The State Ombudsman, Wayne Lines, has spoken up this week on a topic that goes to the heart of one of the central reasons for Local Government reform. His code of conduct concerns is one area that the Local Government Industry is pushing hard to see changed.
We need tougher sanctions against those who are guilty of serious breeches. More on that however in a later blog post.
His code of conduct concerns however is asking Councils to stop the silliness. To stop making claims of a trivial nature.
In recent history there have been many reports of elected members making frivolous claims against one another. This brings the industry into disrepute. These claims take up the resources of the Ombudsman. His time can be better spent on the more serious. The ICAC likewise.
Trouble is the Act requires members to lay claims against others they believe to be contravening the Act. Failure to so do can cause a claim being made against them.
Not long after the Office of Public Integrity was formed, I remember him saying to a group of councillors that he has no interest in pursuing such. Legal advice however has interpreted the law literally. Ever since the industry and the ICAC have been calling for changes.
Here at the City of Unley we hopefully have a mature and adult approach to elected member behaviour. The current Council is working through a charter of behaviour that we will all sign up to when complete.
The Governments proposed probe through the Productivity Commissioner into local government should look into this.