Stronger local councillor standards to be introduced

Member for Yuroke Ros Spence has today reinforced the importance of the Andrews Labor Government’s plan to strengthen councillor conduct standards.

The proposed Local Government (Improved Governance) Bill 2015, to be presented to Parliament in the next month, will clarify expectations of councillors, provide tougher standards against councillors doing the wrong thing and ensure councils have the ability to respond earlier to misbehaviour.

The change reflects the feedback of local councils across the state and the need for improvements to the conduct system – particularly in time for the 2016 council general elections.

Ms Spence said that once agreed to by the Parliament, the Bill would update and improve the current councillor conduct framework.

Reforms will include requiring councillors to agree to codes of conduct before taking office, making it mandatory for councils to establish procedures to deal with alleged breaches, and enabling conduct panels to suspend councillors for six months in instances of serious misconduct.

The changes will also afford the Minister for Local Government, Natalie Hutchins, the power to direct councils to improve governance and, on the advice of municipal monitor, stand down councillors for up to 6 months to allow a panel to hear the matter.

Ms Spence said that the Labor Government was committed to ensuring standards of conduct and governance across the state’s 79 councils, in addition to more transparent, open and accountable local government.

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