Are codes of conduct in local government necessary?

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Whether codes of conduct are necessary is one question the McGowan Government is investigating as part of its Local Government Act review.

THE McGowan Government’s review of local government asks whether codes of conduct are necessary and if so, whether there should be any changes relating to prohibited and notifiable gifts and disclosure of interest.

The local government act review consultation paper released by the government says under the Act all local governments are required to have a code of conduct for elected members, committee members and employees.

“This is in addition to rules of conduct set by regulations, which elected members are required to observe,’’ the consultation paper said.

“A code of conduct is required to include the information prescribed in the Local Government (Administration) Regulations 1996.

“This includes provisions relating to prohibited gifts, notifiable gifts and disclosure of interest.

“All other matters in a code of conduct are up to the local government to decide, as long as they are not inconsistent with the Act.’’

The consultation paper said failure to comply with a code of conduct was interpreted as non-compliance with the Act.

But non-compliance was not defined as an offence or a form of misconduct in itself.

“While codes of conduct are mandatory for local governments, they have limited enforceability.’’

The consultation paper said non-compliance was to be dealt with by the local government as an internal disciplinary matter.

In a foreward to the consultation paper Local Government Minister David Templeman said the review would be undertaken in two phases.

Mr Templeman said phase one would consider meeting community expectations of standards and performance, transparency, making more information available online and red tape reduction.

The consultation period for phase one of the Local Government Act 1995 review has been extended to March 9.

The Department of Local Government said the extension followed a request from the local government sector.