Mayors to receive more power at meetings, able to suspend councillors

LOCAL government mayors are set to be handed tough new powers to deal with councillors who misbehave at meetings.

A review of councillor conduct and governance has been underway since May last year and legislation will be introduced to the Victorian Parliament this year allowing mayors to suspend misbehaving councillors.

If an individual councillor continues to misbehave after being warned twice by the mayor, the mayor will have the power to suspend the councillor from the meeting.

City of Ballarat mayor Joshua Morris said local councillors in Ballarat were already required to abide by meeting procedural laws, which were at the discretion of the mayor.

He said the laws mainly affected other councils around the state that didn’t already have such procedures.

“Our current laws already give the mayor the power to require a councillor to leave the meeting if they are disrupting the meeting,” he said.

Cr Morris said the powers to remove a councillor were only needed in certain circumstances and had not been required in meetings of the current council. 

“If anyone was to come along and see the way we operate I think they would agree that they are respectful of each other,” he said.

Local Government Minister Jeanette Powell said the new legislation would be instrumental in raising the standard of councillor behaviour.

“Council meetings are for important discussion and decision-making and cannot afford to be marred by inappropriate councillor behaviour as has been the case in some municipalities,” she said.

“In the past some councillors have thought they can get away with unruly, disrespectful and inappropriate behaviour during council meetings – this must stop.”