The South Australian Local Government Association has proposed changes to the code of conduct for elected members that would include the elevation of bullying and harassment behaviours to misconduct, as well as the introduction of tougher penalties for breaches of the code.
LGA President Lorraine Rosenberg said the Association’s proposal to the State Government was based on extensive consultation with member councils, as well as stakeholders including the Office of Local Government, Ombudsman and ICAC Commissioner.
“We acknowledge the code of conduct for elected members isn’t working as it should, and we’ve presented a proposal to the Government to improve and strengthen it,” Mayor Rosenberg said.
“Our proposal outlines new behavioural standards, and processes for managing complaints and investigations for alleged breaches of these standards.”
“The behaviour of council members is – by and large exemplary – but we need to stand up as a sector and show our communities that we will not tolerate bullying or harassment of any kind.”
“A stronger code of conduct including greater penalties for breaches is needed to ensure councils can efficiently and effectively resolve issues, and get on with the job of serving their communities.”
The key aspects of the LGA’s proposal include:
Redrafting the code to focus on genuine “misconduct” issues.
Setting out clear independent processes by which alleged breaches will be handled.
Clearly defining ‘bullying and harassment’ and elevating it to a redrafted code as misconduct.
Redrafting section 62 of the Local Government Act 1999 to include high level guiding principles of expected governance standards.
Enabling effective sanctions to be applied for breaches of the new code and behavioural standards.
A new education and development program for council members to be developed by the LGA.
While the Government has previously indicated its intention to repeal the code of conduct for elected members, Mayor Rosenberg said the LGA was urging them to listen to the wishes of the sector before making any changes.
“The strong feedback from our sector has been that we need to retain the current code until new processes are fully developed and ready to implement,” Mayor Rosenberg said.