Local Government Act 1995 enables Western Australian local governments to make local
laws considered necessary for the good government of their districts.
Local laws can only be made when authorised by the Local Government Act 1995 (the Act) or other written
laws, but cannot be inconsistent with any State or Federal law.
Local laws typically cover areas such as car parking,
activities on thoroughfares, public places and council and committee
When a local law is made by a council, it is submitted to Parliament. If the Parliament determine that the local law is inappropriate, the Parliament can disallow the local law meaning it ceases to have effect.
Other accountability mechanisms affecting local laws are:
Search and find local laws in your local government district.
The department monitors and provides advice to assist local governments in making their local laws. It works closely with the Western
Australian Local Government Association and the Joint Standing Committee
on Delegated Legislation to ensure that proposed local
laws comply with legislative requirements.
The Act requires
that copies of proposed laws be forwarded to the Minister for Local
Government and other relevant State ministers to fulfil these requirements. The department examines the proposed local laws on behalf of the Minister and gives specific consideration to:
Joint Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation is a committee of the
Western Australian Parliament consisting of eight members, with equal
representation from the Legislative Council and Legislative Assembly.
a local law is gazetted, it is referred to the committee to consider under its terms of reference. Where the committee finds
that a local law offends one or more of its terms of reference, it will
usually seek a written undertaking from the local government to amend or
repeal the instrument in question.
Where a local government does
not comply with the committee’s request for an undertaking, the committee
may, as a last resort, resolve to report to the Parliament recommending
the disallowance of the instrument in the Legislative Council.
A disallowed local law will cease to have effect from the date on which it is
disallowed. If the disallowed local law had amended or repealed another local laws, these changes will be reversed on the day of disallowance.
In making a local law, a
local government must follow the procedure set out in Division 2, Part 3
of the Act. The procedural steps are outlined in the local laws process
Section 3.12(1) of the Act
states that the local law making process must be followed in the
sequence in which it is described. This is outlined in the
statutory procedures checklist.
Section 3.13 of the Act provides that the local law process must be restarted from the beginning if the final version of the local law will be significantly different to what was originally advertised to the public.
The Act does not define the term 'significantly different'. However, the department recommends restarting the process if any changes have been made to the draft which will impact the rights, privileges, or liabilities which the law would otherwise have
Changes which merely relate to formatting, cross-references and minor drafting errors will generally not be significant. By contrast, changes that add a completely new clause, delete a clause or change the legal effect of a clause is likely to be significant.
If a situation arises where a draft has become significantly different, the section 3.12 process must be restarted from the beginning. It is insufficient for the local government to merely halt the process and hold a second public submission period. The
3.12 process must begin from the start.
Once the final local law is made by a local government, the Joint Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation will consider whether significant changes have occurred during the drafting process. If the committee concludes that the law-making process should
have been restarted, the local law may potentially be disallowed by Parliament.
During the drafting of a local law, the department will often provide drafting suggestions and comments. If the department believes that following these suggestions may lead to a significantly different local law, this will be explicitly mentioned in
the department’s comments. However, the committee and the Parliament will ultimately determine whether changes are significant or not.
As part of its role in scrutinising local laws, the Joint Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation will often send correspondence to local governments. These letters may:
These letters form a part of the committee’s official deliberations, meaning they are protected under the Parliamentary Privileges Act 1891.
Any unauthorised disclosure of the letters or the information contained within them may potentially constitute a contempt of Parliament. The letters will usually contain the following confidentiality warning:
"This correspondence including any attachments is confidential and privileged. Your local government may only discuss the content of this letter and any attachments with the Western Australian Local Government Association, the Department of Local
Government, Sport and Cultural Industries and the local government’s legal advisors to the extent necessary to obtain information the committee seeks. Each person to whom you distribute this material must be made aware of its confidential and
Local governments should ensure that any correspondence received by the committee is treated as private and confidential. The letters should not be included in any publicly available versions of agendas or minutes. Councils should also ensure that if
a councillor wishes to discuss the content of the letters, the meeting is closed to the public for the duration of that discussion.
If a local government seeks to have committee correspondence released to the community for any reason, it can make a formal request to the committee to release the letter for public viewing.
If a situation arises where a confidential letter is inadvertently released, action should be taken to mitigate the situation as soon as possible (for example, removing the document from the local government’s website). The committee should also
be advised of the incident and actions taken.
In certain cases, committee correspondence may state that the committee is happy for the contents to be disclosed either to the public or to specified parties. However, if the correspondence contains a confidentiality warning, it should be presumed that parliamentary privilege applies.
The Delegated Legislation Committee has previously undertaken formal inquiries in situations where Parliamentary privilege has been breached. A parliamentary report on this matter can be viewed via the link below.
Committee report — Parliamentary confidentiality (PDF 1386 KB)
Do not submit enquiries with this form.