Complaint statistics for the July 2014 to June 2015 comparison against the July 2013 to June 2014 period.
The actual number of complaints is not necessarily an effective indicator of the seriousness of the matters raised. In some cases the council may be the subject of campaigns, usually about a single controversial issue. This can distort the council’s reputation if there is in fact no maladministration on the council’s part and the issues relate more to concerns about a particular decision. The Office of Local Government (OLG) generally will not investigate such issues provided the council’s decision is lawful and proper processes are followed.
July 2014 to June 2015 NSW report
Below is a chart showing details of the complaints received during the July 2014 to June 2015 period by keyword
OLG received 1,011 complaints in 2014–15, compared to 1,097 in 2013–14. These complaints were spread over 130 councils. OLG did not receive any complaints about 36 councils (including county councils). The total number of complaints received this year represents a small decrease over the number received last year (in the order of 8%). OLG also received 28 complaints which did not specify the name of the council that the matter related to. This is a reduction in the number of such complaints from the last year.
In 2014–15 OLG received 37 informal allegations of breaches of the pecuniary interest provisions of the Local Government Act 1993. Two complaints were received that met the requirements set out for a formal pecuniary interest complaint. There were no formal investigations of a pecuniary interest complaint under section 462 of the Local Government Act 1993 commenced in the period. Two matters were referred to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) for consideration during this period.
NCAT determined two matter
s during 2014–15. One councillor was reprimanded for a breach of the pecuniary interest provisions of the Act by participating in a matter in which the organisation of which he was an office holder had a pecuniary interest. One councillor was reprimanded and the councillor’s right to be paid any fee or other remuneration to which he would otherwise be entitled as the holder of the civic office was suspended for a period of three months. This councillor disclosed his interest in a matter before the council in which he had a pecuniary interest but participated in, debated and voted upon the matter in breach of the pecuniary interest provisions of the Local Government Act 1993.
A decision was made by the Supreme Court on an appeal that was lodged in relation to a previous pecuniary interest decision made by NCAT. The Supreme Court set aside the NCAT decision to suspend the councillor and instead imposed a reprimand and suspension of the councillor’s right to be paid any fee or other remuneration to which he would otherwise be entitled as the holder of the civic office for a period of three months.
Councillor misconduct and political donation complaints
In 2014–15 OLG received 33 complaints alleging misconduct by councillors. Six formal investigations under the misconduct provisions were commenced during this period. The NCAT determined three misconduct matters during 2014-2015.
One councillor received a reprimand for participating in a matter in which he had a significant non-pecuniary conflict of interest. One councillor received a reprimand for conduct that constituted inappropriate communications regarding an investigation. One councillor received a suspension for one month for participating in a matter in which he had a significant non-pecuniary conflict of interests.
The Chief Executive of OLG determined two misconduct matters during this period. One councillor‘s right to be paid any fee or other remuneration to which he would otherwise be entitled as the holder of the civic office was suspended for a period of two months for failing to comply with an applicable requirement of the code of conduct by inappropriately disclosing confidential information. One councillor received a suspension for two months for intentional, inappropriate and unauthorised physical contact with a council employee on council premises.
Two matters were referred to NCAT for its consideration during this period.