Code of Conduct - Councillors

Councillor Code of Conduct Document No: CPL40.7
Approval Date: 20 September 2017
Approved By: Council
Review Date: 28 February 2018
Responsible Officer: Chief Executive Officer Expiry Date: N/A
Version No: 07
Authorising Officer: Chief Executive Officer

Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Commitment, Principles and Values
    2.1 Commitment
    2.2 Councillor Conduct Principles
    2.3 Values
  3. Roles and Relationships
    3.1 Role of the Council
    3.2 Role of a Councillor
    3.3 Role of Conduct
    3.4 Chief Exectuive Officer
    3.5 Relationship between Councillors and Council Officers
    3.6 Role of Delegate or Council Representative on Committees
  4. Civic Representation
    4.1 Multimember Ward Representation
    4.2 Media Relations
    4.3 Mayoral Robe and Chain Protocol
    4.4 The Council Crest
  5. Conduct
    5.1 Appropriate Use of Council Resources
    5.2 Access to Information
    5.3 Requests for Service/Complaints
    5.4 Conduct at Council Meetings
    5.5 Decision Making in the Community Interest
    5.6 Formal Community Forums
    5.7 Misuse of Position
    5.7 Improper Direction
    5.9 Breach of Confidentiality
    5.10 Conflict of Interest
    5.11 Register of Interests
    5.12 Gifts and Hospitality
    5.13 Unlawful Conduct
    5.14 Councillor Eligibility
  6. Internal Resolution Procedure
    6.1 Sanctions for Contravention of Code
    6.2 Application to a Councillor Conduct Panel
    6.3 Standikng down of Councillor
    6.4 Suspension of all Councillors

1. Introduction

This Code of Conduct (Code) is a public declaration that Councillors of the Greater Geelong City Council (Council) are committed to provide good governance to the whole of the municipality and its administration (the City).

Within three months of being declared elected as a Councillor, each Councillor must make a written declaration witnessed by the Chief Executive Officer stating they will abide by this Code.

Within four months of on a municipal general election, this Code must be reviewed and adopted by the Council at a Special Meeting.

If the Code is amended and approved by Council, each Councillor must make a written declaration witnessed by the Chief Executive Officer stating that they will abide by the amended Code.

This Code does not apply to Council officers, who are instead bound by the City’s Staff Code of Conduct.


2. Commitment, Principles and Values

2.1. Commitment

This Code:

  • is a statement of how Councillors will behave and work with the Greater Geelong community, with each other and with Council officers; and

  • represents the Councillors commitment to governing the municipality and the City effectively, and observe the principles of good governance and integrity that the Greater Geelong community expects and deserves.

All Councillors are committed to working together constructively as a team to achieve the long-term Clever and Creative vision for the whole of the Greater Geelong community.

Councillors acting together constitute the Council. As individuals, Councillors cannot bind the Council to any actions or decisions. All Councillors will act to ensure that decision making responsibilities are only exercised in Council meetings.


2.2. Councillor Conduct Principles

The Councillor conduct principles are set out in sections 76B and 76BA of the Local Government Act 1989 (Act) (the Principles) and set standards of conduct of Councillors that the community has a right to expect of all Councillors. The Principles consist of:

  • The primary principle of Councillor conduct; and

  • The seven general Councillor conduct principles (the General Principles).

These principles must be observed by every Councillor.


2.2.1 Primary principle

In accordance with section 76B of the Act, in performing the role of a Councillor, each Councillor will:

  • act with integrity;

  • impartially exercise their responsibilities in the interests of the local community; and

  • not improperly seek to confer an advantage or disadvantage on any person.


2.2.2 General principles

In accordance with section 76BA of the Act, in performing the role of a Councillor, a Councillor must:

  • avoid conflicts between their public duties as a Councillor and their personal interests and obligations;

  • act honestly and avoid statements (whether oral or in writing) or actions that will or are likely to mislead or deceive a person;

  • treat all persons with respect and have due regard to the opinions, beliefs, rights and responsibilities of other Councillors, Council officers and other persons;

  • exercise reasonable care and diligence and submit themselves to the lawful scrutiny that is appropriate to their office;

  • endeavour to ensure that public resources are used prudently and solely in the public interest;

  • act lawfully and in accordance with the trust placed in them as an elected representative; and

  • support and promote these principles by leadership and example and act in a way that secures and preserves public confidence in the office of Councillor.


2.3. Values

The four Values of the City are to:

  • Respect and encourage each other;

  • Embrace new ideas and better ways to work;

  • Create a healthy and safe environment for all;

  • Make people the centre of our business.

The four Values prioritise people and provide a clear framework for how Councillors and Council officers engage with each other and with other people, including Council officers.

Councillors are required to actively model and foster the Values. Values-based leadership is required of all Councillors, cognisant that the standards set by Councillors inform and guide all of those people who work for the organisation and the greater Geelong community.

Core to the delivery of effective and efficient community outcomes, the Values reinforce that Councillor behaviour must always be appropriate, positive and productive when Councillors are, or are reasonably assumed to be, acting in connection with the Council.


2.4. Community Expectations

Councillors recognise the community’s high expectations of Councillors as their representatives, who they have elected into a position of public trust.

Councillors will regularly report back to the community on legislative obligations and the obligations in this code through the reporting commitments outlined herein.

Councillors are expected to observe the principles of good governance and integrity. Central to both of these are transparency and accountability:

  • Transparency achieved through following proper process that are open to public scrutiny; and

  • Accountability achieved through being accessible and responsive to the needs of the whole Greater Geelong community.


3. Roles and Relationships

3.1. Role of the Council

The Council is responsible for setting the vision and strategic direction for the Greater Geelong region, determining strategic policy and appointing the Chief Executive Officer of the City.


3.2 Role of a Councillor

Councillors are able to exercise authority as members of Council after they are formally sworn in and when they meet formally as Council.

Councillors:

  • Participate in decision-making of Council;

  • Represent the local community in that decision making; and

  • Contribute to the strategic direction of the Council through the development and review of key strategic documents of the Council, including the Council Plan.

In performing their role as Councillor, a Councillor must:

  • Consider the diversity of interests and needs of the local community;

  • Observe principles of good governance and act with integrity;

  • Provide civic leadership in relation to the exercise of the various functions and responsibilities of the Council under the Act and other Acts;

  • Participate in the responsible allocation of Council resources through the annual budget; and

  • Facilitate effective communication without bias or discrimination between Council and the community.

