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Department of Premier and Cabinet

By following communication protocols

Generally speaking, communication between the council and the administration should be through the general manager and mayor. Of course, this is not always practical and as a steadfast rule it can be misunderstood. Councils should develop protocols to guide interactions and communication between the council and the administration. Remember that even with protocols in place there is not a rule for every situation, and good governance relies on your good judgement.

Elected members need to understand that:

  • Accountable advice needs to go through an organisational process, which usually involves approval by a senior manager or the general manager. Speaking directly to lower-level council officers may result in elected members not being fully informed or receiving advice that hasn’t been formally endorsed by the administration.
  • Council officers are not accountable to elected members individually, and section 28(3)(a) of the Local Government Act states that an elected member must not direct or attempt to direct a council employee in relation to the discharge of the employee’s duties.

Council officers need to understand that:

  • They are not accountable to individual elected members and are not required to take direction from them. They are accountable to the whole council, through the management structure.
  • They should not provide advice to elected members unless it has been approved by the senior management or general manager. If councillors ask for advice, council officers should redirect elected members to senior management or the general manager.