A very important issue for Local Governments to deal with following an amalgamation will be managing, administering and consolidating its local laws.
Local Governments that are involved in amalgamation will find themselves on the day of Commencement of the new Local Government having two or more sets of local laws.
The term Commencement in this paper means the day of commencement of any amalgamation order made by the Governor on the recommendation of the Minister pursuant to section 2.1 of the Local Government Act 1995 (WA) (the Act).
The Immediate Legal Position
The immediate legal position of how and what local laws will apply is relatively straight forward.
Pursuant to Regulation 7 of the Local Government (Constitution) Regulations 1998 (WA) (the Constitution Regulations) whatever local law applied to a particular area prior to Commencement will continue to apply to that area after Commencement.
As such there will fortunately be immediate certainty as to what local law will apply to what area from the date of Commencement.
Problems with two or more sets of Local Laws
Whilst the immediate position as to application will be clear the administrative burden to Council and confusion for ratepayers will no doubt ensue until the multiple sets of local laws can be consolidated.
Consolidating the Local Laws
Local Governments will want to begin the process of consolidation as soon as possible. Essentially the process will involve reviewing the different local laws on a particular matter or subject area with a view to creating or having only one local law on a particular subject matter that will apply to the whole of the new or modified District.
The options open will be to either repeal all existing sets of local laws and create one new set of local laws or alternatively repeal all but one set and make amendments to that remaining set.
For example, the new Local Government may find itself with three sets of local laws applying to Parking. A review may find one set as a preferred model which can be amended by taking into account the differences from the other sets. Alternatively, if the amendments look like being too extensive it may be better to create a complete new set and repeal all of the old local laws.
There will likely be consequential effects on the newly formed Council’s documentation and infrastructure.
For example in the case of ‘Parking’, parking tickets and associated documentation, parking signs and ticket machines etc will all need to be taken into account during the review process.
The legal process
The legislative procedure for creating a new local law is set out in Section 3.12 of the Act and involves State wide public notice, the provision and consideration of public submissions and ultimately the publishing of the new local law in the Government Gazette.
Pursuant to Section 3.12(8) of the Act the repeal and/or amendment of any of the old local laws must go through the same process. As such any process to create a new local law should at the same time clearly deal with the repealing and / or amending of the new proposed local law it seeks to replace.
It is recommended that any new draft local laws be reviewed by Local Government lawyers to ensure they are compliant and consistent with their enabling legislation and further to ensure that they clearly set out the objects and intentions desired by the Local Government.
If you have any questions about Local Laws and Amalgamations or the process to be followed, please contact Brenton Oakley on (08) 9321 3755.
The information published on this website is of a general nature and should not be construed as legal advice. Whilst we aim to provide timely, relevant and accurate information, the law may change and circumstances may differ. You should not therefore act in reliance on it without first obtaining specific legal advice.