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Department of Premier and Cabinet

Local Government (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act 2013

The Tasmanian Parliament has passed the Local Government (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act 2013 which provides:.

  • an improvement in local government financial and asset management capacity and practices;
  • councils with the power to take action to rectify issues with dilapidated buildings;
  • councils with enhanced powers to deal with local nuisances;
  • minor changes to some of the electoral provisions of the Local Government Act 1993; and
  • clarity to a number of other provisions contained within the Local Government Act.

The Government is preparing guidance material for general managers to assist them in applying the new dilapidated building provisions.

While the majority of amendments commenced on 19 November 2013, the financial and asset management reforms will commence on a date to be proclaimed when the relevant Ministerial Orders (see below) have been finalised. 

Financial and Asset Management

The legislation incorporates a number of amendments to the Local Government Act to:

  • require councils to maintain long-term financial management and strategic asset management plans (10 years) and financial and asset management strategies;
  • require councils to maintain an asset management policy;
  • require councils to review their long-term financial management and strategic asset management plans, financial management and asset management strategies and asset management policy every four years;
  • require general managers to notify the Director of Local Government (as soon as practicable) when their long-term strategic asset management plan, long-term financial management plan, financial management strategy, asset management strategy and asset management policy have been adopted by the council;
  • require councils to report financial and asset management sustainability indicators in their financial statements;
  • require councils to maintain an audit panel;
  • require councils to develop their strategic plan every 10 years, as opposed to at least every five years, to align and coordinate with the financial and asset management planning process; and
  • provide a power for the Minister for Local Government to make orders regarding long-term financial management and strategic asset management planning, financial management and asset management strategies, asset management policies, audit panels and financial and asset management sustainability indicators.

The Ministerial Orders, which are currently out for stakeholder consultation, will:

  • outline the minimum requirements necessary for appropriate long-term financial management and strategic asset management plans;
  • outline the minimum requirements necessary for an appropriate financial management strategy and asset management strategy;
  • outline the minimum requirements necessary for an appropriate asset management policy;
  • list the financial and asset management sustainability indicators on which councils must report; and
  • provide guidance to councils on the structure, membership and primary functions of audit panels.  

Dilapidated buildings

The legislation amends the Building Act 2000 to provide general managers with appropriate discretionary powers to order building owners to carry out building work (or other work) to remedy the adverse effects of dilapidated buildings on local communities. 

These powers are subject to building owner rights to make representations regarding building notices and to appeal against a building order.

Dilapidated buildings guidance material for general managers

Guidance material for general managers on the new legislative powers for councils to deal with dilapidated buildings is now available.  The guidance material is in the form of a Building Regulation Advisory Note issued to councils by the Director of Building Control, who is responsible for administering the Building Act 2000.

The Advisory Notes is designed to assist general managers in navigating the dilapidated buildings process, and provide guidance on the types of buildings the provisions may apply to and when the legislative powers may be exercised.

The guidance material was developed as a joint effort by Building Standards and Occupational Licencing Department of Justice, the Local Government Association of Tasmania and the Local Government Division Department of Premier and Cabinet.

The Advisory Note is available here or a copy can be obtained by phoning the Local Government Division on 6232 7022. 

Nuisance

The legislation provides additional powers under the existing nuisance provisions of the Local Government Act to allow councils to issue infringement notices if a person fails to comply with a nuisance abatement notice and does not appeal against the notice to the Magistrates Court.

This is intended to enhance the ability of councils to deal with nuisances, such as junk or car-wrecks in front yards, by providing an incentive for people to comply with nuisance abatement notices. 

Electoral

The changes to the electoral provisions of the Local Government Act include:

  • allowing the Tasmanian Electoral Commission (TEC) to establish procedures for voting by email for people who are outside Tasmania at the time of the election and who meet other circumstances approved by TEC;
  • strengthening the provisions around electoral advertising;
  • making it an offence for a candidate who has been provided with a copy of the list of electors to use the list, except for a purpose in connection with the election;
  • allowing TEC to publish candidate statements online;
  • transferring some of the Electoral Commissioner's more discretionary powers to the three member TEC;
  • clearly setting out the requirements for entitlement to enrol and vote in local government elections; and
  • removing provisions consequential to the recent introduction of all-in, all-out council elections every four years. 

For further information

Queries about the Local Government (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act 2013 can be directed to the Local Government Division either by email to lgd@dpac.tas.gov.au or by telephone to 6232 7022.