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Chair's report

Local Government reform has been a major consideration in the work of the Local Government Advisory Board (the board) for the past 12 months. During this period, the outcomes achieved by the board, underpinned by the cooperation and commitment of the local government sector in WA, have been outstanding.

The Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries (DLGSC) has also maintained a strong focus on local government reform, resulting in major changes for many individual councils being implemented ahead of the 2023 local government ordinary elections.

More generally, the proposed changes to the Local Government Act and Regulations provide for a stronger, more consistent framework for local governments across Western Australia. The reforms have been designed to deliver significant benefits for residents and ratepayers, small business, industry, elected members and professionals working in the sector.

As part of the emphasis on stronger local democracy and community engagement, a number of changes have been introduced to bring further consistency to individual councils including:

  • requiring public election of the mayor or president for all larger councils
  • abolishing the use of wards for smaller local governments
  • aligning the size of councils with the size of the population of each local government area.

During the reforms process, DLGSC has identified that 68 of the State’s 139 local governments would be required to make changes to either their wards and/or representation structures to meet the reform requirements. Of those 68, a total of 55 resolved to undertake a formal review to seek community consultation ahead of implementing any changes.

This figure represents around four times as many reviews as would normally be considered by the board in the period leading up to the bi-annual elections. To meet the associated timeframes, board staff implemented new streamlined processes and procedures, and board members met more frequently to consider the larger volume of submissions in a timely way.

I would like to acknowledge and thank board members and staff for their professionalism and commitment to the reforms process, to ensure that all ward and representation changes could be formally implemented ahead of the 2023 elections.

I would also like to express my genuine appreciation to a long-standing member, Mary Adam, who will be concluding her term with the board on 31 August, after 10 years in the role. During that time, Mary has been involved in numerous significant government initiatives – and her knowledge, experience and candour will be missed.

I would also like to thank our executive staff, Julie Craig, Emma Johns, and Leah Horton; and former executive staff Shannon Wood, and Chloe Papasergio, who provided support to the board throughout the year. Their knowledge and dedication helps us to operate in an efficient and effective manner. I look forward to the board continuing its important work over the coming year.

Dan Bull

Chair — Local Government Advisory Board

31 August 2023

Page reviewed 11 September 2023