On Tuesday 30 April 2024, the Local Government Amendment (Governance and Integrity) Bill 2024 was introduced to Parliament that includes reforms to strengthen council leadership, capability and councillor conduct, improve early intervention and effective dispute resolution and strengthen oversight mechanisms.

The Bill will:

  • introduce ongoing mandated training for mayors and councillors that expand the existing induction training requirements for councillors
  • enable the suspension or disqualification of individual councillors found to have created a risk to health and safety, or prevented the council from performing its functions
  • enhance the enforcement powers of the Chief Municipal Inspector, including by providing the CMI with the ability to issue infringement notices for certain offences under the Act
  • make improvements to the councillor conduct framework. This will include creating a power to establish in regulations a model councillor code of conduct and increasing the severity of sanctions available for councillor misconduct, and
  • improve the operation of provisions relating to Ministerial oversight, appointment powers and the councillor conduct framework.

The Bill is available on the Victorian Legislation website:

www.legislation.vic.gov.au/bills/local-government-amendment-governance-and-integrity-bill-2024

A Fact Sheet detailing the reforms is available here:

Fact Sheet - Local Government Amendment (Governance & Integrity) Bill 2024 [PDF]

Fact Sheet - Local Government Amendment (Governance & Integrity) Bill 2024 [Doc]

Consultation

The reforms have been informed by independent reports and recommendations and will give effect to a number of recommendations in the IBAC Operation Sandon Special Report to strengthen council governance.

The reforms have also been informed by the Local Government Culture Project through which broad consultation with the sector and community demonstrated the need for stronger processes and powers to resolve conduct issues and the capacity of councillors to be strengthened.

In January 2024, further consultations were carried out with councils and peak bodies to get feedback on the proposed reforms during the development of the Bill.

The feedback received during this consultation period informed the finalisations of the reforms and has been captured in a consultation feedback report.

Consultation feedback report [PDF]

Consultation feedback report [Doc]

Implementation next steps

Local Government Victoria will soon commence work with the sector and other key stakeholders to develop the regulations for the Model Councillor Code of Conduct and for Mayoral and councillor training.

This will comprise:

  • a steering committee, with representatives from the sector, to advise on the development of these regulations
  • public consultations via EngageVic
  • an opportunity to make a submission on the draft regulations once they have been developed.

Further information about these processes will soon be shared with the sector.