The Local Government (Governance and Integrity) Regulations 2020 are now available, and can be accessed here.
The Integrity Regulations 2020 address the governance and integrity components of the Local Government Act 2020 which commence operation on 24 October 2020.
The Governance and Integrity Regulations 2020 replicate similar provisions under the LGA 1989 and its regulations and also include new regulations which address new requirements and other heads of power under the LGA 2020.
Through the consultation process with the Local Government sector feedback was sought on the proposed regulations and a number of changes made. Refer to the regulations link above.
Oath or affirmation of office
Section 30 & 31 of the Local Government Act 2020 and the Regulations provide the requirements (manner and wording) for taking the oath or affirmation of office.
Councillors have the option of taking an oath (this may include with a Bible or Koran or other religious document in hand) or making an affirmation which is a non-religious based declaration. An oath may be taken or an affirmation may be made in the accordance with the form outlined below:
Form of oath
I (NAME) swear (or promise) by Almighty God (or the person may name a god recognised by the person's religion) that I will undertake the duties of the office of Councillor in the best interests of the municipal community. I will abide by the Councillor Code of Conduct and uphold the standards of conduct set out in the Councillor Code of Conduct. I will faithfully and impartially carry out and exercise the functions, powers, authorities and discretions vested in me under the Local Government Act 2020 and any other Act to the best of my skill and judgement.
Form of affirmation
I (NAME) solemnly and sincerely declare and affirm that I will undertake the duties of the office of Councillor in the best interests of the municipal community. I will abide by the Councillor Code of Conduct and uphold the standards of conduct set out in the Councillor Code of Conduct. I will faithfully and impartially carry out and exercise the functions, powers, authorities and discretions vested in me under the Local Government Act 2020 and any other Act to the best of my skill and judgement.
Standards of Conduct
The standards of conduct have been amended to address advice received in relation to the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities and implied freedom of political communication.
Summary of Regulations 2020
1. The Oath or Affirmation of Office: set the content of the Oath/Affirmation of Office taken by persons elected to be councillors and will include a declaration to abide by the councillor code of conduct and the standards of conduct contained within it.
2. Exemptions under which a conflict of interest will not occur: the exemptions will largely carry over exemptions that previously existed under the LGA 1989; and will provide exemptions where there is a policy reason why a councillor should not be taken to have a conflict of interest in a particular matter even if one may exist.
3. The lodging of and public access to personal interest returns (both initial and bi-annual): set matters that must be included in personal interest returns that are lodged by councillors and will include interests which may give rise to a conflict of interest; set the information related to the returns which must be made publicly available.
4. The internal arbitration procedure for a council: set out the process for internal arbitration of allegations that a councillor has breached the prescribed standards of conduct.
5. Standards of conduct for councillors: set out standards of conduct for councillors which must be included in a council’s councillor code of conduct (a breach of the standards of conduct can be grounds for an application under the internal arbitration procedure of a council).
6. Councillor induction training: set out requirements for the councillor induction training that all elected councillors will be required to undertake; and set the way the training must be conducted and the matters that the training must address.
Our approach to the consultation process
Consultation with the sector was undertaken during August 2020. Members of the Local Government sector and working groups were consulted on the proposed regulations and were able to provide feedback on each of the topics.