Call for councillors to stand aside if running for state, federal office

St Helens. Picture: Kasey Wilkins
St Helens. Picture: Kasey Wilkins

Break O’Day councillors who stand for state or federal office on a party-political platform may have to step down from their council duties.

The discussion was instigated by Break O’Day councillor Janet Drummond, who submitted a notice of motion to the council at its March meeting.

“In the past some councillors have elected to take leave of absence in the lead up to an election,” Cr Drummond said.

Cr Drummond said if councillors chose to stand for state or federal office for a political party, they should “request leave of absence from council duties during the time between when the relevant election is called and the completion of the election.”

“This would provide for greater transparency, it would avoid any perceived conflict of interest during the election period,” she said.

Mayor Mick Tucker was against the motion, as a “precedent has already been set by other elected members in state and federal elections”.

Councillor Glenn McGuinness said both candidates from the previous election stood aside during the campaign period.

“What has happened is totally appropriate, we don’t need a policy to say that you must stand down,” he said.

Councillor Barry LeFevre said he supported the motion, as standing for state or federal office on a party-political platform “does influence the councillor standing.”

“There is a perception from the community that they will follow the party line,” he said.

Cr Drummond said she could see a “perceived conflict of interest” if a councillor were to run for local government as an independent and then run for state or federal office for another party.

General manager John Brown said the council can have a policy as it was similar to the Code of Conduct , but it was “more about what the council thinks is the right thing to do”.

The council decided unanimously to submit a motion to LGAT.

The motion would require councillors who stand for state or federal office on a party-political platform to stand aside from their council role from the acceptance of the nomination until the conclusion of the poll.