Complaint statistics for the July 2013 to June 2014 comparison against the July 2012 to June 2013 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. We generally will not investigate such issues, provided the council’s decision is lawful and proper processes are followed.

July 2013 to June 2014 NSW report

We received 1097 complaints in 2013–14, compared to 1068 in 2012–13. These complaints were spread over 122 councils. We did not receive any complaints about 44 councils (including county councils). The total number of complaints received this year represents a small increase over the number received last year (in the order of 2.7%). The Office also received 46 complaints which did not specify the name of the council that the matter related to. This is a reduction on the number of such complaints from the last year.

Pecuniary interest

In 2013–14 we received 61 informal allegations of breaches of the pecuniary interest provisions of the Local Government Act 1993. One complaint was received that met the requirements set out for a formal pecuniary interest complaint. There were five 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 Tribunal for consideration during this period. The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal determined one matters during 2013–14.  One councillor was suspended for a period of 1 month for a breach of the pecuniary interest provisions of the Act by lodging returns that he knew or ought reasonably to have known to be false or misleading in a material particular. An appeal of this decision has been lodged with the Supreme Court.

Councillor misconduct and political donation complaints

In 2013–14 we received 53 complaints alleging misconduct by councillors. Nine formal investigations under the misconduct provisions were commenced during this period.The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal did not determine any misconduct matters during 2013–14. The Tribunal heard one misconduct appeals during 2013-2014. The appeals against the Chief Executive’s decision to suspend one councillorsfor a period of two months for refusal to comply with a council resolution to apologise was not allowed by the Tribunal.  The Tribunal set aside the Chief Executive’s decision.

Two matters were referred to the Tribunal for its consideration during this period.