City broadly welcomes sector reforms

07 July 2022

The City of Stirling broadly welcomes the reforms announced by Minister for Local Government Hon John Carey MLA, which represent the most significant changes since the Local Government Act was written in 1995.

Reforms such as additional guidance for what is dealt with behind closed doors, standardised election caretaker arrangements, clearer rules around when recounts must be completed and the possibility of online or electronic voting in the future are all important steps forward for modernising the Act.

Mayor Mark Irwin said he was pleased to see that the feedback the City provided on several of the reforms had been revised, showing that the WA Government was listening to the sector.

“The City of Stirling largely welcomes the reforms announced by the Minister, and recognises that across the sector itself and the WA Government, a variety of views exist on how best to improve the performance and accountability of local governments,” he said.

“I am proud of our own processes and performance, and committed to ensuring that the City is not only behaving appropriately according to the rules, but rather leading the sector in improvements and innovations to the way we operate. Much of what the City of Stirling already does as normal practice – such as live streaming of Council meetings, recording of votes in the minutes and having a popularly elected Mayor – will now become mandatory for other large local governments.

“The City has previously put to the Minister that the concept of ‘red cards’ for Council meetings should not progress, and we are pleased to see that feedback has been accepted and reflected in the Minister’s announcements today.

“Additionally, initial plans to require a majority of members of a local government’s Audit Committee to be independent have also been removed, which we see as a positive given the need for Councillors to take an active role in understanding and managing risk for their municipalities.

“The City has some concerns with the centralisation of power, as plans for a State Government-appointed, un-elected inspectorate remain a threat to community confidence in local democracy. Removing elected Councillors from planning and governance processes alienates the general public from those processes, as they directly elect their representatives to Council.

“Protecting the integrity of local government by ensuring the community has confidence in the way their local democracy runs by being clear, simple and accountable must be at the heart of any reform process.”

The City welcomes the ability to pay for superannuation, as the City has led advocacy to ensure we can attract quality candidates to be elected and to serve without long-term financial disadvantage.

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