In addition, Councillors will behave in a transparent, collaborative and professional matter in undertaking their civic responsibilities, and will:

  • ensure transparency and accountability in decision making;

  • abide by the confidentiality requirements of the Act;

  • avoid conflicts of interest;

  • ensure that they do not misuse their position:

    • to gain or attempt to gain, directly or indirectly, an advantage for themselves or for another person; or

    • to cause, or attempt to cause, detriment to the Council or another person;

  • strive to achieve the best outcomes by working with colleagues and Council officers in a manner that demonstrates mutual respect and worthiness;

  • be respectful to each other, and will listen and communicate in a way which is inclusive and collaborative;

  • be honest and open with other Councillors and adopt a ‘no surprises’ approach;

  • recognise and respect the individual strengths of fellow Councillors, and where possible, offer encouragement and support as needed;

  • prioritise their attendance at Council and committee meetings;

  • ensure punctual attendance at meetings;

  • read all appropriate documentation prior to engaging in debate and decision making;

  • debate contentious issues respectfully and be open minded, and value perspectives of their Councillor colleagues, Council officers and the community;

  • seek to expand their knowledge and understanding of issues before making decisions;

  • consider the best interests of the Council and municipality as a whole;

  • refrain from personal attacks or conduct that demeans, bullies or vilifies other Councillors, Council officers or members of the public, ensuring a focus on the issue at hand; and

  • participate in any internal resolution procedure specified in the Code, in good faith.

The role of a Councillor excludes the performance of any functions that are specified as functions of the Chief Executive Officer as set out in section 94A of the Act and referred to in this Code.


3.2.1 Relationships

Developing and maintaining positive and productive working relationships between Councillors is integral to achieving the best outcomes for the community. It is incumbent upon each Councillor to recognise and value diversity and ensure deferential regard is shown to Councillor colleagues.

It is the responsibility of Councillors to recognise and embrace the importance of appropriate and productive relationships. As part of their role, Councillors will demonstrate a commitment to professional engagement that supports the relationships that they have with each other, Council officers and the community as they work cooperatively to achieve Council's strategic vision in a way that ensures the organisation is not brought into disrepute.


3.2.2 Positive Duty

It is the responsibility of Councillors to adopt the principles of positive duty as relevant to the mode of operation of the Council at large. Introduced as a requirement of Council under the Victorian Equal Opportunity Act 2010, positive duty places an onus on the Council to ensure that reasonable and proportionate measures to identify and eliminate inappropriate and unlawful workplace and work-related behaviour across all levels, are undertaken in an informed and timely way.

This positive duty places an obligation on the Council and in turn those who represent the mind and will of the Council, to be proactive and pre-emptive. It requires action that educates about, and prevents, unlawful discrimination, harassment, victimisation, vilification and bullying. There is an obligation that potential problems are identified and dealt with thoroughly and swiftly by persons in leadership roles, including Councillors.

Employing the concept of positive duty is both a group and an individual responsibility that places people first. Councillors have a positive duty to act in order that any risk of unfair treatment or harm to others is mitigated.


3.2.3 Political Affiliations

Councillors will maintain a clear and primary duty to the Greater Geelong community, rather than a political body or other jurisdiction. Councillors will avoid conflicts of interest, or the appearance of conflicts of interest, that affiliation with a political party may create.

Councillors will remain mindful of the importance of real and perceived impartiality of their position, and will not act in a way to compromise this. Councillors will not use Council resources to promote a political body or related organisation.


3.3 Role of the Mayor

3.3.1 The Mayor takes precedence

The Mayor takes precedence within the Council as follows:

  • The Mayor take precedence at all municipal proceedings within the municipal district;

  • The Mayor must take the chair at all meetings of the Council at which he or she is present; and

  • If there is a vacancy in the office of the Mayor or the Mayor is absent, incapable of acting or refusing to act, the Council may be resolution appoint the Deputy Mayor to be the acting Mayor until the Mayor is capable of acting, or is willing to act, as Mayor again.

An acting Mayor may perform any function or exercise any power conferred on the Mayor.

Where the Mayor is not present but his or her attendance is required to carry out the Mayoral functions or duties, the Deputy Mayor will carry out the functions and duties of the Mayor that require the Mayor to be present.


3.3.2 Functions of Mayor

The functions of the Mayor include:

  • providing guidance to Councillors about what is expected of a Councillor including the obligations and responsibilities of a Councillor; and

  • acting as the principal spokesperson for Council; and

  • supporting good working relations between Councillors; and

  • carrying out the civic and ceremonial duties of the office of Mayor.


3.3.3 Mayor’s responsibilities

The principle responsibilities of the Mayor are to:

  • provide leadership and represent, support and promote the businesses and people of the municipality;

  • facilitate the setting of the strategic direction and goals for the municipality;

  • establish and maintain inter-governmental relationships at Regional, State and Federal levels;

  • maintain an effective working relationship with the Chief Executive Officer;

  • lead and provide guidance to Councillors in their role, conduct and working relationships, with this Code as the basis for those interactions;

  • generate community cohesion and inclusiveness and advocate on behalf of community programs, needs and wellbeing;

  • promote high standards of democratic and internal governance;

  • preside efficiently, firmly and fairly over Council meetings; and

  • represent Council at key civic ceremonial and social occasions.


3.4 The role of the Deputy Mayor

The role of the Deputy Mayor is to represent the Mayor in all capacities in the event of the Mayor’s inability to carry out his or her functions. In practice, the Deputy Mayor, being elected by all Councillors, provides a critical role in supporting the Mayor’s leadership of Council. Given the demands and complexity of the role of the Mayor, the Deputy Mayor, with the agreement of the Mayor, will provide support in areas such as:

  • assistance with communication between Councillors and between Councillors and the Mayor;

  • providing leadership support to Councillors to ensure adherence with Council values and behaviours;

  • taking the lead on strategic Council initiatives on behalf of the Mayor;

  • liaising with Council’s administration on behalf of Councillors to ensure organisation support meets their role requirement; and

  • advising the Mayor on a broad range of Council and Councillor matters.

If the Deputy Mayor is required to be acting Mayor for a period exceeding one month, the Council must elect another Councillor to be acting Deputy mayor for the relevant period.

Where the Mayor is not present but his or her attendance is required to carry out the Mayoral functions or duties, the Deputy Mayor will carry out the functions and duties of the Mayor that require the Mayor to be present.


3.5 Chief Executive Officer

The City’s administration is accountable to Council through the Chief Executive Officer, who is responsible for the management and administration of the organisation. The organisation is responsible for implementing Council policy and decisions, operational policy and procedures, service delivery and providing professional advice to Council.

The Chief Executive Officer will provide professional, relevant and timely information to the Council, and maintain a close working relationship that supports the Mayor.

