From Casual Vacancy to Historical Curiosity
With the passage of the Local Government (Casual Vacancies) Amendment Bill 2023 (the Bill) through the House of Assembly yesterday, a big step forward in the resolution of a substantial sector-wide issue has been achieved.
Norman Waterhouse has been pleased to assist the Local Government Association and its member councils to reach a pragmatic, efficient, timely and robust solution to this sector-wide issue. The need for potentially time-consuming, expensive and uncertain legal proceedings seems likely to have been avoided – as has the prospect of costly supplementary elections or countbacks. The important role played by the LGA is securing prompt passage of this Bill through the lower house was rightly recognised by the Minister during the Parliamentary debates on the Bill.
The Bill, which has cross-party support, if ultimately enacted, will retrospectively restore each of the former elected members of Councils across the State who have lost office by operation of Section 54(1)(h) of the Local Government Act 1999. The Bill, if enacted, will effectively create a legal fiction providing that the offices occupied by those former members will be taken not to be, and never to have been vacant.
The Bill goes further, confirming that nothing done by the former member in the performance or discharge of official functions and duties during the relevant period is invalid or unlawful – and that no act or proceeding of a Council is invalid by operation of the Bill’s restoration provisions. The former members will also be entitled to all their allowances and other entitlements.
Any member who is yet to submit all relevant campaign and gift returns will need to act quickly. The Bill provides a 10 business day window from its commencement for those important mandatory forms to be submitted – otherwise the member’s office will become vacant (again, but as a matter of law, for the first time).
We look forward to working with the sector on the likely implementation of the Bill and on potential future amendments to the Local Government Act 1999 and the Local Government (Elections) Act 1999 to correct these and other identified deficiencies in the current legislative framework.
If you require any further information, Please contact Felice D'Agostino on + 61 8 8210 1202 or firstname.lastname@example.org, Dale Mazzachi on +61 8 8210 1221 or email@example.com