DLG risks human rights and ILO Convention breaches with proposed new Code of Conduct

The Division of Local Government is currently reviewing the Model Code of Conduct and back in July last year we made a submission. Now, having seen the proposed new Draft which has been circulated in the industry (but typically, the DLG didn't think it appropriate to send it to us) we think there's really only one problem.

But it's a big one.

The Division has proposed a new 6.4 (e) to require that employees must "ensure that any participation in political activities does not conflict with their primary duty to serve the Council in a politically neutral manner."

What? There is no "primary duty" for employees in the current Local Government Act requiring political neutrality (whatever that is), there is no definition of what "participation in political activities" means and the Division is unable to give any examples of the sort of behaviour that they think needs to be regulated with a provision like this.

It looks like everyone pretty much missed this provision but we didn't. Significantly, this proposal has been drafted by employees of the Crown and there is no comparable obligation imposed on them.  What were they thinking? And, more importantly, what were they thinking at the same time that the Independent Review Panel is charged with the responsibility of making recommendations to create a more mature relationship between the State and local government?

It would also be potentially challengeable as a breach of an employee's human rights and any number of ILO conventions. This is what we said in our letter.


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