring all decision-making, actions and reporting is open and transparent, free from bias and improper considerations, and provides for community input;
- the system of electoral representation that provides fair and equitable representation;
- electoral arrangements that deliver a democratic, transparent and secure system of elections for local government resulting in high levels of participation;
- processes for the maintenance of efficient planning and reporting, and financial arrangements by councils that provide effective accountability to their communities;
- offences under the Act;
- the circumstances in, and the extent to which, the Victorian Government, through the Minister for Local Government, can guide, direct or intervene in council governance.
- The review will include consideration of all legislation for which the Minister for Local Government has administrative responsibility with a view to simplifying and integrating these Acts in the new Act where possible; but will not include consideration of legislation which imposes responsibilities on councils which is not the responsibility of the Minister for Local Government (e.g. The Planning and Environment Act 1987), except insofar as this latter legislation interacts with the Local Government Act 1989 with a view to clarifying that interaction.
The review will not include consideration of any changes to existing external boundaries of Victorian municipalities
The review will have regard to:
- The recognition in the Victorian Constitution of local government as a distinct and democratic tier of government in Victoria charged with responsibility for delivering peace, order and good government for local communities.
- The necessity for the legislation to strike an appropriate balance between autonomy for councils in their operations and decision-making processes and the interests of the Victorian community and Government.
- The need to encourage greater community engagement.
- The need to reduce, wherever practicable, the imposition of unnecessary administrative requirements on the sector.
The review will involve extensive engagement with the local government sector and the broader Victorian community, through the release of papers and receipt of submissions, to ensure their views are incorporated into recommendations to the Minister for Local Government in respect to the new Act.
Key consultation stages are:
- Identification of and consultation on issues under the current Act
- Development of and consultation on proposed directions for the new Act
- Release of the Exposure Draft Bill.