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The code of conduct for councillors in Queensland (PDF, 160KB) sets out the values that describe the types of conduct councillors should demonstrate under each of the five local government principles, and standards of behaviour expected of councillors and mayors when carrying out their role as elected representatives. 

By following the behaviours set out in the code of conduct, councillors increase public confidence in local government and council decisions.

On 4 August 2020, the then Minister for Local Government approved amendments to the code of conduct to reflect legislation changes in effect on 12 October 2020 for conflicts of interests and councillor advisors.

Key resource

Download the code of conduct for councillors in Queensland (PDF, 160KB)

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Background

The Local Government Act 2009 (LGA) and the City of Brisbane Act 2010 (COBA) provide processes for dealing with councillors who do not comply with their obligations under legislation. 

This helps ensure that we maintain appropriate standards of councillor conduct and performance. 

Legislation states that the Minister for Local Government must make a code of conduct that sets out the standards of behaviour for councillors in performing their official functions as elected representatives consistent with the local government principles.

Local government principles

The LGA and COBA are founded on five local government principles with which councillors must comply while performing their roles as elected representatives and is important to note that all principles are of equal importance. These principles are: 

  1. transparent and effective processes, and decision-making in the public interest
  2. sustainable development and management of assets and infrastructure, and delivery of effective services
  3. democratic representation social inclusion and meaningful community engagement
  4. good governance of, and by, local government
  5. ethical and legal behaviour of councillors, local government employees and councillor advisors.

Standards of behaviour

All councillors and mayors must comply with the three ‘R’s standards of behaviour set out in the code of conduct. These are:

1. Responsibility - carry out responsiblities conscientiously and in the best interests of the council and the community.

  1. attend and participate meaningfully in all council meetings, committee meetings, informal meetings, briefings, relevant workshops and training opportunities to assist them in fulfilling their roles other than in exceptional circumstances and/or where prior leave is given
  2. respect and comply with all policies, procedures and resolutions of council
  3. use only official council electronic communication accounts (e.g. email accounts) when conducting council business
  4. report any suspected wrongdoing to the appropriate entity in a timely manner
  5. ensure that their behaviour or capacity to perform their responsibilities as a councillor is not impaired by the use of substances that may put them or others at risk while performing their duties (for example, alcohol, illegal drugs or prescribed/non-prescribed and/or restricted substances)
  6. cooperate with any investigation being undertaken by the local government or other entity
  7. ensure that the councillor’s advisor is aware of their obligations to comply with the standards of behaviour in the code of conduct for councillor advisors in Queensland (PDF, 242KB) .

2. Respect - treat people in a reasonable, just, respectful and non-discriminatory way. For example, councillors will, at a minimum, act in the following ways:

  1. treat fellow councillors, council employees and members of the public with courtesy, honesty and fairness
  2. not use abusive, obscene or threatening language (either oral or written) or behaviour towards other councillors, council employees or members of the public
  3. have proper regard for other people’s rights, obligations, cultural differences, safety, health and welfare.

3. Reputation - ensure conduct does not reflect adversely on the reputation of council. For example, councillors will, at a minimum, conduct themselves in the following manner:

  1. when expressing an opinion dissenting with the majority decision of council, respect the democratic process by acknowledging that the council decision represents the majority view of the council
  2. when making public comment, clearly state whether they are speaking on behalf of council or expressing their personal views
  3. at all times strive to maintain and strengthen the public’s trust and confidence in the integrity of council and avoid any action which may diminish its standing, authority or dignity.

Consequences of failing to comply

Failure to comply with the standards of behaviour in the code of conduct, or other conduct prescribed in the code of conduct, may give rise to a complaint against a councillor’s conduct and subsequent disciplinary action under the LGA or COBA.

A complaint about the conduct of a councillor must be submitted to the OOIA, who will assess the complaint and determine the category of the allegation.

In order of most to least serious, the categories of complaint are corrupt conduct, misconduct, inappropriate conduct, and then unsuitable meeting conduct.

Use of information

In addition to the above information in the code of conduct, it is important to note that as a councillor you will be in possession of information that is confidential to the local government or may be information containing personal information about members of the community. Therefore, you must take care to ensure that you do not misuse any of the information you gain access to as a councillor.

Councillors must not release any information confidential to the local government they acquire in their role as a councillor including the substance of any discussions held in a closed meeting. Councillors must also respect the privacy of individuals and ensure they do not publicly disclose private information.

Likewise, councillors cannot use information they acquire as councillors to gain a financial advantage for themselves or someone else, or to cause a financial damage to the local government.

In addition, councillors are prohibited from buying or selling assets if they possess inside information acquired in their role as councillors that would be likely to influence the decision to buy or sell the asset.

Serious penalties apply to councillors that misuse the information they acquire as a council representative, including hefty fines and imprisonment.

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More information

For more information, contact your nearest regional office within the Department of Local Government, Racing and Multicultural Affairs.