Code of Conduct decisions released
16 December 2021
Councillor Reynold Macpherson has been asked to apologise publicly following complaints about conduct an independent investigation found breached the elected members’ Code of Conduct.
In the public excluded section of today’s [16 December 2021] full Council meeting, councillors considered recommendations from the Audit and Risk Committee which commissioned an independent investigation into five complaints alleging breaches of the Code of Conduct by Cr Macpherson. The investigators found there were breaches of the code.
Two further, unrelated, complaints received following that investigation were appended to those that were investigated as it was deemed the remedies recommended in respect of the other three complaints would also cover these additional matters.
After consideration of the investigation’s findings, the recommendations of the Audit and Risk Committee and Cr Macpherson’s right of reply, Council has today resolved the following:
2.3 Council direct Cr Macpherson to be required to undertake a refresher course on the code of conduct of elected members. The refresher course to be offered to other elected members and delivered by Equip
2.4 Council instruct that a formal apology and retraction be provided to the community by Cr Macpherson and that the apology must be approved by a sub-committee of the Audit and Risk Committee comprising the Chair and Deputy Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee and the Mayor.
2.5 That the approved apology is published through formal Council channels recognising the reported harm that the respective posts have caused by no later than 28 January 2022.
2.6 That Council agree that failure to complete the requirements of 2.5 in the time proposed, Council will remove Cr Macpherson from the Operations and Monitoring Committee and the Strategy, Policy and Finance Committee.
2.7 That Council publically release this report and the Independently commissioned Report through formal Council channels on 16 December 2021.
2.8 That Council publically advertise to the community the costs to the ratepayer as a result of dealing with code of conduct complaints irrespective of the type of complaint.
2.9 That the minutes relating to this item be made publically available on 16 December 2021.
Speaking after today’s meeting, Mayor Steve Chadwick said the Audit and Risk Committee had undertaken a fair and robust process and Council took the committee’s recommendations, the investigation findings and Cr Macpherson’s right of reply into account in making its decision.
“These types of matters are always difficult and we have taken all relevant factors into account.
“The Code of Conduct we adopted at the start of this term, provides guidance about how we should behave and interact with staff and members of the public, and also serves as a public statement of our values and commitment as elected members. Where there are complaints and alleged breaches of the code, there is a process in place to ensure fairness for all parties.
“We’ve made our decision, the ball is now in Cr Macpherson’s court and it’s my hope he will honour the process and the outcome to bring these matters to a close.”
In April Mayor Chadwick received three complaints from council officers and elected members concerning actions by Cr R Macpherson that related to information shared by him through a number of Facebook posts on a page administered by him.
The complaints were referred to the Audit and Risk Committee, as per Council’s Code of Conduct
process, to determine whether or not any breach of the Code had occurred.
The Committee commissioned an independent investigation that found Cr Macpherson had breached the Code, in particular the guiding principles of collective responsibility, integrity and honesty, and respect.
Two additional complaints that were subsequently received alleging the dissemination via Facebook of information that was misleading and information known to be incorrect and disclosure of confidential information.
On 15 November 2021 the Audit and Risk Committee resolved to consider these complaints as an addendum to the other three complaints, on the basis the behaviours demonstrated were consistent with those covered by the other complaints.
The Committee sought no further investigation on the additional two complaints, determining that sanctions and remedies recommended in respect of the other three complaints would also cover the additional ones.
The Audit and Risk Committee’s report to Council noted minor review of policy and procedure were recommended but were not considered material in terms of dealing with the complaints and would be considered by council management as part of its routine policy review process.
The Audit and Risk Committee considered making its report to Council and the costs associated with the complaints publicly available was in the best interests of the community and in the interests of transparency.
The costs associated with the investigation of these complaints is $39,905.47 to date. This includes:
- The investigation and delivery of the Report ($24,169.47 ex GST)
- Disbursements and administration costs ($2,736.00 ex GST)
Audit and Risk Committee meetings costs ($13,000.00 ex GST)
Audit and Risk Committee report to Council (referred to in resolution 2.7) is HERE
Report of the independent investigation to the Audit and Risk Committee (see resolution 2.7) is HERE
See minutes relating to this matter HERE