Parliament House in Hobart, Tasmania

The Tasmanian Government has introduced the Local Government Amendment (Code of Conduct) Bill 2022 to strengthen and modernise the Local Government Code of Conduct Framework and provide a better process for dispute resolutions in councils.

The Bill makes a number of important changes and comes following extensive consultation with the Local Government Association of Tasmania (LGAT), the broader sector and the public.

It progresses reforms across several key areas, including:

  • Improved consistency and clarity across councils through a single, standard Code of Conduct for all councils
  • Using local dispute resolution processes wherever possible, focusing initial assessments on more serious allegations and stipulating strict timeframes for processing code of conduct complaints
  • Increasing confidence in the assessment and investigation process, minimising the risk of conflicts of interest and improving confidentiality of the Code of Conduct process

The recent local government elections – the first with compulsory voting, as a result of the Tasmanian Government reforms – delivered a huge increase in voter participation, with a final voter return of 84.7 per cent compared with the 2018 council election return of only 58.7 per cent.

A single, standard Code of Conduct issued by the Tasmanian Minister for Local Government, Nic Street, will automatically apply to all Tasmanian councillors and a council general manager will need to process any complaint within 14 days of receipt.

In the coming months, the Tasmanian government will also review the Local Government (General) Regulations and the Model Code of Conduct to ensure that the intent of the Bill’s legislative changes are appropriately reflected and embedded in those supporting instruments.

In taking the next steps in this reform to position the Framework for the future, the government is also currently undertaking work to consider the merits of transitioning the Framework into the Tasmanian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (TASCAT).

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