Legal Insights

Ararat Commission of Inquiry Report tabled in Parliament

By Kate Oliver

• 14 August 2017 • 1 min read

In a Report tabled in the Victorian Parliament on 9 August 2017, the Commission of Inquiry into the Ararat Rural City Council has found that the Council failed to act in the interest of the municipality in the areas of rating strategy, community engagement, the termination of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), appointment of an interim CEO and fulfilling its budgetary obligations.

The Minister for Local Government has indicated that she accepts the Commissions findings and will appoint a municipal monitor to oversee the Council’s activities for a period of two years.

The Minister has recommended to Ararat’s Mayor that Council adopt most of the recommendations of the Committee of Inquiry including recommendations to leave Council’s 2016 rating strategy in place for the current year, establish an independently chaired Rating Strategy Advisory Group to help the Council develop its rating strategy in accordance with appropriate criteria, and that Council consider the recommendations of the rating strategy advisory group and invite and take into account public comment before developing its 2018 draft rating strategy.

Indicating that a uniform rating strategy should not necessarily be regarded as the ‘norm’, the Commission recommended that the Local Government Act be amended to require councils to justify the use of a uniform rating strategy as a method of equitable imposition of rates, in the same way as councils are currently required to justify the use of differential rates.

The Commission also found that the unsubdivided electoral structure of the Ararat municipality may have contributed to a divide within the community and recommended that the Electoral Commission be asked to undertake a review of unsubdivided electoral structure at the Ararat Council in light of the Commission’s findings.

See The Minister’s media release.

See the full text of the Commission of Inquiry into Ararat Rural City Council.

By Kate Oliver

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