Ethical decision making and conflicts of interest

A guiding checklist for councillors, officers and community committees

Ethical decision making

  • Is the decision or conduct legal?
  • Is it consistent with Government policy, Council's objectives and Code of Conduct?
  • What will the outcome be for you, your colleagues, the Council, anyone else?
  • Does it raise a conflict of interest?
  • Do you stand to gain personally at public expense?
  • Can the decision be justified in terms of public interest?
  • Would it withstand public scrutiny?

Conflict of interest

A conflict of interest is a clash between private interest and public duty.  There are two types of conflict:  Pecuniary – regulated by the Local Government Act and Department of Local Government; and Non-Pecuniary – regulated by Codes of Conduct and policy, ICAC, Ombudsman, Department of Local Government (advice only).

The test for conflict of interest

  • Is it likely I could be influenced by personal interest in carrying out my public duty?
  • Would a fair and reasonable person believe I could be so influenced?
  • Conflict of interest is closely tied to the layperson's definition of "corruption" – using public office for private gain.
  • Important to consider public perceptions of whether you have a conflict of interest.

Identifying problems

  1. Do I have private interests affected by a matter I am officially involved in?
  2. Is my official role one of influence or perceived influence over the matter?
  3. Do my private interests conflict with my official role?

Whilst seeking advice is generally useful, the ultimate decision rests with the person concerned.

Agency advice

Officers of the following agencies are available during office hours to discuss the obligations placed on Councillors, Officers and Community Committee members by various pieces of legislation, regulation and Codes.