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Intro

LG Alert

Two people working on a computer.

Provisions to enable councils to hold meetings electronically, and to enable councillors to attend via electronic means, were introduced in 2020 as part of the immediate response to the pandemic emergency.

These electronic meeting provisions enabled councils to continue making critical decisions during the pandemic emergency. The use of videoconferencing and the adoption of livestreaming has also shown the benefits of providing for different forms of public access and participation in the business of local government.

When several public health measures were eased in late April 2022, the Minister for Local Government wrote to all local government CEOs to request that council meetings generally return to normal, including allowing for any interested member of the public to attend in-person to engage in the regular business of council meetings.

Over the following months, councils have largely resumed in-person meetings, with many councils using electronic meeting provisions on a case-by-case basis.

As part of the State Government’s package of local government reforms, changes to the regulations for council meetings are now being implemented. These changes will:

  • Enable councils to hold up to half of all council meetings by electronic means; and
  • Provide for council members to, with the approval of the Mayor, Shire President, or majority of the council, attend a council meeting by electronic means. There will be a cap on the number of council meetings that a councillor can attend by electronic means, which will not apply to councillors living with a disability (as defined in the Disability Services Act 1993).

The State Government is working to implement these changes, with the intent that these new provisions should be in effect from Wednesday 9 November 2022.

Accordingly, all local governments must conduct council meetings from Friday 4 November 2022 in-person. It will not be possible for any council member to attend any meetings electronically until these regulation changes come into effect.

The Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries will provide further advice confirming the date that the new regulations will be in effect. Local governments should await this further advice before making arrangements for any electronic meetings. This advice will also include information on the caps on the number of electronic meetings, and other guidance materials.

The new regulations will be reviewed after a twelve month period. There will be a public consultation process, and members of the public will have the opportunity to provide feedback on how council meetings have operated under these regulations.

New provisions relating to the livestreaming and recording of council meetings are also being progressed as part of the State Government’s local government reforms. 

Local governments with any queries can contact DLGSC at info@dlgsc.wa.gov.au

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Page reviewed 06 May 2022