Huon Valley Council Election
Expected election calendar
(courtesy TEC website https://www.tec.tas.gov.au/local-government/elections 2022/index.html)
The Minister for Local Government
Huon Valley Council. Elected statutory body
Deputy Mayor +
Roles and responsibilities
There are some structural realities that have to be understood in the formation of a Local Council. It helps to think of the elected council as effectively a Company or Organisation Board. The Mayor is the Chairperson of the Board. The Deputy Mayor, the Deputy Chairperson of the Board and the councillors are board members.
The Elected Members form a statutory local authority, currently this includes being the local planning authority, but this is subject to removal from each local council and be handed to a State Planning Authority via legislation being introduced by the State Liberal Government.
An elected body of councillors is legally responsible for specific duties under the Local Government Act. A council chamber is not the local equivalent of a parliamentary chamber with 'government' and 'opposition' but many people attempt to manipulate a council to behave in that way. This is contrary to the convention of politically independent councillors being elected in our State.
This has included the current council which very definitely has been partisan in its language (`often vile and insulting of the community from some councillors) and decisions made. A partisan council like the current HVC has meant that most people in the Huon Valley have never actually had their voice, opinion or needs represented by the Enders/Doyle Council, or in fact any previous council for the last 20 years.
This election is an opportunity to effectively and for the first time, elect ( i.e. appoint) a board of governors rather than a self interested rabble.
Only the Mayor ( chairperson of the Board) may formally direct or formally speak to the General Manger.
Elected Members may not even speak directly to the GM - the convention is "Through you Mayor" at public meetings.
Only elected Members are required to meet together monthly ( usually) to discuss and debate issues about the Huon Valley. Employees can attend these meetings and may be invited to offer information and advice, but they have no role and ordinarily are not part of these formal Public Meetings. The mayor may request the presence of an Officer of the Council to attend a Public Meeting to provide answers to questions about a specific item on the Agenda, or take direction from the Council, through the Mayor and the GM about a specific task.
Elected Members (Just like a Board) should be skilled, well educated, experienced and informed community volunteers who have no role in the day to day running of the Council, they therefore have no formal or informal relationship with staff, managers or directors of the Council.
This is because professional distance is required, as elected members have to make decisions about expenditure, staffing and activities of Council on behalf of the Community and must not be seen to be unduly influenced or prejudiced by Council employees. The normal means of communication between elected members and council staff is by a formal 'minute' or more detailed 'report' - these would be pass from employee via the management structure to the General Manager who would then provide the document to the Mayor for distribution.
The Westminster tradition of 'minutes' and 'reports' is that proposals are written on Green paper, information on yellow, and reports & meeting minutes on white.