The State Government is reviewing the legislative framework governing how local councils operate, including the Local Government Act 1999 and Local Government (Elections) Act 1999.
The discussion paper outlines key issues and puts forward a range of models and proposed solutions across four reform areas:
- Council member capacity and conduct;
- Lower costs and financial accountability;
- Efficient and transparent representation; and
- Simpler regulation.
“The Marshall Government has released a discussion paper on local government reform following an extensive consultation period with the local government sector and other stakeholders,” said Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government Stephan Knoll.
“Through this consultation phase we have compiled a lot of wide-ranging feedback and ideas and now we want to hear from the local community.
“The local government sector has been working very constructively through this process and have put their hand up and said that there’s a lot they could do better.
“At the heart of these reforms is the notion that we need to enable councils to provide better services and lower costs for South Australian ratepayers.
“We have identified four key areas that will drive our reforms.
“First of all, we need to improve council conduct and we’re considering measures to crack down on obstructive or poor behaviour by council members.
“We need to stamp out some of the inappropriate and childish behaviour we see in the local government sector.
“Secondly, we need to find a way to reduce costs that will ease cost of living pressures for households and reduce the cost of doing business.
“We also want feedback on a number of reform ideas around local government elections, especially around having a greater role for ECSA and to explore what more could be delivered online to make the process more user friendly and efficient.
“Finally, we need to cut a lot of the red tape that exists within the local government sector.
“Every dollar councils spend on compliance and unnecessary or over the top regulation, is a dollar that’s passed on to ratepayers.
“That’s why a more efficient and simple regulatory system can have a positive impact for ratepayers through lower costs and council rates.”
The proposed reforms have been shaped by the 80 written submissions and 170 surveys the government received after making a call for ideas back in March, which altogether resulted in over 700 ideas on how to better support councils and their communities.
Consultation on the discussion paper will run until Friday, 1 November. Following this, a Bill with legislative amendments will be prepared for release in the first quarter of 2020.
To find out more visit www.dpti.sa.gov.au/local_govt/local_government_reform; or join the conversation and complete a survey at yourSAy.sa.gov.au