By Angela Dorizas
The Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) has formed new Councilor Conduct Panels to assist councils dealing with code of conduct breaches.
The Association has appointed 12 panel members to address allegations of misconduct by local councilors.
MAV president Bill McArthur said the Association had advocated for almost two years for an independent means to assist councils to address councilor governance and behaviour matters.
“Although infrequent, a councillor misbehaving can severely impede a council’s ability to govern properly,” Cr McArthur said.
“Before last November, there was no dedicated mechanism for a council or the Minister for Local Government to deal with individual misconduct allegations.
“Under amendments to the Local Government Act, a Councillor Conduct Panel comprising a legal practitioner and a person with municipal governance expertise can be established to support and enforce conduct standards.”
A panel will be formed upon request from a council, councilor or group of councilors to determine if a code of conduct has been breached.
After a hearing is conducted, the Conduct Panel is entitled to dismiss an application, deliver a finding of misconduct or impose sanctions.
If the Panel uncovers serious misconduct it will authorize an application to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).
A copy of the Panel’s decision will be provided to the council, parties to the matter and the Local Government Minister.
Applicants and respondents are entitled to apply for a VCAT review of the decision within 28 days of the Panel’s determination.
“Most councillors do the right thing,” Cr McArthur said.
“However allegations of misbehaviour can now be dealt with by a Conduct Panel in a timely, efficient and transparent manner.”
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