The video below is a recording of the Webinar that ran on Tuesday, 13 February 2018. It focused on the following key areas:

  • Parliament’s role in creating legislation for Local Government
  • how to read the Local Government Act 1995 and Regulations
  • who does what at a Local Government
  • a Councillor’s personal responsibilities, and
  • consequences of improper conduct.

Video Recording

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Video Download

To download the webinar video for offline playback click here.

Presentation Download

To download the PowerPoint presentation from this webinar please click here.

Question and Answer Session

The following are a range of questions asked during and after the Local Government Act for Elected Members webinar held by WALGA on Tuesday, 13 February 2018:

Question 1

Does an officer report need to justify a reason for recommendation for departure from a Council policy?

Reports to Council (and Committee) meetings fulfil the CEO’s functions under Section 5.41(a) and (b) of the Act:

  • Advise the Council in relation to the functions of a Local Government under the Local Government Act and other written laws; and
  • Ensure advice and information is available to the Council so that informed decisions can be made.

To fulfil these obligations a report should include analysis of statutory, strategic, financial and policy implications and provide clear rationale for the officer recommendation. Commentary should reflect on the rationale for why a Council policy position may need to be varied or departed from in context of the relevant circumstances of the particular matter before Council.

Question 2

Must policies be completely adhered to?

Council’s administrative policies, adopted in accordance with Section 2.7 of the Local Government Act, are generally statements of principle or objectives which help to inform the Local Government’s decision making processes. Strict adherence to administrative policy is not mandated but caution should be exercised if it is intended to depart from a policy position that impacts upon a person’s rights or entitlements (i.e. ‘Council Policy – Application to Keep More Than Two Dogs’).

Council’s planning and development policies adopted under a Local Government’s Town Planning Scheme carry greater weight and may be enforceable. Consequently, greater care should be taken by the Local Government if it plans to depart from an established planning and development policy position.

Regardless of policy type, all should all be applied fairly, flexibly and reasonably so that the decision-making outcome is consistent and suitable to the relevant circumstances of each particular matter.

Question 3

Do Councillors have access to support outside of their local Shire to answer queries and questions that they may not be able to ask directly to their President or CEO?

The Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries provides advice and information to Elected Members and administrators. Information for Elected Members appears on their website.

WALGA encourages a local approach to questions, queries and problem solving in the first instance. If required, WALGA provides Member Local Governments with accredited Elected Member training and a range of subscription based services. Our Governance Team is available to provide advice, guidance and resources to support Elected Members, CEO’s and Local Government administrators.

Question 4

Are there any circumstances when making an impartiality declaration that the Elected Member should not engage in debate or vote. If not, why not?

No. Section 2.10 of the Local Government Act describes the role of a Councillor, with s2.10 (d) stating a Councillor “participates in the Local Government’s decision-making processes at council and committee meetings”.

Additionally, Section 5.21(1) and (2) of the Act requires each Council Member and each member of a committee who is present at a meeting to cast a vote, with the only exception being where a member must not debate or vote on an issue after disclosing a financial, indirect financial or proximity interest. Section 5.21(3) states that a person who fails to comply with the requirements commits an offence.

It is WALGA’s view that State Parliament, in drafting the Local Government Act a); determined the role of a Councillor as that of a decision-maker b); defined when an Elected Member must not participate in the decision-making process when defined interests exist and c); created serious penalties for breaches of the disclosure provisions.

Parliament has not deemed the same level of disclosure or consequence relating to impartiality interests therefore it is WALGA’s view that Elected Members should fulfil their role under Section 2.10(d) of the Act and participate in the decision making process until such time as the Act prevents them from doing so.

Question 5

Will the [ Local Government Act] review consider making membership of a club a financial interest that has to be declared?

WALGA can only comment on the response which resulted from our own Local Government Act review consultation process, where no Member Local Government feedback related to this issue.

Question 6

Will the Minister please consider make training for Councillors compulsory? Especially Presiding Members, for example Mayors and Presidents.

The Minister responded that, yes, compulsory training for Councillors is under consideration as part of the Local Government Act review and that whilst there are varying points of view, a strong theme is that a minimum standard of training should be acquired within a period after the Councillor has been elected.

The Minister stated that: “At the end of the day, we want to make sure that people have the very best information available and the capacity to make those important decisions required of an Elected Member. A minimum standard of training is certainly being considered.”

Question 7

Will the Minister consider introducing a caretaker period prior to Local Government elections; say around 2 months?

The Minister advised that the current review of the Local Government Act is capable of considering the introduction of a Caretaker Period and noted that a number of Council’s and individuals have raised with the Minister the need to have a pre-election period which restricts some of the Council, particularly if the decision has a high level of community interest.

The Minister stated that he is keen for the proposal for a Caretaker Period to be considered as part of the Local Government Act review and he is seeking views and feedback on the matter.