Local Government Act 1995 (the Act) enables Western Australian local governments to make local laws considered necessary for the good government of their districts. Laws can only be made when authorised by the Act or other written laws but cannot be inconsistent with any State or federal law. The types of laws made by local governments cover areas such as car parking, activities on thoroughfares, public places and council and committee meetings.
Other accountability mechanisms impacting on local laws are:
- The local community, which under the Act is required to be consulted on proposed local laws.
Minister for Local Government, who is charged with administering the Department of Local Government and Communities (DLGC), which monitors local law making.
- The power of the Minister to request the Governor to make local laws that repeal or amend local laws or prevent certain local laws being made.
- The courts, which can pronounce on the validity of local laws.
Role of DLGC
DLGC monitors and provides an advisory function to assist local governments with the making of their local laws. It works closely with the Western Australian Local Government Association and the Joint Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation to ensure that the content of proposed local laws complies with legislative requirements.
The Act requires that copies of proposed laws be forwarded to the Minister for Local Government and other relevant State Ministers in fulfilment of these functions. DLGC examines the proposed local laws on behalf of the Minister and gives specific consideration to the following:
- whether the proposed local law is adopted under the correct Act of Parliament
- whether the proposed local law is in conflict with the Act and any other law
- matters raised previously by the Joint Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation, and
- State Government policy issues.
Role of the Joint Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation
The Joint Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation is a committee of the Western Australian Parliament comprising eight members with equal representation from the Legislative Council and Legislative Assembly.
Once a local law is gazetted it is referred to the committee for consideration under its terms of reference. Where the committee finds that a local law offends one or more of its terms of reference it will usually seek a written undertaking from the local government to amend or repeal the instrument in question.
Where a local government does not comply with the committee’s request for an undertaking the committee may, as a last resort, resolve to report to the Parliament recommending the disallowance of the instrument in the Legislative Council.
A local law will cease to have effect from the date on which it is disallowed. Where the local law amended or repealed another local law the earlier local law will be revived on and after the day of disallowance.
Local laws process
In making a local law, a local government must follow the procedure set out in Division 2, Part 3 of the Act. The procedural steps are outlined in the local laws process flow chart.
Statutory procedures checklist
Section 3.12(1) of the Act states that the local law making process must be followed in the sequence in which it is described. This is outlined in the statutory procedures checklist.