- McGowan Government forges ahead with major election commitment
- First major review of the Local Government Act in more than 20 years
- Extensive community and sector consultation occurred to develop new directions
- Includes introduction of universal training for council members
- Greater transparency and accountability around the acceptance of gifts
A suite of changes that will meet community expectations of efficient and effective councils, now and into the future, has been given the green light following a four-month consultation period.
The review of the Local Government Act 1995 is being undertaken in two phases and is a key election commitment designed to modernise the Act, reduce red tape and importantly, meet the expectations of Western Australians.
Local Government Minister David Templeman today announced the phase one reforms which have been developed in consultation with the local government sector and broader community.
The focus of the reforms is on building the capacity of council members and giving them the tools to be able to carry out their complex role in a way that meets community expectations.
Key changes to be implemented under phase one include:
- Council members and CEOs will be prohibited from receiving gifts that are intended to influence decision-making or a perceived conflict of interest
- Gifts received by council members and CEOs in their official role valued at $300 or more must be declared within 10 days of receipt
- Council members will have to declare a conflict of interest if they have received a gift or gifts over $300 from any person who has a matter come before council. They will not be able to vote on the matter or participate in the meeting.
- Online induction for candidates so they better understand the role of a council member and laws covering election campaigning
- Formal training for all council members to be completed within 12 months of election
- A requirement for councils to develop and report on a continuing professional development program for elected members.
Standards of behaviour
- Introduction of a mandatory Code of Conduct applicable to all council members and candidates
- Greater transparency with adverse findings by the Standards Panel against a council member to be tabled at the council's next ordinary council meeting.
Improved access to information
- Flexibility for public notice requirements allowing new technologies to be used
- More information to be published on a local government's website
- CEO total benefits package and council member fees and allowances to be published in the local government's annual report.
CEO recruitment and performance review
- Minimum standards to be adopted by local governments for CEO recruitment, selection, performance review and termination.
A number of out-of-date provisions will also be removed to improve administrative efficiencies and reduce red tape for local governments.
Drafting of an Amendment Bill including the phase one reforms will now commence.
Detailed information sheets on each of the phase one reforms are available at http://www.dlgsc.wa.gov.au/LGAReview
Comments attributed to Local Government Minister David Templeman:
"Today is an important step forward for the McGowan Government in progressing this major election commitment.
"We have listened to the community and we know that their expectations of local governments have changed and the legislative framework under which they operate needs to reflect this.
"These reforms will build council member capacity, strengthen governance, improve efficiency and provide greater flexibility for local governments in determining the best ways to communicate with their communities.
"Local government is big business in Western Australia employing more than 20,000 people and managing more than $40 billion worth of assets.
"As the closest tier of government to the community, local government impacts every Western Australian. Phase two of the review is currently underway and I encourage everyone to get involved."
Minister's office - 6552 5400