Local Laws - A Fresh Perspective

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Published by Preston Law on 11/03/2021

Why Make a Local Law

Councils are aware of the importance of Local Laws and the assistance they can provide in regulating matters that are unique to their local government area. They essentially fill the gaps of State legislation, or in some circumstances where permitted, alter the State requirements (for example the Noise Standards under the Environmental Protection Act 1994).

Local Laws that are well-drafted and enforced seek to protect public health, safety and amenity. They can provide for activities that Council wants to prohibit from occurring within its local government area, but also those activities that are supported either through an approval process or by meeting standard requirements.

How is a Local Law Made

The Local Government Act 2009 (“the LGA”) provides the power for Councils to make and enforce any local law that is considered necessary or convenient for the good rule and governance of its local government area. The LGA provide the process that Councils need to adhere to when reviewing or amending their current local laws.

Councils have the option of either drafting their own local laws or adopting the Model Local Laws which are local laws that have been drafted and approved by the Minister for Local Government. The Model Local Laws are always a good starting point for Councils wishing to update their local laws as it is generally cost-effective and time-efficient, whilst allowing for inclusion of those specific matters of local importance that Council wants to regulate.

The process for adopting new local laws is:

  1. Council proposes to make a new local law by way of resolution.
  2. If there is a Local Law in existence about the same subject matter, Council is required to amend or repeal the existing local law to avoid any inconsistency from arising.
  3. Undertake public consultation with the community.
  4. Undertake a State Interest Check with all of the relevant State government bodies (this step is not required if the model local laws as drafted by the State are being adopted and there is no inconsistency with an existing local law).
  5. Prepare a Public Interest Test Plan and Report regarding any anti-competitive provisions.
  6. Formally adopt the proposed Local Laws through Council resolution and gazette notice.
  7. Submit the gazetted Local Laws to the State.

Why Review Existing Local Laws

Whilst most Councils already have local laws in place, without regular review they can become outdated and no longer hold the relevance they did years ago when they were first introduced.  As Councils’ communities have evolved, so too have the regulation and enforcement perspectives relating to those activities.  In addition to this, changes to state legislation over time makes it necessary to ensure that Council’s local laws adequately respond to those changes and ‘fill the gaps’ that remain.

What comes after the Local Law Adoption?

It is essential to any local government seeking to follow the approval and enforcement processes under their newly adopted local laws to also have a good set of complementary documents.  These can include documents such as template application forms, standard sets of conditions, template compliance notices and penalty infringement notices that comply with the State Penalties Enforcement Regulation 2014 requirements.

Having standardised documents that Officers, responsible for enforcing and approving activities under the Local Laws, are able to access creates time efficiencies and improves Council’s standards, setting the expectation for the community.

We’re here to help

If your Council needs assistance in reviewing and adopting new local laws, creating template documents and conditions please contact our team who are well versed in the local law drafting process as well as drafting those necessary documents to support an improved regulatory framework for Council.

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