One has to question the effectiveness of government when an elected representative fails to represent their constituents. An example could be a Councillor not attending council meetings. I did some research earlier this week and discovered an article in the 1934 August edition of The Argus (Melbourne). The leader of the opposition moved to have a new clause added into Local Government legislation that provided a provision for a “Councillor who wilfully absent themselves from meetings will be deemed to be incapable of continuing a councillor and may be removed from office.”
The primary purpose of Local Government is for the Councillors and the Mayor to determine and set the overall direction of the local government. The fundamental role of each councillor is to represent the community interests of their local government area. According to Dr Ken Lay (Acting Chair Crimes Corruption Commission) “Local government is central to the way in which our tiered system of government operates. Elevation to public office as a local government councillor carries with it a great deal of responsibility.”
Councillors, like you and me, are bound by the laws of the land but in particular the Local Government Act 2009 (LGA09). A councillors ongoing failure to attend council meetings could be a breach of the core principles outlined in Section 4(2) of the Local Government Act 2009. Attending council meetings is how a Councillor properly represents and advocates for their constituents.
A Councillors failure to attend council meetings could also be seen as bringing the council into disrepute through their actions. The public interest must come first at all times. If an elected representative is receiving remuneration from public funds, and the public is not receiving any benefit for it, one has to question if this conduct is dishonest. It certainly isn’t an effective way to spend public funds.
After you consider the above, it would be hard to argue that a Councillor should not be stood down for failing to attend council meetings. In private enterprise, no one in their right mind would employ a person who did not undertake their duties. The standard should be much higher in public office. Sadly, it isn’t. Well done democracy.
Other articles that may interest you
Overview of issues relating to Councillor Stephen Schwarten