State MP presses for more control around dysfunctional councils

Plans to give the community more certainty that any dysfunctional council cannot simply be sacked has been welcomed by the Member for Port Macquarie, Leslie Williams.

Under plans revealed this week in State Parliament, new laws would give the Minister for Local Government the power to intervene at an early stage against misbehaving councils and order local governments to improve or, if that fails, suspend councils for up to three months.

Leslie Williams said we have seen first hand what happened to Port Macquarie-Hastings Council and simply sacking a council after a lengthy and costly public enquiry is not the way it should happen.

 "Robbing a community of their democratic right is not how a council should be reprimanded if they are doing the wrong thing, as was the case under the previous Labor Government.

 "We all saw the impact that the sacking of our council had on our community and we don't want to go down that road again.

 "After almost five years under administration, our local community has only recently been given its local government voice back," Mrs Williams said.

 The new laws include the power to intervene at an early stage against dysfunctional councils. The legislation is an improvement over existing laws, which currently allow only for sacking misbehaving councils following a lengthy period of dysfunction, expensive public inquiries and intervention by the Minister and Governor.

"I commend the Liberals & Nationals Government on these plans which will give the Minister the power to protect the interests of the community and will provide a strong deterrent against council misbehaviour.

 "I look forward to participating in the debate when the Bill comes before the Parliament," Mrs Williams said.

 Under the new laws the Minister or Director General will have:

 Stronger powers to gather information from councils to identify dysfunction

·New powers to issue an Order to Improve

·New powers to suspend a council for up to three months

·More appropriate response to problems that arise.

The new laws are part of the Liberals & Nationals integrated program of reforms across the local government sector.

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