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What are the benefits of Good Governance

Good governance is important for several reasons. It not only gives the local community confidence in its council, but improves the faith that elected members have in their own council and its decision making processes. Good governance also leads to better and more efficient decisions, helps local government meet its legislative responsibilities, and provides an ethical basis for decision making.

Good governance has the following benefits when practiced in local government2:

Promotes public trust

People are more likely to have confidence in their local council if decisions are made in a transparent and accountable way. When decisions are made in this way, members of the community will believe that their council is acting in the community’s overall interest, regardless of differing opinions. It also encourages councils to remember that they are acting on behalf of their community, and underlines the importance of having open and ethical processes which adhere to the law and stand up to scrutiny.

Encourages elected members and council officers to be confident

Elected members and council officers will be more engaged in local government when good governance is practised. Elected members will be more confident about the issues before council, and they will feel that they can trust the advice given by the administration, that their views will be respected even if everyone doesn’t agree with them, and that the council chamber is a safe place for debate and decision making. Council officers will feel more confident in providing frank and fearless advice which is acknowledged and respected by elected members.

Leads to better decisions

Decisions that are informed by good information and data, by stakeholder views, and by open and honest debate will generally reflect the broad interests of the community.

Members of the community are more likely to accept the outcomes if good governance processes are followed, even if they don’t agree with the decision. They will also be less tempted to continue fighting or attempting to overturn the decision.

Where good governance processes have been followed, even the most difficult and controversial decisions will stand up to scrutiny.

Helps local government meet its legislative responsibilities

If decision making is open and able to be followed by observers, councils are more likely to comply with the relevant legal requirements, as they are more readily held to account by the public, media and other spheres of government.

Supports ethical decision making

Good governance creates an environment where elected members and council officers ask themselves ‘what is the right thing to do?’ when making decisions, and receive sufficient advice and support to inform ethical decision making.

Making choices and having to account for them in an open and transparent way encourages honest consideration of the choices facing those in the governance process.

Improves efficiency

Efficiency is both a characteristic and a benefit of good governance.

Efficiency alone will not necessarily lead to efficient outcomes. The same can be said of each of the characteristics of good governance: acting with a single-minded goal of being responsive or consensus oriented is unlikely to lead to efficient outcomes.However, where a council can balance each of the characteristics of good governance while ensuring that the components of good governance are in place, they will have the best chance of ensuring the best possible results for their community. Importantly, where there is good governance, good results can be achieved efficiently.

2This content has been reproduced with permission from the Good Governance Guide © MAV, VLGA, LGV & LGPro 2012.