Ipswich City Council’s new Good Governance Guide should be become council’s Bible – the go-to resource for standards to operate by, according to Interim Administrator Steve Greenwood.
The guide was officially adopted by council on Tuesday and will shape the future council following the 28 March local government elections.
Mr Greenwood described the guide as a “significant piece of work”.
“It needs to be owned by this organisation. For Ipswich, this is a big step forward. I think it could well become a benchmark for other councils,” he said.
New General Manager of Corporate Services Sonia Cooper, appearing at her first committee meeting last week, presented the proposed good governance policy.
“This is a report concerning the repeal of an existing policy and adoption of a good governance policy that will guide both councillors and employees of Ipswich City Council in managing their various responsibilities in accordance with council’s commitment to good governance,” Ms Cooper said.
During council’s business transformation program, introduced by former interim administrator Greg Chemello in 2018 and progressed through 2019, the need for further definition on council’s current and desirable governance arrangements was agreed by the joint transformation committee to become a deliverable of the program.
“As a result, a good governance policy has been produced which articulates a policy statement and outlines guiding principles for council to embed good governance practices,” Ms Cooper said.
“The policy is supported by a Good Governance Guide and quick guide which outline in further detail desirable and current governance arrangements for council.
“The guides are intended to be utilised as a resource for councillors, leaders, managers, staff and the general community to further understand and increase awareness of the importance of good governance practices.
“For good governance to be embedded, it will be vital that initial and ongoing communication and education strategies are implemented.”
The Local Government Act 2009 sets out a number of principles that a local government must follow to ensure it is accountable, effective, efficient and sustainable. Good Governance of and by the local government is one of the principles council must follow.
Ms Cooper said during council’s business transformation program it was recognised that council’s governance arrangements were not clearly articulated, with an opportunity to provide a set of clear guiding principles for good governance under a good governance policy, and a supporting Good Governance Guide.
She said the guide will be an important resource for council that will be used as part of an ongoing program to continue to drive good governance practices that ultimately lead to a more efficient, accountable and transparent council.
“The Good Governance Guide clearly outlines the roles and responsibilities within council such as the executive arm (the new mayor and eight councillors) and the administrative arm being the CEO and council staff,” she said.
”It identifies how council makes its decisions and what governance arrangements we have in place. The policy and guide are important documents that can give the community and upcoming candidates an overview on how council works and what is already in place as well as practical examples of situations such as conflicts of interest and how this can result in poor governance practices.”
The document deals with roles, responsibilities and relationships; organisational planning, monitoring and reporting performance; decision making; legal and ethical compliance; culture and ethics, plus a governance overview for Ipswich City Council.