Local Government Act 2020 - draft Documents Available for Comment

We are developing Governance Rules(PDF, 602KB) and a Public Transparency Policy(PDF, 401KB) in line with the new Local Government Act 2020 and you are invited to 'Have Your Say'.  These policy documents are intended to formalise council's commitment to good governance and open and transparent decision-making and are a result of the new Act. 

We are also taking the opportunity to get your input into the making of the (PDF, 273KB)Common Seal and Miscellaneous Penalties Local Law 2020(PDF, 273KB)(PDF, 273KB) and the Council Expenses Policy(PDF, 326KB).

The new Local Government Act 2020 is being rolled out in four implementation stages and the second stage is currently underway, with a series of policy changes required to be completed by 1 September. See below for more information on each of these documents.

Please Have Your Say on any or all of the draft documents by 5pm Tuesday 28 July 2020. You can complete the online survey, email your feedback to ngshire@ngshire.vic.gov.au or post to PO Box 580 Stawell 3380.

Final drafts of these policies will be presented to the 3 August 2020 Council meeting. You have a right to state in your submission if you wish to appear in person or be represented by a person specified in the submission at this meeting, in support of the submission. Councillors will consider all submissions received prior to making any formal decision on these documents.

The new Act was passed by the Victorian Parliament in March 2020 and replaces the Local Government Act 1989.  It is a principles-based Act, removing unnecessary regulatory and legislative prescription around how councils could, among other things make decisions, conduct public consultation processes, run meetings and make information available to the public. The five principles that have guided the development of the new Act are community engagement, strategic planning, financial management, public transparency and service performance. Read more here.

 

 

About the Governance Rules 

The meeting procedures set out in the council's Meeting Procedure Local Law 2020 have been transposed to make the major part of the draft Governance Rules.  The Rules include changes to meeting procedures in the new Local Government Act 2020, the council's Election Period Policy and a Chapter dedicated to disclosures of conflicts of interest. There are no major changes proposed to the council's current meeting procedures which went out for public consultation earlier this year or the processes to be undertaken during the 'caretaker period' prior to the upcoming general elections. 

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;
(e)   the appointment of an Acting Mayor;
(f)    an election period policy in accordance with section 69;
(g)   the procedures for the disclosure of a conflict of interest by a councillor or a member of a delegated committee under section             130;
(h)   the procedure for the disclosure of a conflict of interest by a councillor under section 131;
(i)    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);
(j)    any other matters prescribed by the regulations.

 

About the Common Seal and Miscellaneous Penalties Local Law 2020

With the adoption of the Governance Rules which will now prescribe council's meeting procedures, council's current Meeting Procedure Local Law 2020 will become redundant. It is necessary to separate out the remaining provisions in the local law, the ones that govern the use of the council's common seal and penalties imposable for certain poor behaviours at council meetings, and this means making a new local law. The 2020 Act states the common seal of council must be used in accordance with any applicable local law, and to remain enforceable, any offence or penalty for wrong doing imposed by council must also be made under a local law.

The purpose of the proposed Local Law is to:

1. regulate the use of the common seal;

2. regulate the types of offences and penalties applicable to Council meetings; and

3. revoke the Northern Grampians Shire Council’s Meeting Procedure Local Law 2020 made by Council on 3 February 2020.

This public consultation is an important step in the making of the proposed Local Law and is being carried out in parallel with the community engagement for the Governance Rules and Public Transparency Policy.

A Community Impact Statement(PDF, 150KB) has been prepared to assist the community to understand the new Local Law.

 

 

 About the Public Transparency Policy

A Public Transparency Policy is a new policy and must be adopted by council by 1 September giving effect to the Public Transparency Principles in the new Act.  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 the LGA 2020 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 sets out how council will comply with these principles.

About the Council Expenses Policy 

The current Councillor Expense Entitlement & Support Policy has been updated to include changes in the new LGA 2020.  Council must adopt and maintain an expenses policy in relation to the reimbursement of bona fide out of pocket expenses for councillors and members of delegated committees that specifies procedures to be followed in applying for reimbursement and in reimbursing expenses.  The policy also documents the resources and facilities reasonably necessary to enable the Mayor and Councillors to effectively perform their roles.

The changes to the current policy are to:

1.     include reimbursement for costs incurred by members of delegated committees; and

2.     to provide for the reimbursement of child care and carer expenses.