The Chief Executive Officer is responsible for:

  • establishing and maintaining an appropriate organisational structure for the Council;

  • ensuring that the decisions of the Council are implemented without undue delay;

  • the day to day management of the Council’s operations in accordance with the Council Plan;

  • developing, adopting and disseminating a code of conduct for Council officers;

  • providing timely advice to the Council;

  • ensuring that the Council receives timely and reliable advice about its legal obligations under the Act and any other Act;

  • supporting the Mayor in the performance of the Mayor’s role as Mayor;

  • carrying out the Council’s responsibilities as a deemed employer with respect to Councillors, as deemed workers, which arise under or with respect to the Accident Compensation Act 1985 or the Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2013; and

  • performing any other function or duty of the Chief Executive Officer specified in the Act or any other Act.

The Chief Executive Officer:

  • may appoint as many Council officers as are required to enable the functions of the Council under the Act or any other Act to be carried out and to enable the Chief Executive Officer to carry out their functions;

  • is responsible for appointing, directing, managing and dismissing Council officers and for all other issues that relate to Council officers; and

  • managing interactions between Council officers and Councillors including by ensuring that appropriate policies, practices and protocols are in place defining appropriate arrangements for interactions between Council officers and Councillors.


3.6 Relationship between Councillors and Council Officers

The relationship between Councillors and Council officers must be one of mutual co-operation and support with a clear understanding of each other’s roles and responsibilities.

Subject to section 76E(2) of the Act and clause 5.9 of this Code, Councillors will:

  • work cooperatively with the Chief Executive Officer and Council officers;

  • treat Council officers with respect and dignity at all times, ensuring written and verbal communication is professional, courteous, fair, constructive, honest, equitable and ethical;

  • avoid engaging in any form of inappropriate or intimidating behaviour, including discrimination, harassment, bullying, victimisation or vilification;

  • demonstrate a commitment to working co-operatively and constructively with Council officers to achieve the Council’s common goals;

  • refer their requests for service through the relevant Executive Manager or Director, or where they are seeking direct support from the Mayor & Councillor Support Unit in accordance with the Working with Councillors Protocol;

  • understand and respect the distinction in roles of Councillors and Council officers, acknowledging that the Chief Executive Officer is responsible for the operations of Council and the management of Council officers. Councillors will not involve themselves, directly or indirectly, in any personnel matter relating to a Council officer;

  • recognise the role of Council officers to provide professional, ‘best’ advice to Council;

  • acknowledge that Councillors must not in any way direct, reward, instruct or inculcate members of staff in the performance of their duties;

  • acknowledge that support from staff in the Mayor & Councillors Support Unit shall be available in accordance with approved protocols;

  • refrain from using the Councillor position to improperly influence Council officers in their duties or functions, or to seek preferential treatment or gain an advantage for themselves or others;

  • advise the Chief Executive Officer in a timely way of any concerns relating to a Council officer who has acted in a manner contrary to a formal Council policy or decision, or the Council officers’ Code of Conduct. Any discussions pertaining to the performance of a Council officer must be held privately with the Chief Executive Officer or appropriate Director or Executive Manager in a constructive and objective manner; and

  • refrain from publicly criticising or vilifying Council officers in a way that casts aspersions on their professional competence or credibility.


3.7 Role of Delegate or Council Representative on Committees

The participation on a range of local specific issues committees established by Council, peak body/sector associations, and local and regional forums, is an essential part of Council’s representative role. The Mayor and/or the Council nominates or appoints representatives and delegates to these committees annually, or as needed, in accordance with the Council Committee Representation Policy.

A Councillor appointed as a delegate or representative to a committee will represent the position of Council, and report back to Council at an Ordinary Council Meeting on the issues or progress of the committee, and any recommendations made by the committee for Council to consider.


3.8 The Community

Councillors are elected to govern the municipality as Council. On behalf of the community, Councillors are committed to representing constituents and the broader community, working together to achieve the Council’s strategic vision, common goals and associated outcomes that are in the best interests of the municipality.

Consultation, representation, fair and equitable treatment, ethical engagement, openness and accountability are the key features of the relationships that are to be established and maintained between Council and the community. Councillors will:

  • treat members of the community with respect and dignity at all times ensuring written and verbal communication is professional, courteous, fair, constructive, honest, equitable and ethical;

  • strive to understand and acknowledge diversity, including the emergence of different points of view within the community;

  • be available to interact, listen actively and respond to community concerns, mindful of the need to avoid promising outcomes which cannot, or may not, be delivered;

  • make decisions in the best interest of the whole community after considering all relevant interests and points of view;

  • be cognisant of the principles of procedural fairness prior to making statements on issues where public submissions have been invited;

  • encourage partnerships with the community so that mutual strengths can be utilised to achieve common goals; and

  • encourage understanding, tolerance and harmony across the community, ensuring to act to discourage divisiveness among citizens of the municipality.


4. Civic Representation

4.1 Multimember Ward Representation

Councillors will share information and work collaboratively with their fellow ward Councillors on ward based issues and initiatives. In relation to sharing information, a Councillor will inform their fellow ward Councillors, the Mayor, the Deputy Mayor and the Chief Executive Officer, and then the remaining Councillors if appropriate.


4.2 Media Relations

Councillors will comply with the Council’s Media and Engagement Policy.


4.3 Mayoral Robe and Chain Protocol

The Mayor will decide whether to wear or not to wear the current Mayoral robe and /or chain during their term of office, subject to the conditions set out below.

The Mayoral robe and chain can only be worn by the Mayor:

  • at official swearing in of the Mayor ceremony;

  • at Citizenship ceremonies held in the municipality;

  • at Australia Day Civic ceremonies and presentation of Order of Australia awards;

  • Remembrance Day memorial services;

  • as a representative of the Council at graduation and dedication ceremonies held by universities and education institutions;

  • for the purposes of official portraits to be placed at City Hall and advertising materials which signify official capacity;

  • on occasions when the Mayor represents or is asked to officially represent the Council as the Mayor at events, functions and delegations where the objective is to showcase the City’s profile, only with the approval of the CEO; and

  • as otherwise agreed from time to time with the Chief Executive Officer to the benefit, official promotion and credit of the Council.

The Mayoral robe and chain are not to be worn by other elected Councillors, Council officers or citizens, with the exception of the Deputy Mayor if standing in for the Mayor.

The Mayoral robe and chain will be stored in a secure Council location at the direction of, and as determined solely by, the Chief Executive Officer.

The Chief Executive Officer will be responsible for ensuring the maintenance of the Mayoral robe and chain, and for arranging the necessary delivery to, and collection from the Mayor promptly after use.

The Mayoral robe and chain must not be left unattended when not stored in a secure Council location.


4.4 The Council Crest

The heritage themed Council Crest adopted in 2014 is the most prestigious branding device available to the Council and, as such, has restrictions on its use and reproduction.

