Controls strengthened over local government

The Western Australian government is proposing changes to the Local Government Act 1995 to hold councils accountable.

Following the state government’s recently enabled law requiring local governments to develop integrated 10-year strategic plans, the government has been consulting with state agencies, local government and other key stakeholders in identifying reform areas.

Local Government Minister, John Castrilli said key amendments to the legislation would address significant governance and public administration issues in the sector.

“Strengthening the legislation under which local governments operate is critical to achieving good governance,” Mr Castrilli said.

According to Mr Castrilli, the amendments sought to “improve the standard, performance and calibre” of local governments and their elected members.

Amendments would include disqualifying council members from office if elected to state parliament or if they are convicted of a major crime; enable the local government minister to suspend a council for up to six months and/or require council members to undertake remedial action if a council is dysfunctional.

The state government would also regulate the types of investments which local government may be allowed and extend the Salaries and Allowances Tribunal’s power in making determinations on the levels of local government chief executive officer salaries and remuneration.

Other associated changes to the act include eligibility for pensioners and seniors to receive state government funded rebates on the provision of underground power.

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