Local Government Act Review

 

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After a two year consultation period a draft of the new Local Government Act is finally available for public consultation.

While there are some good changes in the new Act, such as the requirement for a workforce plan, greater transparency around CEO remuneration and new service performance standards, it fails to deliver any real protections for workers.

In our submissions during the consultation phase we asked for protections for services and local jobs. While a requirement for council to develop a workforce plan is a step in the right direction, much of the detail on what a workforce plan is will be left to regulations. We don’t know at this stage what the regulations will say and they can also be changed on the whim of the Minister of the day or the political opposition. – The only position that will have job security is the CEO!

A workforce plan does not deliver the type of job security you need. It doesn’t stop Councils filling permanent positions with agency hire staff or contracting out the services. Which we know is becoming more attractive for Councils because of the pressures of rate capping.

We are putting in a further submission and we will be seeking amendments to the draft act’s proposed ‘service performance principles’ to secure a greater focus on councils in-sourcing services and considering the implications for local employment growth and retention prior to embarking on contracting-out services.  

We are disappointed that the review of rate capping that was scheduled for 2019 is proposed to be pushed back to 2023. Rate capping has not stopped Council waste like it was supposed to but it has cost jobs and cut services. It needs to be reviewed now, not in 5 years time!.

The proposed new Act will enable councils to enter into ‘beneficial enterprises’ with other councils, other levels of government or private sector organisations. Whilst some Councils have done this in the past, the current Act did not specifically provide for it.

These changes, if used fairly, have the potential to benefit communities and workers, though equally hold potential to be exploited by unscrupulous councils to the detriment of workers, through ‘shared services’ arrangements designed to cut jobs, wages and conditions. Strong safeguards must be included in the new act to prevent the latter from happening.

We are meeting with representatives Local Government Victoria and the Minister for Local Governments office later today where we will raise our concerns.

The draft act is open for public consultation until 23 February.

Copies of the draft act and submission forms can be obtained here.

Pictured L-R: Lisa Darmanin Excutive President and Michelle Jackson Secretary

 


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