Council’s conduct complaints the focus of local government conference

ORANGE councillors’ concerns about the cost of code of conduct complaints have received support at the Local Government NSW conference.

The LGNSW board put forward a motion onTuesday encompassing motions submitted by Orange City, North Sydney and Tenterfield Shire councils, which delegates passed.

Councillor Jason Hamling said the motion asked for councils’ concerns to be taken on board and for the association to come up with possible improvements to refer to the state government.

“Things like penalties for breaches of confidentiality and finding resolutions without referral to a conduct reviewer,” he said.

Orange councillors asked to take the issue to the conference after a series of 24 unfounded complaints were made earlier this year, costing the council more than $26,000 in staff time.

A government information public access (GIPA) request to reveal the complainant’s identity was refused.

Cr Hamling said Local Government Minister Paul Toole also addressed the conference delegates on Tuesday morning, who reiterated Premier Mike Baird’s comments on possible amalgamations on Monday.

“He said he had met with 80 councils and there was a lot of evidence to reform local government and making the changes would strengthen councils financially,” Cr Hamling said.

While Orange ratepayers will vote for the mayor directly at the next election, he said those councils who kept councillor elections could have them reduced to every two years rather than annually to ensure they had a chance to make a difference.

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal will pass its Fit for the Future recommendations to Mr Toole on Friday.

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