Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Strathbogie Council suspended

Victoria’s Strathbogie Shire Council has been suspended for the remainder of its term and an interim administrator appointed in response to Municipal Monitor Peter Stephenson’s final report.

Minister for Local Government, Melissa Horne said the suspension applies to all members of Strathbogie Shire Council and takes effect from today until the next local council elections in October 2024.

“Strathbogie residents deserve a council that serves their needs and it is clear from the work of two municipal monitors that a circuit-breaker is needed,” the Minister said.

“The Administrator will restore good governance so that local representatives can return in due course and properly fulfil their important roles.

“We want Victorians to have confidence in their local councils and that’s why we will introduce legislation to improve the performance and accountability of councillors across the state.”

In a statement, the Victorian Government said the council and councillors were provided with the opportunity to consider the monitor’s report and provide a response to the Minister for Local Government. The Minister made the decision to suspend the council after considering the responses received from the council and individual councillors. 

Minister Horne said the responses showed the council had failed to fully appreciate and address the problems, which had resulted in the community receiving sub-standard service from its elected representatives. 

Mr Stephenson was appointed in May 2023 to examine why the Council had been unable to resolve governance issues identified by previous monitor, Janet Dore, during a 12-month appointment made at the request of the council. Mr Stephenson recommended that further intervention was required to ensure good governance. 

“Mr Stephenson has been appointed Strathbogie Shire Interim Administrator to provide support and continuity to the shire’s operations. A longer-term appointment will be made in due course to support the restoration of good governance to the shire,” said Ms Horne.

New legislation is set to be introduced early next year in a bid to elevate governance and integrity standards in the state’s 79 councils, encouraging quality candidates to put themselves forward at elections to be held statewide next October, she said.

Reforms will introduce mandatory training for elected representatives, a uniform councillor code of conduct and strengthened powers for the Minister to address councillor conduct.

To see a copy of the monitor’s report, visit: localgovernment.vic.gov.au/council-governance/independent-reports.

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