By Kim Powell in Sydney
The NSW Government has released updated guidelines regarding the declaration of all pecuniary interests at council meetings. The announcement was made by the Minister for Local Government Kerry Hickey at the NSW Shires Association annual conference held in Sydney in June.
Mr Hickey told delegates that in recent cases, the Local Government Pecuniary Interest and Disciplinary Tribunal has strongly criticised councillors for failing to make full and proper disclosures.
“The Tribunal has also criticised councillors for not being fully aware of their pecuniary interest obligations at council meetings,” he said.
The guidelines advise councillors to be familiar with legal requirements relating to the declaration of pecuniary interests; to err on the side of caution; and to obtain their own legal advice if in doubt about a particular pecuniary interest.
Mr Hickey said all councils should make the guidelines a key part of the induction of new councillors, staff and council advisors.
“[The community] wants councillors to act with the highest levels of honesty, integrity and transparency,” he said.
“That’s why we are helping councillors to ensure they are aware of their obligations to the law and to the ratepayers.”
Andrew Williams, a spokesman for Mr Hickey, told Government News that it “does not hurt to reinforce” the obligations that councillors have to declare their interests.
“There have always been guidelines but we do update them and publicise the fact that they’ve been updated so we can get more councillors to look at them and understand their obligations,” he said.
For more information and a copy of the guidelines see www.dlg.nsw.gov.au
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