Complaint statistics for the July 2017 to June 2018 comparison against the July 2016 to June 2017 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 2017 to June 2018 NSW report
Below is a chart showing details of the complaints received during the July 2017 to June 2018 period by keyword.
OLG received 823 complaints in 2017-18, compared to 811 in 2016-17. These complaints were spread over 113 councils. The total number of complaints received this year represents a consistent number against complaints received last year (an increase of 1.4%). OLG also received 20 complaints which did not specify the name of the council that the matter related to.
In 2017-18 OLG received 25 informal allegations of breaches of the pecuniary interest provisions of the Local Government Act 1993 (the Act). One complaint was also received that met the requirements set out for a formal pecuniary interest complaint. There was one formal investigation of a pecuniary interest complaint under section 462 of the Act commenced in the period.
There was one pecuniary interest matter determined by the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) during 2017-18. The councillor was found to have breached the pecuniary interest provisions of the Act for failing to declare pecuniary interests in annual returns. The councillor was reprimanded and lost the right to payment as a councillor for a period of two months.
Councillor misconduct and political donation complaints
In 2017-18 OLG received 37 complaints alleging misconduct by councillors. One complaint alleging a breach of political donation provisions was also received in this period. Two investigations under the misconduct provisions were commenced during this period. NCAT determined two misconduct matters during 2017-18. The Chief Executive determined one misconduct matter during the period.
In the two matters that were determined by the NCAT, the outcome was the reprimand of both councillors. One councillor was reprimanded for making allegations of corruption and conflicts of interests at a council meeting and where the allegations were republished on a Facebook © page administered by the councillor. The other councillor, a former councillor at the time of the decision, was reprimanded for being disrespectful to a fellow councillor.
The Chief Executive determined one misconduct matter where the councillor was ordered to provide an apology to a staff member, cease engaging in the misconduct and was suspended from civic office for a period of one month for his aggressive and argumentative behaviour that was designed to intimidate and frustrate a council staff member.
Two matters were referred to NCAT for its consideration during this period.
One public inquiry into Blue Mountains City Council was commenced in 2017‑18. Details can be found on the OLG website at the following location: https://www.olg.nsw.gov.au/blue-mountains-inquiry