Standards of behaviour

The objective of stage 1 of the review was to:

  • modernise local government; and
  • better position local government to deliver services to the community. 

This priority reform delivers on the following principles which underpinned stage one of the review:

  • accountability: holding local governments accountable by strengthening integrity and good governance; and
  • modernising: embracing contemporary models for governance and public sector management.

The current system

  • The Local Government Act 1995 currently provides mechanisms to ensure that council members conduct themselves appropriately. This includes the requirement for local governments to have a Code of Conduct for council members and staff.
  • The Local Government (Rules of Conduct) Regulations 2007 also specify rules which are intended to prevent council members engaging in inappropriate behaviour such as securing personal advantage, misusing local government resources and improper interactions with local government employees.
  • The Local Government Standards Panel deals with breaches of these rules of conduct.

Consultation

The department undertook consultation on the topic of standards of behaviour during stage one of the Local Government Act review consultation.

The following sections outline what was heard during consultation and how the feedback has informed changes to the Act.

What you’ve told us

  • There are community concerns about behaviours not being managed effectively
  • Standards of behaviour should not vary between local governments
  • Frustration with perceived operation of the Standards Panel
  • Prefer prescriptive standards rather than outcomes-based approach
  • Community concerns with council member behaviour
  • Concerns about reforms silencing council members who fight for ratepayers

Ideas for change

  • An independent, State-based “umpire”
  • Streamline Rules of Conduct to make Standards Panel process more responsive
  • Code of Conduct core requirements should be consistent between all local governments
  • Local governments should be able to self-impose additional standards suitable to their circumstances
  • Code enforced by CEO for employees, council for CEO, Standards Panel for council members
  • Amendments should consider findings of Department’s previous review of the Rules of Conduct Regulations

Policy position

On 1 August 2018 the State Government announced their policy positions on the stage one priority reforms, including their position on standards of behaviour.  

The following report provides further information on the findings from consultation and the Government’s decision regarding standards of behaviour:

Standards of behaviour policy position

Reforms introduced

On 27 June 2019, the Local Government Legislation Amendment Act 2019 was passed by Parliament. This Amendment Act introduced the power to prescribe a mandatory Code of Conduct.  

Please refer to Reforms introduced for more information on the Amendment Act, and frequently asked questions on the reforms.  

Consultation on the Code of Conduct

The Local Government Legislation Amendment Act 2019 introduced the requirement for there to be a mandatory Code of Conduct.

The department sought feedback on a draft mandatory code of conduct, with submissions closing on 6 December 2019.

A copy of the draft Code of Conduct can be found here: Draft code of conduct with guidelines

This feedback will inform the drafting of the mandatory Code of Conduct.

Resources

Local Government Act Review Consultation Paper 

Standards of behaviour policy position

Draft code of conduct with guidelines

Page reviewed 15 January 2020