Cairns regional council training workshop


Published on

Published in: News & Politics
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Cairns regional council training workshop

  1. 1. CRC Workshop – Conduct and Complaints <ul><li>Presented by Russell Beer and Miranda Foster </li></ul>CRC Workshop – Conduct and Complaints
  2. 2. The Post-July 2011 Regime <ul><li>Major changes under new legislation </li></ul><ul><li>Higher levels of expectation and scrutiny </li></ul><ul><li>Higher risk of getting it wrong and more serious penalties </li></ul>CRC Workshop – Conduct and Complaints
  3. 3. The challenge Queensland Councillors now face.. <ul><li>On the one hand: </li></ul><ul><li>Must actively participate as policy setters for what are major Queensland businesses </li></ul><ul><li>Listen to and communicate what constituents are saying </li></ul><ul><li>Do that in tough economic times </li></ul><ul><li>With local government being more political than ever </li></ul><ul><li>And in an election year! </li></ul><ul><li>On the other hand: </li></ul><ul><li>Facing tough and complex new legislation which impacts on you personally </li></ul><ul><li>Greater scrutiny than ever before </li></ul><ul><li>And be like Caesar’s wife – not only pure but seen to be pure! </li></ul>CRC Workshop – Conduct and Complaints
  4. 4. Tough challenge, for which you need the right tools <ul><li>Need to understand the new law and its implications on you </li></ul><ul><li>Prevention is better than cure </li></ul><ul><li>Explanatory Note: </li></ul><ul><li>“ The legislation articulates consistent integrity, accountability and transparency requirements for local government. These focus on Councillor behaviour and local government performance” </li></ul>CRC Workshop – Conduct and Complaints
  5. 5. Queensland Local Government Act 2009 <ul><li>Became effective 1 July 2010 </li></ul><ul><li>Replaced the Local Government Act 1993 </li></ul><ul><li>Most significant reform of the requirements regarding performance or Councils and Councillors for over 100 years </li></ul><ul><li>Ramps up expectations on Councillors and penalties for wrongdoing </li></ul>CRC Workshop – Conduct and Complaints
  6. 6. Local Government Principles <ul><li>Transparent and effective processes, and decision-making in the public interest </li></ul><ul><li>Sustainable development and management of assets and infrastructure, and delivery of effective services </li></ul><ul><li>Democratic representation, social inclusion and meaningful community engagement </li></ul><ul><li>Good governance of, and by, local government </li></ul><ul><li>Ethical and legal behaviour of Councillors and local government employees </li></ul>CRC Workshop – Conduct and Complaints
  7. 7. General Responsibilities - sections 12 & 13 <ul><li>Councillors </li></ul><ul><li>ensure the LG does what it should </li></ul><ul><li>leadership </li></ul><ul><li>participation </li></ul><ul><li>accountability </li></ul><ul><li>Mayor has those plus others </li></ul><ul><li>Employees </li></ul><ul><li>CEO has specific responsibilities (and rights) </li></ul><ul><li>all employees have ethical and performance standards </li></ul>CRC Workshop – Conduct and Complaints
  8. 8. Specific responsibilities of Councillors - sections 170 to 174 <ul><li>Section 170 – only the Mayor may give a direction to the CEO </li></ul><ul><li>No Councillor, including the Mayor can give a direction to another employee </li></ul><ul><li>Section 171 – Councillor’s right to request information to help make a decision </li></ul><ul><li>“ Councillor/Staff Interaction Protocol” </li></ul><ul><li>Section 171 – use of information by Councillors </li></ul>CRC Workshop – Conduct and Complaints
  9. 9. Councillor’s Conduct At Meetings- sections 172 to 174 <ul><li>Disclosure </li></ul><ul><li>Section 172 – material personal interest </li></ul><ul><li>Mandatory requirements </li></ul><ul><li>Councillor must: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Disclose </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Leave the room </li></ul></ul>CRC Workshop – Conduct and Complaints
  10. 10. Material Personal Interest <ul><li>Is where: </li></ul><ul><li>The Councillor; </li></ul><ul><li>The Councillor’s spouse, partner, parent, child or sibling </li></ul><ul><li>An employer of the Councillor (other than a government entity); or </li></ul><ul><li>An entity of which the Councillor is a member (other than a government entity); </li></ul><ul><li>stands to gain a benefit or suffer a loss from the outcome </li></ul>CRC Workshop – Conduct and Complaints
  11. 11. Consequences of Failure to Disclose <ul><li>Are serious! </li></ul><ul><li>Not only a fine of up to $20,000 but also a prison sentence of up to 2 years </li></ul>CRC Workshop – Conduct and Complaints
