To support local governments during the current COVID-19 pandemic, a number of legislative changes have been made to the Local Government Act and regulations.
Latest COVID-19 information, updates and resources.
It is mandatory for most businesses and venues to maintain a contact register by collecting contact details of patrons attending their premises, including customers, staff, contractors, and visitors.
The MARKYT Community Resilience Scorecard was undertaken by CATALYSE with support from LG Professionals WA and funding from the department from the 5 June to 8 July 2020.
The online scorecard was open to all residents aged 18+ across Western Australia, hard copies were also made available by some smaller and regional local governments.
MARKYT Community Resilience Scorecard
The Local Government (COVID-19 Response) Amendment Order 2021 (the Order), comes into effect on 2 June 2021. To continue to protect Western Australian ratepayers hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Order will provide ongoing assistance to people
experiencing financial hardship for the 2021-22 financial year.
The Order extends requirements of the Local Government (COVID-19 Response) Order 2020 that deal with:
For all other provisions, the ordinary requirements of the Local Government Act 1995 and all relevant legislation apply as normal.
The Local Government Amendment (COVID-19 Response) Act 2020 enables the Local Government Minister to modify or suspend provisions of the Local Government Act 1995 and Regulations during a State of Emergency.
Section 10.3 LG Act — Modification or suspension of provisions of Act or regulations
The Local Government Amendment (COVID-19 Response) Act 2020 amends the Local Government Act 1995 (the Act) to provide a power to the Minister to waive or suspend the operation of any provision of the Act, during a declared state of emergency,
to allow local governments to continue to operate and make critical decisions.
This provision sets out the citation title of the instrument — Local Government (COVID-19 Response) Amendment Order 2021.
The Amendment Order comes into operation:
The Amendment Order amends the Local Government (COVID-19 Response) Order 2020.
The annual budget for the financial year 2021/22 is defined in clause 3 of the Amendment Order in relation to an annual budget adopted under section 6.2 of the Local Government Act.
Clause 8 is amended to specify that the rate of interest that may be set by the local government in its 2021/22 annual budget (under section 6.13 of the Act), is not to exceed seven percent (7%). The rate of interest is based on the Australian
Taxation Office general interest charge.
Clause 13 is amended to extend the modification of section 6.45 of the Act (options for payment of rates or service charges) into the 2021/22 financial year.
Clause 13 limits the amount of interest that can be charged to a person who elects to pay rates or service charges by instalment. It also excludes a person who is considered to be experiencing financial hardship from payment of interest.
Clause 14 is amended to specify that for the 2021-22 financial year, the rate of interest that can be charged on overdue rates or service charges is not to exceed seven percent (7%). The rate of interest is based on the Australian Taxation
Office general interest charge.
COVID-19 restrictions have been eased for local government electors’ meetings.
A Ministerial Order taking effect from 4 November 2020 means that electors’ general meetings and electors’ special meetings can now take place, if they operate in a COVID-19 safe environment.
This includes following good hygiene habits and complying with physical distancing measures.
The Local Government Amendment (COVID-19 Response) Act 2020 came into effect on 21 April 2020.
The Act, and subsequent Ministerial Order meant that local governments could not hold the 2019-20 electors’ general meetings or electors’ special meetings under sections 5.27 and 5.28 of the Local Government Act 1995, while the State of Emergency
declaration was in force.
Under the new Ministerial Order, local governments may hold:
The State Government has announced Phase 4 easing of restrictions commencing Saturday 27 June 2020.
Previous rules and gathering limits for local government facilities and activities have been removed and are now only determined by WA’s reduced 2sqm rule.
The 2sqm rule only includes
staff members working in venues that hold more than 500 patrons.
Please remind users of local government facilities or participants in activities, that they have a personal responsibility to practice physical distancing and good personal
Phase 3 commencing 6 June 2020
The State Government has implemented a staged lifting of COVID-19 restrictions and developed guidelines to assist businesses and community activities to reopen, recommence or expand activities.
The State Government has implemented a staged lifting of COVID-19 restrictions based on the advice of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) and the WA Department of Health.
A fact sheet has been developed to supplement the COVID Safety Guidelines and provides advice for the re-opening of playgrounds, skate
parks and outdoor gym equipment.
