What is a Local Law?

    All Councils in Victoria have a form of local regulation called Local Laws. Council can make Local Laws in response to particular issues in its local government area to ensure peace, order and good government.

    The Local Government Act 1989 regulates how a Council amends or makes a Local Law.

    This Act applies a number of restrictions and limitations on Local Laws, including not making unusual use of power and ensuring no inconsistencies with any Planning Scheme or other regulations or Acts.

    Why do we have a Governance Local Law?

    The Act (Section 91) requires a council to make a Local Law to govern the conduct of meetings of Council and its Special Committees. The Governance Local Law responds to this requirement.

    The objectives of the Governance Local Law are to:

    • regulate proceedings at Council meetings, Special Committee meetings and other meetings conducted by or on behalf of Council where Council has resolved that the provisions of the Local Law are to apply
    • regulate the proceedings for the election of the Mayor, Deputy Mayor (if any)
    • regulate the use of the common seal
    • make provision for related administrative procedures; and
    • provide for peace, order and good government of the municipal district.

    What is a common seal?

    The common seal of Council is affixed to some documents such as contracts and certain agreements, to evidence the Council’s corporate will and authenticate decisions taken and acts performed by Council.

    Why are we changing the Local Law?

    Council determined in late 2018 to review the current local law. The review has been focussed on delivering a contemporary meeting procedure local law that is easy to read and navigate. The approach has seen the proposed local law being structured slightly differently than the previous local law and it being drafted in a clearer and simpler way. The changes in the proposed local law can be characterised as either:

    • changes to improve and better clarify processes and / or enable the process of the decision making to be undertaken more efficiently
    • changes to better reflect contemporary business and communication practices
    • style and grammar changes to ensure readability and clarity.

    What is the process of adopting the Local Law?

    The proposed Governance Local Law document has been presented to Council (on the 16th December 2019) and community members are now invited to make a submission on the local law.

    Council is required to give notice in the Government Gazette and in local media of its intention to make the local law and following the submission period a further gazettal and advertising process occurs to inform the community that the local law has been made. 

    Will the new Local Law change my ability to attend Council Meetings, access the agenda paper for meetings, ask questions or make submissions at Council Meetings?

    No. The proposed Local Law does not alter your ability to attend and participate in Council Meetings and Planning Committees. There is a slight reduction in the time from when the agenda papers for these meetings will be available on Council's website, with this reducing from 7 days to 6 days before the meeting. This proposed change will improve the organisation's capacity to assemble and produce the reports and agenda papers in a timely manner.

    There is no substantial change in the community's ability to attend a Council Meeting and make a submission on a matter on the agenda beyond a reduction in the time required to register an intention to make a submission. This must be done by 12.00 noon on the day of the meeting rather than at 3.00pm on the day of the meeting. Further the opportunity that exists in the current Local Law for members of the public to also register their interest in making a submission or comment in person to an Officer 15 minutes prior to the commencement of the meeting has been removed from the proposed local law. These changes are proposed to assist with the orderly management of Council Meetings.

    In addition, the current Local Law allows questions to be submitted up until 3.00pm on the day of the meeting. This is proposed to be changed to 12.00 noon on the working day prior to the meeting. This change is intended to improve the organisation's capacity to appropriately investigate and respond to any questions at the Council Meeting. The number of questions that may be submitted has been increased from 2 (which may be split into 2 parts only) to 3 questions. Further the opportunity that exists in the current Local Law for members of the public to ask a question without submitting it in advance has been removed from the proposed Local Law.

    Will the new Local Law change the ability of my local Councillor(s) to raise issues with Council?

    No. Councillors will continue to be able to raise items for discussion at Council Meetings via the Notice of Motion or Urgent Business processes. To improve transparency and promote more informed decision making, clearer and more specific rules are proposed in relation to the processes governing Notices of Motion and Urgent Business. These proposed changes will ensure Councillors are adequately informed about any matters that may impinge on the efficacy of Notices of Motion or Urgent Business items. These proposed changes will ensure the decision making processes of Council occurs within a transparent, informed and robust governance framework.

    How do I make a submission on the proposed Local Law?

    Any person is entitled to make a submission in writing on the local law. These submissions must be received by 5.00pm on 19 February 2020 and should be addressed to the Chief Executive Officer. Any person who makes a submission is entitled to state in the submission that they wish to appear in person, or to be represented by a person specified in the submission. In this regard if required a Hearing of Submissions Committee will be held at 5.30pm on Monday 2 March 2020 in the Council Chamber of the Darebin Civic Centre at 350 High Street, Preston.