Local Government Review Bill to become law
After being introduced into South Australian Parliament almost 12 months ago, and having travelled back and forth between the House of Assembly and the Legislative Council a number of times, the Statutes Amendment (Local Government Review) Bill 2020 (Review Bill) has now passed both Houses of South Australia’s Parliament and will become law.
We have followed the development of the Review Bill closely and have worked in partnership with the Local Government Association to achieve a variety of beneficial amendments. Perhaps in part because a draft consultation version of the Review Bill was never provided to the sector before it was tabled in Parliament, the Review Bill was subject to a substantial number of amendments during its passage through Parliament.
Although the Review Bill underwent some alteration before it was eventually passed by Parliament, overall it retains the same broad, far-reaching changes which were originally contemplated. For, example, the provisions of the Review Bill (once they are enacted and commence operation) will still:
- Impose a cap on the number of Council members (this cap has now risen to 13, from the originally proposed 12);
- Require chief executive officer remuneration to fall within a band to be determined by the Remuneration Tribunal;
- Revise the conflict of interest framework both for Council members and for staff;
- Establish new requirements for Council member ‘behavioural standards’, ‘behavioural management policies’, ‘behavioural support policies’ and employee ‘behavioural standards’ (though, as a result of an important amendment to the Review Bill, these will be will be excluded from being ‘codes of conduct’ for the purposes of the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Act 2012);
- Create an express capacity for certain persons to give directions to Council members in order to protect the health and safety of Council members and/or staff (though an amendment to the Review Bill clarifies that directing a Council member not to attend a meeting is a matter of last resort);
- Create a new ‘Behavioural Standards Panel’ for dealing with Council member conduct issues (some of the most vigorously debated proposed amendments to the Review Bill related to the role of industrial unions with respect to this panel); and
- Compel councils to provide certain information to the Essential Service Commission of South Australia or another designated State Government authority at certain intervals (though this will not occur in conjunction with the Annual Business Plan as originally contemplated in the Review Bill).
The commencement of the legislative changes to be brought about by the Review Bill will occur in accordance with a timetable to be proclaimed by the Governor.
We will continue to follow the rollout of the changes closely, and will supply more detailed information to the sector over the coming months.
For more specific information on any of the material contained in this update please contact Sathish Dasan on +61 8 8210 1253 or firstname.lastname@example.org, Felice D'Agostino on +61 8 8210 1202 or email@example.com, Dale Mazzachi on +61 8 8210 1221 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Chris Alexandrides on +61 8 8210 1299 or email@example.com.