This includes playgrounds, skate parks, outdoor gym equipment, BMX and pump tracks, and public shared amenities such as public toilets, water fountains and barbecues.
Responsible organisations should place signage at prominent locations at playgrounds, outdoor equipment, skate parks and BMX tracks etc, reminding users that they have a personal responsibility to practice physical distancing and personal hygiene.
A fillable PDF sign has been created and is available for download below or if signs are to be created by organisations, similar messages should be included.
The State Government has implemented a staged lifting of COVID-19 restrictions and developed guidelines to assist businesses and community activities to reopen or recommence.
Safety requirements and accompanying guidance to reopen or recommence are contained in the COVID Safety Guidelines.
A local government that operates premises and/or delivers activities that were required to close under Directions made under the Emergency Management Act must complete a COVID Safety Plan and display a COVID Safety Certificate before reopening.
Premises that were not required to close (but may have chosen to) under directions made under the Emergency Management Act are encouraged to voluntarily complete a COVID Safety Plan, and display a COVID Safety Plan Certificate.
Local governments should use the specifically published guidelines (food businesses, sport and recreation) if their premises and/or activities are covered by those, or alternatively the generic COVID Safety Guidelines.
The department has developed additional information for local governments that outlines further considerations specifically for the reopening of community, cultural and arts activities and should be read in conjunction with the above COVID-19 Safety Guidelines and COVID Safety Plan.
This information will be updated as the restrictions are lifted, and to clarify business, governance and community considerations.
Further information is also provided for local governments in relation to:
The State Government has announced the easing of restrictions (phase 2) commencing Monday 18 May 2020. The State Library of WA has developed further information to assist public libraries to implement the necessary arrangements for the
re-opening. This information is to be read in conjunction with the COVID-19 Safety Guidelines and COVID Safety Plan.
A brief timeline of legislation and regulation amendments.
LG Alerts, Ministerial and Departmental Circulars relating to COVID-19.
Ministerial media statements relating to COVID-19.
News for sport and recreation, liquor, and culture and the arts.
DLGSC, with the Department of Health, is holding two exclusive information sessions for local government staff and elected members in Western Australia.
Anyone over the age of 30, and all Aboriginal people over the age of 16, in Western Australia are now eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Local Government (COVID-19 Response) Amendment Order 2021 (the Order), comes into effect on 2 June 2021, providing ongoing assistance to WA ratepayers hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic for the 2021-22 financial year.
Following an announcement by the State Government, post-lockdown measures will come into effect from 12:01am Tuesday 27 April until 12.01am, Saturday morning 1 May.
More than one million Western Australians have now signed up for SafeWA.
With just one day to go until COVID-19 contact registers become mandatory for many WA local businesses and venues, there are a number of State Government resources available to assist with communications to stakeholders.
With COVID-19 contact registers becoming mandatory for many WA local businesses and venues from 5 December, local governments should already be aware of the State Government’s SafeWA app.
The State Government has announced that mandatory contact registers at relevant businesses and venues will be introduced from 5 December 2020.
COVID-19 restrictions are being eased for local government electors’ meetings from today.
Ministerial Circular 5 2020
As you are aware, the Local Government Amendment (COVID-19 Response) Act 2020 was passed by Parliament on 16 April 2020 and came into effect on 21 April 2020.
Amendments have been made to the Caravan Parks and Camping Grounds Regulations 1997, the Cat Regulations 2012, and the Dog Regulations 2013.
Local governments around Western Australia are to share $1.75m to help fund 27 sport and recreation infrastructure projects to support their communities.
Western Australians are encouraged to share their ideas on the State’s recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic through the iThink (WA Public Sector), an online ideas community, now also open to the general public.
Phase 3 commencing 6 June 2020.
Responsible organisations should place signage on public equipment and facilities reminding users that they have a personal responsibility to practice physical distancing and personal hygiene.
The WA Government has implemented a staged lifting of COVID-19 restrictions and developed guidelines to assist businesses and community activities to reopen or recommence.
The State Government has announced the easing of restrictions (phase 2) commencing Monday, 18 May 2020.
The Premier has announced that from 18 May gatherings of 20 people will be permitted. What does this mean for council meetings?
