The Local Government Amendment Bill 2023 has passed through Parliament delivering tranche one of what are said to be the most significant changes to the local government sector across Western Australia in more than 25 years.
The Bill provides reforms to allow for key changes to be implemented for the October 2023 Ordinary Elections for local government.
The Minister for Local Government, John Carey, says changes will deliver a range of major benefits for ratepayers, strengthen local democracy and provide greater transparency and accountability by:
* introducing optional preferential voting, bringing local government elections more in line with State and Federal elections;
* requiring direct election of a Mayor or President for all larger councils;
* abolishing wards for smaller local governments;
* aligning the size of councils with the size of the population of each local government area;
* enabling reforms to the owners and occupiers roll to prevent the use of ‘sham leases‘, addressing critical findings of the City of Perth Inquiry;
* setting State-wide caretaker periods during ordinary council elections;
setting standardised council meeting procedures;
* mandating live streaming and recording of council meetings;
* establishing mandated communications agreements between council members and the local government administration to ensure timely responses to Councillor enquiries;
* reforms to require all local governments to publish information through online registers, including registers that disclose information about local government leases, grants, and goods and services contracts; and
* introducing new requirements for the publication of performance indicators and results for all local government Chief Executive Officers, with provision for limited exemptions for sensitive matters.
The Minister highlighted that passing of the Bill enables the McGowan Government to implement a number of electoral changes for the upcoming 2023 local government elections including optional preferential voting and changes to council size and representation.
Work on the second tranche of additional legislation to deliver further reforms is continuing in consultation with the local government sector. This includes the establishment of the new Local Government Inspector and the introduction of local government monitors for early intervention.
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