Ipswich endorses new Code of Conduct for councillors

Ipswich City Council Interim Administrator Greg Chemello, Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe and Ipswich City Council Acting CEO Charlie Dill.

Councillors elected to Ipswich City Council in March 2020 will have to abide by a tough new Code of Conduct.

Minister for Local Government, Racing and Multicultural Affairs Stirling Hinchliffe was sitting in the gallery of Ipswich City Council chambers this week as the new Councillor Code of Conduct was tabled at the council’s Governance Committee.

Interim Administrator Greg Chemello said the new Councillor Code of Conduct would take effect across Queensland as of 3 December 2018 unless earlier endorsed by specific councils.

Ipswich City Council will adopt the code at the council meeting on Tuesday 4 December.

Mr Chemello said the code summarised the standards of behaviour as the three Rs: that councillors carry out RESPONSIBILITIES conscientiously and in the best interests of the council and the community; they treat people in a reasonable, just, RESPECTFUL and non-discriminatory way; and their conduct does not reflect adversely on the REPUTATION of the council.

Increasing public confidence

“The code addresses the consequence of failing to comply with the standards of behaviour which may lead to a complaint being submitted to the Independent Assessor who will assess if the complaint falls into corrupt conduct, misconduct, inappropriate conduct or unsuitable meeting conduct,” Mr Chemello said.

“This will ensure elected representatives, from the 2020 Ipswich City Council local government election, are explicitly aware of their responsibilities.

“It will also increase public confidence and understanding in Ipswich City Council’s decision making processes and the expected standards of behaviour of the mayor and councillors when carrying out their roles, responsibilities and obligations as the elected representatives of Ipswich.”

Streamlined complaints handling

The mandatory code of conduct for all councillors across Queensland is a core part of the Local Government (Councillor Complaints) and other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 introduced to State Parliament on 15 February 2018 and assented on 21 May 2018.

The Bill amended the Local Government Act 2009 to provide a simpler, streamlined process for making, investigating and determining complaints about councillor conduct in Queensland.

The Act was amended to include Chapter 5A – Councillor Conduct, which is about:

  • setting appropriate standards for the behaviour of councillors
  • dealing with the conduct of councillors at local government meetings that does not meet the standards
  • investigating and dealing with complaints about the conduct of councillors
  • disciplinary action that may be taken against councillors who engage in inappropriate conduct or misconduct
  • the entities that investigate and deal with complaints about the conduct of councillors.
Getting on with the job

Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe’s visit to Ipswich City Council on Tuesday 27 November was his first since legislation was passed to dimiss the councillors in August.

Mr Hinchliffe said while he received regular reports on the work of Interim Administrator Greg Chemello, he had so far left him to get on with the job ahead of catching up with him this week.

Mr Hinchliffe also met with the Interim Management Committee, and council’s Executive Leadership Team.

My brief to Interim Administrator Greg Chemello was to restore the Council to a position of respect, and I have been able to see first-hand that he is already a fair way down that path.

Since August, he has set about dismantling the discredited Ipswich City Properties, progressed the stalled Ipswich CBD redevelopment, and put in place policies and practices to ensure staff feel safe in their workplace.

I am firmly of the view that staff are entitled to come to work and feel valued and safe.

I know there is much more to do. There is no doubt that this is a big job.

However, the Palaszczuk Government is utterly determined to restore the faith of the Ipswich community – which includes Council staff – in its Council in the long-term.

The situation that occurred in Ipswich must never be allowed to happen again.

Ipswich is important to the State’s economy. It is experiencing rapid growth, and I want business to know that they can invest in Ipswich with certainty.

Ipswich has a proud history and I am confident that that pride is already returning.

Stirling Hinchliffe

Minister for Local Government, Minister for Racing and Minister for Multicultural Affairs

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