Sunday, June 23, 2024

Georges River councillors banned from ICAC discussions

Georges River councillors subject to an ICAC investigation will be banned from attending council meetings and forums when the matter is being discussed under a proposed order issued for the Georges River Council by the NSW Government.

Minister for Local Government Shelley Hancock said the proposed Performance Improvement Order (PIO) requires all councillors to make formal undertakings to preserve the integrity of proper processes when raising issues about ongoing investigations and allegations of misconduct by council officials.

“The local Georges River community rightly expects the highest standards of behaviour and integrity from their elected representatives,” Mrs Hancock said.

“We have zero tolerance for councillors failing to meet required standards of conduct, and that’s why we are taking intervention action to preserve the integrity of proper processes and enforce appropriate standards of behaviour.

“The NSW Government will continue to closely watch the actions of councillors and I reserve the right to use my statutory powers as required.”

The proposed PIO states that each councillor must enter into a written undertaking to:

  • Refrain from making allegations of wrongdoing against other council officials at council meetings and forums contrary to requirements under the code of conduct;
  • Refrain from inappropriately moving motions about the referral of allegations of conduct by council officials to external agencies;
  • Use the proper processes for making allegations of wrongdoing against other council officials;
  • Refrain from asking questions at council meetings about an ICAC investigation into their conduct;
  • Not attend any council forum at which an ICAC investigation into their conduct is being considered;
  • Council review the adequacy of its systems and protocols for maintaining the confidentiality of information with a particular focus on council investigations;
  • Council address any inadequacies in its systems and protocols for maintaining the confidentiality of information.

Georges River Council Mayor, Kevin Greene (pictured) says he’s disappointed but not surprised by the notice.

“It is galling that the behaviour of a few councillors has led to the Council now being required to respond to this Notice,” he said.
“The majority of councillors have every reason to be angry that the pattern of poor or inappropriate behaviour by certain councillors led to the Minister issuing this Notice.

“The actions that have led to a Notice being issued are a direct result of the behaviour of councillors centred around the active and ongoing investigation by ICAC into Councillors Badalati and Hindi,” Mr Greene said. 
Under the terms of the Notice, Council has fourteen days to make a submission to the Minister before a final determination is made on whether to issue the Performance Improvement Order.

As determined by the Local Government Act, the Minister has provided Council with a notice of intention to issue the PIO and allowed 14 days to make a submission.

The Minister must consider any submission before making a final determination on whether to issue the PIO.

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