Local authority codes of conduct.

The Local Government Act 2002 created a new legal requirement for each local authority to adopt a code of conduct for its elected members.

My office has an ongoing interest in governance and probity matters in public entities, and many of my inquiries focus on behaviour or conduct issues. I decided it was important to examine how councils are giving effect to the requirement to have a code of conduct. This report looks at councils’ experiences in developing and using their codes.

Councils have considerable discretion in how they design and use their code. Depending on a council’s objectives, a code can be an aspirational statement or a rulebook. Councils can choose whether to have their code simply as part of their governance framework, or to create mechanisms for enforcing compliance with their code.

Overall, I found that councils’ compliance with their legal obligations is high, and that councils see value in having a code, whether as a governance mechanism or as a compliance tool. The variety of topics and processes addressed across all 85 councils is generally useful. Councils can learn from looking at each other’s codes.

I hope this report will enhance general understanding of codes, and assist councils in addressing conduct issues in the future.

I am grateful for the co-operation of those councils and local government sector organisations that participated in this study.


K B Brady
Controller and Auditor-General

20 June 2006

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