Conflicts of Interest
Councillors and Council staff are required to:
- Avoid all situations which may give rise to conflicts of interest;
- Identify any conflicts of interest; and
- Disclose or declare all conflicts of interest.
The Local Government Act 2020 defines two types of conflicts of interest:
General conflict of interest
A relevant person has a general conflict of interest if an impartial, fair-minded person would consider that the person’s private interests could result in that person acting in a manner that is contrary to their public duty.
Material conflict of interest
A relevant person has a material conflict of interest in respect of a matter if an affected person would gain a benefit or suffer a loss depending on the outcome of the matter. The benefit may arise or the loss incurred –
- directly or indirectly; or
- in a pecuniary or non-pecuniary form.
Requirements for Councillors
Councillors may not participate in discussion or decision-making on a matter in which they have a conflict of interest.
When disclosing a conflict of interest, Councillors must clearly state their connection to the matter.
All conflict of interest disclosures will be recorded in the minutes of a Council meeting.
Requirements for Council staff
Council staff must not exercise a delegation or make a decision on any matter where they have a conflict of interest.
Council staff may be permitted to provide advice to a decision maker if a conflict of interest exists, subject to sub-rule 102 of Mildura Rural City Council's Governance Rules.
Exemptions from Conflict of Interest Requirements
A conflict of interest does not arise if any of the following applies –
- the conflict of interest is so remote or insignificant that it could not be reasonably regarded as capable of influencing the actions or decisions of the relevant person in relation to the matter;
- the interest that would give rise to a conflict of interest is held in common with a substantial proportion of the residents, ratepayers or electors of the municipal district and does not exceed the interest held by the other residents, ratepayers or electors;
- the relevant person does not know the circumstances that give rise to the conflict of interest, and could not be reasonably expected to know those circumstances;
- the interest only arises because the relevant person is the representative of the Council on a not-for-profit organisation that has an interest in the matter and the relevant person receives no personal advantage from the not-for-profit organisation;
- the interest only arises because a family member of the relevant person is a member but not an office-holder of a not-for-profit organisation;
- the interest only arises because the relevant person is a member of a not-for-profit organisation that has expressed an opinion or advocated for an outcome in regard to the matter; or
- the interest arises in relation to a decision by a Councillor on a matter or in a circumstance that is prescribed to be exempt by the regulations.
Mildura Rural City Council's Governance Rules (sub-rule 20) requires Council to maintain a Conflict of Interest Register and make it available on Council’s website.