The NSW Government is proposing tough new code of conduct requirements for NSW councils.
NSW Local Government Minister Gabrielle Upton said the updated code of conduct for Councils in NSW – which would apply to 1,500 councillors and almost 50,000 council staff across NSW – was now on public exhibition for comment.
The new code proposes a range of new rules for all councillors and staff, including bans on accepting gifts worth more than $50, declaring conflicts of interests more regularly, stricter standards on bullying and harassment and an obligation to publish more information on council websites.
Griffith City Council said it “is in the process of examining the proposed draft amendments to the current Code of Conduct and will prepare a submission for the Office of Local Government accordingly”.
“The draft Code of Conduct reflects that the Local Government environment is complex and with unique circumstances which must be managed to ensure there are good governance practices in place to promote accountability and transparency of the actions of Councillors and Council staff”.
Former councillor Bill Lancaster said the tightening of requirements will be welcomed by most, including Councillors themselves, but he would have gone further.
“I would prefer the banning of gifts and benefits completely, however the banning of gifts over $50.00 is a step in the right direction”.
“I do think that the code should include the banning of free entry to social and sporting events as well. Councillors receive a generous allowance anyway so there is no need for Councillors to either have free passes or even worse have Council reimbursing them for such costs”.
The proposed new code also bans access to council information when councillors have a significant conflict of interest, and requires councils to declare a close association with a property developer more regularly.
The code also clarifies councillors must not use council information for personal purposes or undertake personal dealings with council during work time.
The code has been released for consultation, with submissions closing on December 4.
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