Help to Implement 2018 New Model Code of Conduct & Procedures

February 12, 2019

The new 2018 Model Code of Conduct for Local Councils in NSW and Procedures for the Administration of the Model Code of Conduct for Local Councils in NSW was prescribed on 14 December 2018 under the Local Government (General) Regulation 2005.

The new prescribed Model Code of Conduct and Procedures can be found here.

This now applies to more than 45,000 staff and nearly 1,300 councillors at 128 councils across NSW.

A summary of the strict new requirements includes:

  • Banning councillors and staff from accepting gifts valued at more than $50
  • Mandatory reporting of all gifts regardless of value in the Council Gift Register
  • Councillors with a pecuniary interest in a matter cannot access Council information about the matter
  • Suspensions for pecuniary interest breaches will count towards the “three strikes and you’re out” scheme introduced in 2015 where Councillors face automatic disqualification when they are suspended three times for misconduct
  • Councillors must declare new interests more regularly in official returns of interest lodged with their Council
  • Councillors must declare in official returns of interest if they are a property developer
  • New standards relating to discrimination and harassment, bullying, work health and safety, behaviour at meetings, use of social media, access to information and maintenance of Council records.

What Our Council Clients Should Do (Plus provisional arrangements)

  • Councils have six months from the date of prescription, (i.e. until 14 June 2019) to adopt the new Model Code of Conduct and procedures. The transitional arrangements for the new Model Code of Conduct and Procedures are set out below.
CENTIUM CAN ASSIST COUNCILS THROUGH THIS PROCESS AS SHOWN BELOW
  • Councils are being encouraged to review existing Panels of Conduct Reviewers and determine to appoint a new Panel using the Expression of Interest process prescribed under the Procedures if they have not done so in the past 4 years.
  • Councils may appoint shared panels with other Councils including through a joint organisation or another regional body associated with the Councils.
  • Council’s existing Code of Conduct and procedures will remain in force until such time as it adopts a new Code of Conduct and procedures based on the Model Code of Conduct and Procedures prescribed under the Regulation.
  • Council’s new Code of Conduct and procedures, may include provisions that are supplementary to those contained in the Model Code of Conduct and Procedures. Councils may also impose more onerous requirements under their adopted codes of conduct than those prescribed under the Model Code of Conduct.
  • Councils must not dilute the standards prescribed under the Model Code of Conduct in their adopted Codes of Conduct.
    **This is an important point; we generally recommend adopting a risk-based approach for this. If a Council has a lower risk tolerance, then more stringent controls/conduct rules should be prescribed.
  • Some Councils indicated in their feedback on the consultation Draft of the Model Code of Conduct a preference for adopting a separate Code of Conduct for Councillors, staff and delegates and Committee Members instead of a single Code of Conduct that applies to all classes of Council officials. There is nothing to prevent Councils from doing so, provided that the adopted Code of Conduct, taken together as a package, reflect all the provisions contained in the prescribed Model Code of Conduct and are consistent with it. Should Councils wish to do this, OLG has prepared bespoke versions of the Model Code of Conduct for Councillors, staff and delegates and Committee Members for adoption, instead of a single Code of Conduct.
  • Code of Conduct complaints must be assessed against the standards prescribed under the version of the Council’s Code of Conduct that was in force at the time the conduct the subject of the complaint is alleged to have occurred.
  • Code of Conduct complaints must be dealt with in accordance with the version of the Council’s procedures that were in force at the time the complaint was made.

How Centium Can Help

We have a team of expert Local Government specialists who have worked in the busiest Local Councils in NSW.

We can help you to:

  • Review and update your Council’s Code of Conduct and associated Procedures, based on risk and risk appetite, so that your local Code of Conduct is bespoke and fit for purpose yet in line with the Model Code;
  • Review and update your Council’s Procedures, based on risk and risk appetite, so that your Council’s Procedures are bespoke and fit for purpose yet in line with the Model Code's Procedures;
  • Train and brief staff and Councillors regarding the new local Code of Conduct you adopt (and relevant staff on new local Procedures);
  • Undertake Code of Conduct reviews and investigations given that we are on most LG panels.
  • Help assess and design controls in place that promote/enforce proper conduct (e.g. fraud/corruption/risk assessments, detection controls, preventive controls and response controls)

For more info, download our Code of Conduct Service Sheet or alternatively, contact:

Roy Cottam, Practice Manager, Ethical Conduct & Investigations

0417 697 600

Roy has extensive experience leading complex investigations at international, national and local government levels, having worked for the largest council in Australia managing all investigations.

Megan Tebay, Practice Manager, Local Government

0430 096 019

Megan has extensive senior management experience (over 13 years) working in Local Government and has a deep understanding of the operating context and challenges faced by Local Government.  

Lisa Sampson, Practice Manager, Business Development & Innovation

0414 285 721

Lisa is an experienced social systems architect and entrepreneur. She has extensive experience in regulatory framework development and compliance, commercialisation across the project lifecycle (from idea to execution), mergers and amalgamations (pre, during and post-merger), strategic brand building, publicity, marketing and communications.

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