The local government sector has a key role to play in the Phase 2 easing of restrictions and in helping communities get back on their feet and the economy back on track.
Ministerial Circular 3 2020
As you would be aware, the Local Government Amendment (COVID-19 Response) Act 2020 was passed by Parliament on 16 April 2020 and came into effect on 21 April 2020.
WA Government makes $100 million borrowing facility available to local governments to assist with cash flow.
Local government purchasing policies in the Local Government (Functions and General) Regulations 1996 to be amended.
Ministerial Circular 2 2020
I am pleased to advise that His Excellency the Governor, in Executive Council, has approved regulation amendments dealing with penalties for illegal parking in ACROD bays.
The Minister for Local Government is intending to make an Order using the new COVID-19 Response powers.
On 20 April 2020, the Local Government Amendment (COVID-19 Response) Act 2020 received Royal Assent.
Ministerial Circular 1 2020
I am advising that His Excellency the Governor, in Executive Council, has approved regulation amendments dealing with access to funding, procurement and long service leave during the COVID-19 outbreak.
To continue to support local governments during the COVID-19 outbreak, the department is urgently progressing amendments to the following Local Government Regulations.
To help reduce the spread of COVID-19, the State Government will introduce further restrictions on travel within Western Australia from midnight Tuesday night (12.00am Wednesday morning).
Departmental Circular 6 2020
Following the commencement of amendments to the Local Government (Administration) Regulations 1998, the following clarification is advised.
Departmental Circular 5 2020
His Excellency the Governor, in Executive Council, has approved regulations to allow local government councils to hold meetings electronically during a public health emergency or a state of emergency. This can be via teleconference, video conference or other electronic means.
Departmental Circular 4 2020
Under the Emergency Management Act 2005, the Commissioner of Police and State Emergency Coordinator, Chris Dawson, has issued directions regarding the closure of various establishments to the public in WA to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Local governments have been providing assistance to ensure that goods can be delivered to shops in a timely manner.
The department understands the challenges that local governments are facing in regard to social distancing and possible individual self-isolation in Western Australia.
Departmental Circular 3 2020
As our state and nation face the challenges of COVID-19, many of our supermarkets and other businesses are struggling to meet unprecedented consumer demand.
On 21 April 2020, the Local Government Amendment (COVID-19 Response) Act 2020 received Royal Assent. This
Act introduced a new Part into the Local Government Act to specifically deal with the pandemic. It allows local governments to suspend a local law, or parts of a local law, to temporarily remove local restrictions which may be beneficial to the district,
or parts of the district, during the state of emergency.
The Response Act also provided a power to enable the Minister to modify or suspend provisions of the Local Government Act 1995 and Regulations while a State of Emergency declaration is in force and where the Minister considers that such an order is necessary
to deal with the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first Ministerial order was gazetted on 8 May 2020 to deal with issues relating to the requirements to hold public meetings, access to information when council offices are closed and budgetary matters. For detailed information, please refer to the
Local Government (COVID-19 response) Order 2020.
On 16 April 2020, the Local Government Amendment (COVID-19 Response) Act 2020 was approved by Parliament.The Act is designed to streamline and support the operations of local governments for the purposes of responding to the direct and indirect impacts of COVID-19.
The Act inserts a new Part 10 in the Act which is specific to the COVID-19 emergency response. The amendments to the Act will allow:
Both powers will only be allowed while a state of emergency declaration is in place and it must be to deal with the consequences of the pandemic.
The Governor is expected to approve these amendments in the coming week.
Local Government Act changes to support COVID-19 response (media statement)
On Thursday, 9 April 2020, the Local Government Regulations Amendment Regulations 2020 were gazetted. The regulations amended three
sets of regulations as detailed below.
The purpose of these amendments is to increase the flexibility of the local government sector to access funding in a timelier manner to respond to the State of Emergency Declaration under the Emergency Management Act 2005.
Regulation 18 contains exemptions from the requirement for a local government to give local public notice of a change of ‘use of money’ set aside in a Reserve Account (this currently requires one month’s public notice). During a state
of emergency in a local government district or part of a district, a further exemption is being provided to allow the local government to change the ‘use of money’ required to address a need arising from the hazard or from the impact or
consequences of the hazard to which the state of emergency declaration relates. This decision, and the reasons for it, must be recorded in the formal minutes of the council.
