Code of Conduct Policy
Sponsor: Chief Executive
Approved By: Hamilton City Council
Date Confirmed: 18 August 2004
Date Reviewed: 9 November 2010
Community Outcome: Working Together
Collaborative decision-making and planning are common practice.
To provide guidelines on the standards of behaviour expected of Elected Representatives of the Hamilton City Council.
The Local Government Act 2002 envisages a clear separation of roles and responsibilities between elected members and management.
1.While the Council (the corporate body made up of all the Elected Representatives) is ultimately accountable, its function is not to make detailed decisions on operational matters.
2.The Council, Committee Structures and Elected Representatives in their day-to-day dealings with the Management and staff shall recognise the statutory responsibilities of the Chief Executive Officer for the effective management of the Council.
3.The code of conduct that follows is based on the following general principles of good governance: (bullets)
- Public Interest. Members should serve only the interests of the city as a whole and should never improperly confer an advantage or disadvantage on any one person.
- Honesty and Integrity. Members should not place themselves in situations where their honesty and integrity may be questioned, should not behave improperly and should on all occasions avoid the appearance of such behaviour.
- Objectivity. Members should make decisions on merit including making appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards or benefits. Elected members should also note that, once elected, their primary duty is to the interests of the entire city, not the ward that elected them.
- Accountability. Members should be accountable to the public for their actions and the manner in which they carry out their responsibilities, and should co-operate fully and honestly with the scrutiny appropriate to their particular office.
- Openness. Members should be as open as possible about their actions and those of the Council, and should be prepared to justify their actions.
- Personal Judgment. Members can and will take account of the views of others, but should reach their own conclusions on the issues before them, and act in accordance with those conclusions.
- Respect for Others. Members should promote equality by not discriminating unlawfully against any person and by treating people with respect, regardless of their race, age, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or disability. They should respect the impartiality and integrity of the council staff.
- Duty to Uphold the Law. Members should uphold the law, and on all occasions, act in accordance with the trust the public places in them.
- Stewardship. Members must ensure that the Council uses resources prudently and for lawful purposes, and that the Council maintains sufficient resources to meet its statutory obligations.
- Leadership. Members should promote and support these proposals by example, and should always endeavour to act in the best interests of the community.
Code of Conduct
The Code of conduct applies to Elected Representatives in their dealings with:
- each other,
- council management and staff,
- the public,
- the news media.
It is a code of conduct agreed to by the elected members to enhance:
- the effectiveness of the Council as the autonomous local authority with statutory responsibilities for the good government of the Hamilton City,
- the credibility and accountability of the Council within its community,
- respect and tolerance between the elected members as a group and between the elected members and management.
This code of conduct seeks to achieve its objectives by recording:
an agreed statement in respect of responsibilities,
agreed general principles of conduct or etiquette,
specific codes of conduct applying to particular circumstances or matters.
Without successful teamwork any democratically elected organisation will have difficulty succeeding. No team will be effective unless mutual respect exists between leaders and members. This agreement seeks to facilitate more effective teamwork.
The Local Government Act 2002, envisages a clear separation of roles and responsibilities between elected members and management. The office of the Mayor has additional characteristics created as much by custom as by legislation.
Elected Members (Council as a Whole)
1.The elected members, acting as the Council, are responsible for:
- the development and approval of Council policy,
- determining the expenditure and funding requirements of the Council through the Annual Plan process (including the long-term financial strategy and funding policy),
- monitoring the performance of the Council against its stated objectives and policies,
- for employing, overseeing and monitoring the CEO.
2.The Council can only act by a majority decision at meetings. Each member has one vote, with the presiding member at any meeting having an additional casting vote in the case of an equality of voting. With certain exceptions, the exercise of the Council's powers can be delegated to: committees or subcommittees or to individual persons.
3.The elected members are accountable to electors through the ballot box. They have declared that:
They will faithfully and impartially, and according to their best skill and judgement, execute and perform in the interests of the Hamilton City, the statutory powers, authorities and, duties vested in or imposed upon them as members of the Hamilton City Council.
In certain matters the elected members are also accountable to the Office of the Auditor General, for example in respect of illegal actions or expenditures, or for breaches of the Local Authorities (Members' Interests) Act 1968.
4.Elected Representatives should be aware of their Political Responsibilities and the operational role of Management.
5.The text of a Motion should be complete in itself and should not require reference to another document or statement in order to be meaningful.
ie: it must be precise and clearly state what the motion is intended to achieve.
The motion "...I will move in that direction" does not form a Notice of Motion that is capable of being put into effect by Management/Staff.
