The WA Government has introduced legislation today that will give the Minister for Local Government the power to suspend or dismiss an individual councillor.
The Local Government Amendment (Suspension and Dismissal) Bill 2018 aims to ensure greater accountability from elected members, focusing on their ability to perform their duties as well as the local government’s ability to function effectively.
“The legislation has provisions in it which gives me as administer the capacity to address concerns regarding an individual,” Local Government Minister David Templeman said.
“(It) is aimed at giving the minister additional mechanisms which aren’t in the act currently.”
Under the legislation, the Minister will be able to use the suspension powers under if a council member is charged with an offence that will disqualify them from being a council member if convicted and if an allegation of a serious breach of the Local Government Act 1995 has been referred to the State Administrative Tribunal.
It will also allow the Minister to use the powers if a council member is failing to perform their role, functions or duties in the Act and the Minister believes intervention is needed and if a council member’s conduct is affecting the ability of the local government to function effectively.
Mr Templeman said the similar legislation already existed in the country and would update the current Local Government Act.
“The current Act is, in my view, very prescriptive and of course, only allows the minister to address individuals ultimately through the suspension or otherwise an entire council,” he said.
“This is a mechanism that I think is well overdue, it appears in other jurisdictions, and indeed, has been carefully discussed with the three stakeholders including WALGA and Local Government Professionals Association who support the intent of this bill.”
However, he said it may not directly apply to the City of Perth council, after all of its councillors were suspended on March 2.
“The legislation is not retrospective,” Mr Templeman said.
“Behaviours or issues from the past may be a consideration but it is not retrospective.”
Mr Templeman said he believed it would improve local government administration.
“I am confident that the implementation of these amendments to the Act will ensure council members are held accountable for their actions, and deliver better outcomes for the Western Australian community.