UPDATE – New Model Code of Conduct and Procedures & Model Code of Meeting Practice Prescribed

On 14 December 2018 the Model Code of Meeting Practice for Local Councils, 2018 Model Code of Conduct and 2018 Procedures for the Administration of the Model Code of Conduct were prescribed. Council’s previous codes are saved until 14 June 2019. After then, they will be of no effect to the extent they are inconsistent with the model codes.

Model Codes 

The Local Government (General) Regulation 2005 (LG Reg) was amended on 14 December 2018, and inserted:

  • a new Part 8, Conduct which prescribes the 2018 Model Code of Conduct for Local Councils in NSW (Model Code), and Procedures for the Administration of the Model Code of Conduct for Local Councils in NSW (Model Procedures), and
  • a new Part 10, Meetings which prescribes the Model Code of Meeting Practice for Local Councils in NSW (Model Meeting Practice Code).

Social media provisions of Model Code NOT ADOPTED

The previously exhibited model code of conduct contained provisions governing social media. These have not been adopted in the Model Code.

Webcasting of meetings required but not for 1 year

The Model Meeting Practice Code requires all meetings of councils and council committees to be webcast on council websites. A new savings and transitional provision in the LG Reg creates an interim obligation for all councils to webcast their meetings from 14 December 2019, regardless of whether they have adopted a code of meeting practice consistent with the Model Meeting Practice Code.

Amendments to the Local Government Act 1993

Sections of the Local Government Amendment (Governance and Planning) Act 2016 commenced on 12 December 2018, and amended the Local Government Act 1993 (LG Act) to provide for:

  • the adoption of a model code of meeting practice, and
  • amendments to Chapter 14 (Honesty and Disclosure of Interests) primarily directed at moving the pecuniary interest provisions in the LG Act into the Model Code of Conduct.

Section 360 of the LG Act was amended to provide that councils must adopt a code of meeting practice that incorporates the mandatory provisions of the Model Meeting Practice Code, not later than 12 months after an ordinary election of councillors.

Savings and Transitional Provisions 

Model Code of Conduct and Procedures

There is a ‘phasing-in period’ for the Model Code of Conduct and Procedures, which ends on the earlier of 14 June 2019, or the date on which a council adopts a code of conduct and procedures under the LG Act that incorporates provisions of the Model Code and Model Procedures.

During the phasing-in period, existing codes of conduct and procedures are taken to have been adopted under, and comply with the LG Act, despite any inconsistencies with the Model Code and Model Procedures (see ss420 and 421 of the LG Reg).

After 14 June 2019, a council’s adopted code of conduct has no effect to the extent it is inconsistent to the Model Code and Model Procedures (unless it is inconsistent due to requirements being more onerous than in the Model Code and Procedures).

Model Code of Meeting Practice 

There is also a ‘phasing-in period’ for the Model Meeting Practice Code, which also ends on the earlier of 14 June 2019 or the date on which a council adopts a code of meeting practice under s360 of the LG Act (as amended).

During the phasing-in period:

  • Part 10 of the LG Reg (Meetings), as it was before 14 December 2018 continues to apply to meetings of council, and
  • clause 117(2) of Schedule 8 to the LG Act, which states that a code of meeting practice inconsistent with the mandatory provisions of the Model Meeting Practice Code is of no effect, does not apply to the council, and
  • any code of meeting practice adopted by a council under
    section 360(2) of the LG Act, as it was before 14 December 2018:

    • (i) continues to apply to the conduct of meetings of that council, and
    • (ii) is taken to have been adopted under section 360 of the LG Act (as
      substituted).

(see s422 of the LG Reg)

Although the amended s360 of the LG Act provides 12 months from an ordinary election of councillors for a code of meeting practice to be adopted that incorporates the mandatory provisions of the Model Meeting Practice Code,  if a council has not adopted such a code of meeting practice by 14 June 2019, s117(2) of Schedule 8 to the LG Act will operate and make any existing code of no effect to the extent that it is inconsistent with the mandatory provisions of the Model Meeting Practice Code.

Section 361 of the LG Act requires a council’s code of meeting practice to be publicly exhibited, before it is adopted.

See the gazetted model codes here.

Should you wish to discuss the model codes, please contact Dr Lindsay Taylor on (02) 8235 9701 or Megan Hawley on (02) 8235 9703.

About dr lindsay taylor

Senior Partner. Lindsay is one of the leading planning, environment and local government lawyers in New South Wales with 25 years' specialist practice experience. During his career, Lindsay has worked within the legal branch of the Department of Planning and as in house solicitor for 2 metropolitan Sydney Councils. He has also spent 10 years as a partner in one of Australia's leading law firms, and was the transnational director of that firm's Planning, Environment and Local Government Law practice. Lindsay has extensive experience in planning and development law. He acts for a broad range of public and private sector clients on a range of matters, including major land release and development projects. He has unique expertise and experience relating to development contributions and planning agreements as well as climate change and ecologically sustainable development. Lindsay holds a PhD in law and economics from Macquarie University for a thesis which analysed the system of development contributions in New South Wales.
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