18/09/2009 - 10:21

State gains more power over councils

18/09/2009 - 10:21

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State parliament has passed through a number of amendments that will give government stronger powers to obtain information from local councils when carrying out investigations.

State parliament has passed through a number of amendments that will give government stronger powers to obtain information from local councils when carrying out investigations.

Local Government Minister John Castrilli said today that more than 40 amendments to the Local Government Amendment Bill 1995 were passed, which would ensure effective, efficient and accountable local governments.

Included in the amendments were provisions in declaring financial interest and election donations and restrictions on the types of gifts council members receive.

"The Bill will require council members to disclose the actual value of gifts and travel benefits in their annual return," Mr Castrilli said.

"Gifts valued at more than $200 are to be disclosed with details including source, description, date received and value."

Also included were new powers for local government to enter private land to remove graffiti and widening the scope that councils can take gravel and other building materials from land for building purposes.

The bill will give the minister and the departments of Local Government and Regional Development stronger powers to get information from local authorities when carrying out investigations.

"Regulations will be developed to implement the changes and it is anticipated they will come into effect towards the end of 2009," Mr Castrilli said.

The bill's success in parliament comes a week-and-a-half before the deadline for voluntary council amalgamations.

Last week, local councils had the responsibility for planning and development approvals diluted when the state government proposed the creation of 'expert panels', to asses and approve applications.

The panels, as detailed in a discussion paper now out for public comment, comprises of three expert members and two local government representatives.

The expert panels are part of a government plan to deal with industry concerns over slow and unpredictable approvals processes at local government authorities.

 

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