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The Local Government Act 2020 (the Act) was passed by the Victorian Parliament in March 2020, replacing the Local Government Act 1989. This is the most significant reform to the local government sector in over 30 years.
The first phase of reforms introduced the overall architecture of the new Act without any council obligations, except those that relate to elections.
As part of Stage 2 (current stage), all Victorian councils are required to have the following documents adopted by 1 September 2020:
- Public Transparency Policy
- Governance Rules
- Election Period Policy.
At its 1 July Ordinary Meeting, Council endorsed drafts of these policies for community in a consultation which ended on 31 July 2020. Council will consider adopting these policies on 19 August 2020 following consideration of feedback received through this consultation.
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about each of these policies, or provide your feedback by clicking on the Make a Submission tab below.
A public transparency policy adopted under the Act must:
- give effect to the public transparency principles
- describe the ways in which Council information is to be made publicly available
- specify which Council information must be publicly available, including all policies, plans and reports required under this Act or any other Act.
The draft Public Transparency Policy has been developed to formalise Council’s support for transparency in its decision-making processes and the public awareness of the availability of Council information.
The draft policy covers documentary information, process information and how information will be made available to the public and once adopted will become an integral part of Council’s Good Governance.
The requirement to adopt a set of Governance Rules replaces the Meeting Procedure Local Law required under the Local Government Act 1989 and must be made with respect to the conduct of Council meetings and meetings of delegated committees.
The Governance Rules must provide for Council to:
- consider and make decisions on any matter being considered by the Council fairly and on the merits
- institute decision making processes to ensure that any person whose rights will be directly affected by a decision of the Council is entitled to communicate their views and have their interests considered.
Council’s current Election Period Policy was extensively reviewed and adopted by Council in September 2019. The new draft Policy has been updated to incorporate the changes in legislation provided by the introduction of the Local Government Act 2020.
The 2020 local government Election Period is from 12 midday on Tuesday 22 September 2020 to 6 pm Saturday 24 October 2020.
The Act prohibits specific decisions of Council during the election period:
appointment or remuneration of the CEO but not an Acting CEO
- expenditure exceeding one per cent of the income from general rates, municipal charges and service rates and charges
- Council considers could be reasonably deferred until the next Council is in place
- Council considers should not be made during an election period
- Any decision that would enable the use of Council's resources in a way that is intended to influence, or is likely to influence, voting at the election.
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Local Government Act 2020
The new Local Government Act 2020 aims to support closer relationships between councillors and their communities by removing unnecessary prescriptive details from regulatory and legislative requirements of councils.
Recognising this level of prescriptive detail is unnecessary for modern councils, this new Act reflects a more principles-based approach to how councils operate, including how they:
- make decisions
- conduct public consultation processes
- provide notices of meetings
- run meetings
- make information available to the public.
Development of the Local Government Act 2020 has been guided by five principles:
- Community engagement
- Strategic planning
- Financial management
- Public transparency
- Service performance.