It can only be used for:

  • for Council sanctioned functions and civic events where the Council has an official role; and/or

  • on official correspondence originating from the Mayor and Councillors’ Office.

If the Crest is accompanied by words, they shall appear below the Crest, and read City of Greater Geelong only.

The Council Crest does not replace the City’s official logo, adopted in the City’s (visual) Style Guide 2017.

The use of the Council Crest must not:

  • appear more than once in a publication;

  • appear at the bottom of a page;

  • be positioned next to branding or any other logos, but it can appear on the same document or publication (i.e. the Crest can be on the top left of the page and other logos can be printed at the bottom of that same page);

  • be presented as a stylised version or other artistic interpretation - only the authorised image is permitted; and/or

  • be used for commercial purposes, including gifts, souvenirs or collector’s items, or on any sporting apparel or uniform.

The Council Crest artwork remains the property of Council and shall not be altered or used by any other person or organisation, and unauthorised use may result in legal proceedings to enforce Council’s ownership rights in the Crest.


5. Conduct

5.1 Appropriate Use of Council Resources

Councillors are responsible for ensuring the resources of Council are allocated efficiently and effectively to meet the needs of the community. In doing so, Councillors are expected to balance the competing needs of different sections of the community in deciding resource allocations within budget constraints. This requires an understanding of community needs alongside a commitment to sound financial management. It also encompasses ensuring the Council remains in a sustainable financial position into the future.’

Councillors are able to access reasonable resources and facilities to support them in fulfilling their Council role. Councillors will only use Council resources for their Council duties, and in accordance with the Council’s Facilities and Expenses Policy.


5.2 Access to Information

Councillors will be provided with relevant information from the organisation to help them make informed decisions and fulfil their duties. This information may be publicly available, or in some instances, restricted or confidential. Councillors will act in accordance with the Access to Information Protocol, including when requesting a briefing from Council officers or requesting information on Council matters.

A Councillor may request operational or confidential information in order to gain a broader understanding of an issue that falls under their role and responsibilities (for example, as a committee delegate), or if it relates to a matter currently before - or expected to come before – Council for a decision. Requested information by one Councillor will be provided to all Councillors. Information may be unable to be provided if the Chief Executive Officer determines that providing the information is likely to be a breach of privacy, prejudice Council or any person, breach legal privilege or in his or her sole discretion be otherwise inappropriate to disclose. The Chief Executive Officer will provide all Councillors with information on any declined requests for information, including the reason the information was not able to be provided.


5.3 Requests for Service/Complaints

A Councillor request for service is a request made by a Councillor on their own behalf, or on behalf of a community member.

In accordance with the Victorian Ombudsman’s good practice guide, to ensure transparency and fairness, complaints received by Councillors should be treated the same way as ones made to Council officers. A Councillor must not seek to direct or influence the complaint handling process.

Councillors are aware the same service standards apply to a Councillor request, as a request for service from a community member. All requests will be entered into Council’s customer service system, and sent to the appropriate Director for actioning. A Councillor may contact the relevant Director about the progress of the complaint, but will not attempt to direct or influence the process. Council officer investigations and actions will be recorded and monitored in Council’s customer request system, and status reports will be provided regularly to Councillors.


5.4 Conduct at Council Meetings

Council’s Meeting Procedures Local Law governs the conduct of Council Meetings and Special Committee meetings. The Chair plays a crucial role in facilitating an orderly, respectful, transparent and constructive meeting by ensuring all Councillors have the opportunity to be heard, matters are adequately discussed, meeting procedures are followed and statutory requirements are met.

Councillors will comply with the Council Meeting Procedures Local Law and this Code of Conduct when participating in Council Meetings and Special Committee meetings. Councillors will act respectfully towards the Chair, their fellow Councillors, Council officers, guests and any community members or media attending the meeting.


5.5 Decision Making in the Community Interest

Councillors will make decisions in the best interests of the whole Greater Geelong community. Councillors will act fairly and without bias when making decisions that affect the rights and interests of others, and in accordance with ‘natural justice’.

Councillors will listen to each other as matters are discussed in Council Meetings, and not pre-determine any decisions proposed to be made prior to consideration at a Council Meeting. As part of this consideration, Councillors will take into account the outcomes of consultation or feedback from the community on a matter.


5.6 Formal Community Forums

Forums or committees are convened from time to time to enable community members to express their views in relation to a specific matter. Councillors invited or appointed to hear from the community may ask questions to clarify issues raised. However, Councillors will not behave or comment in a way that may be perceived as pre-determining their own, or Council’s, position in relation to a matter, or direct Council officer responses.

Formal community forums include:

  • Planning forums – coordinated by the City Planning Department. The purpose of the Planning forum is for applicants and objectors to speak about their support/concerns regarding a planning application.

  • Section 223/Major Policy Consultation Committee (Hearing of Submissions) meetings – convened in accordance with Section 223 of the Act to hear from people in support of written submissions in relation to matters such as proposals to adopt a Budget, Council Plan or Local Law, or in relation to selling Council property;

  • Single issue consultation forums – coordinated by the department responsible for a proposal or response to a community issue, single issue forums will be arranged as required.

While these forums are all formal in nature, and may involve some or all of the Councillors, these forums are not meetings of the Council and Councillors will not make decisions at these forums, or commit Council to a course of action.


5.7 Misuse of Position

Councillors will not use their position, or knowledge gained in their role as a Councillor, to disadvantage Council or someone else, or advantage themselves or someone else.

Section 76D of the Act states that a person who is or has been a Councillor or a member of a special committee must not misuse their position:

  • to gain or attempt to gain, directly or indirectly, an advantage for themselves or for any other person; or

  • to cause, or attempt to cause, detriment to the Council or another person.

Misuse of position includes:

  • making improper use of information acquired as a result of the position they hold/held;

  • disclosing information that is confidential;

  • directing or improperly influence a Council officer (or seeking to do so);

  • exercising or performing, or purporting to, a power, duty or function that they are not authorised to perform;

  • using public funds or resources in a manner that is improper or unauthorised; and/or

  • failing to disclose a conflict of interest.

Under the Act, the penalty for a Councillor misusing his or her position can be up to 600 penalty units or imprisonment for 5 years or both.


5.8 Improper Direction

Councillors will not use their position to direct or influence Council officers in any of the Council officers’ powers, duties or functions.

Under Section 76E of the Act, a Councillor must not direct, or seek to, Council officers:

  • in the exercise of a delegated power, duty or function;

  • in the exercise of a power, duty or function as an authorised officer;

  • in the exercise of a power, duty or function the officers exercises under the Act or any other Act;

  • in relation to advice provided to the Council or a special committee, including advice in a report to Council or a special committee.

