The Local Government Act 1989 is undergoing its first comprehensive review in 25 years. This review responds to calls from the local government sector and the community for a new, modern Act, after over 90 amending acts have resulted in hundreds of individual amendments.
The Local Government Act Review has involved extensive consultation with councils, ratepayers, the wider community, experts and other stakeholders.
There have been four stages to this engagement process - set out below - the final stage being the release of an Exposure Draft Bill providing the opportunity to review the legislation before it is introduced to Parliament and provide feedback.
Once finalised, it is intended that the new Local Government Bill will be introduced to Parliament in early 2018 with a view to a new Local Government Act commencing from mid 2018.
Exposure Draft – Stage 4
On 12 December 2017, the Victorian Government released an Exposure Draft of the Local Government Bill, giving community members, councils, and peak bodies the opportunity to provide feedback before the Bill is introduced into Parliament.
- Local Government Bill - Exposure Draft (PDF, 1.2 MB)
- Local Government Bill - Exposure Draft (DOCX, 328.4 KB)
The Draft Bill will introduce a modern legislative framework for local government that clearly outlines the roles and responsibilities of councils, allows for greater innovation and collaboration. The Draft Bill proposes to repeal and replace the Local Government Act 1989 with a modern, principle based legislative framework for the establishment and administration of a system of local government in Victoria.
The Draft Bill is accompanied by an explanatory document which is designed to help readers navigate the draft legislation. A New Local Government Act for Victoria sets out the reasons for the Act review, the aims and structure of the Draft Bill and the major reforms introduced by the Draft Bill. The paper also sets out the proposed time-frames for the phased implementation of the reforms.
Submissions are now being sought on the operation of the provisions in the Draft Bill to inform the finalisation of the Bill.
The close date for submissions has now been extended to Friday, 16 March 2018 at 5pm.
Implementation Challenges – Stage 3
Throughout 2017, targeted consultation has been undertaken to inform the Exposure Draft Bill, comprising of:
- Seven technical working groups of senior sector experts to resolve implementation challenges, analyse timing and staging issues, identify areas where further guidance material will be required to underpin the reforms. Topics included: council operations, representative structures, community engagement and strategic planning, council finances, rates and charges, council probity and local laws.
- Meetings with peak ratepayer groups.
- Meetings with key stakeholders on issue specific reforms.
- Meetings with council peak organisations and newly elected councillors.
Directions paper – Stage 2
The directions paper, Act for the Future - Directions for a new Local Government Act, was released in June 2016. The directions paper outlined the key reforms proposed to develop the legislative framework for Victorian local government for the future.
Councils and their communities were invited to have their say on these proposed reforms and contribute their ideas for a contemporary, clear and comprehensive Local Government Act which supports councils as they meet future challenges and better serves a new generation of Victorians.
333 submissions were received online, by email and in hard copy form.
Responses to the reform directions were also provided at 18 community forums with Mayors, Council CEOs and community members between July and September 2016 at: Frankston, Traralgon, Ararat, Kyneton, Benalla, Werribee, Angelsea, Mildura and Melbourne CBD.
Discussion paper and reform ideas – Stage 1
The discussion paper, released in September 2015, was the beginning of the Local Government Act review, and the beginning of a conversation with the sector and the community, about the legislative framework that governs local government in Victoria.
The discussion paper identified the issues in the current Local Government Act 1989 and invited ideas on options to reform all aspects of the legislative framework.
348 submissions were received responding to the Discussion Paper.
Reform ideas were also developed through:
- 10 community forums between February and March 2016 at: Wangaratta, Swan Hill, Shepparton, Warrnambool, Horsham, Dandenong, Sale, Melbourne CBD, Sunshine and Maryborough.
- six technical working groups of senior council specialists on: council operations; consultation and engagement; council role and responsibilities; rates and charges; financial decision-making and accountability; and offences and breaches.
- meetings with peak council and ratepayer associations.
- the development of background papers on the local government legislative framework.
if you would like more information on the Local Government Act Review please visit Your Council, Your Community or please contact:
Local Government Review Secretariat
Phone: (03) 9948 8518
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.
Municipal Association Act review
The review of the Municipal Association Act 1907 is the first comprehensive review since its enactment in 1907.
The review gives effect to the commitment in the Terms of Reference for the Local Government Act Review to review all portfolio legislation for which the Minister for Local Government has responsibility, including the Municipal Association Act 1907.
The review also gives effect to the Government’s commitment to review the existing legal framework for MAV and review MAV’s role, functions, responsibilities and powers in response to the Victorian Auditor-General report into the effectiveness of support for Local Government (February 2015).
On 17 May 2017, LGV circulated to councils a paper outlining the key reforms proposed for comments and feedback from the local government sector. Consultations closed on 30 July 2017.