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Department of Premier and Cabinet

'A balancing act' - scenario overview

Aim of the scenarios

The aim of the scenarios is to explore some of the ethical risks that are faced by elected members in five key areas:

  • The use of social media
  • The use of power and authority
  • Confidentiality
  • Gifts and benefits
  • The use of information

and to provide an opportunity for participants to discuss how these risks could be managed.

This is a screen shot from the video showing the Mayor taking ean envelope with gift of tickets from cricket club president 

Ethical issues and points to consider

As part of their role, councillors are required to balance relationships with a diverse range of stakeholders, while also ensuring that they are behaving ethically and in line with the Local Government Act and regulations, their council's code of conduct and any relevant policies. In considering these risk areas, participants should note that the role of a councillor is to represent and serve the public. The public interest should always come first – ahead of that of the individual.

Analysis of scenarios

 

ScenarioWhat was the ethical risk area identified in this scenario?Where can you find guidance on these risk areas?

'Spreading the word'

This is a screen shot from the video showing Councillor Roberts typing comments on the council decisions for social media 

Behaviour: Use of social media (Facebook) to express a personal view that does not align with the Council's view.

Impact or risk: Undermines public confidence in the council.

Your Council's code of conduct

Your Council's social media and communications policy

'On good authority'

This is a screen shot from the video showing Councillor Baker directing a council employee in their duties  

Behaviour: A councillor directing office staff and the use of power and authority.

Impact: Diverts council resources inappropriately toward personal interests. Staff performance is the responsibility of the general manager, not elected members.

The Local Government Act 1993 (s28)(3)

In performing any function under this Act or any other Act, a councillor must not direct or attempt to direct an employee of the council in relation to the discharge of the employee's duties.

S28A of the Local Government Act provides that councillors are to request information through the general manager.  

'Right to know'

This is a screen shot from the video showing Councillor Martin & Councillor Rush in discussion about the publis's right to know information discussed in council meeting 

Behaviour: Councillors at a council meeting discussing the public's right to know vs the requirement to maintain confidentiality of council information.

Impact: Breach of confidentiality requirements could:

  • leave the council and the councillor exposed to legal action.
  • reveal commercial-in-confidence information
  • breach privacy requirements
  • create unnecessary tension in the community 

The Local Government Act 1993 (s338A) - Disclosure of information:

A councillor must not disclose information:

a. seen or heard by the councillor at a meeting or part of a meeting of a council or council committee that is closed to the public that is not authorised by the council or council committee to be disclosed; or

b. given to the councillor by the mayor, deputy mayor, chairperson of a meeting of the council or council committee or the general manager on the condition that it be kept confidential.

Your Council's code of conduct

Your Council's use of information policy

'It's just not cricket'

This is a screen shot of the Mayor talking to the cricket club president 

Behaviour: Acceptance of a gift (tickets) at a community club function.

Impact: Raises issues of actual, perceived or potential conflict of interest and pecuniary interest.

 The Local Government Act 1993  - Part 5 pecuniary interest

Your Council's code of conduct

Your Council's gifts and benefits policy

'A tale of two sisters'

This is a screen shot from the video showing Councillor Rush sharing commercial-in-confidence information from a closed session of council with her sister 

Behaviour:

  • Councillor sharing with her family member commercial-in-confidence information held by the council and discussed in closed session.
  • Use of council information for personal profit or the profit of a close associate.

Impact: Breach of confidentiality requirements could:

  • leave the council and the councillor exposed to legal action.
  • reveal commercial-in-confidence information

 

The Local Government Act 1993 (s338A) - Disclosure of information:

A councillor must not disclose information:

a. seen or heard by the councillor at a meeting or part of a meeting of a council or council committee that is closed to the public that is not authorised by the council or council committee to be disclosed; or

b. given to the councillor by the mayor, deputy mayor, chairperson of a meeting of the council or council committee or the general manager on the condition that it be kept confidential.

Your Council's code of conduct

Your Council's use of information policy