Under the Act, the penalty for a Councillor who breaches section 76E can be 120 penalty units.


5.9 Breach of Confidentiality

Councillors will observe the confidentiality of the information they receive in the course of performing their Councillor duties and responsibilities, and will not convey (electronically, verbally, or in writing) information they know, or should reasonably know, is confidential.

Section 77 of the Act states a person who is, or has been, a Councillor must not disclose information that the person knows, or should reasonably know, is confidential information. The penalty for breach of section 77 of the Act is 120 penalty units and may amount to Serious Misconduct.

Information is confidential for the purpose of section 77 of the Act if:

  • the information was provided to the Council or a special committee in relation to a matter considered by the Council or special committee at a meeting closed to members of the public and the Council or special committee has not passed a resolution that the information is not confidential; or

  • the information has been designated as confidential information by a resolution of the Council or a special committee which specifies the relevant ground or grounds applying under section 89(2) and the Council or special committee has not passed a resolution that the information is not confidential; or

  • the information has been designated in writing as confidential information by the Chief Executive Officer specifying the relevant ground or grounds applying under section 89(2) and the Council has not passed a resolution that the information is not confidential. Confidential information designated by the Chief Executive Officer (2)(c) ceases to be confidential at the expiry of the period of 50 days after the designation is made, unless subsection (2)(a) or (2)(b) applies to the information.

Additionally, all briefing material provided to Councillors shall be considered to be confidential, unless that information is otherwise publicly available.

Section 89 (2) of the Act sets out grounds for designating information as confidential:

  1. personnel matters;

  2. the personal hardship of any resident or ratepayer;

  3. industrial matters;

  4. contractual matters;

  5. proposed developments;

  6. legal advice;

  7. matters affecting the security of Council property;

  8. any other matter which the Council or special committee considers would prejudice the Council or any person;

  9. a resolution to close the meeting to members of the public.

Councillors will treat Council information appropriately by:

  • not using information gained by virtue of being a representative for any purpose other than to exercise their role as a Councillor;

  • adhering to Council’s policy in relation to public comments and communication with the media;

  • not releasing information deemed ‘Confidential Information’;

  • recognising the requirements of the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 regarding the access, use and release of personal information; and

  • adhering to this Code of Conduct when seeking to access Council information (refer to Attachment 4).

Councillors may only disclose confidential information in accordance with the provisions of section 77(1A) of the Act.

Councillors will appropriately store and dispose of both hard copy and electronic confidential information. Hard copy confidential information will be either shredded or returned to the Mayor and Councillor Support Unit.


5.10 Conflict of Interest

A conflict of interest occurs when a Councillor has a direct or indirect interest, or a personal interest that is in conflict with their duty as a Councillor and has been accepted by Council. A conflict will prevent the Councillor in question from debating and voting on the related matter.

Councillors are required to proactively assess their individual circumstances and are personally responsible for determining if they have a conflict of interest in an honest, timely and transparent manner. Where necessary, additional information and advice to enable a Councillor to determine whether a conflict of interest exists can be provided by persons authorised by the Chief Executive Officer.


5.10.1 Direct Conflict of Interest

If a Councillor’s financial benefits, obligations or circumstances would directly change for better or worse due to a matter being decided in a particular way at Council, then the Councillor has a direct conflict of interest. This includes where the Councillor or members of the Councillor’s family have a controlling interest in an entity with a direct interest in the matter before Council.


5.10.2 Indirect Conflict of Interest

Indirect conflicts of interest occur when a matter comes before Council and:

  • a close association exists when a Councillor’s family member has a direct or indirect interest in a matter, or a relative or household member has a direct interest in a matter;

  • Councillor has an indirect financial interest and is likely to gain or lose financially as a result of a financial gain or loss to someone else with a direct or indirect interest in a matter;

  • a Councillor has conflicting duties if a Councillor is a:

    • manager or member of a governing body of a company (including an incorporated association which most clubs are) or body that has a direct interest in a matter;

    • partner, consultant, contractor, agent or employee of a person, company or body with a direct interest in a matter; and/or

    • trustee for someone with a direct interest in a matter;

  • a Councillor receives an applicable gift or gifts worth $500 or more during the last five years from people who have a direct interest in a matter(reasonable hospitality at an event or function attended in an official capacity, isn’t considered an applicable gift);

  • the Councillor is an interested party, who has initiated or is a party to, civil proceedings related to a matter that comes before Council; and/or

  • there is a reasonable likelihood that the residential amenity in a Councillor’s neighbourhood will be altered as a result of a matter.


5.10.3 Certain Situations where a Councillor is taken to not have a Conflict of Interest

A Councillor is taken to not have a conflict of interest if the matter only relates to:

  • the nomination or appointment by Council of the Councillor to a position for which the Councillor will not be remunerated;

  • the appointment of an acting Mayor;

  • a decision in relation to the payment of allowances to the Mayor or Councillors;

  • the adoption of a policy in relation to the reimbursement of expenses;

  • the adoption of a Councillor Code of Conduct;

  • an application to a Councillor Conduct Panel or VCAT;

  • an application for Ministerial exemption;

  • the appointment of members and Chairpersons of special committees;

  • a resolution that has the effect of making the Councillors eligible or ineligible for the superannuation guarantee under taxation legislation;

  • the conduct of a Councillor with respect to:

    • an internal dispute that involves the Councillor;

    • an allegation of misconduct or serious misconduct by the Councillor;

  • a submission provided to an electoral representation review; and

  • a submission provided for the purposes of a subdivision review.

If a budget or revised budget to be approved by Council includes funding for a matter in respect of which a Councillor has a conflict of interest, the Councillor is taken to not have a conflict of interest for the purposes of approving the budget or revised budget if:

  • Council previously approved the matter and the proposed funding for the matter for inclusion in the budget or revised budget; and

  • the Councillor disclosed the nature of the conflict of interest when the decision in respect of the matter and the proposed funding for the matter was previously considered and made.

If a Council Plan to be approved by Council includes a matter in respect of which a Councillor has a conflict of interest, the Councillor is taken to not have a conflict of interest for the purposes of approving the Council Plan if:

  • Council previously approved the matter for inclusion in the Council Plan; and

  • the Councillor disclosed the nature of the conflict of interest when the decision in respect of the matter was previously considered and made.

If a Councillor with a conflict of interest notifies the Mayor prior to the consideration of the budget, revised budget or Council Plan of the conflict of interest, the Mayor must allow a prior motion to be put that the matter or funding be considered for inclusion in the budget, revised budget or Council Plan.


