The NSW Government has proposed tougher Code of Conduct requirements for local NSW councils.
The updated Model Code of Conduct for Councils, which applies to 1500 councillors and almost 50,000 council staff, is now on public exhibition for comment.
It contains new provisions that are designed to improve ethical standards, effectively deter non-compliance and lead to improved transparency and accountability.
The new Model Code of Conduct proposes a range of new rules for all councillors and staff, including:
- banning accepting gifts or benefits greater than $50 and introducing mandatory reporting of all gifts or benefits regardless of value
- disclosing records of meetings and other communications with applicants and objectors to planning applications
- declaring being a property developer or a close associate of a property developer more regularly in official returns of interest
- publishing information in councillor and general manager official returns of interest on council’s website
- tough new standards against bullying, discrimination and harassment, work health and safety, on behaviour at meetings and use of social media
- clarifying that councillors must not use council information for personal purposes or undertake personal dealings with council during work time.
Local Government Minister Gabrielle Upton said these new proposed requirements would put an even greater onus on councillors to behave appropriately.
“Breaches of the new Code of Conduct by councillors can result in suspension and even disqualification from office,” Ms Upton said.
The draft Model Code of Conduct is on public exhibition until 4 December 2017.