The new Local Government Act 2020 received Royal Assent on 24 March 2020 and with it comes big changes to the way local government elections are run and prospective candidates are prepared.
One of the major changes in the new act, which replaces the outdated Local Government Act 1989, is that prospective candidates in local government elections must undergo mandatory training.
This is a really positive change for communities who can be assured that the people they choose to represent them on their councils will have a clear and thorough understanding of the role and responsibilities of what it means to be a councillor.
While it is my view, and the view of the Municipal Association of Victoria of which I am on the board, that the council elections scheduled for later this year should have been postponed, at least with these new regulations, those throwing their hat in the ring and running for a position on councils around the state will be trained and prepared for the tasks ahead.
We also are pleased that the results of a review by the Victorian Electoral Commission determined no changes were needed to the ward structure of the Northern Grampians so, despite local government elections going ahead during a difficult time, they won’t be complicated by new electoral boundaries.
Being a councillor and representing the communities that you are a part of and that you care deeply for is no easy task. I welcome this new training regime and hope it leads to more people being willing to give serious consideration to being a part of their local government.
Some other exciting changes under the new act will see council’s increasing their community engagement and implementing new ways to involve the voice of the wider community in their decision-making process.
At the Northern Grampians, we welcome this with open arms as we know our residents are passionate about their towns and this region. Hearing what they have to say and working closely with them is a great joy in being a councillor.
Recent community satisfaction survey results showed the Northern Grampians Shire Council have some improvement to make in this area and we are dedicated to that under these new regulations and for the betterment of our residents.
There will also be improvements to a number of other areas of council governance such as public transparency, strategic planning, financial management, and service performance.
A new chapter is opening for local governments all over Victoria and myself and the other members of the Northern Grampians Shire Council are excited to be a part of it.
Cr Murray Emerson
Mayor – Northern Grampians Shire Council