More than 200 investigations completed by the Inspectorate in the past financial year

Friday, 3 February 2023 at 4:45 am

The Local Government Inspectorate completed 203 investigations in the 2021–22 financial year, as revealed in our annual report published today.

The Inspectorate has seen a rise in its workload as it investigated an increased number of allegations about councils and councillors in Victoria.

The Inspectorate is the dedicated integrity agency for local government in Victoria. We are responsible for investigating offences and breaches under the Local Government Act 2020. We also examine matters relating to council or council operations, including electoral offences and activities.

During 2021–22, we handled 158 enquiries and completed 203 investigations.

During the financial year from 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022, our office:

  • issued 132 warnings, including:
    • 128 warnings for election matters
    • 4 warnings for non-election matters
  • used coercive powers on 5 occasions to obtain documents or information  
  • interviewed 24 individuals – with all being done voluntarily.

One in 3 allegations (34%) we investigated during 2021–22 were about conflict of interest; 17% of allegations we investigated were about misuse of position and 6% were about the release of confidential information.

Chief Municipal Inspector Michael Stefanovic AM said: “An accountable and trustworthy local government sector relies on transparency from our elected officials and those employed by councils to deliver services to the public.

“Our oversight and the support of the public in reporting allegations of wrongdoing helps keep our councils and councillors working in the best interests of the communities they serve.”

Mr Stefanovic said that Inspectorate investigators had seen a steady increase in their workload year-on-year which showed that the public expected more from their councils and elected councillors.

“In a tighter fiscal environment, we have looked at methods for reducing enforcement costs such as fines for non-compliance with the Act. We are working with Local Government Victoria to find cost-effective options to address breaches and offences against the Act,” Mr Stefanovic said.

We also continued our education and guidance work during 2021–22, delivering 17 presentations to councils.

The Inspectorate is one of three integrity agencies to handle complaints about Victorian councils. Complaints are also handled by the Victorian Ombudsman and the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission.

Read the report.