Councillors each bring new opinions, approaches and solutions for decision making determined by their own personal and professional experiences.
However, very importantly, the community expects their elected councillors to maintain high standards of conduct, understand their duties, responsibilities and legal obligations to support the effective decision-making processes.
Electors should give greater consideration in the first instance as to whether a person has sufficient capabilities to assume the role of councillor.
Nothing is worse than an individual with intellectual arrogance - the councillor who lacks the consciousness of the limits of their knowledge and with no insight into self-deception and the limitations of their view.
IN OTHER NEWS
The best thinkers do not pursue selfish goals.
They do not seek to manipulate others, they instead strive to be fair-minded and aim to develop specific traits of mind such as intellectual humility, intellectual integrity, intellectual courage, intellectual autonomy, intellectual empathy, intellectual perseverance and confidence in reasoning.
All elected people must take the oath of office, read the councillor code of conduct and make a declaration that they will abide by it, but the problem arises - do councillors truly understand what it is to abide?
It should be mandatory for elected members to undertake a short course that provides an overview of the AICD Company Directors Course about the role and obligations of a director and the separation of roles between a director and management.
Councillors are effectively acting as directors of their council and by truly understanding their obligations and what it is to uphold integrity, honesty and due diligence and to not to interfere in operational matters, they may better maintain the dignity of their office.
Are there adequate policies, procedures and legislation to control the behaviour of a councillor who breaches the code of conduct? Are there clear guidelines for breaches that relate to harassment including psychological, physical or sexual? Does the interest and involvement of the minister and director of local government come too late if at all? On receipt of the notice that an elected member has had three code of conduct complaints that resulted in suspension, the Local Government Minister may remove the councillor from office.
This is ludicrous as it leaves a councillor in office for too long and facilitates re-offending.
Are the measures and outcomes strong enough in Tasmania when a serious breach is upheld by a code of conduct panel? It appears not after several recent examples.
I intend to make a submission based on the progressive work of Victoria which needed to strengthen code of conduct to specifically include harassment as gross misconduct.
If internal attempts to reign in bad behaviour fail and an arrogant elected member continues unhindered, there appear to be no immediate strong measures that can be enforced to prevent further harm being done to the victim and before reputable damage is done to the council and local government overall.
Victoria appears to have better measures to deal with breaches.
As reported this month (Herald Sun, September 6) councillor Steve Toms has been banned for four months after bullying a colleague, rorting a ratepayer-funded cab charge and hassling a council officer over a parking ticket.
An independent inquiry found that his behaviour had been "recalcitrant" despite repeated warnings to clean up his act.
Mr Toms subjected his female colleague to "intimidating, offensive and disrespectful" behaviour, behaviour which affected her mental health and led her to take leave of absence.
Another colleague said Mr Toms actions contributed to a toxic atmosphere at council meetings.
Being an elected member does not give entitlement for bad behaviour or behaviour that extends beyond that expected of a reasonable person.
In some instances where varying degrees of authority are perceived to exist, there should be no usage of that so-called power to harass or impose on the personal space of either colleagues or employees of council.
A closeness and over attentiveness that is not welcome is a form of harassment and intimidation.
I am looking to ensure as an Australian Local Government Women's Association national board member and Tasmanian president that those who my association represents, which includes elected members and council employees, experience a workplace where personal safety and integrity is not compromised.
There is a review of the Tasmanian Local Government Act 1993 underway with submissions required by 30 September.
On behalf of ALGWA Tasmania, I intend to make a submission based on the progressive work of Victoria which needed to strengthen code of conduct to specifically include harassment as gross misconduct.