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Code of Conduct: The Need for Training

August 10, 2023

Unfortunately, another NSW politician was recently asked to step down from the Ministry and referred to ICAC. Allegations suggest he breached his Code of Conduct and its conflict of interest provisions. This incident comes only a month after ICAC’s Operation Keppel uncovered seriously corrupt conduct by the former NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian. She failed to disclose personal interests that could have influenced the performance of her public duty.

In response to the risks identified during their investigation, Operation Keppel has proposed some corruption prevention recommendations as identified in the ICAC investigation. The first two recommendations are as follows:

  1. Amend the Code of Conduct for Members and the NSW Ministerial Code of Conduct to incorporate seven general principles of conduct developed by the United Kingdom’s Committee on Standards in Public Life; and
  2. Develop a comprehensive framework within the NSW Parliament to provide Members with practical guidance about how to avoid, disclose and manage common conflicts of interest.

Principles of Public Life

Centium plans to include these highly relevant and appropriate principles of public life in our Code of Conduct training program for both elected and professional individuals working in NSW state and local governments:

  1. Selflessness: Public office holders should act solely in terms of the public interest.
  2. Integrity: Public office holders must avoid any obligations that could inappropriately influence their work. They should not make decisions for personal financial or material gains and must disclose and resolve any interests and relationships.
  3. Objectivity: Public office holders must act impartially, fairly and based on merit, without discrimination or bias, using the best evidence available.
  4. Accountability: Public office holders are accountable to the public for their decisions and actions and must subject themselves to scrutiny to ensure this.
  5. Openness: Public office holders should act and decide in an open and transparent manner, with information being withheld only for clear and lawful reasons.
  6. Honesty: Public office holders should be truthful in all their dealings.
  7. Leadership: Public office holders should exhibit these principles in their behaviour, treat others with respect, actively promote and support these principles, and challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs.

Conflicts of Interest - Teaching with Scenarios

At Centium, our training programs use practical and engaging scenarios to help participants understand and recognise potential conflicts of interest. Here are some examples of scenarios:

Council is considering nominating community members to an advisory panel. One of the candidates contributed $2000 in June 2021 to your last political campaign. Do you have a conflict of interest? If so, what type?

A friend you have known for eight years through your previous workplace recently becomes a supplier to your Workplace. They send you a bunch of flowers to your home. What should you do?

Council is considering a draft Local Environmental Plan. You live in the LGA. Do you have a conflict? If so, what type? What about if you also own three investment properties in the LGA? Do you need to make a disclosure?

Further Information?

If you would like to explore how Centium’s Learning and Development specialists can ensure that your staff and elected members understand how to identify and declare conflicts of interest under your Code of Conduct, please reach out to Sarah Artist, our Senior Manager at sarah.artist@centium.com.au.

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