The cost Code of Conduct complaints

The cost of Code of Conduct complaints

Georges River Council spent $35,344 dealing with Code of Conduct complaints in the year to September, 2021.

This figure was a reduction from $201,232 for the previous year due to a special complaints management arrangement with the Office of Local Government.

A special complaints management arrangement is entered into where the OLG considers that the number or nature of code of conduct complaints made about a person (or persons) has imposed a disproportionate cost burden on the council.

This arrangement has resulted in the OLG undertaking the assessment of the majority of Council's Code of Conduct complaints and bearing the cost.

The council's Code of Conduct Complaints Statistics for the year to September, 2021 were submitted to the November 22 council meeting.

They showed:

28 Code of Conduct complaints were made to the year September, 2921.

Of these, three were referred to the conduct reviewer. One was unsubstantiated and two were investigated by the conduct reviewer.

There were four formal censures.

A total of 22 of the Code of Conduct complaints matters were reviewed by the OLG.

Of these, nine were unsubstantiated and 13 are pending.

The cost of dealing with the Code of Conduct complaints was funded by the council's OGM Consultancy budget.

Figures reported to Office of Local Government show 395 code of conduct complaints were received from NSW councils in 2019-20, with the cost of dealing with them amounting to $1,593 416.

There were only 48 complaints where a breach of the Code was found.

The data also shows that 154 more complaints were made in 2019-20 than the previous year, while the amount spent investigating them increased by $635,000.

The Model Code of Conduct for Local Councils in NSW comes under section 440 of the Local Government Act (LGA) and sets the minimum standards of conduct for councillors and council staff.

Failure to comply with the standards of conduct prescribed under the code constitutes misconduct under the Act.

The Act provides for a range of penalties that may be imposed on councillors for misconduct, including suspension or disqualification from civic office.

A councillor who has been suspended on three or more occasions for misconduct is automatically disqualified from holding civic office for five years.

Failure by a member of staff to comply with a council's code of conduct may give rise to disciplinary action.