5.10.4 Exemptions

A Councillor does not have a conflict of interest in a matter if:

  • the interest is so remote or insignificant that it could not reasonably be regarded as capable of influencing the Councillor in relation to the matter;

  • the interest is held:

    • as a resident, ratepayer or voter and does not exceed the interests generally held by other residents, ratepayers or voters; or

    • in common with a large class of persons and does not exceed the interests generally held by the group of persons;

  • the circumstances of the interest are unknown to the Councillor and who would not reasonably be expected to know about the interest.


5.10.5 Conflicting Personal Interest

A Councillor can have a conflicting personal interest (a personal interest that is in conflict with their public duty) that is neither direct nor indirect.

Where a Councillor considers that he or she has a personal interest in relation to a matter that is in conflict with his or her public duty in relation to the matter, the Councillor or member may, immediately before the matter is considered, apply to the Council or special committee to be exempt from voting on the matter.

The Councillor must detail the reasons why they are conflicted in support of their application to be exempt from voting.

A council or special committee may consent to a Councillor’s application to be exempt from voting, and that consent cannot be unreasonably withheld.

If consent is given, the personal interest is treated in the same way as a conflict of interest specified in the Act, and the Councillor must leave the room when the matter is considered.


5.10.6 Perceived and Potential Conflicts of Interest

While there are some exceptions to conflicts of interest under the Act, in the interests of good governance and sound community relationships, it is essential that Councillors understand and are responsive to perceived conflicts of interest and potential conflicts of interest.

A potential conflict of interest is one that may arise between the Councillor’s public duties and their private interests.

A perceived conflict of interest is where a third party (such as a community member or business owner) could reasonably form the view that a conflict exists and that the Councillor’s private interests could improperly influence their actions in the immediate or longer term.


5.10.7 Conflict of Role

It is required of Councillors that they are cognisant of, and in turn respond appropriately to, situations where there is a conflict of role. This occurs when a Councillor has two or more roles, related to or under the auspice of the Council, and there is a conflict between their duties when they act in each role.


5.10.8 Conflict of Interest when Attending a Council Meeting

If a Councillor with a conflict of interest attends a Council meeting, the Councillor must disclose and describe the interest, including whether it is a direct, indirect or personal type.

Alternatively, the Councillor can describe the conflict, providing detail about the type of conflict, to the Chief Executive Officer in writing before the meeting. The Councillor then only needs to disclose the type of interest in the Council meeting immediately before the matter is considered. The Councillor must leave the Council chamber before the discussion that leads to the vote on the matter. The Councillor cannot be present for the vote, post the discussion.

All conflicts of interest must be recorded in the council meeting minutes, including the type and description of the conflict. This information can be provided verbally by the Councillor at the meeting or in writing to the Chief Executive Officer prior to the meeting, and in this circumstance the Chief Executive Officer is to read the correspondence out at the meeting.

When a conflict is disclosed to the Chief Executive Officer in writing, it is to be kept by the Chief Executive Officer in a secure place for three years after the Councillor stops holding office. The disclosure must then be destroyed.


5.10.9 Conflict of Interest Accountability

Councillors play a key role in ensuring the reputation of the Council and are required to diligently manage their duties and personal circumstances so as maintain professional credibility. Early identification, appropriate disclosure and timely action in relation to conflict of interest, including potential and perceived conflict of interest, is incumbent upon each individual Councillor.

If not managed appropriately, conflict of interest can bring the Council into disrepute and undermine confidence in the Council and local government at large. While managing conflicts of interest is an important part of Council business, it is the conduct of individual Councillors that will ensure operational success and in turn protect the public interest.


5.10.10 Assembly of Councillors

Section 3 of the Act includes the definition of an Assembly of Councillors. An Assembly of Councillors is a planned or scheduled meeting comprising at least half of the Councillors and one Council officer, or an advisory committee with at least one Councillor present, that discusses or considers matters that are likely to be:

  • The subject of a Council decision; or

  • Subject to the exercise of a power or duty under delegation by a person (including Council officers) or committee.

Section 80A of the Act requires a Councillor attending an Assembly of Councillors to:

  • Disclose the conflict of interest and leave the assembly while the matter is being discussed and considered;

  • Disclose the conflict of interest either before the matter is considered, or when a Councillor becomes aware they has a conflict of interest.


5.11 Register of Interests

It is incumbent upon a Councillor to provide the Chief Executive Officer with accurate details of all registrable interests. This must be done within thirty days of the election or within seven days of making the oath of office of a Councillor, whichever date is later. In addition, each year after being elected, Councillors must update and submit an ordinary return by 9 February and 9 August. Councillors are required to provide notice of any changes to their registerable interests to the Chief Executive Officer within 14 days of any change, or before the next Council or Committee meeting, whichever is earlier. New items must also be recorded on the next ordinary return.


5.12 Gifts and Hospitality

5.12.1 Acceptance and Declaration of Gifts and Hospitality

Councillors are aware receipt of a gift from a person or organisation can result in a conflict of interest (as an applicable gift) under the Act, including monetary or in-kind gifts, and campaign donations. It is illegal for a Councillor to accept an anonymous gift valued at $500 or more.

A Councillor may be offered gifts or hospitality from members of the public or other organisations. While these offers are usually genuine in nature, they can give rise to perceived inappropriate relationships and potential conflicts of interest (and possible breaches of the Act).

Councillors will not accept a gift or hospitality if it could be perceived as intended to, or likely to, influence them in the fair, impartial and efficient discharge of their duties. Councillors will not solicit gifts or hospitality, and will not accept any offers of money.

If a Councillor receives a gift for Council, for example, an artwork, from an external organisation, delegation or person, the Councillor will present it to the Chair at the next Ordinary Council Meeting, for retention by Council. Councillors will not purchase, donate or bid on items (on behalf of Council) at any auction, community fundraising event or similar, without the authority of Council.

Councillors will comply with the Council’s Gifts and Hospitality Policy, including by disclosing receipt of any gifts and hospitality, including any offers of gifts or hospitality declined, on the gift declaration form, for recording in Council’s gift register.


5.12.2 Giving Civic Gifts

A civic gift is a gift given on behalf of the Council. Types and financial thresholds for civic gifts are set out in the Councillor Gifts Protocol (Attachment 7). The purchase or giving of civic gifts other than as provided by the Protocol, will be determined by the Chief Executive Officer.


5.12.3 Reporting Inappropriate Offers

A Councillor will notify the Chief Executive Officer of any inappropriate offer of a gift or hospitality. The Chief Executive Officer will determine an appropriate course of action, including possible investigation and/or referral to a relevant authority.


