A councillor has a material personal interest in a matter if a decision or action taken by the local government, or any of its committees, on that matter may result in a direct or indirect benefit or loss to any of the following:
- the councillor
- a close relative (spouse, parent, child or sibling) of the councillor
- a person who is in a partnership with the councillor
- an employer of the councillor
- a body or organisation of which the councillor is a member
- another person prescribed under regulation.
Councillors must inform meetings of a material personal interest
If you have a material personal interest you must tell the meeting about your interest and leave the meeting while the matter is discussed and a decision is made.
When informing the meeting of their material personal interest in a matter a councillor must clearly identify:
- the name of the person or entity who stands to gain a benefit, or suffer a loss, depending on the outcome of the consideration of the matter
- how the person or entity stands to gain the benefit or suffer the loss
- if the person or other entity who stands to gain the benefit or suffer the loss is not you—the nature of your relationship to the person or entity.
The legislation does provide some exceptions. A councillor does not have a material personal interest if:
- the local government is considering an 'ordinary business matter' (such as setting rates and charges or adopting the council budget)
- the councillor's interest is no greater than that of other persons in the local government area.
Failure to inform of a material personal interest or leave a meeting
If a councillor fails to inform a meeting of a material personal interest or leave the meeting while the matter is discussed, they may be guilty of an offence.
When a majority of councillors have a personal interest
When a majority of councillors inform the meeting they have a personal interest, councillors must delegate the decision-making process unless an Act requires that the decision must be made by resolution of the local government.
In instances where the matter must be decided by resolution, approval must be sought from the Minister for Local Government before councillors affected by the material personal interest can take part in any associated discussions and decision-making processes.
Attempts to influence others
If a councillor has a material personal interest in a matter they must not influence, or attempt to influence any other councillor, local government employee or local government contractor that is authorised to decide or deal with the matter.
It is an offence for a councillor to take any retaliatory action against another councillor for complying with their obligation to report another councillor’s material personal interest at a meeting.
Other councillors with a material personal interest
If a councillor believes another councillor has a material personal interest in a matter being considered at a meeting of the local government, they have an obligation to report those concerns to the chairperson if that councillor has failed to declare their interest.