In March 2020, the new Local Government Act 2020 (the Act) received Royal Assent, with the implementation to be achieved in four stages of proclamation.
The first Stage saw the enactment of overarching governance principles and supporting principles that Victorian Council’s must adhere to with regard to its performance. These governance principles largely focus on areas of accountability, engaging with the community, public transparency, financial management, strategic planning and service performance.
Subsequently, Stage 2, as proclaimed on 1 May 2020, requires Council to develop, adopt and keep in force Governance Rules that describe the way it will conduct Council meetings and make decisions in accordance with section 60 of the Local Government Act 2020 (the Act), by 1 September 2020.
Therefore the proposed Governance Rules will be presented to the 26 August 2020 Special Council Meeting for consideration.
Specifically, section 60 of the Act requires that Council develops and adopts Governance Rules for the following:
the conduct of Council meetings;
the conduct of meetings of delegated committees;
the form and availability of meeting records;
the election of the Mayor and the Deputy Mayor and appointment of an Acting Mayor;
an election period policy;
the procedures for the disclosure of a conflict of interest by a Councillor or a member of a delegated committee;
the disclosure of a conflict of interest by a member of Council staff.
Council welcomes your feedback on the proposed Governance Rules. Feedback closes 3pm Wednesday 19 August.
Councils Governance Rules must ensure that Council considers and makes decisions on any matter fairly and on the merits; and that any person whose rights will be directly affected by a decision of Council, is entitled to communicate their views and have their interests considered.
The proposed Governance Rules will effectively replace the Meetings Procedure Local Law No.9 and will be Councils primary document for regulating and guiding the conduct of Council and committee meetings, the election of the Mayor, the reporting requirements of committees, the declaration of conflicts of interest, use of the Council Seal and Councils conduct during the election period.
For ease of use, the proposed Governance Rules are broken up into the following individual sections:
Part 1 Introduction
The introduction provides a brief overview of Councils commitment to Good Governance and the purpose of the Governance Rules.
Part 2 Definitions
The definitions used in the Governance Rules are either from the Act itself or based on industry standard convention.
Part 3 Meetings Procedure
The Meetings Procedure has been developed so that Councils existing standards relating to the conduct of meetings have been mostly retained and transferred into the new Governance Rules.
Part 4 Election of Mayor and Deputy Mayor
This part outlines the process for the election of the Mayor & Deputy Mayor as set by the new Local Government Act 2020.
In particular a new section relating to nominations has been included to specify conditions around how nominations for candidature for the Mayoral election are to be made.
Part 5 Council Committees
This part outlines Councils requirements for the conduct of meetings and the reporting obligations of its Delegated Committees, Community Asset Committees, Audit Committee and Advisory Committees.
Part 6 Conflicts of Interest
The Conflict of Interest requirements contained in the new Act have changed somewhat, when compared with the those contained in the Local Government Act 1989. Therefore the process for Conflicts of Interest specified in the Governance Rules has been based on the model provided by Local Government Victoria. Thus, in compliance with the Local Government Act 2020.
Part 7 Use of Council Seal
This part outlines the situations in which a seal is required, and how the seal is to be stored and used.
Part 8 Election Period Policy
The proposed Election Period Policy remains very similar to Councils existing Election (Caretaker) Period Policy which was adopted on 6 November 2019, however it has been amended to reflect the requirements of the new Act.