The Local Government Act 2020 (the new Act) was passed by the Victorian Parliament in March 2020, replacing the Local Government Act 1989. This is the most comprehensive reform of local government for 30 years.
The first phase of reforms introduced the overall architecture of the new Act without any council obligations, except those that relate to elections.
As part of Stage 2 (current stage), all Victorian councils are required to have the following documents adopted by 1 September 2020:
- Public Transparency Policy
- Governance Rules and revocation of Conduct of Meetings Local Law 2019
A public transparency policy adopted under the new Act must:
- Give effect to the public transparency principles.
- Describe the ways in which Council information is to be made publicly available.
- Specify which Council information must be publicly available, including all policies, plans and reports required under the new Act or any other Act.
The draft Public Transparency Policy has been developed to formalise Council’s support for transparency in its decision-making processes and public awareness of the availability of Council information.
The draft policy covers documentary information, process information and how information will be made available to the public and once adopted will become an integral part of Council’s Good Governance.
The requirement to adopt a set of Governance Rules supersedes the Meeting Procedures Local Law required under the Local Government Act 1989 and must be made with respect to the conduct of Council meetings and meetings of delegated committees. The Rules also include the Election Period Policy and procedures for the disclosure of a conflict of interest by a Councillor, member of a Delegated Committee or council staff. It is intended to revoke Council’s Conduct of Meetings Local Law 2019 (and incorporated Meeting Procedures Code) as part of this process.
The Governance Rules must provide for Council to:
- Consider and make decisions on any matter being considered by the Council fairly and on merit.
- Institute decision making processes to ensure that any person whose rights will be directly affected by a decision of the Council is entitled to communicate their views and have their interests considered.
The new Local Government Act 2020 aims to support closer relationships between councillors and their communities by removing unnecessary prescriptive details from regulatory and legislative requirements of councils.
Recognising this level of prescriptive detail is unnecessary for modern councils, this new Act reflects a more principles-based approach to how councils operate, including how they:
- make decisions
- conduct public consultation processes
- provide notices of meetings
- run meetings
- make information available to the public.
Development of the new Act has been guided by five principles:
- community engagement
- strategic planning
- financial management
- public transparency
- service performance.
As the Local Government Act 1989 is being progressively repealed, Council officers are working with Local Government Victoria to implement the new Act.
For more information about the new Act, see: Local Government Act 2020
Any person affected by the proposed Policy and Rules and the revocation of the local law may make a written submission to the Council.
All submissions received by the Council on or before Tuesday 11 August 2020 will be considered in accordance with section 223(1) of the Local Government Act 1989, by the Council’s Submissions (Section 223) Committee (Committee).
Submissions have now closed.