New Conduct Rules for Councillors

What Senior Council Officers Need to Know

Local Government Councillors have always been subject to sanctions, especially arising from material personal interest and serious conflicts of interest.

However, the clear trend is towards increased stringency and stronger disciplinary measures to regulate Councillor behaviour, both at meetings and in their overall role as Councillors.

Senior Council officers attending meetings may be asked questions by the Mayor or other chairperson when situations of this kind arise. A basic summary is set out below:

Code of Conduct (“behavioural standards”)

A mandatory code of conduct was introduced in December 2018.

This is published on the departmental website and must be adhered to.

The code applies to all behaviour of Councillors; not just behaviour in Council meetings.

Model Procedures

Councils need to either adopt the Model Procedures published by the Department or have other procedures that regulate conduct of meetings such as Standard Orders.

Unsuitable Meeting Conduct

Councillor conduct in a meeting that contravenes a “behavioural standard” is “unsuitable meeting conduct”.

This enables the Mayor or other chairperson to make any one or more of the following orders:

  • an order reprimanding the Councillor; and
  • an order requiring the Councillor to leave the meeting; and
  • if the order is to leave and stay away and this is not obeyed, an order that the Councillor be removed from the meeting.

Consequences

Contravention of an order to stay away from a meeting or three other orders against a Councillor within 12 months constitutes “inappropriate conduct”.

This creates an obligation by Councillors and the Chief Executive Officer to notify the Office of the Independent Assessor which may then decide to instigate an investigation of the Councillor’s conduct.

For more information about the new conduct rules, get in touch with our local government team on 4052 0700. 

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