Councillors’ code of conduct reprieve

Victoria’s local government representatives have been given more time to sign a councillor code of conduct after it was revealed more than 100 councillors faced disqualification.

The State Government had announced all councils would have to update their code of conduct by 4 July, with councillors given a month to sign from the time their new code was adopted.

This was part of a suite of new laws Parliament passed in October last year to strengthen council governance and reduce councillor misconduct.

But the State Government this week amended its original deadline “to ensure ratepayers do not suffer” if an alleged 107 councillors were disqualified due to ‘administrative errors’.

All nine of Latrobe City’s councillors signed their updated code of conduct after council adopted its new code at a special meeting in June.

Changes to council’s current code include the addition of an internal resolution procedure; provisions covering when a councillor becomes a prospective candidate or nominates as a candidate for a state or federal election; and, inclusion of the written declarations that councillors sign after the code has been adopted.

“Not only is it a legislated requirement that we review the code annually, it’s important for good governance that we take time to consider whether there are any provisions that need amending or any additional clauses to include,” mayor Michael Rossiter said in a statement at the time.

“By reviewing and signing a new code each year we are upholding community standards, we are building public confidence in local government and we are continually benchmarking our behaviours in terms of our own working relationships.”

The councillor code of conduct reflects the way councillors work together, behave both as individuals and as a collective and represent their community and their organisation.

Victorian councillors will now be required to review and sign their code of conduct within four months of the 22 October council elections.

No current councillor will be disqualified.