6.1 Local authority codes of conduct

Local government: Results of the 2005/06 audits.

Since 1 July 2003, each local authority has been legally required to adopt a code of conduct for its members.

In 2006, we carried out a review of codes of conduct and reported to Parliament.1We looked at how local authorities have implemented the requirement to have a code of conduct, and how codes of conduct are being used by local authorities, their members, and the public.

Our report noted that local authorities have considerable discretion in how they design and use their code of conduct. Depending on a local authority's objectives, a code can be an aspirational statement or a rulebook. Local authorities can choose whether to have their code simply as part of their governance framework, or to create mechanisms for enforcing compliance with their code.

The report noted that, overall, local authorities' compliance with their legal obligations is high, and that local authorities see value in having a code as a governance mechanism or as a compliance tool. The variety of topics and processes addressed across all 85 local authorities is generally useful. Local authorities can learn from looking at each other's codes.

We hope that our report will enhance general understanding of codes of conduct and assist local authorities to address conduct issues in the future.

1: Local authority codes of conduct, ISBN 0-478-18161-2 – also available on our website at www.oag.govt.nz/2006/conduct/.

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