New requirements of the Local Government Act 2020

Section 139 of the Local Government Act 2020 (2020 Act), Councillor Code of Conduct, replaces section 76C of the Local Government Act 1989, Councillor Code of Conduct.

Section 139 of the Local Government Act 2020 (2020 Act), Councillor Code of Conduct, replaces section 76C of the Local Government Act 1989, Councillor Code of Conduct.

A Councillor Code of Conduct, under the 2020 Act, must include the standards of conduct expected to be observed by councillors that will be prescribed in regulations and may include any other matters which the council considers appropriate.

A Council must review and adopt the Councillor Code of Conduct within four months of the general election. Until a Council adopts a Councillor Code of Conduct (under the 2020 Act), the Councillors must comply with the existing Councillor Code of Conduct.

It may be that your council’s existing Councillor Code of Conduct meets the new Act’s requirements, with some minor changes necessary and the incorporation of the prescribed Standards of Conduct.

Under the new 2020 Act the new internal arbitration process applies to a breach of the prescribed standards of conduct (section 141) and if the arbiter determines that a Councillor has failed to comply with the prescribed standards of conduct, the arbiter may make a finding of misconduct against the Councillor (section 147).

To be compliant with the new Act 2020 your Councillor Code of Conduct policy:

  • must include the standards of conduct prescribed by the regulations expected to be observed by Councillors; and
  • must include any provisions prescribed by the regulations; and
  • must include provisions addressing any matters prescribed by the regulations; and
  • may include any other matters which the Council considers appropriate, other than any other standards of conduct.

Councils must adopt a code meeting the requirements of the Local Government Act 2020 within four months of the general election (held on 24 October 2020). In the interim the existing code continues to operate.

Councillor Code of Conduct - suggested structure

LGV have worked with a 'Think Tank' of Council staff to develop a structure for a Councillor Code of Conduct. The structure is based on the headings of the proposed Standards of Conduct to ensure the Standards of Conduct are embedded with the Code.

It is important for councillors to be aware of how the standards of conduct fit within the overall Councillor Conduct Framework, as a breach of the standards of conduct will constitute misconduct and be subject to sanctioning by an arbiter. It is therefore critical for all councillors to be familiar with the standards of conduct and the distinction between the standards and the rest of the councillor code of conduct.

The suggested Councillor Code of Conduct structure and topic list has been provided to guide the conversation with the council. It has been further developed to include key points and information sections for each heading.

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Annette Waters

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