Regulation 20 contains exemptions from the requirement for a local government to give local public notice of a ‘power to borrow’ under section 6.20 of the Act. An additional exemption from the period for giving local public notice is provided
if the decision is made while a state of emergency declaration is in force and the local government considers that the borrowing is required to address a need arising from the hazard (in this case COVID-19) or from the impact or consequences
of the hazard. Once again, this decision, and the reasons for it, must be recorded in the formal council minutes.
Regulation 21 provides further flexibility to a local government to re-purpose money borrowed, but not spent, to address a hazard or the impact or consequences of the hazard. This is tied to the declaration of a state of emergency and has the effect of
exempting the local government from providing local public notice before they can access the funds for the new purpose. Once again, this decision, and the reasons for it, must be recorded in the council minutes.
The primary purpose of these amendments is to increase the flexibility of the local government sector to contract with local suppliers during, and in the aftermath of, the State of Emergency Declaration under the Emergency Management Act 2005.
An amendment is being made to regulation 11(1) to increase the threshold to $250,000 to align with State Government tendering thresholds. This will permit local governments to extend the use of their own purchasing policy and apply local content provisions
more readily to goods and services acquired via written quotations.
Local governments should update their purchasing policy to cover the direct purchase of goods and services under $250,000. For purchases over $150,000, local governments should ensure that quotations are requested in writing and offers are received in
writing. Regulation 11A covering purchasing policies will be updated in the coming weeks.
Regulation 11(2) contains two further exemptions when tenders do not have to be publicly invited.
The first exemption, in new regulation 11(2)(aa), ensures the formal tender process does not need to be undertaken when sourcing and securing essential goods and services to respond to a state of emergency. As outlined in regulation 11(3), there must
be a state of emergency declaration in force for the local government district or part of the district and the goods or services must be required to address needs arising from, or impacts or consequences of, the hazard to which the emergency relates.
The other exemption in regulation 11(2)(ja) gives a local government the discretion to renew or extend a contract that expires when a state of emergency declaration is in force, even though this option is not included in the original contract. This will
overcome the practical difficulty of businesses responding to a formal tender process while they are shut down or in the transition period when normal business resumes. Limits on this apply: the original contract must have less than three months left
to run, the renewal or extension cannot be for more than twelve months, and there must be a state of emergency declaration applying to the district or part of the district when the renewal or extension is entered into.
A further exemption in regulation 11(2)(h) is being updated to encourage local governments to purchase goods or services supplied by Aboriginal businesses. The exemption will now reflect the fact that the Chamber of Commerce and Industry administers the
Aboriginal Business Directory. A new exemption has been added recognising goods or services may also be supplied by Supply Nation.
The purpose of these amendments is to provide greater access to paid leave for local government employees stood down during a state of emergency declaration under the Emergency Management Act 2005.
Regulation 4 governs rules towards entitlements for long service leave. New regulation 4(da) provides that any period of absence from duty connected with an employer’s response to a hazard, or the impact or consequences of the hazard declared under
the Emergency Management Act 2005, is deemed as continuous service towards an employee’s next entitlement of long service leave.
Regulation 7 deals with the actual taking of long service leave. Currently, leave may only be granted and taken in one consecutive period or, by agreement, not more than three consecutive periods. This restriction has been lifted to allow employees to
take leave by agreement in two or more separate periods.
In addition, regulation 7A(2) establishes a new right for a worker to take advance leave by agreement with their employer if:
On 25 March 2020, the Local Government (Administration) Amendment Regulations 2020 were gazetted. These regulations allow local
government councils to hold meetings electronically during a public health emergency or a state of emergency. This can be via teleconference, video conference or other electronic means.
The regulations also provide that individual councillors can participate electronically in face to face meetings should they go ahead.
This will ensure that local governments can continue to hold meetings and make decisions in the best interests of the community. This includes committee meetings, should councils continue to hold them.
The amendments also modify the provisions in the Local Government Act that relate to notice of a meeting and public question time to enable meetings to be held electronically.
If a meeting is held electronically, public question time requirements will be met if council allocates time for raising questions by members of the public and provides a means for questions to be submitted prior to the meeting.
For further information, please email the department
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