Councillor conduct

There have been some Tribunal and Supreme Court cases that have considered the conduct of councillors in planning decision-making processes which has required consideration of aspects of the Local Government Act 1989.

In Winky Pop Pty Ltd & Or Australia Pty Ltd v Hobsons Bay CC [2007] VSC 468 28 VPR 322 (editorial comment 28 VPR 320), the Supreme Court upheld an appeal by a developer that a councillor who made an individual submission against a rezoning at an independent Panel was biased when the councillor later came to vote on the rezoning at the Council meeting. However, the Court did not find that the councillor had a conflict of interest pursuant to s.77B of the Local Government Act. The Court rejected the plaintiffs’ submissions that there had been a conflict of interest because the plaintiffs had failed to identify a particular “interest” in the matter, held by the councillor, which must have come into conflict with the proper performance by him of his public duties in relation to the matter.

Further discussion on this issue can be found under Apprehended Bias and Conflict of Interest.

In Secretary to the Department of Planning and Community Development v Muto (General) [2010] VCAT 1327 (editorial comment 38 VPR 152), the Tribunal considered an application for an interim injunction to prevent a councillor from carrying out his duties until the hearing and determination of a proceeding which alleged gross misconduct against the councillor. The Tribunal was not persuaded that there was a serious issue to be tried in relation to certain matters but was persuaded that there was a serious issue to be tried as to whether the councillor’s conduct amounted to gross misconduct within the meaning of s.81A(b) of the Local Government Act.