  12. 12. Conflict of Interest – section 173 <ul><li>Councillor must disclose </li></ul><ul><li>Defined as a conflict between a Councillor’s personal interests and the public interest, that might lead to a decision that is contrary to the public interest </li></ul><ul><li>Act gives examples – club memberships or personal relationships </li></ul>CRC Workshop – Conduct and Complaints
  13. 13. Conflict of Interest (cont) <ul><li>Other members of meeting determine whether Councillor should leave meeting room </li></ul><ul><li>Exception – where majority of persons declare conflict, interest is to be noted and those persons may stay </li></ul>CRC Workshop – Conduct and Complaints
  14. 14. Consequences – Conflict of Interest <ul><li>A Councillor can be fined up to $10,000.00 for:- </li></ul><ul><li>Failing to disclose a potential conflict of interest; or </li></ul><ul><li>Not leaving the meeting room when required to. </li></ul>CRC Workshop – Conduct and Complaints
  15. 15. Differences - Material Personal Interest and Conflict of Interest <ul><li>These concepts are treated differently under the Act </li></ul><ul><li>Material personal interest involves a Councillor potentially obtaining a benefit </li></ul><ul><li>Conflict of interest involves personal association which may lead to bias, without receiving a benefit as such </li></ul>CRC Workshop – Conduct and Complaints
  16. 16. Examples – Material Personal Interest <ul><li>Councillor X owns a cleaning business which has cleaning contracts with Council. Council have met to determine whether to continue outsourcing its cleaning work </li></ul><ul><li>Councillor X owns farm land outside of Cairns. There is a proposal before Council to rezone an area that includes Councillor X’s land and it will likely increase the value of the land </li></ul>CRC Workshop – Conduct and Complaints
  17. 17. Examples – Conflict of Interest <ul><li>Council X is a member of the local soccer club. Council have met to determine whether it should grant funding to the club </li></ul><ul><li>Councillor X’s good friend has put in a tender to lease property owned by Council. Council have met to determine whether to lease the premises to Council X’s good friend or another tenderer </li></ul>CRC Workshop – Conduct and Complaints
  18. 18. General Conduct at Meetings <ul><li>Councillors must act respectfully and appropriately </li></ul><ul><li>Failure to do so may constitute inappropriate conduct or misconduct under the Act </li></ul>CRC Workshop – Conduct and Complaints
  19. 19. Maintaining Confidentiality <ul><li>Section 171(1) - Councillor must not use information acquired as a Councillor and not available to the public to:- </li></ul><ul><li>- gain a financial advantage for the Councillor or another person. </li></ul><ul><li>- cause detriment to Council. </li></ul><ul><li>Consequences - $10,000.00 fine and prison sentence of up to 2 years. </li></ul>CRC Workshop – Conduct and Complaints
  20. 20. Maintaining Confidentiality (Cont) <ul><li>Section 171(3) – Councillor must not release information that a Councillor knows, or should reasonably know, is information confidential to Council </li></ul><ul><li>Councillor may be disciplined for misconduct </li></ul>CRC Workshop – Conduct and Complaints
  21. 21. Councillor ’s Duty to Disclose <ul><li>Section 174 – If a Councillor suspects the following on reasonable grounds , the Councillor has a duty to: </li></ul><ul><li>- if suspected material personal interest or conflict of interest arises a meeting – report to chairperson; </li></ul><ul><li>- if suspected material personal interest or conflict of interest arises elsewhere – report to CEO; or </li></ul><ul><li>- if suspected misconduct – report to CEO. </li></ul><ul><li>Duty to report only, not to investigate </li></ul>CRC Workshop – Conduct and Complaints
  22. 22. Requesting Information from Council <ul><li>Section 170A – Councillor may request information from Council to assist in making a decision </li></ul><ul><li>Must comply with ‘Councillor/Staff Interaction Protocol’ </li></ul>CRC Workshop – Conduct and Complaints
  23. 23. Code of Conduct <ul><li>Code of Conduct for Councillors general policy adopted by Council on 14 July 2010 </li></ul><ul><li>Code reaffirms the conduct obligations of Councillors under the Act </li></ul>CRC Workshop – Conduct and Complaints
  24. 24. Levels of Conduct <ul><li>Categories of complaints of Councillor misconduct: </li></ul><ul><li>- official misconduct; </li></ul><ul><li>- misconduct; </li></ul><ul><li>- inappropriate conduct; </li></ul><ul><li>- “another manner”; </li></ul><ul><li>- frivolous or vexatious. </li></ul>CRC Workshop – Conduct and Complaints
