Member for Western Victoria Region, Bev McArthur used an adjournment debate in parliament this week to raise concerns over the flawed Local Government Act’s description of the role of Councillors and its problematic consequences for the relationships between Councillors and the council administration.  She directed her concerns to the Minister for Local Government to review the Local Government Act to ensure that CEO’s cannot refuse to provide information to councillors unless their intended purpose is improper, and expand the representative role of Councillors beyond the confines of the chamber, like all other states in Australia.

Bev McArthur referenced a survey conducted by Markstone Consulting which revealed that 80% of Councillors across the state are concerned about their relationships with council administration. This figure demonstrated the clear structural problems in local government relating to the relationships between councillors and their CEOs and officers.

She said “this situation is clearly inadequate, given that the vast majority of council decisions are made outside the chamber through delegated authority.  This prevents Councillors from properly fulfilling their role in assisting residents and investigating issues of their concern that are not put before the council in the chamber by the CEO.”

Bev McArthur said “the Act’s description allows CEOs to manipulate information flow to Councillors, negating their capacity to properly serve their function as democratically elected representatives of the municipality. Presently, the role of Councillors is unfairly limited to making decisions as a member of the council within the chamber, legally entitling them to only access information associated with those decisions.”

She mentioned that “A significant proportion of Councillors report that their organisations run their own agendas, with defensive directors and managers often unable or unwilling to answer questions and be held accountable.”

 “Councils should be governed at a similar standard to other organisations, like hospitals, water boards, statutory corporations, public and private companies, where the members of governing bodies are required by law to understand the operations of their organisations,” she concluded.

21 June 2019