On top of the formal review of policies required under the new Act, we also requested councils provide us with internal policies that related to councillor relationships with staff, other councillors and external third parties.
The table below showed the rate of councils who had policies covering these relationships.
|Relationship covered by policy||Council staff||Other councillors||External third parties|
|Percentage of councils with a policy||49%||4%||0|
This exercise confirmed that nearly half of the councils developed and maintained a document that addressed councillor and staff interactions. This document was separate to the respective codes of conduct. There is no formal requirement to do so, but it is recommended that a stand-alone policy be created.
There is also no requirement to develop a policy to address conduct with other councillors aside from the code of conduct. These results show that councils have chosen not to develop a policy to guide this relationship – separate to the mandatory code of conduct.
Notably, no council provided us with a document that specifically addressed interactions with external third parties. We made the request to identify whether councils specifically address interaction with third parties – such as property developers or real estate agents – where sharing information could compromise future decision making. There is no specific requirement for councils to have such a policy. However historically, this is an area that has raised concerns between councillors, and across local communities. These meetings are often considered as meeting with key local stakeholders, but they raise integrity issues if they are not dealt with and managed appropriately.
7. Councils are strongly encouraged to develop a policy to guide the relationships and interactions between councillors and council staff.
8. Councils should consider developing a policy for councillors interreacting with third parties in an open and transparent way so that the public can be confident that decision-making is taking place in an unbiased way.
Reviewed 16 January 2023