A NEW, stricter Code of Conduct for Queanbeyan City councillors and council staff was unanimously approved at Wednesday night's ordinary meeting of council, but general manager Gary Chapman says if the current "culture of respect" continues, it won't be called upon at all.
Council hasn't received a single code of conduct complaint over the last four and a half years. In that time frame some other councils across the state, including Bathurst and Goulburn Mulwaree to name just two, have spent tens of thousands of dollars of ratepayers' money investigating alleged breaches of the code.
Mr Chapman said a positive culture under Mayor Tim Overall ensured local ratepayers hadn't faced the same expense."I think it's [due to] a good working relationship between the councillors and staff, and I think the leadership of the mayor helps as well," he said.
"You often find that contempt breeds contempt, and it's all about the culture of the council. If everyone's behaving themselves and offering respect to each other than that's a good foundation.
"I speak to other general managers, and some get up to 60 complaints a year- one or two a week - and that consumes so much time and resources and costs tens of thousands of dollars to deal with," he said.
The new code of conduct drafted by the Department of Local Government includes harsher penalties for repeat offenders who breach the code, and fewer opportunities to review adverse code of conduct findings. Mr Chapman said the Department had acknowledged the previous version was too soft on some issues.
"I think the Department has realised that there are some issues with the code, and all they've done is strengthen some of the provisions for penalties.
"Up til now, you would get a smack on the wrist, and at other councils there were repeat offenders who would get a code of conduct breach and be back doing the same thing three months later. There wasn't sufficiently strong enough penalties to ensure that repeat offenders were suspended," he said.
The new model code of conduct will come into effect on March 1 and is viewable on Council's website.