‘My Council’ to examine Victorian Local Government

Victorian Local Governments will be under greater scrutiny than ever before with the State Government announcing Australia’s first standardised system of Local government reporting.

The move is designed to provide Victorian ratepayers with a greater understanding of council decision-making by providing access to finance and performance data.

This announcement is part of the new Performance and Reporting framework, which was developed after two Victorian Auditor-General’s Office reports highlighted a lack of council transparency and accountability.

The data will be available in a similar fashion to Victoria’s ‘My School’ website.

“People will be able to use the ‘My Council’ style website to see how their council compares with other similar councils, how their rates are being spent and whether they are getting value for money, which will in turn help drive improvements across the local government sector,” said Local Government Minister Tim Bull.

“In its recent State Budget the Victorian Coalition Government announced funding of $2.5 million to deliver a raft of new accountability measures, including this cutting-edge website.”

While supportive of transparency in Local Government, the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) is critical of the scale and scope of the planned council performance indicators.

MAV president Councillor Bill McArthur posted in a statement:
“Firstly, we do not support the ambitious scope of the performance indicators, and have reservations about the meaningfulness of some data proposed.
“We believe a smaller number of high quality measures would be a better starting point that can be built on and expanded over time.

“Our [Regulatory Impact Statement] response requested an alternative statutory instrument be used, such as gazettal, however 71 service performance measures were prescribed in regulations, along with 24 measures in a governance and management checklist.

“Any changes will now require the Minister’s support.”

President of the Victorian Local Government Association Councillor Sebastian Klein has also been critical of the project and fears it will become a ‘meaningless league table’.

“In particular, it will fail to consider the real difference in circumstances between councils, metropolitan, regional and rural.

“It would be better that much of the funds to be allocated to the website are redirected to help councillors continue an ongoing conversation about rates and services with local residents.”