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Shire endorses General Local Law 2024

After some six months of at times heated discussion and three rounds of community consultation resulting in clarifying changes, South Gippsland Shire Council formally endorsed the General Local Law 2024 at its open meeting on Wednesday March 20, 2024.

The South Gippsland General Local Law 2024 will replace the current General Local Law 2014, which will automatically cease to operate on Sunday April 14, 2024.

The Victorian Local Government Act 2020 requires all municipalities throughout the state to periodically develop, adopt and gazette their respective new General Local Law codes before the previous code is revoked to ensure continuity.

General Local Law codes cover a wide range of matters, such as the use and protection of roads and municipal places and assets; signage; events; livestock and animal welfare, control and registration; vehicle use, storage and access; trading, and consumption of alcohol and smoking.

There are also regulations referring to public and private amenity, including property and building management and condition; camping on municipal and private land; waste and recycling; open air burning; permits, fees and charges, and enforcement.

As part of the Local Law review process, South Gippslanders were initially asked for their opinions on the current General Local Law 2014, and to make any suggestions for its improvement or amendment, during May and June 2023.

Many in the South Gippsland community reacted strongly after the first draft of the Shire’s General Local Law 2024 was released for public comment in October, 2023.

A proposed excessive vegetation clause in particular caused a high degree of ire in rural parts of the municipality and was subsequently changed to exclude grass or other crops grown for the production of fodder on areas of land greater than 0.4 hectares or one acre.

The second draft of the new Local Law came out in December 2023 and incorporated feedback received via the second round of community consultation during late October and early November, 2023.

The deadline for this third round of remarks from the community on the redrafted-for-the-second-time General Local Law 2024 was set for mid-January, 2024.

Another modification to the final Local Law 2024 is the wording of a clause around tree removal on or in a municipal place so that vegetation can be pruned if required.

The clause is intended to “protect trees” and to “enable Council to respond to vandalism on Council trees, including those on nature strips, in parks, and those damaged or removed to allow people a better view from their property.”

The dilapidated buildings clause has been changed so that the focus is on public safety rather than appearance or character, while a clause stating that domestic bins should be brought in within 24 hours of a rubbish collection was removed from the final code

“The General Local Law 2024 sets clear guidelines for our community,” South Gippsland Shire Council Mayor Cr Clare Williams said.

”I would like to thank everyone who participated in the engagement process and provided their thoughts and feedback to make this a well-developed and comprehensive legislative document,” she said.

“Your input has been valuable in refining the document and ensuring it addresses the diverse needs and perspectives of our community.”

A statement issued by the Shire after the council meeting indicates that the “General Local Law provides Council with a mechanism to protect and enhance public health, assets and amenity and to respond to issues and community needs. 

“The General Local Law 2024 was endorsed following a rigorous community engagement process that included consultation with residents, businesses and internal and external stakeholders,” the statement continues.

“Three rounds of community consultation were conducted during the development of the General Local Law, generating over 500 separate pieces of feedback from the local community.

“This feedback was instrumental in shaping the final version of the document,” the statement reads.

“The updated General Local Law aims to be responsive to the evolving needs and priorities of our community and will be formally in place in the coming weeks.”

At the March 20, 2024 council meeting, Cr Scott Rae, seconded by Cr Nathan Hersey, successfully put forward a motion different to the one recommended by council officers that appeared in the agenda.

Cr Rae’s motion, which was passed unanimously, “acknowledges and thanks the community for the feedback provided through the community consultation periods.”

The motion endorsed the General Local Law 2024 to take effect on April 15, 2024, including amending the definition of “fodder” to “mean grass or other crops grown for the production of food for grazing animals or livestock either by grazing animals directly on the land, or for the production of hay or silage.”

The adopted code now also includes “a 24 month exemption as per Section 66 of the Local Law on the use of clause 33(2)(e) the presence of noxious weeds as the singular reason why a property is deemed unsightly pursuant to clause 33(1).”

Cr Rae’s motion also called for community members to “undertake education on what constitutes an unsightly property for all persons within the South Gippsland Shire.”

Other incorporated General Local Law 2024 documents to be adopted at the March 20 meeting were the Footpath Trading Code 2024, the Building and Works Code of Practice 2024, and the Camping on Private Property Code of Practice 2024.

Copies of the South Gippsland General Local Law 2024 and related documents are available at the South Gippsland Shire offices in Smith Street inn Leongatha and on the Shire’s website at


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