6.Elected members who are undischarged bankrupts are requested to declare that fact.
1.The Mayor is one of the elected members, and shares the same collective responsibilities. The Mayor is elected by the City at large and is the presiding member at meetings of the Council, and as such is responsible for managing Council meetings in a positive and controlled manner and in accordance with Standing Orders.
2.The Mayor has no power to commit the Council to any particular course of action except where specifically authorised to act under duly delegated authority.
3.The Office of the Mayor carries with it an element of community leadership in addition to the statutory role as presiding member of the Council. The leadership role frequently requires the Mayor to act as community advocate, promoting the attributes of the community and representing its interests. Community leadership and advocacy will be more effective where it is carried out with the knowledge and support of the Council.
4.The Mayor is required to be a Justice of the Peace while holding office as Mayor.
The Deputy Mayor
1.In addition to the responsibilities of Councillor, the Deputy Mayor is authorised to chair meetings of the Council in the Mayor's absence, and generally to perform the functions and duties of the Mayor:
- with the Mayor's consent at any time during the Mayor's temporary absences; or
without the Mayor's consent at any time while the Mayor is prevented by illness or other cause from performing the functions and duties or exercising the powers of office or while there is any vacancy in the office of Mayor.
2.The Deputy Mayor has no power to commit the Council to any particular course of action except where specifically authorised to act under duly delegated authorities.
Standing Committee Chairs
1.manages the meeting in a positive and controlled manner and in accordance with Standing Orders
2.ensures that all points of view are fairly represented and that any debate is balanced
- allowing each member to speak,
- prevent the domination of the meeting by one/two members, (including the chairperson),
- ensuring that the business of the meeting is carried out irrespective of individual personalities,
3.has a commitment to facilitate the committee in achieving sound policy outcomes,
4.adopts as far as possible a democratic style of Chairpersonship so that all members are involved in the decision making process,
5.is totally impartial in the management of debate,
6.ensures that the meeting starts on time and that a brisk and positive momentum is maintained,
7.keeps the discussion under control by ensuring that it neither wanders off the point or degenerates into pointless discussion,
8.prevent the impression that the matter has already been decided even though the Chairperson may have moved the motion for discussion,
9.ensures that all motions/amendments are clearly stated and unambiguous, that they fall within Policy Guidelines, are not open to individual interpretation and reflect the intention of the mover and the meeting,
10.A chairperson has no power to commit the Council to any particular course of action except where specifically authorised to act under duly delegated authority.
Each Councillor has the prime duty to ensure that the Council is properly managed and constantly improved so as to protect and enhance the community's interests. To meet this obligation Councillors must:
- Act honestly
- At all times exercise due care in their duties
- Be diligent, attend Council meetings and make themselves as knowledgeable as possible about the activities and processes of the Council and the physical and social environment in which it operates.
- Prior to meetings to have read and understood all agenda papers. Advice for clarification of issues should be requested from the relevant Chairperson or staff member prior to the meeting.
- No Surprises
- Respect and tolerance of other member's views.
- Ensure that on a regular and timely basis the community and other stakeholders are fully and honestly informed of all material matters relating to the Council's business.
- Avoid conflicts of interest
- Be independent in their judgements and actions
A Councillor has no power to commit the Council to any particular course of action except where specifically authorised to act under duly delegated authority.
1.The Chief Executive Officer is responsible for the implementation and management of the Council's policies and objectives within the budgetary constraints established by the Council. In terms of section 42 of the Local Government Act 2002, the Chief Executive Officer's responsibilities are:
- Providing advice to elected members
- Implementing the decisions of Council
- Ensuring that all responsibilities, duties and powers delegated to the Chief Executive Officer or any person employed by the Council, or imposed or conferred by any Act, regulation or bylaw are properly performed or exercised.
2.The Chief Executive Officer is responsible for implementing and adhering to Council policies.
In terms of section 42, the Chief Executive Officer is responsible for the employment of all other staff of Council.
3.To treat all elected members with courtesy and respect.
Relationship with Management/Staff
1.Where Elected Representatives have criticism or disagreement with Management/Staff members they must be dealt with using proper line management accountabilities.
2.Criticism of Management/Staff members in public where they cannot respond must not occur.
3.Treat all employees with courtesy and respect (including the avoidance of aggressive, offensive or abusive conduct towards employees).
4.Observe any guidelines that the Chief Executive puts in place regarding contact with employees.
5.Elected representatives cannot enter into a contract of any kind or employ staff.
