Victoria's new local government bill introduced to state parliament

Victoria's new local government bill introduced to state parliament
Victoria's new local government bill introduced to state parliament

Victoria's Minister for Local Government, Marlene Kairouz, has introduced the new Local Government bill 2018 be which, if passed, will repeal some legislation relating to local governments and amend other acts.

The new bill would repeal the City of Greater Geelong Act 1993, amend the City of Melbourne Act 2001, the Local Government Act 1989 and the Victorian Grants Commission Act 1976.

Spring Street is characterising the new bill as one that lifts the standards of governance in councils across the state and makes councillors more accountable to ratepayers.

According to a state government media release, the Local Government Bill 2018 will:

Give the Minister for Local Government the power to suspend individual councillors who pose a significant threat to the governance of a council for up to a year

Clearly define sexual harassment under the Councillor Code of Conduct and introducing the power to remove councillors for serious sexual harassment

Allow mayors serving two-year terms to be ousted from their roles, following a motion moved by at least three-quarters of all councillors in office

Include new measures to ensure service charges levied by Councils do not exceed the cost of those services

Victorian State Government media release

The legislation will also require councils to start laying out budgets in the same way as state and federal governments do - provide forward estimates which extend out to 4 years.  This is an Australian-first.

Mayors will be required to annually report how councils are tracking against the new four year budgetary plans.

Consultation on the new legislation has been underway for three years however the emphasis on defining sexual harassment has obviously taken on more zeal in light of the scandal with the former Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Robert Doyle.

On top of the four year council plans and four year council budgetary process, councils will also be required to devise a long-term community vision, a ten year financial plan and a ten year asset plan.

"We want councils focused on the long-term and these changes will help them do exactly that," the minister said.  “We are bringing this Act into the 21st century – helping make councils more accountable and focused on the needs of their communities.”

Lead image credit: Wikipedia.

Alastair Taylor

Alastair Taylor

Alastair Taylor is a co-founder of Urban.com.au. Now a freelance writer, Alastair focuses on the intersection of public transport, public policy and related impacts on medium and high-density development.

Tags: 
Victoria Local Government Council Reform

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