Yarra responds to proposed Local Government Act changes

We recently provided feedback to the Victorian Government on proposed changes to the Local Government Act.

We are concerned about the proposal to remove multi-member wards in Yarra. A move to single member wards would mark a shift to a ‘winner take all’ model, where it is much more likely that a single political party would dominate the council. It would also mean that voters have a smaller number of candidates to choose from, less influence over the election result and a lower chance of electing their preferred candidate.

We support the proposed changes to campaign donations. Prohibiting large donations and improving the requirement to disclose smaller donations are both welcome. However we believe that continuing to allow property developers to donate to council election campaigns risks compromising the independence of councillors. We are therefore calling for a ban on campaign donations from property developers – something which has been successfully introduced in other jurisdictions.

We support a number of administrative changes proposed, including improved training for candidates, mandatory induction for councillors and the disqualification of councillors after repeated findings of serious misconduct. Changes we do not support include the removal of councillor conduct standards, changes to dispute resolution processes, and a process where a petition of just one quarter of voters could trigger an enquiry into a council without any evidence of governance failure.

Our full submission can be viewed here.

/Public Release. View in full here.