6.No works or undertakings shall be made in the name of the committee or the Council unless appropriate resolution and authority has been given.
7.At committee meetings, the actual report/topic/issue should be discussed, not the staff person who wrote the report.
8.Individual elected members do not have the right to instruct staff to carry out any specific duty.
1.Predetermination or Bias
When considering Resource Management and District Plan matters elected members are expected to approach decision making with an open mind (faithfully and impartially). This process requires elected members to listen carefully to competing advice and to weigh up the pros and cons before making their decision. Where Council or a standing committee is hearing formal submissions at a hearing elected members should carefully avoid prior public comments which show a predetermined bias or non-flexible attitude.
2.Decisions are made at various levels within the Council. Effective governance occurs when an organisation's structure and operating principles recognise, through effective delegation, the need to empower elected members and staff to make decisions at strategic and operational levels, as appropriate to their role.
3.The Council is required to make decisions that take into account and balance the various needs and preferences of its residents. Good decision-making requires considered advice that addresses relevant matters and consequences.
4.The Council will only make policy decisions at Council meetings on those matters that are accompanied by management reports that address the considerations outlined in paragraph 6. While Council may hear submissions and delegations, and within these limits of the legislation, discuss matters raised from the floor of the meeting, no decisions will be made unless the matter is accompanied by a written management report.
5.Similarly, standing committees of the Council will only make decisions at official committee meetings where the item to be considered is accompanied by a management report that addresses the considerations outlined in paragraph 6.
6.In providing advice on such matters management will ensure that accompanying reports address the significant implications arising from any proposed recommendations, such as fiscal, environmental and/or social implications. Management will strive to ensure that advice meets relevant quality standards in all cases.
7.Matters not on the agenda will only be dealt with in accordance with section 46A(7) or (7A) of the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987. This means that minor matters relating to the general business of the Council may be discussed but not acted upon (other than by reference to a subsequent meeting) where the presiding member explains at the beginning of the meeting that the item will be discussed.
8.Late items may only be dealt with at the meeting if the Council resolves accordingly and the presiding member explains at the meeting the reason why an item is not on the agenda and the reason why discussion cannot be delayed until a subsequent meeting. In either case the presiding member's explanation must be made at a time when the meeting is open to the public.
9.The above requirements will also be taken into account when agendas are set by the relevant chairperson in negotiation with the Chief Executive or his nominee for meetings of the Council and its committees within the roles and responsibilities of that committee. As a rule items that members wish included on an agenda should be raised with and identified sufficiently in advance to allow management to provide the accompanying analysis and advice.
10.While the Council (the corporate body made up of all elected members) is ultimately accountable, its function is not to make detailed decisions on operational matters. The Council committee structures and members day-to-day dealings with the Chief Executive Officer should recognise the statutory responsibilities of the Chief Executive Officer for the effective management of the Council.
Behaviour of Members
1.All elected members should insist on the respect and dignity of their office in their dealings with each other, management and the public. Elected members should remember that they have no personal power to commit the Council to any particular policy or course of action or expenditure. That can only be done by resolution at a meeting of the Council or a committee with delegated authority.
2.Councillors who have concerns regarding management matters should not raise them with any employee other than the Chief Executive and at all times their dealings should be through the Chief Executive. Should an elected member have a concern and not be satisfied with the Chief Executive the committee or Council process should be used to address the concern. That way elected members will be properly informed, particularly if any public explanation or comment is required. Statements that are contentious should be raised only after consultation with the Chief Executive Officer.
3.Elected members, not officers, bear the ultimate responsibility for decisions made by themselves and by officers. Elected members should ensure that the anonymity of individual staff members is preserved and should not comment publicly on the management of the Hamilton City Council.
4.When a decision has been made by the Council and the decision is contrary to a particular elected member's point of view that elected members public statements should make it clear that they represent a personal view.
5.Elected members should act in good faith (ie: honestly, for the proper purpose, and without exceeding their powers) in the interest of the Council and the community.
6.Elected members should make no allegations that are improper or derogatory. In the performance of their official duties they should refrain from any form of conduct which may cause any reasonable person unwarranted offence or embarrassment.
7.All members, being aware they are representing of the public, should avoid behaviour that brings the Council into disrepute with the public.
1.Within the limits imposed by standing orders, at any meeting of the Council (or at any committee) every elected member (who has the right to speak at the meeting) has the right to express their opinion on any matter lawfully before the meeting. Once a matter has been lawfully determined at a meeting of the Council, it determines the Council's position on that matter until it is lawfully changed by a subsequent decision of the Council. All elected members and management will respect this position.
