New Councillor Resources

Introduction

Congratulations on your election to Council.

LGAT is pleased to present the following resources for councillors.

While these are primarily targeted at first time councillors, we will be addressing a range of topics in greater depth and hope that these resources are useful for all Elected Members.

We would like to thank the Local Government Division at the Department of Premier and Cabinet for their support and assistance with the development of these resources.

About LGAT

LGAT is the peak body for all Tasmanian councils.  For over 100 years we have served councils through our advocacy, professional development offerings, resources and other activities

Our CEO provides a brief overview here but for more information please see who we are section of the Website

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About the Local Government Division

There is often confusion between the role of the Local Government Association of Tasmania (LGAT) and the Local Government Division (LGD) of State Government – in the Department of Premier and Cabinet.  The Director of Local Government, Alex Tay, provides an overview of the LGD for you here but further information can also be found at www.dpac.tas.gov.au/lgd.

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Guides for Councillors

LGAT has updated two key resources for those newly elected to councils:

1)    The Mayoral Handbook

2)    The  Councillor Resource Kit

These provide a good introduction to key roles and responsibilities.

Also see the  link to the Peer Advisor Program updated October 2019.

In addition, the Local Government Division, with support from LGAT, produced the Good Governance Guide which is a really useful resource for both new and more experienced Elected Members.

Training for New Elected Members

LGAT offers a range of professional development opportunities to Elected Members each year.  These are promoted through our Pulse e-newsletter, our professional development and training web page and on our website  under Events in the LGAT Events Calendar.

The Local Government Association of NSW (LGNSW) has developed a Local Government Capability Framework which outlines core capabilities required of officers, managers, councillors and mayors.  This may be a useful tool to use when contemplating what professional development to undertake.

To access the capability framework, click here.

Another resource which may be useful is the LGAT  Induction Checklist.

Roles and Responsibilities

Councils are busy and diverse entities and councillors receive information about and make decisions on a wide range of matters. Councils and councillors must respond to numerous pieces of legislation.  However, the key roles and functions of councils, councillors and staff are prescribed through the Local Government Act 1993.

Councillors have both individual and collective roles to undertake and their decisions are at a strategic level.  Operational matters are the responsibility of the Council's General Manager, who is appointed by the Council

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Code of Conduct

In this video, the previous State Government’s Director of Local Government, Alex Tay, outlines key aspects of the Councillor Code of Conduct.

The Local Government Code of Conduct Framework is prescribed under Part 3, Division 3A of the Local Government Act 1993 (the Act).

The Local Government (Model Code of Conduct) Order 2016 makes the Model Code of Conduct for Tasmanian councillors as outlined in section 28R of the Act.

Councils are required to review their codes of conduct, which are based on the Model Code of Conduct, within three months after each election.

The Model Code of Conduct was amended in December 2018 following a review of its operation during the first 12 months since it commenced. The review was jointly conducted by the Government and the local government sector.  A number of changes have been made to the Model Code to improve its operation and councils were required to adopt the revised Model Code of Conduct by 26 March 2019.

For more information on the review, see the Joint Review of the local government Code of Conduct Framework.

Information on how to make a Code of Conduct complaint is available on the Making a Code of Conduct Complaint webpage.

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Compliance with Local Government Legislation

It is important that councillors understand the role of good governance and have a commitment to regulatory compliance.

The Local Government Division, with support from LGAT, has produced the "Good Governance Guide" which is a really useful resource fro both new and more experienced Elected Members.

The aim of the Guide is to build better understanding of, promote and enhance good governance in Local Goverment in Tasmania.

There are a number of compliance provisions in the Local Government Act aimed to ensure impartial decision making, reputational protection, public confidence and that decisions are made in the best interests of communities.

The Local Government Division’s provides a range of resources for councillors on their website here

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Effective Relationships

In order to deliver the best outcomes for communities, the elected representatives and council staff need to have effective working relationships.

There are distinct roles for the Council, comprising councillors and the general manager.  The Council sets the policy and the general manager implements it and manages and directs the council staff.

Elected Members and officers are indispensable to one another and a respectful professional relationship is critical in bringing together skills, experience, knowledge and the democratic mandate and strategic direction.

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Meeting Procedures

Council decisions are made at council meetings and so an understanding of  formal meeting procedures is vital.  These presentations take you through the different types of meetings, the role of the Chair, setting the agenda, motions, minutes and more.

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Chairing a Meeting

One of the key funtions of the Mayor is to Chair the Council meetings. From time to time other Elected Members may be required to Chair.

Being an effective chair is an important role as it provides clear leadership and direction and ensures discussions occure within the parameters of the Local Government Meeting Procedures. To hear more about how to Chair a Meeting, please view the following video:

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Introduction to Land Use Planning

Another important role of councillors is acting as a member of the planning authority.  For this role they must put aside their councillor ‘hat’ and abide by the requirements of the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act 1993.

The Department of Premier and Cabinet’s Local Government Division, has a range of short information sheets for councillors, including the Role of Elected Members and Council Meeting Procedures and also the Good Governance Guide.  The aim of the Guide is to build better understanding of and promote and enhance good governance in Local Government in Tasmania.

LGAT’s Policy Director Dion Lester provides an introduction to Land Use Planning.

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Strategic Planning

Your council has been elected to provide leadership for the good governance of the municipal area.

In performing its functions your council is required to consult, involve and be accountable to the community. It must take into account the diverse needs of the local community in its decision-making, set and monitor strategic objectives and ensure resources are managed in a responsible manner.

Strategic planning is the most important link to a council in terms of providing accountability to the community and councils must prepare a 10-year strategic plan which is reviewed at least every four years.

To ensure sound management practices, financial activities need to be underpinned by appropriate plans and strategies, some of which form part of a legislative framework, and all of which are intertwined.

Key planning documents include:

  • Ten-Year Strategic Plan
  • Annual Plan
  • Long Term Financial Management Plan (10 years)
  • Strategic Asset Management Plans (10 years, covering each major asset class)
  • Financial Management/ Asset Management Strategy and Policy
  • Audit Panel Charter and Work Plan
  • Planning Scheme for the Municipality
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Asset Management

Asset management is the systematic and strategic process to guide councils in planning for, delivering, operating, maintaining and disposing of assets.  Tasmania’s councils have significant infrastructure assets built up over many generations.  The importance of community infrastructure and its significance for council budgets means that asset management must be at the centre of council planning. Strategic asset management must form part of an effective long-term financial management framework – linking with, and supporting, long-term financial planning and strategic planning.

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Coming Soon

We will soon add content on:

  • Local Government Planning
  • Accounting and Reporting
  • Financial Management and Budgets