Council welcomes Local Government Act 2020 passage through parliament

Stefan Bradley

Reforms to the Local Government Act 2020 passed through the Victorian Parliament last month, which the state government said will elevate governance and integrity standards in Victoria’s 79 councils – and will be in place for the new council term following the local government elections this October.

Since the last council elections in 2020, 56 councillors have resigned and 12 councils have had municipal monitors appointed, with one council suspended and one dismissed as a result of governance issues.

Following the local government elections in October this year, councils will have a uniform councillor code of conduct to create consistent standards of behaviour and increase accountability. A program of mandatory training will also be introduced for councillors and mayors, including annual professional development.

The reforms introduce stronger sanctions for councillor misconduct and improved processes to resolve conduct matters earlier. The Minister for Local Government will also have strengthened powers to deal with councillors that are found to have created a serious risk to health and safety or are preventing their council from performing its functions.

Minister for Local Government, Melissa Horne said that good governance is critical to ensure councils make sound decisions and deliver the services their communities need, and the expanded powers to address councillor misconduct will discourage poor behaviour.

“By improving governance and integrity standards in councils across the state, we are ensuring all Victorians can be confident in their local representatives,” Ms Horne said.

Ms Horne said the the reforms have been developed in response to reports and recommendations of IBAC, the Chief Municipal Inspector and other interventions which highlighted the need for stronger processes and powers to resolve conduct issues, and better training so councillors can perform their roles effectively.

Late last year, Wellington Shire Council told the Gippsland Times they welcomed the flagged legislative changes.

“Our councillors are dedicated to serving their community, and although we don’t face any governance or performance issues, we welcome this move to ensure consistent integrity across all Local Government Areas and councils,” Wellington Shire Council Chief Executive, David Morcom said at the time.

“Wellington Shire Councillors bring a wealth of experience to their roles as active community members, valuing diverse perspectives and sharing a strong commitment to supporting community-focused outcomes.

“We have a longstanding commitment to a robust Councillor Code of Conduct, contributing to the high performance and success of our council.”

Rural Councils Victoria (RCV) also welcomed the changes.

“RCV welcomes these powers to deal with individuals and we look forward to consulting with the Minister and her department to help ensure that Victoria gets the best possible results for their communities and councils,” RCV said late last year.

“Becoming a councillor is a significant commitment and can be challenging at times. We welcome efforts to provide greater support and training for new councillors so they will be able to better serve their communities.

“The proposed changes strike a good balance between encouraging high standards of behaviour and providing avenues to deal with poor behaviour.”

For further information about the Model Councillor Code of Conduct and to contribute to the code design consultation visit:

Further information about the reforms is available at: