Review of personal interest returns

A wide-ranging review of councillors personal interests’ declarations will be released soon.

The Inspectorate conducted a review of all councillor returns for 78 councils between October 2016 and February 2020. However, a review of Whittlesea councillors’ personal interests returns was conducted as part of a separate investigation and was not covered in the report.

Chief Municipal Inspector Michael Stefanovic AM said: “The Inspectorate, along with other integrity agencies, have identified that incomplete and inadequate personal interest disclosure is a historical and ongoing issue affecting the local government sector.”

Personal interests returns: Reducing conflicts and increasing transparency will reveal details about how many councillors submitted accurate returns in this period, what they failed to disclose and some of the reasons they gave for failing to make the disclosures.

Councillors and key council staff must provide – and regularly update - accurate records of their personal interests under the Local Government Act.

Transparency is vital to local government integrity and the requirement for councillors and key council staff to submit a full and accurate record of their personal interests is fundamental in achieving this goal.

Mr Stefanovic said: “Where personal interest disclosures are incomplete, it fails to safeguard against possible conflicts of interests and acting in the best interests of the community.

“We hope this report helps bring personal interest returns into the spotlight and leads to reforms that will strengthen compliance and transparency.”
The report will be published soon.