Local Government Bill 2019- Council’s Amendments

17 Mar 2020

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The Greens will not be opposing the amendments put forward by the Legislative Council. We supported all but one of the amendments. The one amendment we did have concern with was around the provision of multimember wards only now being made available to rural and regional councils and not being applied to metropolitan councils. It seems to me that the fix is in, and I think it is very instructive that these amendments are coming just after we have dealt with the business of having to dismiss yet another council. This is around the fourth or fifth council that has been dismissed in my time here in this Parliament. In one of the councils that we dismissed, Geelong council, specifically one of the reasons that contributed to the poor governance and the reasons behind that dismissal was single-member wards. It creates an atmosphere of parochialism where councillors are not making decisions for the whole of the council but are making parochial decisions that lead to poor decision-making and poor governance and, ultimately, in the case of Geelong council, the dismissal of Geelong council.

The evidence for proportional representation for multimember wards in terms of greater representation and greater diversity has been made over and over again, yet the minister has dismissed all the evidence before him. It is also incredible that we have recently just dismissed Casey council, where you have got a developer running absolutely riot out there between councillors, using finance and influence to influence that council. Yet this bill is coming back without any amendments to do with banning donations, limiting donations, banning donations from property developers or the gaming industry or even just replicating the sorts of donations reform we have at a state level. The fix is in. Labor and Liberal, the government and the opposition, have teamed up to have this fix. They have brought back a bill, brought back amendments and have ultimately seen through a bill that will go forward. We have dismissed councils multiple times now in this Parliament and in the previous Parliament, and I suspect if we go down the track of having single-member wards and without donations reform there are going to be many other councils that are going to be back here again being dismissed by this Parliament because this reform simply is not up to scratch.

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