It is alleged that during a confidential meeting of the District Council of Coober Pedy on 19 January 2016, Cr Paul Reynolds failed to declare and appropriately deal with an interest in a motion that the council execute a Power Purchase Agreement with an energy supplier, Energy Generation Pty Ltd.
This issue concerns an alleged breach of clause 3.13 of Part 3 of the Code of Conduct for Council Members (the Code). Failure by a council member to comply with Part 3 of the Code constitutes misconduct. Contravention or failure to comply with the Code also constitutes grounds for a complaint under Chapter 13, Part 1 of the Local Government Act 1999, which, if substantiated, is a ground for disciplinary action.
I have therefore considered this matter under section 5(3)(a) of the ICAC Act, which provides that ‘contravention of a code of conduct by a public officer while acting in his or her capacity as a public officer that constitutes a ground for disciplinary action against the officer’ amounts to misconduct in public administration.//
6. With respect to the matters forming the subject of the referral, the complainant
submitted, inter alia:
Cr Reynolds ‘benefits directly and indirectly from the success’ of the CP Gem
the CPMA and the CP Gem Trade Show ‘may be separate associations but they
are symbiotic’; the CP Gem Trade Show is ‘in fact the creation of the CPMA and
in particular Cr Reynolds’
the CPMA’s financials demonstrate that it earns an income from the CP Gem
Trade Show; these financials observe that the CP Gem Trade Show ‘benefits all
members of the [CMPA]’
the CP Gem Trade Show is not a community event ‘and its own website does not
promote it as a community event’
Summary: November 2017: District Council of Coober Pedy – Failure to declare a conflict of interest
The Ombudsman received a referral from the Commissioner concerning the alleged failure of Cr Paul Reynolds to declare an interest in the matter of the District Council of Coober Pedy’s determination to execute a Power Purchase Agreement with Energy Developments (EDL).
It was alleged that Cr Reynolds had an interest in the matter arising from his association with the Coober Pedy Miners Association, Coober Pedy Gem Trade Show and Coober Pedy Opal Festival. Both the Coober Pedy Gem Show and Coober Pedy Opal Festival were to receive an annual sponsorship from EDL for the duration of any new contract with the council.
The sponsorship agreement was negotiated by the Coober Pedy Miners Association. Cr Reynolds did not declare an interest in the council’s consideration of the Power Purchase Agreement. The Ombudsman conducted an investigation and determined the Cr Reynolds had an interest in the matter as he was a member of the governing body of the Coober Pedy Gem Trade Show which had a reasonable expectation of receiving an indirect benefit depending on the outcome of the matter.
The Ombudsman determined that on this basis Cr Reynolds failed to declare a conflict of interest in the matter as required by the Local Government Act and breached the Code of Conduct for Council Members, thereby committing misconduct with the meaning of the ICAC Act. The Ombudsman recommended that the council issue a reprimand to Cr Reynolds.
READ THE COMPLETE OMBUDSMAN’S FINDINGS HERE: http://www.ombudsman.sa.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/District-Council-of-Coober-Pedy-Failure-to-declare-a-conflict-of-interest.pdf
CODES OF CONDUCT FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT (ICAC SA & OPI ANNUAL REPORT 2016-2017)
In my 2013-2014 annual report I said that the introduction of mandatory Codes of Conduct for elected members of local government and local government employees had created difficulties associated with their application. I noted that I had written to the Minister for Local Government outlining what I considered to be the problems with the codes. I also noted at the time that, at the Minister’s request, I would make suggestions for changes to those codes.
I made those suggestions to the Minister in April 2014.As I understand it, concerns about the codes have also been expressed by numerous councils and by the Local Government Association.
In the absence of changes to the codes by the time of publication of my 2014-2015 annual report, I said again in that report that I was hopeful that action would soon be taken to resolve some of the difficulties that had been identified with the codes.
At the time of publication of this annual report some four years later, there have still been no changes to the codes. It is unclear to me why those changes, which I would have thought would be supported by most stakeholders, have not been adopted. My staff and I have communicated with the Minister and his staff on multiple occasions about the codes, but change has not been forthcoming.
Nevertheless, I understand that the Premier has recently indicated his view that the codes ought to be paused.
In my view there is a need for codes of conduct that apply to elected members of local government and local government employees. The present codes are, in my view, defective in a number of respects. I understand the Premier is of the view that the codes should be incorporated into the Local Government Act (SA). I have an open mind on that.
What is important is that the deficiencies in the current codes, that have been noted and commented upon now for four years, are actually addressed.
The Honourable Bruce Lander QC
Independent Commissioner Against Corruption
29 September 2017
Categories: COOBER PEDY News & Events