OUR SAY: When councillors behave badly to the tune of $58,000

MEMBERS of sporting clubs and charities who missed out on donations from Orange City Council’s community grants fund this year must be fuming at the price of enforcing an acceptable standard of behaviour from councillors.
Nanjing Night Net

The $58,000 it cost to investigate and adjudicate councillor Reg Kidd’s breach of the code of conduct last year would buy a great deal of sporting equipment or top up the fundraising efforts of several charities.

And ratepayers must be wondering whether a cheaper, faster way to adjudicate on breaches can’t be found.

The public is yet to discover whether councillor Kidd will accept the umpire’s decision that his conduct towards one of the city’s staff was unbecoming a councillor, but they will know next week.

If Cr Kidd does not agree to publicly apologise for the breach at the next council meeting the matter will probably be kicked upstairs to the Department of Local Governmentfor consideration, but residents will also be concerned about the future.

Most people will concede they say things at times they later regret and councillors are no different. Aside from the question of how to deal with Cr Kidd, there is the question of future breaches, by him or anyone else.

Councils could do a lot worse than borrow from the court system, where an early guilty plea is seen as an indicator of genuine remorse and a clean record often earns a caution for the first offence.

A speedy and heartfelt apology from a first offender in the council chamber might bring the matter to a swift and inexpensive conclusion.

That is how it can work now but, as the Cr Kidd episode illustrates, under the current system a long drawn-out investigation can result in a huge financial penalty for ratepayers but not for the person found to have breached the code of conduct.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.