1a Atherton Road, Oakleigh, 3166

Understanding how Council’s work

After many comments on socials, phone calls and emails lately, it is clear that many misunderstand the way a Council runs and the powers the Mayor and Councillors have.

I’ll try and explain this, because it’s important for people to understand.

There has been no “captains call” with regards to bin changes and it was not “my” decision – and legally it could not have been. It was a decision of Council, one that was supported unanimously by all Councillors, and it is my role to represent the resolved position of Council as it’s primary spokesperson.

Councils are nothing like Federal and State Governments. The Mayor does not have the same powers as the Prime Minister or Premier, and Councillors do not have the same powers as Ministers. Unlike those levels of Government, where politicians from the party who receive the majority vote form the Executive branch, we do not; Councils CEO and Directors do. The Mayor and Councillors form the Parliamentary (or legislative) branch.

In fact, the law specifically prohibits Councillors (inc. the Mayor) from directing officers or getting involved in operational decisions. Legally, we can’t deal with your parking fine, or the pot hole in the road, all we can do is refer your complaint to the CEO for investigation.

The easiest way to understand how it works is to consider Councillors as Directors on a board, with the Mayor as the Chair of the Board. Our role is to set policy and strategical direction. We have one employee, the CEO, who’s job it is to carry out those policies and strategy. How they choose to do that, is largely up to them.

The Mayor has absolutely no decision making capabilities over the organisation. If I wanted to make a decision, I would need to call a meeting of Council, propose the motion and have a majority of Councillors support it. That is the only way a decision of Council can be made.

The Mayors role, as defined by law (section 18 of the Local Government Act 2020), is to; chair meetings, be the public spokesperson, engage with the community on the four-year Council plan, report on the progress of that plan, promote good behaviour amongst the Councillor group, assist with the setting of Council meeting agendas, lead an annual performance review of the CEO and to perform ceremonial duties.

Hopefully this assists people in understanding local Councils in Victoria.


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