Under the Local Government Act 1989, Victorian councils are required to review and if required amend an election period policy no later than 12 months before the commencement of each general election period. This must be conducted in accordance with section 93B of the Local Government Act 1989.
The Inspectorate recently sent a short survey to all councils on the adoption of their election period policy.
At the time of publication, 66 councils had reviewed and amended their election period policy (often also known as a caretaker period policy). While 32 councils had adopted a policy outside of the required timeframe, this does not invalidate the policy but is still a breach of statutory requirements.
Eleven councils had not adopted a policy but proposed to do so at an upcoming council meeting.
Common reasons given by councils for not adopting a policy in the required timeframe included:
- councils were not aware of the requirement
- legislation was not clear
- impending introduction of the Local Government Bill
- insufficient staff to carry out requirements
It was also found that 11 councils had not provided the policy to the community, through posting on their public website or other means, despite this also being a requirement under the Act.
Operations Manager Ross Millard said while 40 percent of councils had not complied with the Act, there was some useful feedback gained from the survey, such as councils’ lack of awareness of the timeframes or identifying a lack of resourcing or knowledge on compliance.
“This proactive work is intended to assist councils in complying with legislative requirements. We are analysing the information provided to determine any reforms to processes or the legislative framework,” Mr Millard said.
The Inspectorate will collate and provide any relevant information to the Minister for Local Government.