The Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue supports new measures introduced by the State Government aimed at weeding out corruption and bad behaviour in local councils and has called for even further, bold reform.
Under the new Model Code of Conduct announced by the Minister for Local Government, Garbrielle Upton, Councillors will now be required to report all gifts, regardless of value, and undertake mandatory professional training to ensure they have the skills and knowledge to carry out their roles.
Councillors will also be prohibited from accessing information about matters they have pecuniary interests in (unless it is publicly available) and face new standards when it comes to harassment, use of social media and work health and safety.
Dialogue Chairman, Christopher Brown AM, applauded the new reforms, which were consistent with some of the proposals the Dialogue had outlined earlier this year in its discussion paper, Governance Reform for Growth: Ideas on how we can best plan, finance, build and govern the growth centres of Greater Western Sydney.
“The Dialogue has been calling for meaningful reform within the local government sector for a number of years, and these new, tougher measures are a positive first step towards weeding out corruption and ensuring rate-payers get value for money,” he said.
“Western Sydney has been embarrassed by the appalling governance issues at places like Auburn Council and we need new systems to attract and retain municipal talent. This region should be a beacon for best practice, not a sanctuary for spivs.
“The actions of a small minority have not only created distrust amongst our communities, but tarnished the reputation of an entire sector.”
Mr Brown said that in addition to the new Model Code of Conduct, other reform measures could include, the election of full-time mayors, improved protection for staff and CEOs, and the creation of bigger, fewer and better resourced Councils.
He added that the development of a bespoke training course for Councillors and Mayors, run through the Australian Institute of Company Directors, was also worth consideration.
“Hopefully this new Code will help embed a cultural shift within local government. One that emphasises Councillors’ role in setting the strategy and vision for their cities, while also ensuring that Council staff have the support, skills and capacity to deliver,” Mr Brown said.
For media information
Adam Leto — Director
Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue
firstname.lastname@example.org | 0419 019 637