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Local Government Reform

Statutes Amendment (Local Government) Review Bill 2020

The Statutes Amendment (Local Government Review) Bill 2020 (the Bill) was introduced into Parliament on 17 June 2020.

The major reforms that are contained in the Bill are the result of the Local Government Reform Program that ran over 2019–2020 and that included the call for ideas for reform and consultation on the Reforming Local Government in South Australia Discussion Paper.

Disclaimer: The marked-up versions of the Local Government Act 1999, City of Adelaide Act 1998 and Local Government (Elections) Act 1999 are provided for reference purposes only and should be read in conjunction with the Statutes Amendment (Local Government Review) Bill 2020 and may contain errors.

What reforms are proposed

Some of the key proposed reforms include a new conduct management framework for council members; an expansion of expert, independent advice to councils on a range of critical financial and governance matters; modern approach to public consultation; and a range of improvements to regulation to reduce councils’ costs.

The proposed reforms are based on ideas submitted during consultation in early 2019 and submissions of the resulting Discussion Paper that contains over 70 major reforms to local government legislation, as well as a number of minor amendments.

South Australian Productivity Commission Report

As outlined in the Discussion Paper, the South Australian Government has directed the South Australian Productivity Commission (the SAPC) to undertake an inquiry into local government costs and efficiency to identify options to improve efficiency and financial accountability and reduce costs for ratepayers. This work will inform future directions on proposed reforms within Reform Area 2 – Lower Costs and Enhanced Financial Accountability.

On 30 August 2019, the SAPC released its draft report, which includes its analyses, information requests, draft recommendations to the South Australian Government and draft advice to Councils. The final report was delivered to the Premier on 22 November 2019 and published on the SAPC website on 5 February 2020.

The Government's response to the inquiry is available here.

What ideas did we hear?

The Discussion Paper’s proposals for reform are based on Ideas for Local Government reform which were submitted to the Office of Local Government, through direct channels, and YourSAy discussions and surveys, following a public call for ideas in early 2019.

In total, over 80 submissions with more than 700 ideas were received directly. Approximately 170 surveys were completed, along with the discussion on the YourSAy local government reform page.

All of the ideas received through submissions have been summarised and compiled—

Please note that a number of the ideas put forward reference material submitted by the Local Government Association (LGA). Information on the LGA’s contribution to local government reform is available here.

Proposals for reform

The Reforming Local Government in South Australia Discussion Paper (PDF 2.2 MB) was released on 5 August 2019, with consultation closing on 1 November 2019. The proposals for reform in the Discussion Paper are based on ideas for real improvements to the system of local government in our State that were received following a public call in early 2019, and discussions with councils and other bodies.

The four reform areas included in the Discussion Paper recognise that there are areas in the local government legislative framework that currently aren’t working as well as they should, and need to be reviewed.

In summary, the proposals for reform are—

Reform Area 1 | Stronger Council Member Capacity and Better Conduct

Reform Area 2 | Lower Costs and Enhanced Financial Accountability

Reform Area 3 | Efficient and Transparent Local Government Representation

Reform Area 4 | Simpler Regulation