18th October 2023 12:54
Victorian Legislative Council, Melbourne

Rachel PAYNE (South-Eastern Metropolitan) (12:53): (469) My constituency question is for the Minister for Local Government Minister Horne. My constituent is a resident of the Frankston local government area. Recently their council narrowly voted down a motion to remove the mandated Christian prayer at the start of the council meetings. My constituent aptly pointed out that the 2021 census data shows that more than half of the Frankston LGA do not identify as religious, and I am one of those constituents. Frankston council is in the process of developing a new safer community strategy, which is designed to promote a diverse, equal and tolerant community. A single-religion prayer sits in direct contradiction to the value pillars of that strategy. So my constituent asks: what encouragement has the minister provided to the Frankston LGA to adopt a secular or multifaith alternative, rather than imposing a single-faith prayer on its community?

Written Answer
Received: 27 October 2023
Hon. Melissa Horne MP
(Minister for Casino, Gaming and Liquor Regulation, Minister for Local Government, Minister for Ports and Freight, Minister for Roads and Road Safety)

I thank the Member for South-Eastern Metropolitan Region for her question.

Under the Local Government Act 2020 (the Act) councils are required to adopt rules that set out how council meetings are conducted. When developing or amending these rules, councils are required to engage with their communities through consultation to ensure the rules align with community values. While the Act requires councils to make governance rules, it does not impose any requirements on councils to include prayers or any other religious practice as part of council meetings.

This is entirely a matter for each council to determine when developing or amending their governance rules. I do not have the power to intervene in this matter.

I would encourage your constituent to liaise directly with Frankston City Council regarding the use of a single faith’s prayer at the start of their council meetings.


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