Ipswich City Council has introduced a suite of policies intended to guide new councillors and council staff in managing their various responsibilities after local government elections in March 2020.
CEO David Farmer said the Councillor Integrity Policy Package features the introduction of some new policies and amendments to existing policies to ensure that all councillor-related policies are appropriately aligned with relevant legislation.
“The new integrity based policy package for councillors sets leading practice standards for all incoming councillors to ensure that good governance, ethical and legal behaviour standards and transparent and effective processes are in place, providing a clear benchmark for all interactions between councillors, council officers and members of the community,” he said.
“The Crime and Corruption Commission Operation Windage report highlighted several areas of concern related to non-compliance with council policies and procedures. This integrity package addresses several of the findings made and places more appropriate and transparent controls around the risk areas.
“These leading practice standards reduce the risk of incoming councillors falling into the poor governance standards and resulting corruption that ultimately led to the dismissal of the Ipswich City Council in August 2018.”
The package addresses several key areas of governance, including:
• Councillor-Staff Interaction
• Expenses Reimbursement
• Election Caretaker Period
• Meetings of Council
• Capture and Retention of Public Records
• Contact with Lobbyists, Developers and Submitters
• Representation of the City at Official Functions
Mr Farmer said one of the 18 specific business transformation projects (Return to Elected Representation) that council had been formulating created leading practice frameworks and tools to best manage communication between councillors, council officers and the community, and how the newly elected representatives could be most effectively serviced, from an administrative support perspective, by council officers.
“The review of current practices identified that a number of current policies required significant review or replacement to ensure that a clear alignment between the Local Government and Public Sector Ethics Principles and council process exists,” he said.
“In formulating these documents, significant research has been undertaken on similar documents throughout Australia, with the aim of ensuring that the new policies meet the standard of leading practice that council is striving to achieve.”
Mr Farmer said the package had also been presented to one of council’s community reference groups (Transparent Governance) for consideration and feedback.
“Council is embracing leading practice by formulating a suite of policy documents that clearly outline the mechanisms that will be in place to support and guide all incoming councillors in the execution of their duties as an elected representative for the City of Ipswich.”
“Most importantly, the Councillors Integrity Policy Package is a concise reference guide of policies that will ensure that Ipswich City Council and its elected representatives not only meets but can exceed the community’s high expectations as they relate to good governance, transparency and ethical behaviour, particularly the responsible management of public monies,” he said.
Council is also in the process of creating a plan for potential councillors and the community in the lead-up to the elections on 28 March and the return to elected representation.
It will help the community better understand the role of incoming councillors and learn more about how the administration can provide support. It will also provide information for potential candidates who want to run for council.