What is a Representation Review?

    A Representation Review is a process required by the Local Government Act 1999 which considers the composition of the Council and the advantages and disadvantages of various representation options. The key areas for consideration are:

    • the principal member of Council (i.e. elected Mayor or selected Chairperson;
    • the composition of Council;
    • the number of elected members required to adequately represent the community and perform the roles and responsibility of Council;
    • the division (or not) of the council area into wards;
    • the number of wards;
    • the level of representation and elector ratio within each ward;
    • ward names and
    • the Council name (if required).

    A council must ensure that all aspects of the composition of the council, and the issue of division or potential division, of the area of the Council into wards, are comprehensively reviewed.

    The Statutes Amendment (Local Government Review) Bill 2020 is currently being debated in Parliament and if enacted will result in significant change to the Local Government Act 1999. The current draft of the Bill provides that the principal member of a council will be a Mayor and proposes to cap the number of elected members (including the Mayor) at twelve (12), with the requirement that if this provision commences Councils will have the change in place in time for the 2026 General Election process.

    When did Council last undertake a Representative Review?

    The City of Unley undertook its last Representation Review during 2012/2013 with the outcome of that review taking effect at the periodic Local Government elections conducted in November 2014.

    Councils in South Australia are required to undertake regular reviews of their elector representation arrangements, which is approximately every eight years.

    What process does the review need to follow?

    The process for the Representation Review requires Council to undertake the following steps:

    The steps which have been actioned:

    • Initiate the preparation of a Representation Options Paper, setting out the advantages and disadvantages of a number of representation options;
    • Conduct the first round of public consultation on the Options Paper for a minimum period of six (6) weeks;
    • Consider the submissions made during the first public consultation and prepare a Representation Review Report that details the representation arrangements Council favours, the reasons why and respond to issues raised during the first consultation;

    Where we are up to:

    • Conduct the second round of public consultation, providing an opportunity for people making submissions on the Representation Review Report to be heard personally (or through a representative) by either the Council or a Committee of the Council. Consultation must be open for a minimum period of three (3) weeks with opportunities for verbal submissions to follow;
    • Adopt a representation structure;
    • Prepare the final Representation Review Report and submit to the Electoral Commissioner of South Australia (ECSA) to obtain a certificate of compliance; and
    • Place a notice in the Gazette providing for the operation of any proposal in the final Review Report for which the ECSA has provided a certificate of compliance.

    Any changes as a result of the Representation Review will take effect for the next general elections to be held in November 2022.

    What principles need to be considered?

    The Representation Review Report must take into account the principles set out in section 26 of the Local Government Act, namely:

    • the resources available to local communities should be used as economically as possible while recognising the desirability of avoiding significant divisions within a community;
    • proposed changes should, wherever practicable, benefit ratepayers;
    • a council should have a sufficient resource base to fulfil its functions, fairly, effectively and efficiently;
    • a council should offer its community a reasonable range of services delivered on an efficient, flexible, equitable and responsive basis;
    • a council should facilitate effective planning and development within an area, and be constituted with respect to an area that can be promoted on a coherent basis;
    • a council should be in a position to facilitate sustainable development, the protection of the environment and the integration of land use schemes;
    • a council should reflect communities of interest of an economic, recreational, social, regional or other kind, and be consistent with community structures, values, expectations and aspirations;
    • a council area should incorporate or promote an accessible centre (or centres) for local administration and services;
    • the importance within the scheme of local government to ensure that local communities within large council areas can participate effectively in decisions about local matters;
    • residents should receive adequate and fair representation within the local government system, while over-representation in comparison with councils of a similar size and type should be avoided (at least in the longer term)
    • a scheme that provides for the performance of functions and delivery of services in relation to 2 or more councils (for example, a scheme for regional governance) may improve councils capacity to deliver services on a regional basis and therefore offer a viable and appropriate alternative to structural change; and
    • the extent and frequency of previous changes affecting the council or councils under this Chapter or the repealed Act.

    What is the existing composition of Council?

    The current representation structure is a six (6) ward structure, each with two (2) ward Councillors, and a Mayor, elected from the whole of the Council area. The current names of the six (6) wards are:

    • Clarence Park
    • Fullarton
    • Goodwood
    • Parkside
    • Unley
    • Unley Park.

    What matters are taken into account in the Review?

    Council is required to take the following matters into account in conducting the Representation Review:

    • Demographic trends;
    • Population data and projections;
    • Communities of interest; and
    • Elector representation and ward quotas.

    What about the Statutes Amendment (Local Government Review) Bill 2020?

    The review also needs to be mindful of the potential ramifications of the Statutes Amendment (Local Government Review) Bill 2020 (the Bill) which was introduced to state parliament in June 2020.

    This Bill seeks to amend the provisions of the Local Government Act (the Act), including matters relating to the composition of councils and the elector representation review process.

    Under the existing Representation Review requirements, the current ward structure can be retained because the elector ratios in all the existing wards lay within the specified 10% quota tolerance limit prescribed under Section 33 (2) of the Act. However, the Bill (not including proposed amendments) seeks to:

    • cap the number of elected members (including the Mayor) at twelve (12);
    • abolish the appointment of a principal member of Council by the elected members (i.e. a Chairperson); and
    • introduce a new abridged Representation Review process which incorporates the preparation/provision of only one report (for public consultation purposes) and only one public consultation stage.

    The potential changes to the Act are being taken into consideration as Council progresses through the current review.