Local Government Act 2020 Implementation

Submissions close at midnight, 30 July.

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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. 

The new Act is being rolled out in four implementation stages, between 6 April 2020 and July 2021. The second stage of the implementation is currently underway, with a series of policy changes required to be completed by 1 September 2020. 

Council is seeking submissions on the new and updated documents linked to the implementation of the new Local Government Act 2020:

- Governance Rules(PDF, 2MB) (new policy)

- Local Law No. 2 – Common Seal and Miscellaneous Penalties(PDF, 179KB) (updated Local Law)

- Public Transparency Policy(PDF, 403KB) (new policy)

See below for more information on each of these policies.

You can make a submission on any or all of these policies by midnight on Thursday 30 July.


A Community Impact Statement(PDF, 124KB) has been prepared to assist the community in understanding the new Local Law, including likely impacts and how the Local Law complies/aligns with other legislation. A copy of the proposed Governance Rules, Local Law No. 2, Public Transparency Policy and Community Impact Statement are available by clicking the links above.

 

The draft Governance Rules are a new policy required by section 60 of the Act and must include:

(a)   the conduct of Council meetings;
(b)   the conduct of meetings of delegated committees;
(c)   the form and availability of meeting records;
(d)   the election of the Mayor and the Deputy Mayor;
       (d.a) the appointment of an Acting Mayor;
(e)   an election period policy in accordance with section 69;
(f)    the procedures for the disclosure of a conflict of interest by a Councillor or a member of a delegated committee under section 130;
(g)   the procedure for the disclosure of a conflict of interest by a Councillor under section 131;
(h)   the disclosure of a conflict of interest by a member of Council staff when providing information in respect of a matter within the meaning of section 126(1);
(i)     any other matters prescribed by the regulations.

About the Governance Rules 

The draft Governance Rules include the meeting procedures sections drawn from Local Law No. 2 of 2019, which includes the conduct of Council meetings and meetings of delegated committees, the election of the Mayor and Deputy Mayor, and appointment of an Acting Mayor. This ensures that meeting procedures currently undertaken remain in place except where adjustment was required to comply with the new legislation. This includes amendments made to sections relating to closing a meeting to the public and voting processes so as to comply with the Act. The meeting procedures have also undergone minor wording amendments for clarity and to adopt non-gendered language to align with our gender equity commitments and the Charter of Human Rights, and a re-ordering of some sections was undertaken to reflect Council’s current order of business and procedures.

One change between the 1989 and 2020 Acts is the definition and disclosure of conflicts of interest. Included in the draft Governance Rules are procedures for the disclosure of a conflict of interest made in accordance with section 130 by a Councillor, a member of a delegated committee, or by a Council officer acting under a delegated power or statutory function. Although a section regarding conflicts of interest was included in the Local Law No. 2 of 2019, the draft Governance Rules now has a Chapter dedicated to conflicts of interest and sets out in detail the requirements for declaring conflicts and the subsequent removal from decision making processes.

The draft Governance Rules also include the Surf Coast Election Period Policy as is required under section 60. This policy, which was already in place, has been amended slightly to reflect specific requirements set out in the Act for inclusion in the Election Period Policy. The policy has retained all existing clauses, therefore there are no major changes to the processes to be undertaken during the caretaker period prior to the Local Government general elections.

These draft Governance Rules are designed to be clear, instructive and provide transparency to the decision making processes of Council. 

Make a submission

Local Law No. 2, although now replaced mostly by the introduction of the Governance Rules, still holds two important provisions that will form the new Local Law No. 2 – Common Seal and Miscellaneous Penalties. As the name suggests, these provisions relate to the use of Council’s Common Seal, and penalties imposable for certain unruly behaviours by Council meeting attendees.

Section 14(2)(c) of the 2020 Act states the Common Seal of Council must be used in accordance with any applicable local law, and to remain enforceable, any penalty for wrong doing imposed by Council must be made under a local law.

To complete the change to the Local Law, Local Law No. 2 of 2019 – Meeting Procedures and Common Seal, will be repealed and Local Law No. 2 – Common Seal and Miscellaneous Penalties will be adopted simultaneously. This will be done after completing the required process for making a Local Law under s.119 of the Local Government Act 1989 (noting that the local laws section of the new Act is not enacted until 1 July 2021). This process is being carried out in parallel with the community engagement for the Governance Rules and Transparency Policy. 

Make a submission

A Transparency Policy must be adopted by Council to comply with the requirements of the Act by 1 September 2020, giving effect to the Public Transparency Principles at section 58.

The Principles state that:

  • Council decision making processes must be transparent except when the Council is dealing with information that is confidential by virtue of this Act or any other Act;
  • Council information must be publicly available unless—
  • the information is confidential by virtue of this Act or any other Act; or
  • public availability of the information would be contrary to the public interest;
  • Council information must be understandable and accessible to members of the municipal community;
  • public awareness of the availability of Council information must be facilitated.

The draft Policy outlines Council’s commitment to transparency and lists the types of documents/information available from Council via the website and on request.  It provides guidance for the public on how to make requests and how to seek redress if not satisfied with Council’s response.

Some Council information may not be publicly available for example where:

  • it is confidential by virtue of the Local Government Act 2020 or any other Act; or
  • public availability of the information would be contrary to the public interest.

The draft policy supports the overarching Governance Principles at section 9(1)(2) and the supporting Transparency Principles as described above.  It has been developed using guidance materials from Local Government Victoria:

  • DEWLP’s Local Government Act 2020 – Public Transparency Principles Guidelines
  • Local Government Victoria’s – Draft Public Transparency Policy

Make a submission