2.Public statements representing Council policy or reporting decisions of the Council will be made only with specific or general authority of the Council, and will clearly state the person's authority for making the statement on behalf of the Council.
- The Mayor is authorised to make statements accurately reporting decisions of Council meetings.
- Committee Chairperson are authorised to make statements accurately reporting decisions of their committees, and factual statements relating to decisions of the council or its committees. The
- Chief Executive Officer is authorised to make statements relating to any of the areas for which the Chief Executive has statutory responsibility.
- Department managers may make factual statements relating to the functions of their departments.
3.Otherwise the Mayor or any elected member may make specific statements on behalf of the Council only with the specific authority of the relevant Council, committee or subcommittee meeting.
4.The Mayor may deal with the news media and make public statements relevant to the non-statutory role as a community leader, only where it is clearly stated that the views expressed are the Mayor's own and are not made on behalf of the Council. No statements made in this capacity shall undermine any existing policy or decision of the Council.
5.Elected members are entitled to make public statements expressing their opinion on matters before the Council. All such statements should clearly state that they represent the personal opinion of the elected member and are not made on behalf of the Council.
Declaration of Interest
Members shall annually make a general declaration of interest as soon as practicable after becoming aware of any such interests. These declarations are recorded in a register of interest maintained by council. The declaration must notify the council of the nature and extent of any interest, including:
- Any employment, trade or profession carried on by the member or the member's spouse for profit or gain;
- Any company, trust, partnership (etc) for which the member or their spouse is a director, partner, trustee or beneficiary;
- The address of any land in which the member has a beneficial interest and which is in Hamilton City;
- The address of any land where the landlord is the Hamilton City Council and:
the member or their spouse is a tenant, or
the land is tenanted by a firm in which the member or spouse is a partner, or a company of which the member or spouse is a director, or a trust of which the member or spouse is a trustee or beneficiary.
- Any other matters which the public might reasonably regards as likely to influence the member's actions during the course of their duties as a member.
If the member is in any doubt as to whether or not a particular course of action (including a decision to take no action) raises a conflict of interest, then the member should seek guidance from the Chief Executive immediately.
1.Elected Representatives have the responsibility to see that whenever possible business is conducted in "open" meeting.
2.Powers to exclude the public should be used only where absolutely necessary and for the reasons permitted by law.
3.Business conducted where the public is excluded remains confidential and should not be disclosed to the public until either:
- The Council decides by resolution to make it public or
- The Chief Executive Officer determines in response to a request under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987, or the Privacy Act 1993 that there is no longer good reason to withhold it under the Act.
Hamilton City Council seeks to promote the highest standards of ethical conduct amongst its elected members. Accordingly, elected members will:
- Claim only for legitimate expenses as laid down by any determination of the Remuneration Authority then in force, and any lawful policy of council developed in accordance with that determination; Not influence, or attempt to influence, any council employee to take actions that may benefit the member, or the member's family or business interests;
- Not use council resources for personal business (including campaigning);
- Not solicit, demand or request any gift or benefit by virtue of their position;
- Notify the Chief Executive if any gifts are accepted;
- Where a gift to the value of $50 or more is offered to a member, immediately disclose this to the Chief Executive for inclusion in the publicly available register of interests.
- Transport, stationery, cell phones or secretarial services, provided by the Council for use of an elected member, must be used for Council business only.
Professional dress attire to be worn by elected representatives at all meetings open to the public.
1.This code of conduct is intended to provide guidance to elected members in their relationships and the exercising of their functions and duties. It should be read in conjunction with, and does not replace, the obligations set out in the Local Government Act, the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987, any other Act and the Council Standing Orders.
2.The parties to this Code of conduct agree to abide by its provisions at all times having regard to the declaration of office and Council policy.
1.Any alleged breach of this code of conduct will be referred to a compliance group comprising the Mayor and two nominated representatives of the Waikato Mediation Service. If the Mayor is the subject of the alleged breach the Deputy Mayor will replace him or her in this group.
2.The group formed to consider alleged breaches of the code of conduct will ensure it has all the relevant information and then report to Council with a recommended course of action.
3.The possible courses of action that could be recommended to Council by the compliance group being:
- Removal of privileges, eg: cell phones, paid attendance at conferences
- Removal of elected members from Council committees or other representative bodies.
- Dismissal of the elected member from a position of deputy Mayor or Chairperson of a committee.
4. A decision to apply one or more of the actions detailed in paragraph 3 requires a Council resolution to that effect.
Previous Review Dates
10 March 2008
13 May 2005