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Councillor Conduct

 

On 3 December 2018 new legislation became effective and new requirements were introduced regarding the complaints process for councillor conduct. The new requirements affect all local governments in Queensland. To comply with the legislation Somerset Regional Council has adopted:

  • Revised Standing Orders for all Council meetings,
  • Meeting Procedures which set out: the actions to be taken by the Mayor during a Council meeting when a Councillor’s behaviour is inappropriate, when a Council meeting may be closed and how Councillors can declare conflicts of interest and material personal interests,
  • an Investigations Policy which sets out the processes to be followed where a complaint against a Councillor has been made or information has been uncovered and that complaint is being investigated by the Mayor, a Conduct Tribunal, the Independent Assessor or the Crime and Corruption Commission.

The Minister for Local Government and the Department introduced the new Legislation and requirements to raise the standards that govern the behaviour of Councillors to restore confidence in Councillors serving their communities and local government decision making across Queensland generally.

The minister and the department believe these reforms will strengthen transparency, accountability and integrity of local government in Queensland. The Queensland government is committed to supporting local government by ensuring that public confidence and accountability is restored.

Key changes include:

  • A uniform mandatory Code of Conduct for Councillors in Queensland
  • Model meeting procedures for meeting behaviour
  • Amendment of the publicly available councillor conduct register
  • Creation of the Office of the Independent Assessor
  • New annual report requirements.

The Queensland Government is committed to ensuring councils are aware of these changes and their impacts.

Code of Conduct

The Local Goverment Act 2009 states that the Minister must make a code of conduct for councillors in Queensland. The Code of Conduct for Councillors in Queensland sets out the principles and standards of behaviour expected of Councillors and Mayors when carrying out their roles, responsibilities and obligations as elected representatives for their communities. All councillors must declare that they will abide by the Code of Conduct when they are elected. The Code of Conduct applies to all councils.

The Code of Conduct for councillors is backed by tougher penalties for those who breach the code, including for corrupt conduct, misconduct, inappropriate conduct and unsuitable meeting conduct.

Complaints about Councillor Conduct

There are different processes to address complaints made against councillors depending on how serious the alleged conduct is.

Councils are responsible for:

  • unsuitable meeting conduct
  • inappropriate conduct referred to the council by the Office of the Independent Assessor (OIA)
  • putting systems in place to educate and support councillors that will prevent poor conduct.

More serious matters are dealt with by the OIA or the Councillor Conduct Tribunal (CCT).

For further information about the types of Councillor Conduct complaints refer to the Queensland Councillor Complaints Framework and Council’s Investigation Policy.

Councillor Conduct Register

In accordance with Section 150DX of the Local Government Act 2009, Council is required to keep a register of complaints made against Councillors and the outcome of these complaints. The current register can be accessed on Council’s website (below) or by making an appointment to inspect the register at Council’s Administration Centre.

Councillor Conduct Register