5.13 Unlawful Conduct

It is incumbent upon Councillors to ensure that they do not allow, permit, aid, foster, encourage, reward, incite or instruct any form of unlawful conduct, nor in engage in a manner that condones unlawful conduct. Councillors have individual legal obligations and can be held accountable as individuals by external courts and tribunals, for conduct that compromises the rights of other Councillors, Council officers and members of the community.

Under the Victorian Equal Opportunity Act 2010 it is against the law for local governments to treat, or propose to treat, someone unfavourably because of a personal characteristic protected by law. It is also against the law to sexually harass. For example a Councillor must not discriminate against, harass or sexually harass another Councillor, Council committee member, Council officer or community member.

Council also has responsibilities in other areas of public life covered by the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 including employment and provision of goods and services.


5.13.1 Discrimination and Harassment

Direct discrimination is unfavourable treatment due to a personal characteristic protected by law. Indirect discrimination occurs when an unreasonable requirement, condition or practice is imposed resulting in disadvantage for a person or group because of a personal characteristic protected by law.

Systemic discrimination relates to behaviour and action that affects a person or group with personal characteristics protected by law, and the outcomes of the behaviour and action have become entrenched or part of the culture, and are reinforced by policies or procedures.

Harassment is a form of discrimination. It is unwelcome conduct that offends, humiliates or intimidates on the basis of a personal characteristic protected by law. Intent or motive is irrelevant – it is the nature and the impact of the behaviour that is assessed. A single incident can amount to harassment.

Sexual harassment is unwelcome behaviour of a sexual nature that offends, intimidates or humiliates. It can be physical, verbal, written or online conduct. Sexual harassment is unlawful and can also be criminal. Intent or motive is irrelevant – it is the nature and impact of the behaviour that is assessed. A single incident can amount to sexual harassment.


5.13.2 Personal Characteristics Protected by law in Victoria

The personal characteristics protected by law in Victoria are:

  • age;

  • breastfeeding;

  • carer and parental status;

  • disability (physical, sensory, intellectual disability, work-related injury, medical conditions, and mental, psychological and learning disabilities);

  • employment activity;

  • expunged homosexual conviction;

  • gender identity;

  • industrial activity;

  • lawful sexual activity;

  • marital status;

  • physical features;

  • political belief or activity;

  • pregnancy (including potential pregnancy);

  • race (including colour, nationality, ethnicity and ethnic origin);

  • religious belief or activity;

  • sex;

  • sexual orientation; and

  • association with someone who has one of the personal characteristics.

The Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 provides guidance in relation to the inappropriate nature of discrimination on the basis of irrelevant criminal record, irrelevant medical record and social origin. These characteristics are adopted by the Council and are deemed protected personal characteristics under this Code, and shall be adhered to in the same manner as all other protected personal characteristics identified under the Victorian Equal Opportunity Act 2010. It is noted that under this Code ‘social origin’ is used by Council to refer to place of origin, place of residency and presumed social status.


5.13.3 Victimisation

Victimisation is subjecting, or threatening to subject, someone to reprisal or detriment because they have asserted their rights under equal opportunity law, made a complaint, helped someone else to make a complaint, or refused to do something because it would be discrimination, sexual harassment or victimisation.



5.13.4 Vilification

Vilification is behaviour that incites physical harm or hatred, serious contempt, revulsion or severe ridicule of a person or group because of their race or religion. It is unlawful conduct.


5.13.5 Bullying

Bullying is unlawful. It is repeated, unreasonable behaviour, directed towards an individual or a group of people, that creates a risk to health and safety. It includes both physical and mental risks and abuse. ‘Repeated behaviour’ refers to the persistent or systematic nature of the behaviour or pattern of behaviours, over a period of time. ‘Unreasonable behaviour’ means behaviour that a reasonable person, having regard to all the circumstances, would expect to intimidate, humiliate, undermine, frighten or threaten.

Stalking can constitute bullying. It is willful, repeated behaviour (or obsessive attention) that arouses apprehension and fear placing physical or mental health and safety at risk. Stalking involves intent and is often calculated behaviour, be it in person, or via other intrusive means such as surveillance, interfering with property, or the repeated delivery of messages, items or gifts. Stalking is unlawful conduct.

Cyber-bullying utilises technology and operates via social media sites, text messages, chat, and websites. It is willful, repeated behaviour (or obsessive attention) that humiliates, intimidates and causes anxiety and fear, placing physical or mental health and safety at risk. Abusive text messages, malicious rumours or inappropriate images posted on-line and establishing false internet profiles are examples of cyber-bullying.


5.13.6 Violence

Violence refers to any incident where a person is physically attacked, threatened, or subjected to significant aggression. It can be a single incident where a person is abused, or assaulted. It covers abusive and aggressive behaviours that place physical or mental health and safety at risk, including verbal threats to harm, maim or kill, physical assault, the dangerous application of force to the body or clothing of a person, holding a person against their will or attacking a person with a weapon or makeshift weapon.


5.13.7 Accountability in relation to Unlawful Conduct

It is incumbent upon Councillors to ensure that they do not allow, permit, aid, foster, encourage, reward, incite or instruct any form of unlawful conduct, no engage in a matter that condones unlawful conduct. Councillors have individual legal obligations and can be held accountable as individuals by external courts and tribunals for conduct that compromises the rights of other Councillors, Council officers and members of the community.


5.14 Councillor Eligibility

Division 3 of the Act describes the qualifications for eligibility to hold the office of a Councillor. It also describes the circumstances in which a Councillor may become ineligible or disqualified from holding office.

A Councillor will notify the Chief Executive Officer in writing as soon as practicable of any change in circumstance that affects their right or eligibility to hold office as a Councillor.


6. Internal Resolution Procedure

At times there will be complaints alleging that a Councillor has contravened this Code. The complaint may require resolution outside the Council Chamber. At other times a Council officer or a community member may allege that a Councillor has contravened the Code.

Before commencing the formal complaint resolution procedure specified below, the Councillor(s), Council officer or community member who are parties to a complaint about an alleged contravention of this Code will endeavour to resolve the matter informally in a courteous and respectful manner, recognising that the Councillor against whom the complaint has been made was elected to represent the best interests of the community. The parties may seek assistance of any third party in resolving the complaint.

The following internal resolution procedure is available to a complainant who is either:

  • any Councillor; and/or

  • the Council officer(s) or the community member(s) who has/have made the complaint about an alleged contravention of this Code against a Councillor, provided that the allegation is not frivolous, vexatious, misconceived or lacking in substance as determined by the Chief Executive Officer.

The Principal Conduct Officer, appointed by the Chief Executive Officer in accordance with section 81Y of the Act, will maintain a complaints register, regarding complaints made against Councillors, irrespective of the complainant (e.g. community member, staff member or Councillor).

