Posted on August 4, 2015 by

Minister flags changes to Local Government Act to deal with rising incidence of councillor misconduct

The Minister for Local Government, Paul Toole, has foreshadowed changes to the Local Government Act 1993 aimed at strengthening and improving the way councillor misconduct is handled.

According to the Minister’s media release on 3 August 2015, the changes will be introduced to the NSW Parliament later this month (August), and will more effectively deal with councillor misconduct, poor performance and council maladministration.

The following key changes have been flagged by the Minister:

  • A councillor will be disqualified from holding civic office for a period of 5 years where they have been suspended for misconduct three times.
  • Expanding the definition of ‘misconduct’ to include conduct that is intended to prevent the proper or effective functioning of a council.
  • Streamline the process for dealing with councillor misconduct to ensure faster but fair outcomes.
  • Require a councillor to comply with any Performance Improvement Order issued to their council or face suspension.

Figures quoted in the Minister’s media release reveal an increasing incidence of councillor misconduct, with 322 complaints made in 2014 up from 296 in 2013. The Minister’s figures also demonstrate the increasing cost of dealing with the complaints, with a figure of $1,177,702 in 2014 up from $745,988 in 2013.

The Minister’s media release is available from the Office of Local Government website here. We will consider the proposed amendments in further detail when the Bill is introduced into Parliament.