A key role of the Office of Local Government is to investigate serious breakdowns in council operations. We have two ways of doing this under the Local Government Act – section 430 investigations and section 438U public inquiries.
Under section 430, the Deputy Secretary, Local Government, Planning and Policy has the power to carry out investigations into council operations. This power is generally only used if a council’s conduct is having a serious impact on the local community.
Under section 438U, the Minister for Local Government has the power to appoint a commissioner to conduct a public inquiry into a council. This is a necessary step before a council can be dismissed. The Minister may order an inquiry at any time or as a result of a section 430 investigation.
Public inquiries are essential if a council becomes dysfunctional through maladministration, corruption or some other reason. After the inquiry process, the Minister may appoint an administrator.