Reforming Local Government – Stronger council member capacity and better conduct

Council member conduct and capacity. Council members are people who step forward and are elected to serve their communities. Communities have high expectations of their council members, they expect them to work together to make good decisions and deal with
disagreements professionally. Most council members meet these expectations
admirably and are leaders in their local communities. However sometimes council
members behave in a way that is not acceptable. This can include poor behaviour such as a lack of respect in a council meeting and
unwillingness to engage in respectful debates or not managing a conflict of
interest properly. The Local Government Act includes rules on how council
members should behave including a code of conduct with standards of behavior
council members should follow. Currently this framework is not working as well as
it should, it’s not always clear who is responsible for managing concerns and
how poor behaviour can be improved. This reform provides an opportunity to
clarify roles and responsibilities and provides a range of tools to manage
council member behaviour. The proposed reforms promote better council member conduct while recognising they are accountable for
their own actions. A new framework will mean that issues will be appropriately investigated at the right level and council members who repeat poor conduct
will receive escalating penalties. The act will clearly separate lower level
behavioural matters from more serious issues that should be dealt with by an
independent body. Three new models have been proposed, a model that clarifies the current legislative provisions, a model that uses a new council governance
committee to support councils conduct management, and a significant change
through the introduction of a local government conduct commissioner. It is important that the role of council members is clearer, ensuring good working relationships it will also be recognised that council
mayors have special responsibilities and that all council members need to
continuously improve their skills for the benefit of the communities they
represent. The local government sector and community members are invited to provide feedback on reforms and suggest new ideas. To find out more visit: or join the conversation and complete our survey at:

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