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Local Matters - September 2017

Last updated: 1/09/2017 7:36 PM
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From the DG

Duncan Ord - A/Director General - DLGSCDuncan Ord - Director General
Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries

Welcome to the first edition of Local Matters – a forum to keep the local government sector and other key stakeholders and interested parties updated on local government initiatives. 

I am excited to be Acting Director General of the new Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries which brings together local government, multicultural interests, sport, culture and the arts, racing, gaming and liquor.

I believe local government has a key role and I am looking forward to the opportunities that the new department presents. In particular, I am pleased to have the support of the interim Corporate Executive in delivering the State Government’s key election commitments.

This includes a number of important initiatives within the local government portfolio that are currently underway such as the review of the Local Government Act 1995

The Act was established at a time when community expectations were very different from today. This review will consider ways to modernise the Act while ensuring local governments remain transparent, accountable and efficient.

One of the common themes among the key election commitments is collaboration between State and Local Governments to ensure the best possible outcomes for WA communities. In particular, developing collaborative partnerships and connections contributing to better services and outcomes for communities.

To that end, the State Government, together with the Western Australian Local Government Association and Local Government Professionals Australia WA (LG Professionals), signed a partnership agreement at the 2017 WA Local Government Convention held from 2 to 4 August.

The agreement is a commitment to work together to improve decision making processes that deliver greater transparency and community accountability.

Local government accountability is vital in strengthening local democracy and the upcoming local government elections is an opportunity to highlight the importance of this. As a key election commitment the department is looking at ways to increase participation in elections and is encouraging local governments to get their communities involved.

The department is also working towards implementing the State Government’s commitment to stop puppy farming in Western Australia. Consultations around the options being considered are currently underway. You can read more about all of these initiatives in the following articles. 

I look forward to working together over the coming months and encourage you to maintain your relationships with the department.

Please also welcome our Deputy Director General (Regulation), Mick Connolly who is overseeing local government and racing, gaming and liquor regulation.

A reminder that your key contacts in the local government division continue to be Jenni Law for local government regulation, Mary Adam and Sheryl Siekierka for local government legislation, and Narrell Lethorn for executive services. Please don’t hesitate to contact them should you require any advice, support or information.

Duncan Ord
Director General
Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries

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Be a vocal local

This year’s local government elections will be held in October and local governments are encouraged to inform and engage their communities to have a say in who runs their community.

Local governments make important decisions that affect WA communities, yet only one in four eligible Western Australians voted in the 2015 elections.

The department has partnered with the Western Australian Local Government Association and the Western Australian Electoral Commission to develop a promotional campaign titled ‘Be a vocal local: vote and have your say’.

Digital promotional resources are available for local governments and community organisations to promote the upcoming elections by emailing Erin Veerhuis, senior communications officer at the department.

A range of materials is also available on the department’s website to ensure local governments are informed about their legislative requirements and to help councils and community organisations promote the elections.

This year, participation in elections among underrepresented sections of the community including women, Aboriginal communities, young people, and those from culturally and linguistically diverse communities is strongly encouraged.

Candidates nominating for council have from 7 to 14 September 2017 to lodge a nomination. For more information visit the WA Electoral Commission’s website or the local government elections webpage.

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New Act for the future

The department has commenced the first major review of the Local Government Act 1995 (the Act) in more than 20 years.

The review will propose changes to modernise the Act and identify ways to reduce red tape. It will be conducted in two phases.

Phase one is currently underway and is targeting electronic availability of information, meeting public expectations for accountability, including gift disclosures and meeting community expectations of standards, ethics and performance.

Local governments will be engaged throughout the review with a discussion paper for phase one planned for release later this year. Some of the options to be explored in the discussion paper include recruitment of CEOs, gifts and elected member training.  

Phase two will ensure local governments are positioned to deliver for the community through increasing participation and public confidence in local government elections, increasing community participation in local government decision-making and improving financial management.  

The review is supported by a reference group with representation from the Western Australian Local Government Association, Local Government Professionals Australia (WA), Western Australian Electoral Commission, Western Australian Council of Social Service, Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the WA Rangers Association.

More information about the review is available on the Local Government Act Review webpage or by emailing legislation@dlgc.wa.gov.au.

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Stop puppy farming

A discussion paper tackling the issue of puppy farming in Western Australia is due to be released later this year following a review by the department.

The department is currently undertaking consultations with key stakeholders, including representatives from animal welfare organisations, the veterinary industry, the pet shop industry, the local government sector, and working dog groups.

The discussion paper will identify a range of options to address the issue of puppy farming.

Some of the key ideas for consideration which were outlined in the WA Labor Policy Paper include implementing a dog breeding code of practice, approved dog breeders, transitioning pet shops to adoption centres and introducing a centralised dog registration database. 

Following the release of the discussion paper, the department will consult with the broader community.

A review of the Dog Act 1976 will also take place after January 2019 which will look at other aspects of responsible dog ownership.

More information about the stop puppy farming project is available on this website.

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Working together

A new partnership agreement which recognises the importance of the State and local government sectors working together was signed by the Premier at the State’s largest event for local governments.

The Premier of Western Australia, Mark McGowan and Minister for Local Government, David Templeman signed the agreement between The Department of Local Government Sport and Cultural Industries, Western Australian Local Government Association (WALGA) and Local Government Professionals Australia WA (LG Professionals) at the 2017 WA Local Government Convention.

The event was held from 2 to 4 August and attracted more than 600 local government elected members from across the state. 

The agreement seeks to improve communication between both tiers of government through promoting transparency and accountability, community engagement and delivering better services for WA communities. It also promotes adequate consultation between the sectors and the importance of good governance.

Under this agreement, a State and Local Government Partnership Group has been formed which will aim to meet at least once per year to discuss matters of importance to both sectors.

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