New guidelines for councillors

Melton council civic centre. Photo by Damjan Janevski. 301157_05

The state government has announced reforms to the local government act that will see councillors subject to a new code of conduct, stronger sanctions for misconduct and mandatory training.

The state government introduced the reform to parliament on April 30, following reports and recommendations of IBAC, the chief municipal Inspector and local governments.

The reforms will also mean the local government minister is afforded new extra powers to individually handle disputes regarding councillor misconduct.

The reforms will be in place for the new council term following elections this October.

Ongoing mandated training for mayors and councillors will be introduced that expand the existing induction training requirements for councillors.

They will also enable the suspension or disqualification of individual councillors found to have created a risk to health and safety, or prevented the council from performing its functions

Since 2020, 56 councillors have resigned and 11 councils have had municipal monitors appointed across Victoria, with one council suspended and one dismissed as a result of governance issues.

Local Government Minister Melissa Horne said the reforms were important to ensuring good local governance.

“Victorians deserve councils that represent them and meet their needs – our reforms will enhance governance and accountability across all our councils,” she said.

“Our reforms will create a uniform code of conduct across all councillors and introduce mandatory training, supporting councils to best represent the communities they serve.”

Melton council head of governance Emily Keogh said the council supports the reforms.

“Melton City Council welcomes the reforms to the Local Government Act 2020 as they reflect our own commitment to good governance and continuous improvement,” she said.

“The reforms will help ensure that councillors are given the support and knowledge they need to fulfil their role and establish consistency across the state.”