A better local government sector

14 September 2016

A vision for a stronger and more democratically robust local government sector lies at the heart of Bayside City Council’s response to the Victorian Government’s Directions Paper for a new Local Government Act.

Bayside City Council Mayor Cr James Long BM JP said that Council was broadly supportive of the proposals in the discussion paper.

“While further work is required on specific details, Bayside broadly welcomes the proposed directions of a new Local Government Act and the opportunity to comment on the discussion paper,” Cr Long said.

“Council sees the paper as providing a real opportunity to revitalize local democracy, boost Council innovation and efficiency and establish a clear, simple and accessible Local Government Act.”

Of the ten major reform areas proposed by the discussion paper, Bayside City Council either partially or fully supports eight.

While many of the recommendations work to strengthen local democracies through increased transparency, streamlined process and improved community engagement, several of the proposed changes would be counter to these aims.

“Council is concerned that some of the proposed reforms would negatively impact on the ability of local councils to attract high quality candidates to leadership roles and that one of the proposals would remove the democratic rights of some rate payers.

“Under existing system of voting individuals who pay rates on a property but don’t live in the municipality are entitled to vote.

“Through this discussion paper there is a proposal that voting arrangements for municipal elections would use the state electoral role to determine eligibility of voters.

“This would result in the exclusion of non-resident ratepayers from having a voice in determining the make-up of Council and would compromise the effectiveness of local democracy.”

A second area of key concern for Council is proposals to set minimum two-year terms for mayors.

“Good leaderships from a Mayor is vital to an elected Council,” Cr Long said.

“While there are merits to the two year proposition, it would discriminate against those councillors who for personal reasons be would unable to be mayor for a two year period but may be able to undertake the role for one year.

“The current Act provides for greater flexibility to adapt to changing environments of councillors and it is Bayside’s considered opinion that the determination of the length of term for the Mayor should be left to the discretion of the elected council.”

Council was also concerned by proposals to bring the State Governments rate capping system into the formal framework of the Act.

“Rate capping will have an adverse impact on local communities over time.” Cr Long said.

“Formalizing these provisions into the Local Government Act will limit the ability of councils to fund key new community infrastructure overtime and will have a negative impact on service delivery.

Page last updated: 15 Sep 2016