Wynne calls for comment on conflict of interest rules

By Staff Writer

The Victorian State Government has called on councillors, council officers and peak bodies to provide comment on the conflict of interest rules for councils.

“The Brumby Labor Government last year introduced new legislation to strengthen local democracy and to provide clarity to councillors and the public on the standards of behaviour expected of local government councillors,” Local Government Minister Richard Wynne said.

“This legislation was developed after feedback from the local government sector through the Government’s Better Local Governance Consultation Paper and also took into account the Ombudsman’s Conflict of Interest in Local Government Report of March 2008.

The Conflict of Interest Consultation Paper is divided into five chapters that provide background to the legislation and cover topics such as conflict of interest exemptions, interest definitions and procedures for meetings and staff delegations.

“In some instances, the Consultation Paper proposes directions on issues already raised by the sector,” Mr Wynne said.

“Where specific direction is not provided, we are seeking feedback on conflict of interest matters.”

Mr Wynne said the Consultation Paper also included details about training provided to the sector when the new legislation came into effect, and ongoing support offered to help councillors function according to the Local Government Act.

“The changes we made last year after consultation with the sector were about creating the right environment for good local government following the general council elections in November,” he said.

“Our reform agenda has continued this year with the Conflicting Duties Act and the Offences and Other Matters Act further strengthening and modernising the Act.”

The conflict of interest consultation will be supported by a number of round-table discussion sessions in metropolitan and regional Victoria in February 2010, to be chaired by Parliamentary Secretary for Local Government Lily D’Ambrosio.

Electronic copies of the Conflict of Interest Consultation Paper have been emailed to all Victorian councils.

The Consultation Paper and submission template can also be downloaded from www.localgovernment.vic.gov.au.  The deadline for submissions is 26 February 2010.

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