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Councillors as Candidates in State or Federal Elections

Topic(s): Good Governance,

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Councillors standing for State Parliament.pdf

GOOD GOVERNANCE AT YOUR FINGERTIPS

Councillors as Candidates in State or Federal Elections

 

In November 2018, Victoria will have a State Election. The Federal Election is also expected to be held sometime between 2018 and 2019. Some sitting councillors may choose to stand as candidates for these two upcoming elections. 

The VLGA has previously received queries from and about councillors who were standing as candidates at either the State or Federal elections. These queries focused on conflicts that may exist between a candidate and a councillor.

While the Local Government Act (1989) does not contain specific provisions on obligations and responsibilities of councillors who are nominating as candidates for State or Federal elections, it does contain specific directions for electorate officers working for State or Federal MPs and for employees of councils while contesting local government elections. These provide some guidance which can be relevant; in particular

  • s.28A of the Act disqualifies individuals from being councillors if they are serving as electorate officers or staffer to a State or Federal MP.
  • s.29 of the Act also disqualifies members of council staff of the council for which they intend to be councillors.
  • electorate officers and council staff of the council which they have been elected onto must resign from their positions once they are elected and prior to taking oath of office.
  • the Act allows for electorate officers and council staff of the council for which they intend to be councillors to nominate for council elections, but they must take leave from their positions during the election period.

The VLGA recommends that councils develop a policy using the following guidelines to assist councillors to act in accordance with good governance practices during State and Federal election periods. These guidelines are drawn from the principles of the Local Government Act outlined above.

The VLGA recommends the following guidelines be used when developing a policy:

  • The potential for conflict of interest and duties between an elected councillor and a nominated candidate in State or Federal elections
  • The principles for avoiding such conflicts in the Local Government Act for electorate officers of State or Federal MPs and for council employees seeking to be elected as councillors (e.g. the need to take leave during the election period). 
  • The taking of leave of absence immediately after nominating as a candidate until the conclusion of the election campaign.

     Handing back certain council resources such as phones and office devices. For mayors, this may include the mayoral car.

  • Explicit directions regarding the use of council resources, such as council letterheads, cards and stationery.

  •  Explicit directions regarding councillors attending council activities during the election campaign period.

  • Cross referencing with other adopted council policies, such as those relating to social media and claiming of council related expenses.

  •  Explicit directions regarding councillors’ obligations to resign from the council should they be successfully elected into State or Federal parliament.

 

For further information please contact Bo Li Senior Policy Advisor VLGA

The VLGA is committed to connecting communities and strengthening democracy

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