Model code of conduct
The Minister for Local Government has released the soon to be prescribed 2018 Model Code of Conduct for Local Councils in NSW.
Once prescribed, the new code and associated procedures will apply to more than 45,000 staff and nearly 1300 councillors at 128 councils across NSW, heralding a new era in ethics, accountability and transparency.
The new Code of Conduct introduces strict new requirements including:
- Banning councillors from accepting gifts valued at more than $50
- Mandatory reporting of all gifts regardless of value in the council gift register
- Councillors with a pecuniary interest cannot access council information about the matter
- Suspensions for pecuniary interest breaches will count towards the “three strikes and you’re out” scheme introduced in 2015 where councillors face automatic disqualification when they are suspended three times for misconduct
- Councillors must declare new interests more regularly in official returns of interest lodged with their council
- Councillors must declare in official returns of interest if they are a property developer
- New standards relating to discrimination and harassment, bullying, work health and safety, behaviour at meetings, use of social media, access to information and maintenance of council records.
A new Regulation will shortly give effect to the updated code. After the new code and procedures are prescribed, councils across NSW will have six months to adopt a code of conduct and associated procedures that meet the new requirements.
Councils must not adopt the new Model Code of Conduct and procedures until they are prescribed.
The Office of Local Government will provide more detailed guidance when this occurs.