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Councils back under the microscope – How does the new legislation affect Local Government?

Councils back under the microscope – How does the new legislation affect Local Government?

Corruption Commission’s Operation Belcarra, into activities of some officers and councillors in southeast Queensland.
Immediate changesCouncils will be aware of the legislative reforms proposed following the Crime and
Far-reaching changes to the Local Government Act 2009 (“LGA”) came into effect on 21 May 2018. These changes include:

• Ministerial powers to suspend councillors charged with particular offences, which has been the subject of substantial media coverage;

• modifying how councillors must deal with material personal interests (“MPIs”) and conflicts of interest (“COIs”) at meetings;

• creating new duties on councillors in relation to MPIs and COIs, including MPIs and COIs that the counsellor believes other councillors may have;

• creating reporting obligations about MPIs and COIs.

These changes, particularly those changes that relate to MPIs and COIs, are likely to have an immediate effect on how councillors carry on certain important duties, particularly meetings.

Looming changes – councillor conduct complaints

Another suite of changes relating to councillor conduct complaints comes into effect on a day to be fixed by proclamation. These changes:

• modify reporting obligations with respect to councillor conduct;

• create new, independent entities to deal with councillor conduct complaints;

• create reporting obligations about councillor conduct complaints.
For more information on the changes, or the Belcarra reforms generally, please do not hesitate to contact either Mal Skipworth on 07 4052 0705 (mskipworth@prestonlaw.com.au) or Julian Bodenmann on 07 4052 0717 (jbodenmann@prestonlaw.com.au).

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