Wake Up Call For Victorian Councillors
The Andrews Labor Government has agreed to amend the Local Government Act 1989 to ensure ratepayers do not suffer as a result of administrative errors made by a number of councils across Victoria.
This amendment follows errors made by councils that would have seen 107 councillors – including 13 entire councils – disqualified on 1 September for not agreeing to abide by their own code of conduct.
Councils were first notified of the new requirement at the end of 2015. Councils received links to a comprehensive guide to the changes available online, with a further two hard copies also mailed to each council.
Councils were again notified in March this year of the requirement.
Councillors will still be required to review their code of conduct within four months of the October 22 council elections and agree to abide by it.
However, the current group of councillors will not be disqualified as a result of their errors.
The Labor Government received a significant level of correspondence from councils admitting their errors and this approach ensures their failures do not impact on Victorian communities.
All councils were required to update their code by July 4.
The deadline called for councillors to sign their code of conduct within one month from the point their council adopted new code.
The requirement for new codes of conduct was part of a suite of new laws passed by the Parliament in October 2015 to strengthen council governance and reduce councillor misconduct.
The laws ensure that no councillor is able to avoid disciplinary action for breaching their council’s code of conduct.
Quotes attributable to Acting Minister for Local Government Richard Wynne
“Our ultimate consideration here is ensuring residents don’t have to pay for the administrative mistakes made by their local councils.”
“The Councils have admitted themselves to gross incompetence in not meeting this simple requirement, and they have asked the Government for a solution to ensure ratepayers don’t suffer as a result of these mistakes.”
“Communities should be able to rely on their elected councillors to behave with the utmost integrity and professionalism at all times, so it’s important they abide by codes of conduct that reflect these values.”