Misbehaving WA councillors face suspension under new reforms

Councillors guilty of serious breaches of WA’s Local Government Act 1995 could be suspended for three months under new reforms unveiled last week.

Those councillors suspended three times could face 10-year bans from elected office.

Other changes in the proposed reform package presented by Local Government Minister John Carey include:

  • a new Inspectorate of Local Government to investigate and oversee complaints;
  • the creation of Local Government Monitors, who can be appointed by the Inspector to assist in resolving ongoing issues;
  • mandatory recording of council meetings, and live streaming for larger tier one and two local governments; and
  • the introduction of parental and medical leave entitlements for elected members.

The reforms further propose that all meetings to do with town planning and development applications, budgeting, major land transactions, and leases of local government property must be held in full public view.

Matters that will remain confidential include CEO appointments, management of behavioural complaints about elected members, and local government cyber security.

Minister Carey said the WA public was fed up with dysfunction and repeated bad behaviour in local government.

“The reality is most local governments and councils are doing great work for their communities but these reforms will ensure we have penalties in place that properly address poor behaviour,” he said.

The reforms follow several reports and consultations into the Local Government Act over the past five years. They will be enshrined in legislation introduced into state parliament by the end of the year.