Hon John Carey BA MLA

Hon John Carey BA MLA

Minister for Housing; Lands; Homelessness; Local Government

    Local government reforms to deliver better outcomes for WA ratepayers

    21/09/2022 8:00 AM
    • Local government reforms will see improvements to council elections that will deliver benefits for ratepayers, residents and small businesses
    • Electoral reforms will make council voting fairer across Western Australia
    • Councils can plan ahead for phasing in changes for the 2023 elections 

    The McGowan Government is continuing to work with the local government sector to deliver the largest set of sweeping reforms in more than 25 years.


    The reforms include a range of measures to strengthen local democracy and community engagement, including:

    • introduction of optional preferential voting for all council elections, bringing local government elections more in line with State and Federal voting mechanisms;
    • requiring Band 1 and Band 2 councils to hold a public vote for the Mayor or President, directly empowering ratepayers;
    • abolishing wards for smaller local governments; and
    • reducing the number of councillors within a local government, setting clear limits on the number of councillors a local government can have, based on the population of the local government area. 

    Many of the reform proposals related to council representation are based on broad trends and will aim to provide greater consistency across councils. This will simplify elections and reduce the ongoing cost burden for ratepayers.


    Under the electoral reforms, it has been identified that:

    • 48 local governments will need to reduce the size of their council;
    • 22 local governments will need to change to electing the Mayor or President by a public vote of ratepayers;
    • 11 local governments will need to abolish wards; and
    • 71 local governments will meet the reform criteria and will not be required to make any changes to the size or structure of their council. 

    Local Government Minister John Carey has written to all local governments providing a pathway to voluntarily enact these reforms. For most impacted councils, this voluntary pathway will include undertaking a full Ward and Representation Review to consider how to phase in these reforms.


    Alternatively, if local governments are unable to agree on a plan or opt out of the voluntary process, the Reform Election Pathway may be enacted. The Reform Election Pathway will provide for all of a council's offices to be declared vacant, wards can be abolished (if applicable) and the size of the council would be set by default, based on the reform proposals.


    Under the Reform Election Pathway, new elections will then be held to fill all council offices, with a split between two and four-year terms to re-establish an ordinary election cycle. Act amendments are currently being drafted and will be introduced into State Parliament next year.


    Local governments with more complex changes have been asked to indicate their preference to the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries by the end of October.


    More information is available on the DLGSC website.


    Comments attributed to Local Government Minister John Carey:


    "This Government is driving and implementing the most significant local government reforms in more than 25 years.


    "These reforms will deliver massive benefits and provide greater outcomes for residents and ratepayers.


    "Our reform agenda is clear - we are strengthening the transparency, accountability and efficiency of local governments, and this set of electoral reforms will enable stronger local democracy and community engagement.


    "I've written to every local government in Western Australia about their transition requirements and look forward to seeing these reforms enacted.


    "Local governments can decide on the best pathway forward for them, whether it makes sense to phase in changes or implement them all in 2023."


    Minister's office - 6552 5300