Complaint statistics for the July 2020 to June 2021 comparison against the July 2019 to June 2020 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 2020 to June 2021 NSW report
Below is a chart showing details of the complaints received about councils by OLG during the July 2020 to June 2021 period by keyword.
OLG received 1543 complaints in 2020-21, compared to 899 in 2019-20. These complaints were spread over 123 councils. The total number of complaints received this year represents an increase but is a consistent number against complaints received in previous years. OLG also received 21 complaints which did not specify the name of the council that the matter related to.
In 2020-21 OLG received 49 allegations of breaches of the pecuniary interest provisions of Councils’ codes of conduct. There was one formal investigation of a pecuniary interest matter commenced in this period.
Councillor misconduct and political donation complaints
In 2020-21 OLG received 45 complaints alleging misconduct (other than that relating to pecuniary interest matters) by councillors. One complaint alleging a breach of the political donation provisions was also received in this period.
Four investigations under the misconduct provisions were commenced during this period.
The Deputy Secretary determined five misconduct matters during 2020-21. One councillor was ordered to apologise and suspended from civic office for a period of one month for inappropriate behaviour towards Council staff and fellow councillors.
A further councillor was reprimanded and had their right to be paid their councillor fees or other remuneration to which they would otherwise have been entitled suspended (without being suspended from civic office) for inappropriate behaviour while representing their Council at a conference.
Another councillor was reprimanded for sending an email containing incorrect information, making improper and disrespectful comments and unsubstantiated allegations.
Another two councillors were counselled and reprimanded respectively for failing to properly disclose and manage conflicts of interest.
One public inquiry into Central Coast Council was commenced during 2020/2021 and is continuing.
Details can be found on the OLG website at the following location: https://www.olg.nsw.gov.au/public-inquiries.