Corruption in the ranks of Victoria's local government could be widespread, with an investigation finding officers from two councils used their positions to rort ratepayers.
That's the view of the state's corruption watchdog, which wants a code of conduct for local government suppliers to outline standards, including how to report suspected misbehaviour.
"Public sector corruption is not a victimless crime," Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commissioner Robert Redlich QC said in a statement on Monday.
"It wastes taxes and rates that should be used to operate and maintain Victoria's schools, hospitals, roads and other vital public services and projects."
Former Ballarat Council manager Lukas Carey enabled family members and associates to win contracts in exchange for "kickbacks", an IBAC investigation found.
Carey was convicted of obtaining financial advantage by deception, attempting to commit an indictable offence and soliciting secret commissions.
He was jailed for three years and ordered to repay $31,200 to the council.
His wife Jasmine Carey also pleaded guilty to obtaining financial advantage by deception and attempting to commit an indictable offence. She was fined $3000 and must repay the council $20,500.
Two of the Careys associates also pleaded guilty and were fined for their part in the scheme.
The anti-corruption watchdog also investigated Darebin Council in Melbourne's inner north and concluded a former project manager helped an associate win more than $16 million in contracts.
The unnamed project manager allegedly received cash, gifts and other benefits from his friend's company.
To tackle corruption, IBAC recommended both Darebin Council and Ballarat Council review and strengthen their procurement policies, systems and practices to address identified vulnerabilities.
"There is an opportunity now for all Victorian councils to consider these findings and assess how robust their own processes and controls are," Mr Redlich said.
Australian Associated Press