Councils must publish summary of interests

All councils must publish a personal interest information summary on their website. This is a new requirement under the Local Government Act 2020.

LGI interest return property example
Example of interest return property declaration

Read the Local Government Act 2020(opens in a new window).

The following page is relevant to:
  • councillors
  • CEOs
  • nominated officers
  • delegated committee members

You must publish your personal interest information on your website within 30 days:

  • of taking the oath of office (for councillors) or within 30 days
  • after 24 October 2020 when the legislation commenced (for all others)

The Act requires declaring all private interests, including:

  • property ownership
  • company directorships
  • major shareholdings

Personal interest summaries

Summaries must:

  • contain ‘sufficient information to identify the type and nature of the interests disclosed’
  • be published on the council’s website
  • be available for public inspection

The legislation does not set a specific date for publishing a summary. But we encourage councils to prepare and publish their summaries as a priority. This promotes and enhances transparency in local government. It also reduces the risk or likelihood of bias in decision-making or undisclosed conflicts of interest.

In addition to their own, CEOs must prepare a personal interest summary for those required to submit a return under section 135(3) of the Act.

New required disclosures

The new legislation also introduced strict additional disclosures. As of 24 October 2020, you must also disclose:

  • employment details
  • business relationships
  • debt
You are not required to disclose matters of a personal nature in the public summary.

You can read more about the new requirements in the Local Government (Governance and Integrity) Regulations 2020(opens in a new window).

Audit found councils lacking

We recently conducted a sample audit of 10 council websites in January 2021.

We found that:

  • just one council had published a summary which complied with the Act
  • five councils had not published summaries
  • one council had published a summary for councillors and the CEO - but not nominated officers
  • three councils did not include ‘sufficient information’ that would allow a member of the public to understand the nature of the interest

We identified some deficiencies during our review of the personal interest summaries.

Place of residence

We saw disclosures of ‘home’, ‘residence’ or similar title only. Under the Act, you must disclose more information:

  • including the town or suburb the residence is located
  • not including the street address or number

We observed some disclosures of a person’s employer’s name only. Sufficient disclosure requires also listing the person’s position with that employer.

Working with local government

Local Government Victoria (LGV) conducted an online feedback project(opens in a new window) on personal interest returns in 2020. The project provides useful resources and explanations of the new rules and regulations. We will continue to work with LGV to ensure councils have more guidance about what should be in a summary.

We are also finalising a compliance project on councillor interest returns. We will release a public report with the findings and recommendations.

Read more about putting the right details into interest returns(opens in a new window).