Saturday, May 25, 2024

Georges River councillors gagged over ICAC investigation

Georges River councillors have been ordered to refrain from asking questions about ICAC investigations at council meetings and two councillors have been instructed not to attend council forums when the matter is being discussed.

NSW Minister for Local Government, Shelley Hancock said a Performance Improvement Order (PIO) to Georges River Council had been issued, requiring all councillors to make formal undertakings within seven days to improve standards of behaviour and preserve the integrity of proper processes.

“There is a pattern of inappropriate behaviour and this intervention order will force Georges River councillors to improve their performance and meet community expectations for high standards of conduct and integrity,” Mrs Hancock said.

“Residents must be able to have faith in the people they elect to represent them and this intervention will help preserve the integrity of proper processes for investigations and making allegations of misconduct by council officials.

“I urge councillors to comply with all requirements of the PIO or risk further intervention action.”

The PIO requires that:

  • All councillors 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 reviews the adequacy of its systems and protocols for maintaining the confidentiality of information with a particular focus on council investigations
    • Council addresses any inadequacies in its systems and protocols for maintaining the confidentiality of information.

Minister Hancock made the decision to issue the PIO after considering a submission from Georges River Council in response to a notice of intention she issued earlier this month.

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