Minister for Housing; Local Government
The following report is the annual report of the Local Government Standards Panel (the Standards Panel) for the period from 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021.
The minor breach system is part of the disciplinary framework for council members in Western Australia under the Local Government Act 1995 (the Act). The minor breach provisions were introduced into the Act in 2007 to address conduct by individual council members, with the aim of responding to disruptive or inappropriate conduct. The system responds to and deters conduct by council members that disrupts the effective functioning of their local government.
Changes to the Act came into effect in February 2021 which resulted in the replacement of the Local Government (Rules of Conduct) Regulations 2007 with the Local Government (Model Code of Conduct) Regulations 2021.
The new provisions require local governments to adopt a prescribed code of conduct as per the Local Government (Model Code of Conduct) Regulations 2021. If a complaint involves an alleged breach of the code of conduct by a council member, a complaint must be lodged with the relevant local government. If it is alleged that a councillor has breached a rule of conduct, a complaint may be lodged with the Local Government Standards Panel.
The Standards Panel composition changed from the previous financial year with my appointment as the Presiding Member with effect from 8 June 2021. 2020-21 saw a significant increase in the number of new complaints being lodged with 154 lodged compared to 121 in 2019-20.
There continues to be a trend of the majority of complaints resulting in no breach being found, either by a finding of no breach being made or by the panel refusing to deal with a complaint. Out of 175 complaints finalised in in 2020-21, 81 findings of no breach were made, and the panel refused to deal with 32 complaints.
The Standards Panel convened 25 meetings in 2020-21 compared to 13 meetings in 2019-20 however, there was a slight increase in the average time taken for complaints to be finalised.
The Standards Panel remains committed to its objective of making decisions that promote and enforce high standards of behaviour by elected members in local governments across Western Australia; and it will continue to build on its achievements of 2020-21 and strive to maintain increased efficiency in relation to its operations and the important service it provides to the community and the local government sector.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the staff at the Department for Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries for their continued work in providing administrative and executive support to the Standards Panel.
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