On 26 March 2020 the Local Government (Public Health Emergency) Amendment Act 2020 came into operation to address the current COVID-19 public health emergency.

It’s critical for councils to be able to continue providing the essential services our communities rely on.

The Local Government (Public Health Emergency) Amendment Act 2020 inserted a new section into the Local Government Act 1999 allowing the minister 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—

  1. a relevant declaration has been made in relation to a public health emergency; and
  2. the minister is satisfied that the variation or suspension of the specified provisions is reasonably necessary as a result of the emergency.

Notices made

The three notices published on 11 November 2021 contain technical changes to update references in the Local Government Act 1999 as a result of changes under the Statutes Amendment (Local Government Review) Act 2021 which have now commenced.

Public Health Emergency: Electronic Participation in Council Meetings (No. 5)

Enables council members to participate in council meetings through electronic means, and make necessary variations to other meeting procedures to enable this.

Applies to all councils except the District Council of Coober Pedy.

This notice revokes and replaces Public Health Emergency: Electronic Participation in Council Meetings (No. 1) - Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Commencement date - 11 November 2021

Public Health Emergency: Public Access and Public Consultation (No. 6)

Enables councils to manage council offices and provision of documents while protecting public health, and suspending specific requirements for councils to hold public meetings.

Applies to all councils.

This notice revokes and replaces Public Health Emergency: Public Access and Public Consultation (No. 2) - Wednesday 8 April 2020

An erratum was published on 9 April 2020.

Commencement date - 11 November 2021

Public Health Emergency: District Council of Coober Pedy Electronic Participation in Council Meetings (No. 7)

A notice specific to the District Council of Coober Pedy to allow the administrator to hold meetings by electronic means.

Only applies to the District Council of Coober Pedy.

This notice revokes and replaces Public Health Emergency: District Council of Coober Pedy Electronic Participation in Council Meetings (No. 3) - Thursday, 30 April 2020

Commencement date - 11 November 2021

Public Health Emergency: Annual Business Plans and Strategic Planning (No. 4)

Provides 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.

Applies to all councils.

Commencement date - 30 April 2021

More information about section 302B notices

A section 302B notice has effect for the period specified in the notice.

If no period is specified in the notice, the notice will take effect from 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.

Either—
At the end of the period specified in the notice
When the minister varies or revokes a notice

In all cases, 28 days after the cessation of all relevant declarations relating to the emergency to which the notice relates.

The minister must consult with the Local Government Association (LGA) before making a section 302B notice.

A section 302B notice can contain variations or suspensions of the specified provisions under the Local Government Act 1999.

The minister must be satisfied this is reasonably necessary as a result of the emergency.

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.

Information for councils (including guidance papers) is also available on the Local Government Association website.