Media release: Minister's councillor crackdown a missed opportunity

23 October 2017

Local Government NSW (LGNSW) welcomes reforms that strengthen the sector and accountability to the community, but encourages the Minister for Local Government to focus on real, meaningful change that delivers genuine benefits

Following the NSW Government’s release of a local government draft model code of conduct, Local Government NSW President Keith Rhoades said councillors and staff were already subject to much more rigorous standards than State members of Parliament and State Government employees.

“When breaches occur we support swift and decisive action, but the Office of Local Government, which is responsible for enforcement, needs to get a whole lot better at making this happen.

"Unfortunately when councils do refer issues to the Office of Local Government its response is often woefully inadequate and slow, which can lead to matters escalating in severity and complexity.”

Clr Rhoades said the vast majority of councillors and council staff work diligently and conscientiously to serve their communities - openly, honestly and in good faith.

“While the code of conduct has adopted many recommendations that the sector itself put forward, some of the proposals – such as a councillor having to declare a cup of coffee or even the offer of one – seem petty and ill-conceived,” he said. 

"Council-bashing seems effective in generating publicity, but we call on the Minister to pursue genuine reform to strengthen the sector.

“The Minister needs to get on with the job and support councils so they can, in turn, continue to deliver for their communities.

“We need to encourage passionate and skilled people to nominate and work for the sector, not discourage them through unnecessary red tape, and a presumption that they will misuse their power.

“In the meantime the Government needs to address real financial sustainability issues – such as fixing the rating system, ending cost-shifting and providing a better share of tax revenue to support the local services communities depend on every day.

“LGNSW will continue to progress positive and responsible game-changing initiatives like our world-first Local Government Capability Framework, which defines core knowledge, skills and abilities – including around integrity – for elected members and local government employees, so everyone can see what ‘good’ looks like.” Clr Rhoades said.

 

Media Enquiries
LGNSW President, Clr Keith Rhoades: 0408 256 405
Media Lana Thrupp: M: 0408 831 914