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Public Health Emergency Powers
Like Federal and State Government, councils are now planning how they must operate during the COVID-19 public health emergency. It’s critical that they do, so that they can continue to provide the essential services that our communities rely on. It’s also critical that the State Government take the steps that are necessary to support councils to continue to operate, and make the decisions that are so vital to our local communities.
On 26 March 2020 the Local Government (Public Health Emergency) Amendment Act 2020 (the Amendment Act) came into operation to address concerns arising out of the current Covid-19 public health emergency.
The Amendment Act inserted new section 302B into the Local Government Act 1999 (the Act) that provides the Minister a power to make notices that vary or suspend the operation of specified provisions of the Act during the period of a public health emergency.
Under new section 302B of the Act, the Minister may publish a notice if—
- a relevant declaration has been made in relation to a public health emergency; and
- the Minister is satisfied that the variation or suspension of the specified provisions is reasonably necessary as a result of the emergency.
|30 March 2020|
South Australian Government Gazette, No. 26, Tuesday, 31 March 2020, pp. 620–627
|Council meetings—enable council members to participate in council meetings through electronic means, and make necessary variations to other meeting procedures to enable this.||All councils|
|8 April 20|
South Australian Government Gazette, No. 29, Wednesday 8 April 2020, pp. 693-696
Please note: an erratum was published on 9 April 2020 pp 742-743.
Council offices – to enable councils to manage council offices and provision of documents while protecting public health, and suspending specific requirements for councils to hold public meetings.
|Public Health Emergency: District Council of Coober Pedy Electronic Participation in Council Meetings (No. 3)||South Australian Government Gazette, No. 26, Thursday 30 April pp. 871-872||A notice specific to the District Council of Coober Pedy to allow the administrator to hold meetings by electronic means.||District Council of Coober Pedy|
|Public Health Emergency: Annual Business Plans and Strategic Planning (No. 4)||South Australian Government Gazette, No. 26, Thursday 30 April p. 870||Annual Business Plans and strategic planning – providing an additional three months for councils to adopt annual business plans and budgets, declare general rates, and complete a comprehensive review of strategic management plans.||All councils|
Information for councils (including guidance papers) is also available on the Local Government Association website.
What councils does a notice apply to?
A section 302B notice may apply to all councils or to specified councils or classes of councils.
How long do notices have effect?
A section 302B notice has effect for the period specified in the notice; or if no period is specified in the notice—for the period commencing on the day the notice is published in the Gazette and ending 28 days after the cessation of all relevant declarations relating to the emergency to which the notice relates.
When do notices cease to have effect?
- At the end of the period specified in the notice; or
- When the Minister varies or revokes a notice; or
- In all cases, 28 days after the cessation of all relevant declarations relating to the emergency to which the notice relates.
Are there requirements to consult before the Minister makes a notice?
The Minister must consult with the Local Government Association (LGA) before making a section 302B notice.
What can notices contain?
A section 302B notice can contain variations or suspensions of the specified provisions under the Local Government Act 1999 the Minister is satisfied is reasonably necessary as a result of the emergency. However, a section 302B notice may not impose restrictions or limitations on the power of a council to impose rates and charges on land within its area.
A section 302B notice may operate subject to any conditions specified in the notice.