Victoria seeks more council powers
Victoria is moving ahead with its shakeup of the local government act.
The Andrews Government has outlined a new bill that it says will modernise the laws for local government.
It includes new provisions that would see misbehaving councillors and mayors disqualified from running for up to eight years if they are found guilty of gross misconduct.
The bill would add sexual harassment to the councillors' code of conduct, allowing the local government to remove individual councillors for serious incidents.
It comes after an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment by the former lord mayor of Melbourne Robert Doyle found the complaints process to be lacking.
Local Government Minister Marlene Kairouz said the changes will give victims of sexual harassment more avenues to pursue complaints, through a councillor conduct panel, WorkSafe, or the chief municipal inspector.
The minister will have the power to suspend individual councillors, whereas they previously had to scrap the entire council to do away with problematic individuals.
“Sometimes it takes one rotten apple to rot the whole box,” Ms Kairouz said.
“If one councillor is disrupting the governance of the council the minister will be able to step the councillor aside for up to 12 months.”
Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said the Government is hypocritically setting a higher standard for local government than for its own MPs.
“This is utterly hypocritical coming from a state government that the ombudsman found stole $400,000 from the taxpayer,” he said.
“I think the concept is fine but I find it astounding coming from this state government which has got so much to answer for in way of conduct.”