Councillor conflict of interest laws in Victoria will be clarified this week after local government in the state expressed concern over the existing Bill’s “potentially broad interpretation”.
A house amendment will be introduced to Victorian parliament this week to clarify conflict of interest provisions in the Local Government Amendment (Councillor Conduct and Other Matters) Bill 2008.
The amendments will be introduced following a request from the peak local government body in the state, the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV), who raised concerns over the potentially broad interpretation of the original Bill
Local Government Minister Richard Wynne said: “The amendment which relates to conflict of interest is just a small part of the overarching reforms to the Local Government Act that will strengthen local governance and transparency for councillors, council staff and the public.
“The proposed amendment provides greater clarity for councillors while continuing to meet the public expectation that they will make decisions in an unbiased way and follow the principles of natural justice.”
MAV President, Cr Dick Gross, welcomed the State Government’s announcement.
“While the MAV strongly supports the intent of the proposed legislation, the advice of Julian Burnside QC was sought due to concerns that wording of some amendments did not match the intent of the proposed changes.
“It’s a long-held view of the MAV that the current conflict of interest provisions are confusing. Any changes must provide clarity, particularly when a councillor becomes an interested party in a matter before the council.
“The MAV last week proposed a number of amendments to the Minister to ensure unintended consequences of the legislation could be avoided,” he said.
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