Beneficiary – a person who receives benefits, profits or advantages from something, such as a trust.
Biannual personal interests return – a return lodged by a specified person twice yearly while they continue to be a specified person.2
- must include 2 or more councillors
- may include other people appointed by the council who are entitled to vote
- is chaired by a councillor appointed by council or the mayor
- must adhere to the rules of council meetings set out in the Act
- may be formed by a resolution from 2 or more councils.
Detailed review – an in-depth check of personal interests returns conducted for councillors from 17 councils conducted by the Inspectorate for this report. The detailed review conducted the same checks as the high-level review but also cross-referenced returns with the Victorian land titles register, Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) register, Australian Business Register, and internet searches of the councillors and their spouses, to identify relevant interests.
High-level review – a broad assessment of personal interests returns conducted for councillors from 61 councils by the Inspectorate for this report. The high-level review considered whether the returns had been submitted within the required timeframe, in the prescribed format, signed, and witnessed. Disclosed land interests were compared with rates notices to identify possible non-disclosures. All other disclosed interests were also compared period to period, to identify possible non-disclosures.
Initial personal interests return – the first return lodged by a specified person within 30 days of taking the oath or affirmation of office (for councillors) or being appointed a member of a delegated committee (for specified persons).
Nominated officer – The Local Government Act 2020 defines a nominated officer as a member of council staff who:
- has a statutory or delegated power, duty or function
- is nominated by the Chief Executive Officer because of the nature of that power, duty or function.
The 1989 Act defined nominated officers as senior officers of the council and any other member of the council staff nominated by the CEO.
Office – a position of duty, trust or authority, especially in the government or a company.
Prescribed period – The period from 1–31 March and 1–30 September each year when a specified person (who continues to be a specified person and who has submitted an initial interests return) must lodge a biannual personal interests return.
Personal interests return3 – the declaration of personal interests such as leadership roles in companies, land owned in the municipality or trusts. The return aims to ensure people making decisions at councils disclose interests that may impact on their ability to perform their duty in an impartial way. Returns can be either initial personal interests returns, or biannual personal interests returns.
Property interests – land owned in the municipality or neighbouring municipalities.
Scheme – The legislative scheme is the Acts and regulations which govern the disclosure of personal interests by councillors and senior government officials.
Self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF) – a trust structure that provides benefits to its members upon retirement. The main difference between SMSFs and other super funds is that SMSF members are usually also the trustees. This means the members of the SMSF run it for their benefit.
Specified person – The Local Government Act 2020 defines a specified person as a:
- member of a delegated committee who is not a Councillor
- Chief Executive Officer
- nominated officer.
Trust – a fiduciary relationship in which one person (the trustee) holds the title to property (the trust, estate or property trust) for the benefits of others (the beneficiary).
2 The terms used in this report have specific meanings under the legislation.
3 Although the term ‘personal interests returns’ is not grammatically correct, it is used in this report because it is the wording used in both Local Government Acts.
Reviewed 27 October 2021