Local Government Minister Jeanette Powell has signalled tough new powers for mayors forced to deal with unruly behaviour and disruptions from fellow councillors during meetings.
For the first time, mayors will have the power to suspend councillors who disrupt proceedings in the chamber.
Mrs Powell made the announcement at the Victorian Local Governance Association’s ‘Essential Mayors’ weekend in Werribee last week, saying new legislation was ready to go before Parliament to raise the standards of how councillors were expected to behave.
“Council meetings are for important discussion and decision-making and can’t afford to be marred by inappropriate councillorbehaviour, as has been the
case in some municipalities,” the minister said.
“In the past, some councillors have thought they can get away with unruly, disrespectful and inappropriate behaviour during council meetings. This must stop.”
Mrs Powell said councillors must lead by example, acting with respect and integrity, to encourage public confidence in the office of councillor.
“It must be remembered that councillors are elected representatives with a significant public role and the community expects them to maintain high standards
of conduct at all times,” Mrs Powell said.
“If an individual councillor continues to misbehave after being warned twice by the mayor, the mayor will have the power to suspend the councillor from the meeting.”
A review of councillor conduct and governance has been under way since May last year and the new legislation now being drafted is expected to be introduced to Parliament this year.
“While most councillors conduct themselves appropriately and in accordance with their code of conduct, when they fail to do so these new reforms will enhance the Act’s existing provisions for dealing with misconduct,” Mrs Powell said.