Review could see stiffer penalties for councillors

The NSW government has commissioned an independent review of the code of conduct for councillors, including whether they should face stiffer penalties for bad behaviour.

Gary Kellar

The review of the Model Code of Conduct will also look at ways of streamlining and reducing the cost of the complaints handling process.

The code sets standards of behaviour for the 1,300 councillors at the state’s 128 councils and is designed to ensure the ethical, accountable and transparent operation of local government.

“Residents rightly expect high standards of behaviour from their elected representatives and the NSW Government has zero tolerance for councillors who put petty politics and egos ahead of serving the local community,” local government minister Shelley Hancock said in a statement.

“The NSW Government is determined to ensure those elected representatives who breach community standards face the consequences.”

The review will examine the effectiveness of penalties available to councils, the Office of Local Government and the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

It will also look at the processes for making code of conduct complaints, the timeliness of disciplinary action, and misconduct frameworks implemented in other jurisdictions.   

“The review will make recommendations for any legislative, policy and operational changes required to ensure NSW has the strongest system in the country to target bad behaviour and enforce high standards of conduct in our local councils,” Mrs Hancock said.

Local government specialist and former Logan City Council general manager Gary Kellar will carry out the review.

Mr Kellar was a member of the expert panel that examined Queensland’s local government framework in 2017.

The terms of reference for the independent review can be found here.

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3 thoughts on “Review could see stiffer penalties for councillors

  1. There needs to be far stiffer penalties for NSW local council management to ensure the ethical, accountable and transparent operation of local government. Their current Code of Conduct is so bland that it is impossible to hold incompetent and less than ethical council management personnel to account.
    Even when their actions are in blatant long term breach of the Local Government Act and in contempt of decisions handed down by the Land and Environment court, there are no repercussions.
    Consequently, ratepayers continuously have their rates increased and SRVs imposed to rectify the financial damage. Yet the highly paid management are subject to no repercussions – indeed, when they finally “depart”, ratepayers are sometimes forced to pay a severance penalty to get rid of them.

  2. Seriously, this review should have been addressed years ago. As an ex Councillor i believe that its an area that should be addressed holistically, it should include Councillors, senior staff of councils and related government departments. Councillors quiet often come to the table lacking the experience and fiscal understanding of a multi million dollar organisation, with little or no training in governance and government policies
    I would hope that the expert panel includes a legal advisor, current or ex Councillors and an independent expert ,and not loaded up with public servants.!

    1. The culture within local government from my perspective relied on a respectful relationship between the Mayor & CEO.

      CEO’s salaries are in my opinion too high & this flows onto the salaries of others working in local government. They are paid well, yet elected member who are the decision makers in relying on professional advice from officers become frustrated when there are individual agendas involved.

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