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Message from the DG Local Matters March 2019

Duncan Ord at Sunset

​Duncan Ord at Sunset

Welcome to the first edition of Local Matters for 2019. While we've had a busy start to the year, unfortunately it began with some sad news, with the tragic passing of former Shire President at Williams, John Cowcher.

Mr Cowcher had served as a councillor at the Shire since 1993 and served as deputy president for two years prior to being elected as president in 1999.  He was the Shire's longest serving president and very well regarded and respected in the community. I extend my sincere sympathies to his family, friends and the community of Williams.

It was wonderful to see five leaders from the local government sector receive Australia Day honours on 26 January, acknowledging them for their service to the community. Congratulations to Cr Lynne Craigie (Shire of Pilbara), Cr Donald Raymond Hammarquist (Shire of Upper Gascoyne), Ms Heather Henderson (former Mayor at the City of Subiaco),  Mr Lachlan Murray McTaggart (Shire of Upper Gascoyne), and Cr Peter Francis Monagle (Shire of Harvey). In addition, Cr Francis Roy Burgoyne (Shire of Harvey) received the Australian Fire Service Medal for his distinguished fire service. A terrific achievement for so many members of the sector.  

In January the department, in partnership with WALGA delivered the 'Future of Local Government' Forum at Technology Park in Bentley. It was great to see such a positive turn out with more than 250 elected members and staff in attendance.  

With Parliament sitting again, it's certainly been a busy past few weeks. The department has been hard at work on drafting the Bill for the first phase of the Local Government Act reforms which is expected to be introduced to Parliament this month. It includes new laws around gifts, universal training for elected members, the introduction of a mandatory code of conduct, CEO recruitment and performance review, and improved access to information. 

Submissions for the second phase, which will result in a new Local Government Act, are due on 31 March. If you haven't had your say yet, please ensure you make a submission before the due date. This is your opportunity to have direct input into the law that will govern your sector.

Our communications team with assistance from our regional offices recently launched a social media video campaign to encourage more submissions to the review and drive more engagement with local government. The video highlights all the important ways that local government delivers for communities. I encourage you all to check out the video and share it on your social media platforms.

Looking forward to the second half of the year, local government elections will be held in October. This is an opportunity for people who want to get involved in their community to put up their hands for nomination. The department will be partnering with WALGA, Local Government Professionals WA and the Office of Multicultural Interests to deliver a campaign to encourage diversity on council.

It is important that we have diversity in our elected members to reflect the communities that they represent. This year we are particularly interested in seeing more women nominate as well as people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. In order to achieve this diversity however, people need to feel safe and supported throughout the nomination and election process and I would encourage you all to act with respectfulness during your interactions on social media or otherwise.

The department will also be available to provide advice and support to local governments during the election process and has a number of resources which will be updated and available on the website shortly.

Until next time.

Duncan Ord OAM
Director General