Video transcript: Conflicts of interest – what elected members need to know

A transcript for a video about conflicts of interest and what elected members need to know to manage them.

Conflicts of interest are hard to avoid in small countries like ours. You’ll often wear several hats in your community, and these roles can sometimes conflict with your duties. So can personal interests, or those of family members. These conflicts of interests aren’t a problem if you manage them carefully. To help out there are rules and guidance.

For financial interests, there are two rules you need to know:

  • There’s a $25,000 limit for any contracts between a member and their local authority. Any more and you’ll need the Auditor-General’s approval .
  • You can’t discuss or vote on any matter at a council or committee meeting if you have a financial interest. It’s actually an offence to do so.

These rules also apply if your spouse or partner has a financial interest. You’ll find all this in the Local Authorities (Members’ Interests) Act 1968.

The Auditor-General’s guidance for elected members on the Act explains the rules in more detail. The guide also covers non-financial conflicts.

This is where you might be seen to be biased in favour of a family member, or from some other private interest you have, or from having previously expressed some strong views on a topic (known as pre-determination).

It’s important that you manage financial and non-financial conflicts of interest to avoid legal and reputation risk to you and the council.

Take a look at the guidance on our website, and if you think you might have a conflict of interest talk to council staff or our Office.

We reckon you should always be cautious – if in doubt, stay out.

Watch the original video.