Streamlining Local Government

Streamlining Local Government

Victoria Minister for Local Government Jeanette Powell

Improvements To Local Government

Victor P Taffa

A Bill to improve the democratic electoral process for local government has been introduced into the Victorian Parliament by the Minister for Local Government Jeanette Powell.

The Local Government Amendment (Electoral Matters) Bill requires the City of Melbourne to undergo regular electoral representation reviews conducted by the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC). The City of Melbourne is the only council not subject to regular review by the VEC.

“The review by the VEC will consider whether the current number of councillors and electoral structure provide fair and equitable representation for voters in the City of Melbourne.” Mrs. Powell said.

“The City of Melbourne has undergone significant demographic changes since 2001, when the council’s electoral structure was last assessed, with the inclusion of Docklands and parts of Kensington.”

“Requiring the City of Melbourne to undergo electoral representation reviews will extend the rights enjoyed by all other Victorians to the residents and ratepayers of Melbourne.”

“Electoral representation reviews provide the local community with the opportunity to influence their council’s electoral structure.” Mrs. Powell said.

The Bill also brings forward the date of municipal elections from the last Saturday in November to the fourth Saturday in October. This change was requested by the local government sector and is designed to improve governance and forward planning for municipal councils.

“This reform is particularly important for new councillors who face the challenging task of learning how councils operate and preparing for their first council budget and council plan.” Mrs. Powell said.

“The date has been brought forward to allow councillors to be inducted into their new roles before the Christmas/New Year break.” Mrs. Powell said.

The Bill also enables the Minister to change the date of municipal elections in respect of one or more councils in exceptional circumstances, such as natural disasters, or a clash with a state or federal election or school holidays.

“Local Government is the level of government closest to the people and this bill increases the opportunity for the community to have more input.” Mrs. Powell said.