New reforms hailed as ‘tremendous outcome’ for SA councils

Elected member conduct and CEO remuneration in South Australia will be overhauled after state parliament passed a new Amendment Bill last week.

Under the Statutes Amendment (Local Government Review) Bill 2020, a new conduct management system will be set up to help councils deal quickly with low-level matters, while an independent Behaviour Standards Panel will be established to investigate serious or repeated misbehaviour.

Additionally, council chief executive salaries will be set by the Remuneration Tribunal of South Australia, and councils will need to seek regular advice from the SA Essential Services Commission on rating decisions.

ESCOSA will also review councils’ annual business plans and long-term plans once every three years.

Minister for Local Government Vickie Chapman says the reforms represent a major shake-up for the local government sector, and include an expansion of anti-discrimination laws to cover sexual harassment between two council members

Local Government Association of South Australian (LGASA) President Angela Evans said it was a tremendous outcome that will support councils to deliver better results for their communities.

“Our sector has been pushing for reform for years, and many of the changes included in this Bill were conceived by councils, or shaped by local government input,” she said.

The Bill will need to go back through the Lower House, with the Government and LGASA to then determine a timeframe for implementation.