Local Government Minister John Carey has today announced the final package of reforms to the Local Government Act 1995, following a review of public submissions.
The reforms are based on the findings and recommendations of a number of reports and consultation undertaken over the past five years, and represent the most significant change to local government in Western Australia since the Local Government Act 1995 was introduced more than 25 years ago.
The changes will improve the transparency, accountability and efficiency of local government across WA.
More than 200 submissions were received during the most recent consultation process, which highlighted broad support for the reforms, and will inform work to deliver major improvements to the system of local government in WA.
Significant changes will include:
- the introduction of a new Inspector of Local Government, supported by an Inspectorate, which would investigate and oversee complaints;
- the introduction of Local Government Monitors, who can be appointed by the Inspector to assist in resolving ongoing issues;
- tougher penalties, including three month suspensions for councillors who are guilty of serious breaches of the act, and 10-year bans from local government elected office for anyone suspended three times;
- mandatory recording of council meetings, and live streaming for larger tier one and two local governments;
- tighter rules and clearer definitions regarding confidential meetings; and
- introduction of parental and medical leave entitlements for elected members.
The Minister for Local Government has established a new working group made up of representatives from across the sector, to inform the implementation of reforms, and the development of regulations to support the new laws.
Full detail on all the reforms can be found at the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries website: https://www.dlgsc.wa.gov.au/lgactreform
The Government plans to introduce the legislation to Parliament by the end of the year.
As stated by Local Government Minister John Carey:
“These reforms represent the most significant shake-up to the local government sector in more than 25 years.
“We’ve had numerous inquiries, reports and reviews into the sector and now is the time for us to get on with the job of improving how local governments function in Western Australia.
“In recent weeks and months, we have seen examples of councils not operating as they should, and poor behaviour among elected members – the changes we’re introducing are aimed at addressing those issues sooner.
“The public are fed up with dysfunction and repeat bad behaviour by a small number of councillors. Chaotic meetings and petty squabbles are not good enough.
“The reality is most local governments and councils are doing great work for their communities but these reforms will ensure we have penalties in place that properly address poor behaviour, including suspensions of up to three months for serious misconduct, and bans of up to 10 years for elected members who consistently breach the Act.
“The changes will also improve the transparency and accountability of local government through measures such as mandatory recording and live streaming of meetings, and tighter rules around what matters can and cannot be discussed behind closed doors.”