The Ultimate Council Conflict of Interest. The role of Councillor itself.

Cr Don Palmer. Providing Local Leadership and Working For YiuWe hear much these days of conflict of interest. I have written about it. The media often have a feature on it. But what is the ultimate conflict of interest.

 

Following on from my blog post yesterday questioning who am I let us examine the role of an elected member. Not so much therefore, who am I but, what is my role in Council.

 

The fact is the conflict of responsibilities of your elected members is the ultimate conflict of interest.

 

The Local Government Act defines two clear, but conflicting roles.

The first of these is to be a member of the governing body of Council. The second is to represent the interests of residents and rate payers.

A conflict of roles if ever there was one.

 

 

Being a member of the governing body is alike to being a member of a company board of directors.

 

Being a member of a board of directors requires me to attend regular “director’s” meetings and participate in the deliberations of the council. As part of this role, I have the responsibility to keep the council’s objectives and policies under review. To ensure that they are appropriate and effective.

Importantly, I am also responsible to manage the council’s income and expenditure. This means keeping the efficiency and effectiveness of its service delivery under review.

This responsibility is only in concert with my fellow councillors. I cannot act alone. Neither can a small subgroup act alone.

Contrary to this responsibility however is my second defined role.

 

As a person elected to the council I must represent the interests of residents and ratepayers. I am required to provide community leadership and guidance. I must facilitate communication between the community and the council.

This means I must represent you and advocate for you to the Council.

This is a role many in the community do not understand. A role they don’t take advantage of.

As conflicting as these roles may sound they are also mutually complementary.

 

In order to represent you and advocate for you I must do so for all. For that to happen I must be conscious of the greater good. The good of our whole community.

So, even if what you seek advocacy for conflicts with your neighbours, I must seek to give you the best possible chance to be heard.

And that I will continue to strive to do.

Who Am I? Ever Played that Game. Sometimes I feel I am playing it now.

Have you ever played the game who am I. It has always been a fun game.

 

Cr Don Palmer. Providing Local Leadership and Working For YiuRemember putting a notice on your head and asking people yes/no questions and trying to whittle down to find out who you are. A game I remember playing as a kid. It was a game too, I recall, being the focus of a TV game a few decades back.

A similar game too, I recall being played on talk back radio. Always fun. Always entertaining.

.

I found myself playing that game this week with one on my rate payers. A rate payer who did not understand my role. I therefore found myself trying to explain my role rather than focus on her concerns. This conversation naturally prompted me to consider writing this blog post.

Another Councillor explained to me this morning that she too has had a similar recent experience. This of course has convinced me of the need to put pen to paper.

In both cases the person with whom we were engaging believed we were employees of Council. This is NOT the case.

 

Who am I then? I am an elected member. An elected member of your Council.

 

Importantly, I am not an employee of Council. I am not a manager. Nor do I contract with Council.

I am an elected member, a Councillor. Elected by you last November as your representative on Council. Elected to be one of thirteen Councillors (including your Mayor) forming the City of Unley Council.

The next question is what is my responsibility and what did you elect me to do. For the answer to that question I ask you to watch out for a follow-up blog post.

A council, in turn, is established to provide for government and management of its area at the local level. Watch out for future blog posts on this too.