Complaint statistics for the July 2019 to June 2020 comparison against the July 2018 to June 2019 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 2019 to June 2020 NSW report
Below is a chart showing details of the complaints received about councils by OLG during the July 2019 to June 2020 period by keyword.
OLG received 899 complaints in 2019-20, compared to 819 in 2018-19. These complaints were spread over 107 councils. The total number of complaints received this year represents a small increase but is a consistent number against complaints received last year. OLG also received seven complaints which did not specify the name of the council that the matter related to.
In 2019-20 OLG received 46 allegations of breaches of the pecuniary interest provisions of the Model Code of Conduct for local councils in NSW. There was one formal investigation of a pecuniary interest matter commenced in this period.
Councillor misconduct and political donation complaints
In 2019-20 OLG received 50 complaints alleging misconduct by councillors. Six complaints alleging a breach of the political donation provisions were also received in this period.
Six investigations under the misconduct provisions were commenced during this period.
The Deputy Secretary determined three misconduct matters during 2019-20. One councillor was suspended from civic office for a period of three months for acting dishonestly in relation to a matter in which he had a conflict of interest. The councillor lodged an appeal of the decision with the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal, which was dismissed by the Tribunal in May 2020.
A further councillor was reprimanded, directed to participate in training and had his right to be paid any fee or other remuneration suspended for a period of two months for improperly attempting to influence a council official in the exercise of an enforcement discretion and ignoring the policy regulating the interaction between councillors and council staff. This decision is subject to appeal which has not been heard as at 30 June 2020.
Another councillor was reprimanded for participating in a matter in which he had a significant conflict of interest.
One public inquiry into Balranald Shire Council was finalised in 2019‑20. This resulted in the dismissal of the elected councillors and appointment of an administrator until the council elections to be held in 2024.
The public Inquiry into Blue Mountains City Council continued during the reporting period.
Details can be found on the OLG website at the following location: https://www.olg.nsw.gov.au/public-inquiries.