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Good governance has eight major characteristics:
Accountability is a fundamental requirement of good governance. Local government has an obligation to report, to explain and to be answerable for the consequences of decisions it has made on behalf of the community it represents and serves.
People should be able to follow and understand the decision making process. This means that they are able to clearly see how and why a decision was made – what information, advice and consultation a council considered, and which legislative requirements (when relevant) a council followed.
Decisions must be consistent with relevant legislation or common law, and be within the powers of local government. In Tasmania, the principal legislation for local government is the Local Government Act 1993 (the Act).
There are two sets of regulations relating to the Act which you should consult: the Local Government (General) Regulations 2015 and the Local Government (Meeting Procedures) Regulations 2015. The section on Legislative Compliance provides details of other relevant legislation.
Local government should always try to represent and serve the needs of the entire community while balancing competing interests in a timely, appropriate and responsive manner.
A community’s wellbeing depends on all of its members feeling that their interests have been considered by their council in the decision making process. All groups, particularly the most vulnerable, should have opportunities to participate in the decision making process, and all groups should be treated equally by their council.
Anyone affected by, or interested in, a decision should have the opportunity to participate in the process for making that decision. Participation can happen in several ways – community members may be provided with information, asked for their opinion, given the opportunity to make recommendations or, in some cases, be part of the actual decision making process.
Local government should implement decisions and follow processes that make the best use of the available people, resources and time, to ensure the best possible results for their community.
Wherever possible, good governance involves taking into account the different views and interests in a municipality to reach a majority position on what is in the best interests of the whole community, and how it can be achieved.