South Australian councils want feedback on corruption

By Paul Hemsley

The Local Government Association of South Australia (LGA) has commissioned Adelaide University to run an independent survey on people’s views about corruption, misconduct and maladministration in councils.

The study will be conducted through the state government’s Local Government Research and Development Scheme to give the LGA an insight on public attitudes towards to conduct of their elected members and council employees.

It is expected that the analysis of the data collected from the public will provide the LGA with important information to update education and understanding of what “fraud, corruption and maladministration” mean as well as avenues to report allegations.

Adelaide University anticipates that the survey results will help councils “foster a robust culture of good governance and zero tolerance of poor behaviour from staff and elected members”.

The South Australian local government sector’s move to gather information about its public perception will be a significantly handy collection of data because of Premier Jay Weatherill’s establishment of the state’s public sector corruption watchdog the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (ICAC) in August 2013.

Mr Weatherill’s creation of the ICAC followed persistent government opposition to a new office that would place the state on par with New South Wales and its own ICAC, as well as Western Australia’s Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC), Victoria’s Independent Broad-Based Anti-Corruption Commission (IBAC) and Queensland’s Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC).

As the state government’s formation of the ICAC would likely lead to a more finely-tuned watch on the local government sector, the LGA viewed its founding as an “opportunity to refresh” a range of procedures, guides and training.

LGA chief executive officer Wendy Campana said Commissioner Bruce Lander has that he sees education as a very important aspect of his work and is providing input to a range of LGA work with councils.

Ms Campana said the LGA had updated its Fraud and corruption prevention guide and its Procurement Handbook to reflect the formation of the ICAC and was conducting a range of training and briefing sessions across the State.

“I don’t think you can ever be complacent about corruption,” she said.

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