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Representation Review 2021

FAQS

A Representation Review is a process required by the Local Government Act 1999 which considers the composition of the Council and the advantages and disadvantages of various representation options. The key areas for consideration are:

  • the principal member of Council (i.e. elected Mayor or selected Chairperson – noting the Statutes Amendment (Local Government Review) Bill 2020 currently before Parliament provides that the role will be a Mayor);
  • the composition of Council;
  • the number of elected members required to adequately represent the community and perform the roles and responsibility of Council;
  • the division (or not) of the council area into wards;
  • the number of wards;
  • the level of representation and elector ratio within each ward;
  • ward names and
  • the Council name (if required)
  • Statutes Amendment (Local Government Review) Bill 2020, which is currently being debated in Parliament, proposes to cap the number of elected members (including the Mayor) at twelve, with the requirement that if this provision commences Councils will have the change in place in time for the 2026 General Election process. This does not impact City of Prospect.

A council must ensure that all aspects of the composition of the council, and the issue of division or potential division, of the area of the Council into wards, are comprehensively reviewed.

City of Prospect undertook its last Representation Review during 2013. Councils in South Australia are currently required to undertake regular reviews of their elector representation arrangements, which is approximately every 8 years. The Minister has approved the current schedule which captures City of Prospect.

The process for the Representation Review requires Council to undertake the following steps:

  • Initiate the preparation of a Representation Options Paper;
  • Conduct the first round of public consultation on the Options Paper for a minimum period of six (6) weeks;
  • Consider the submissions made during the first public consultation and prepare a Representation Review Report that details the representation arrangements Council favours, the reasons why and respond to issues raised during the first consultation;
  • Conduct the second round of public consultation, providing an opportunity for people making submissions on the Representation Review Report to be heard personally (or through a representative) by either the Council or a Committee of the Council. Consultation must be open for a minimum period of three (3) weeks with opportunities for verbal submissions to follow;
  • Adopt a representation structure;
  • Prepare the final Representation Review Report and submit to the Electoral Commissioner of South Australia (ECSA) to obtain a certificate of compliance.; and
  • Place a notice in the Gazette providing for the operation of any proposal in the final Review Report for which the ECSA has provided a certificate of compliance.

Any changes as a result of the Representation Review will take effect for the next general elections to be held in November 2022.

The Final Representation Review Report must take into account the principles set out in section 26 of the Local Government Act 1999 (the Act), namely:

  • the resources available to local communities should be used as economically as possible while recognising the desirability of avoiding significant divisions within a community;
  • proposed changes should, wherever practicable, benefit ratepayers;
  • a council should have a sufficient resource base to fulfil its functions, fairly, effectively and efficiently;
  • a council should offer its community a reasonable range of services delivered on an efficient, flexible, equitable and responsive basis;
  • a council should facilitate effective planning and development within an area, and be constituted with respect to an area that can be promoted on a coherent basis;
  • a council should be in a position to facilitate sustainable development, the protection of the environment and the integration of land use schemes;
  • a council should reflect communities of interest of an economic, recreational, social, regional or other kind, and be consistent with community structures, values, expectations and aspirations;
  • a council area should incorporate or promote an accessible centre (or centres) for local administration and services;
  • the importance within the scheme of local government to ensure that local communities within large council areas can participate effectively in decisions about local matters;
  • residents should receive adequate and fair representation within the local government system, while over-representation in comparison with councils of a similar size and type should be avoided (at least in the longer term)
  • a scheme that provides for the performance of functions and delivery of services in relation to 2 or more councils (for example, a scheme for regional governance) may improve councils capacity to deliver services on a regional basis and therefore offer a viable and appropriate alternative to structural change; and
  • the extent and frequency of previous changes affecting the council or councils under this Chapter or the repealed Act.

Council is required to take the following matters into account in conducting the Representation Review:

  • Demographic trends;
  • Population data and projections;
  • Communities of interest; and
  • Elector representation and ward quotas.

This Bill seeks to amend the provisions of the Local Government Act (the Act), including matters relating to the composition of councils and the elector representation review process.

Specifically it seeks to:

  • cap the number of elected members (including the Mayor) at twelve (12) – not an issue for Prospect;
  • abolish the appointment of a principal member of Council by the elected members (i.e. a Chairperson) – highly unlikely to be an issue for Prospect; and
  • introduce a new abridged process which incorporates the preparation/provision of only one report (for public consultation purposes) and only one public consultation stage – a benefit for Prospect.

As such it is only really the third dot point that will apply to the City of Prospect, which aims to simply future processes for efficiency and simplicity.

The potential changes to the Act are being taken into consideration as Council progresses through the current review.

An elector is a person or body who is either enrolled on the House of Assembly electoral roll (used for state and federal elections) or has applied to be on the Council’s Voters Roll. The Council’s voters roll allows:

  • a resident or a non-Australian citizen who has lived at your residential address for one month or more, or
  • an owner of an organisation or business, or
  • an owner of a holiday home, or
  • a sole owner, or group of owners, of a rateable property, or
  • a sole occupier, or group of occupiers, of a rateable property, or
  • a landlord of rateable property.
  • to apply to be on the Council’s Voters Roll and will receive ballot materials when an election is held.

To be included on the Council’s Voters Roll for the 2022 election eligible persons and groups will need to apply after 1 January 2022 to the close of rolls using the forms available.

The Representation Review is expected to cost the council $22,000 (maximum and afforded through the ABP and Budget for this financial year). This includes the preparation of the two consultation reports, costs of the statutory notices in the SA Government Gazette and in a newspaper circulating in the council area and all consultation activities.

In reviewing the Final Report from Council the Electoral Commissioner needs to determine that the requirements of Section 12 of the Local Government Act 1999 have been satisfied, specifically in relation to Council’s interpretation of the parties that were eligible to make a submission during the public consultation stages and that the Council has provided for a genuine and participatory engagement process.

Should this not be adequately demonstrated or there is inconsistent or no evidenced decision making, the Commissioner may not certify Council’s final review report. Aside from having to repeat the process this could carry reputational and financial risks.

It is of paramount importance to ensure that no interested person is denied the opportunity to provide a submission and that the mandated timeframes are adhered to.