Friday, July 26, 2024

Councillor misconduct review proposes historic changes to LG sector

NSW Minister for Local Government, Wendy Tuckerman, has today released an independent review into councillor misconduct which she says proposes the biggest changes to local government integrity measures in more than 30 years.

The review, undertaken by Gary Kellar PSM, contains 49 recommendations aimed at improving the integrity, transparency and accountability of the state’s more than 1,200 councillors.

Mrs Tuckerman said it’s clear from recent ICAC public inquiries and the number of council interventions that changes are needed to build community trust in local government.

“The people of NSW expect their elected representatives to uphold the highest standards of behaviour and anyone who breaches that trust should face the consequences,” Mrs Tuckerman said.

“Mr Kellar’s recommendations include harsher penalties for councillor misconduct and ensures the framework for dealing with misconduct is more independent, effective and efficient.”

She said the recommendations contained in the report were the result of extensive consultation with the sector and align with broader integrity reforms agreed to by the Government following ICAC’s report on Operation Witney.

“While the Government acknowledges the outcomes recommended by Mr Kellar make a strong case for change, some of the reforms are significant and we will undertake some targeted consultation to better understand the potential impact on councils,” Mrs Tuckerman said.

The Misconduct Review examined the framework for dealing with councillor misconduct, and the effectiveness of penalties available to councils, the Office of Local Government and the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

The 49 recommendations include:

  • A new, independent framework for dealing with councillor misconduct;
  • The establishment of an independent Councillor Conduct Commission to oversee independent Councillor Conduct Review Panels;
  • Mandatory councillor training, including pre-nomination training of candidates for election;
  • Tougher penalties and sections to deal with misconduct, including the ability to impose monetary penalties on individuals.

A Consultation Guide has been developed by the Office of Local Government to help inform feedback and is available here. Feedback is invited until 3 February.

A copy of the review is available here.

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