- Wednesday, 1 December 2021 at 1:38 am
Our 2020-21 Annual Report outlines the Inspectorate’s work to strengthen the integrity of local government in Victoria during the last financial year.
During 2020-21, we assessed 1164 complaints and completed 51 investigations. The sharp increase in complaints was due to the 848 complaints during general council elections. In the 2016-17 reporting period, which covered the 2016 elections, we assessed 576 complaints.
During 2020-21, our office:
- issued 139 warnings for election matters
- issued 25 warnings on non-election matters
- used coercive powers on 50 occasions to obtain documents or interview people
- interviewed 28 individuals – with most being done voluntarily.
Chief Municipal Inspector Michael Stefanovic AM said Inspectorate staff had dealt with an extremely busy election period and handled a record number of complaints, while COVIDSafe work practices continued to restrict in-person interviews and council visits and affect legal proceedings.
“A robust integrity system requires accountability and transparency and the past year was challenging in that many council decisions were not as open for public scrutiny, despite the efforts of councils to livestream meetings and move many functions online,” Mr Stefanovic said.
“We saw a significant increase in complaints about social media and online activities during the elections and this has helped identify further opportunities to strengthen legislation around the rules and definitions of electoral material.”