A written report (complaint) will be furnished by the Principal Conduct Officer to the Mayor summarising an alleged contravention(s) of the Code, and specifying the relevant provisions of the Code.

Within five working days of receipt of the complaint, the Mayor will:

  • provide written acknowledgment of receipt of the complaint to the complainant;

  • provide a copy of the complaint to the Councillor concerned; and

  • attempt to facilitate a resolution.

The Mayor may call upon the Chief Executive Officer for advice and guidance at this point in the process. The Mayor may appoint an independent expert to express an opinion in relation to the complaint.

If the complaint is not able to be satisfactorily resolved, the Mayor shall appoint an independent arbiter nominated by the President of the Law Institute of Victoria who is suitably qualified and able to carry out the role of the arbiter fairly.

The role of the arbiter is to:

  • consider the complaint;

  • ensure that the parties to the complaint are given an opportunity to be heard by the arbiter;

  • explore if the complaint can be resolved between the parties without making any findings; and

  • make any findings in relation to the alleged contravention of the code which the arbiter must give, together with written reasons for any findings, to Council and to each party to the complaint.

If an arbiter is appointed, all parties to the complaint shall provide reasonable assistance to the arbiter, as requested.

If the Mayor is involved in the complaint, the Deputy Mayor shall assume the role of the Mayor for the purposes of this part of the Code unless the Deputy Mayor is also involved in the complaint, in which case another Councillor determined by Council shall assume the role of the Mayor for the purposes of this part of the Code.

Throughout any internal resolution procedure, all parties maintain confidentiality of the complaint and must refrain from speaking to the media and must not disclose the nature of the dispute to any third parties.

A Councillor who is a party to a complaint must participate in good faith in the internal resolution procedure specified in this Code.


6.1 Sanctions for Contravention of Code

If, after an internal resolution procedure has been conducted, it is found that a Councillor has contravened this Code, Council may give any or all of the following written directions to the Councillor:

  • direct the Councillor to make an apology in a form or manner specified by Council;

  • direct the Councillor to not attend up to, but not exceeding, 2 meetings of Council; and/or

  • direct that, for a period of up to, but not exceeding, 2 months commencing on a date specified by Council, the Councillor:

    • be removed from any position where the Councillor represents Council; and/or

    • not chair or attend any advisory committee or special committee meeting or an assembly of Councillors or any other meeting specified in the direction.


    6.2 Application to a Councillor Conduct Panel

    Council, a Councillor or a group of Councillors may make an application for a Councillor Conduct Panel (Panel) to determine an application alleging misconduct or serious misconduct against a Councillor.

    The Principal Councillor Conduct Registrar is appointed by the Secretary of the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning under section 81S of the Act.

    A Panel consists of 2 people selected by the Principal Councillor Conduct Registrar in accordance with section 81T of the Act.


    6.2.1 Misconduct

    Misconduct by a Councillor means:

    • failure by a Councillor to comply with the internal resolution procedure specified in this Code;

    • failure by a Councillor to comply with a written direction given by Council after a finding that the Councillor has contravened this Code; and/or

    • repeated contravention of any of the General Principles.


    6.2.2 Serious misconduct

    Serious misconduct by a Councillor means:

    • failure to attend a Councillor Conduct Panel hearing formed to make a finding in respect of that Councillor;

    • failure to give a Councillor Conduct Panel any information the Councillor Conduct Panel has requested the Councillor to give;

    • failure to comply with a direction of a Councillor Conduct Panel;

    • continued or repeated misconduct after a finding of misconduct has already been made in respect of the Councillor by a Councillor Conduct Panel;

    • bullying being repeated unreasonable behaviour that creates a risk to the health and safety of another Councillor or member of Council officers;

    • improper direction of a member of Council officers; and/or

    • release of confidential information.


    6.2.3 Chief Municipal Inspector

    The Chief Municipal Inspector may make an application:

    • for a Councillor Conduct Panel to make a finding of serious misconduct against a Councillor; and/or

    • to VCAT to make a finding of gross misconduct against a Councillor.


    6.2.4 Gross misconduct

    Gross misconduct by a Councillor means behaviour that demonstrates that a Councillor is not of good character or is otherwise not a fit and proper person to hold the office of Councillor.

    If VCAT makes a finding that a Councillor has engaged in conduct that constitutes gross misconduct, it may order that the Councillor is disqualified for up to 8 years and the office of the Councillor is vacated.


    6.2.4 Panel findings

    After a Councillor Conduct Panel has conducted a hearing, the Panel may make a finding:

    • of misconduct or serious misconduct against a Councillor; and

    • that remedial action is required, whether or not a finding of misconduct; or

    • serious misconduct has been made.

    If a Panel makes a finding of misconduct against a Councillor, it may:

    • reprimand the Councillor;

    • direct the Councillor to make an apology in a form or manner determined by the Panel;

    • direct the Councillor to take leave of absence for up to 2 months; and

    • direct that the Councillor is ineligible to hold the office of Mayor for up to the remainder of the Council’s term.

    If a Panel makes a finding of serious misconduct against a Councillor, the Councillor becomes ineligible to hold the office of Mayor for the remainder of the Council's term unless the Panel directs otherwise and the Panel may:

    • reprimand the Councillor;

    • direct the Councillor to make an apology in a form or manner determined by the Panel;

    • direct the Councillor to take leave of absence for up to 2 months;

    • suspend that Councillor from office for up to 6 months; and

    • direct that the Councillor is ineligible to chair a special committee of the Council for up to the remainder of the Council's term.

    If a Panel makes a finding that remedial action is required, it may direct the offending Councillor to attend mediation, training and/or counselling.

    If it appears to a Panel that a Councillor has committed an offence under the Act, it must promptly notify the Chief Municipal Inspector who may commence an investigation.


    6.3 Standing down of Councillor

    If, during a Panel proceeding for serious misconduct or a VCAT proceeding for gross misconduct, a complaint is made to the Minister alleging that the Councillor:

    • is creating a serious risk to the health and safety of Councillors or Council officers; or

    • is preventing the Council from performing its functions; or

    • is behaving in a manner that does not accord with the role of a Councillor,

    the Councillor may be temporarily stood down following an investigation and the making of an Order in Council.


    6.4 Suspension of all Councillors

    The Minister may recommend to the Governor in Council that all the Councillors of a Council be suspended, if the Minister is satisfied on reasonable grounds:

    • that there has been a serious failure to provide good government after considering what steps the Council has taken to address and remedy the difficulties underlying the failure; or

    • that the Council has acted unlawfully in a serious respect; or

    • that the Council has repeatedly and substantially failed to comply with a general Order and any special Order.




Page last updated: Tuesday, 24 October 2017
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