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Message from the Presiding Member

To the Hon David Michael MLA
Minister for Local Government

The following is the annual report of the Local Government Standards Panel (the Standards Panel) for the period from 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2023.

The minor breach system is part of the disciplinary framework for council members in Western Australia under the Local Government Act 1995 (the Act). The system responds to and deters conduct by council members that disrupts the effective functioning of their local government.

In 2022-23 the Standards Panel received 95 complaints comprising 203 allegations.

The Standards Panel convened 20 meetings in 2022-23 and considered 294 allegations in the 99 complaints finalised in 2022-23; with 155 findings of no breach and 53 findings that a breach had occurred. Five matters were suspended as the respondent was no longer an elected member and two matters were withdrawn.

The panel also refused to deal with 79 complaints, the majority of which were determined to be vexatious and/or frivolous.

The Standards Panel were provided with quarterly reports this financial year to monitor performance. This presented an opportunity to address the timeliness of the Standards Panel’s response. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) were introduced for the second half of the financial year and whilst a limited but noticeable impact on the timeliness can be seen this year, it is anticipated that the introduction of KPIs will result in a timelier response for the sector which will be reflected over the coming financial year.

The Standards Panel's processing times are impacted by legislative requirements and the provision of procedural fairness for those elected members responding to allegations.

In 2022-23, former Deputy of the Standards Panel, Darrelle Merritt, was replaced by Suleila Felton, Acting Director Local Government Financial Policy & Statutory Approval at the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries (DLGSC).

I thank Darrelle for her contribution to the Standards Panel and welcome Suleila who has already considered a number of matters in the role of Deputy.

I would also like to thank both Councillor Peter Rogers and Councillor Renée McLennan for their commitment for this year and would like to acknowledge and thank our legal members, Emma Power and Elanor Rowe, for their ongoing support.

I take this opportunity to also thank staff at DLGSC for their continued work in providing administrative and executive support to the Standards Panel.

Tim Fraser
Presiding Member, Local Government Standards Panel
31 August 2023

Page reviewed 11 September 2023