  25. 25. Official Misconduct <ul><li>Is conduct which, if proved, means the Councillor may have committed a criminal offence </li></ul><ul><li>Examples – breaches of section 171(1) (disclosure of information to gain a financial advantage or cause detriment to Council) or section 172 (failure to disclose material personal interest) </li></ul><ul><li>Council must refer suspected official misconduct to Crime & Misconduct Commission </li></ul>CRC Workshop – Conduct and Complaints
  26. 26. Misconduct <ul><li>Conduct of a Councillor: </li></ul><ul><li>- adversely affects the honest and impartial performance of the exercise of the Councillor ’s functions; </li></ul><ul><li>- involves the performance of the Councillor ’s functions in a manner that is not honest or impartial; </li></ul><ul><li>- involves a breach of trust placed in a Councillor; </li></ul><ul><li>- involves a misuse of information or material acquired in performing a Councillor ’s functions; </li></ul><ul><li>- Councillor has released information that is confidential to Council (breach of section 171(3)); or </li></ul><ul><li>- Councillor failed to fulfil their duty to report suspected misconduct, material personal interest or conflict of interest of another Councillor (breach of section 174). </li></ul>CRC Workshop – Conduct and Complaints
  27. 27. Misconduct (cont.) <ul><li>Council must refer suspected misconduct to the Department </li></ul><ul><li>The Department will refer the complaint to be determined by: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Local Government Remuneration and Discipline Tribunal; or </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Regional Conduct Review Panel </li></ul></ul>CRC Workshop – Conduct and Complaints
  28. 28. Inappropriate Conduct <ul><li>Conduct that is not appropriate for a Council representative </li></ul><ul><li>Examples under the Act: </li></ul><ul><li>- failing to comply with Council procedures; or </li></ul><ul><li>- behaving in an offensive or disorderly way at a Council or committee meeting. </li></ul>CRC Workshop – Conduct and Complaints
  29. 29. Inappropriate Conduct (cont.) <ul><li>Council must refer suspected inappropriate conduct to the Mayor, or to the Department if the conduct complained of is by the Mayor or Deputy Mayor </li></ul><ul><li>Mayor may either: </li></ul><ul><li>- make an order reprimanding the Councillor for inappropriate conduct; or </li></ul><ul><li>- make an order that a repeat of inappropriate conduct be referred to the Department as misconduct. </li></ul>CRC Workshop – Conduct and Complaints
  30. 30. “ Another Matter” <ul><li>Conduct that does not fit within one of the other conduct classifications </li></ul><ul><li>CEO will deal with a complaint of conduct that is of “another matter” </li></ul>CRC Workshop – Conduct and Complaints
  31. 31. Frivolous or Vexatious Complaint <ul><li>CEO may assess complaint as frivolous or vexatious </li></ul><ul><li>CEO take no action except give complainant notice that: </li></ul><ul><li>- complaint is frivolous and vexatious; and </li></ul><ul><li>- it is an offence under section 177(10) to make a complaint about a matter already been found to be frivolous or vexatious. </li></ul>CRC Workshop – Conduct and Complaints
  32. 32. Penalties <ul><li>Examples of penalties for breach of conduct provisions under Act:- </li></ul><ul><li>- dismissal; </li></ul><ul><li>- paying a fine; </li></ul><ul><li>- imprisonment; </li></ul><ul><li>- engaging in mediation with another person; </li></ul><ul><li>- counselling on misconduct; </li></ul><ul><li>- making an apology; and </li></ul><ul><li>- the Department monitoring the Councillor ’s future behaviour. </li></ul>CRC Workshop – Conduct and Complaints
  33. 33. Recent Cases of Misconduct <ul><li>Local Government Remuneration and Discipline Tribunal spike in Councillor misconduct </li></ul><ul><li>Case 1 </li></ul><ul><li>Councillor guilty of misconduct for releasing confidential recordings of committee meeting to member of the public. Tribunal ordered:- </li></ul><ul><li>- Councillor be counselled in respect of confidentiality provisions under the Act; and </li></ul><ul><li>- Councillor make an admission of misconduct at next Council meeting and apologise to Council. </li></ul>CRC Workshop – Conduct and Complaints
  34. 34. Recent Cases (cont.) <ul><li>Case 2 </li></ul><ul><li>Councillor accused of releasing confidential information from Council budget meeting to a newspaper reporter. Allegation was not substantiated and no finding of misconduct. </li></ul><ul><li>Tribunal put views on record: </li></ul><ul><li>- Release of confidential information by Councillor constitutes serious misconduct ; </li></ul><ul><li>- Councillor ’s should know what information is confidential. </li></ul>CRC Workshop – Conduct and Complaints
  35. 35. Conclusion <ul><li>Always keep in mind your conduct obligations under the Act </li></ul><ul><li>If unsure or have any concerns, seek direction from the CEO </li></ul>CRC Workshop – Conduct and Complaints