04/07/2022 - 10:00

Local politicians face strikeout penalty

04/07/2022 - 10:00

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Misbehaving councillors could be hit with 10-year expulsions from local politics under the state government’s finalised set of reforms for the sector.

Local politicians face strikeout penalty
John Carey has been local government minister since 2021. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira

Misbehaving councillors could be hit with 10-year expulsions from local politics under the state government’s finalised set of reforms for the sector.

Local Government Minister John Carey announced a raft of proposed changes to the relevant Act in November, with the introduction of an inspectorate’s office with the authority to delegate monitors to oversee councils deemed to be of concern chief among them.

Business News has previously reported on concerns among some elected officials about the extent to which the state government’s proposals will heighten the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries’ oversight of councillors.

Announcing the state government’s revised proposals today, though, Mr Carey said more than 200 submissions had been received during the consultation period highlighting ‘broad support’ for the proposals.

“We've had numerous inquiries, reports and reviews into the sector and now is the time for us to get on with the job of improving how local governments function in Western Australia,” he said.

Most proposals have not been majorly changed as a result of the review, with ‘red cards’, mandatory superannuation contributions by elected officials, and full-preferential voting either altered or removed entirely under the new proposals.

Introduction of a 10-year ban for councillors stands out as the most significant change.

That ban will come into effect after a councillor receives three suspensions, either by the Conduct Panel, the State Administrative Tribunal or the local government minister.

Other notable changes include removing the need for audit committees to have an independent majority, as well as allowance for local governments to borrow against freehold land.

Mr Carey said the state government’s changes would be introduced to parliament later this year and would go some way towards addressing recent examples of dysfunctional councils and poor behaviour by elected members.

“The public are fed up with dysfunction and repeat bad behaviour by a small number of councillors,” he said.

“Chaotic meetings and petty squabbles are not good enough.

“The reality is most local governments and councils are doing great work for their communities, but these reforms will ensure we have penalties in place that properly address poor behaviour, including suspensions of up to three months for serious misconduct, and bans of up to 10 years for elected members who consistently breach the Act.”

In other local government news, Georgie Randklev eked out a win against Basil Palassis on the weekend to claim a seat on Town of Cambridge council.

She received 50.5 per cent of the vote against Mr Palassis in a two-horse race.

Ms Randklev will serve out the remainder of Andres Timmermanis’ term and will be up for re-election in October next year. 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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