Local government is the third level of government in Australia and has a significant impact on the lives of all Victorians.
In Victoria, local government is established by an Act of state parliament – the Local Government Act 1989 (PDF - 1.66MB) – which specifies council powers, duties and functions.
This Act was updated in 2020
The legal basis for councils is established under the Constitution Act 1975.
Local government is recognised in the Victorian Constitution 1975 as a:
‘distinct and essential tier of government consisting of democratically elected councils having the functions and powers that the Parliament considers are necessary to ensure peace, order and good government of each municipal district’.
For those of you who want to read the updated Act:
According to the State Government:
The new Local Government Act 2020 is the most ambitious reform to the local government sector in over 30 years. The Act drives improved service delivery, innovation, collaboration, and sustainable futures for all Victorians through:
The implementation of the Act is now complete. The first stage was proclaimed on 6 April 2020 and final stage was proclaimed on 1 July 2021:
Does the Act actually promote greater transparency and provide for more accountability by Council?
From our experience over the last 12 months, the answer would be a resounding NO!
We have tried on several occasions to address the new policies that were adopted. The Engagement policy is simply not good enough.
We have tried a petition - which was ignored. We have tried several emails asking questions and offering solutions and have spoken directly to councillors - it did not change a thing. The answer is always the same. We have complied with the Act and we do not have to listen to your concerns.
There is no way to make the Council listen to us in the current system.
The Council and the State government have no incentive to change policies or the legislation because it works in their favour.
We turn up to the monthly council meetings to be heard. We are not allowed to speak and we have to submit written questions before the meeting to be answered at the meeting without a chance to get clarification on the spot. The CEO has told us to go to the State Government to lobby to change the Act if we are not happy. They have no intention of altering anything.
As residents we are given the illusion of choice. Councillors are only allowed to participate in the decision making process. CEO's have too much power.
Not only have our concerns been dismissed, but we have been labelled all types of names because we dare to ask questions and shine a light on council dealings. It is our rate payer money and we have a right to ask questions. We have a right to be heard and for council to take our concerns seriously.
The Engagement Policy is followed and the council does ask for consultation and feedback of residents. But is only happy when we comply, just try to ask valid questions and voice your concerns. They will be dismissed, Your complaint will be entertained, but nothing will be done about it. The ombudsman will be powerless to do anything because the council has complied with the Act and there is no recourse. So where do we go then?