Archive:  Conflicts Of Interest

Last Updated 29/3/10



See also Councillor Code of Conduct, Mayor



New Councillor Guidelines Released: Unbiased Decision-Making And Conflicts Of Interest

(9/3/09 - C)  These will come as a monumental shock to the system for some Councillors...

It takes a while to read through the two new Guides, and they aren't what most would call an 'easy' read.  There is a lot of information, examples and detail, most of which benefits from a second read through.  The Guides are an attempt to rationalise what's an acceptable way for a Councillor to operate, and what's not.  While the government has tried to put forward scenarios illustrating how it all works, it's hard to get an exact fit, and each circumstance will have to be assessed individually.  It's in ratepayers' best interests for them to be aware of these requirements, so get your copy of each from the DPCD website at


Ombudsman's Report On Conflicts Of Interest In Local Government Now Out

(14/3/08 - C)  Recommendations to tighten accountability in local government

You can download a copy of the Ombudsman's report on conflicts of interest in local government, and also one about the public service, from


MRRA Says:

We will have a report shortly on these reports and some more information about the Better Local Governance program being run by the Victorian State Government.


Macedon Ranges Council: MRRA Asks Residents Is It Time For The State Government To Step In? 

(22/8/06 - C)  We live in a darkening democracy but the government won't act unless you say 'Enough'!   More...


When's A Conflict Of Interest Not A Conflict?

(31/7/06 - C)  Two Macedon Ranges' Councillors interpret legal requirements very differently

At Council's meeting last Wednesday night, applications for Community Funding came before Council for approval.  At the start of the meeting, both Cr. Tom Gyorffy (West ward) and Mayor Geoff Neil (East) declared they had an interest in the item.  Cr. Gyorffy said he was involved with a group which had applied for funding, and declared he had a pecuniary interest in the item, while Mayor Geoff Neil said his wife had made an application for funding on behalf of a local group and declared he had an interest in the item.  As it turns out, Council approved all recommended applications, including those in which both Councillors had declared an interest.  Cr. Gyorffy left the chamber while the item was debated and decided.  Mayor Neil stayed in chamber and voted to approve the applications recommended for funding.


MRRA Says:

It seems to us both Councillors had the same problem: they were both closely associated with persons/groups who stood to receive a financial gain from a decision of Council.  Both should have left the room, if for no other reason than to ensure there was absolutely no potential for anyone to form a perception that their vote may have advantaged close associates.  MRRA isn't suggesting anything untoward happened here but it certainly isn't a good look.  The point is, the Local Government Act says a Councillor should walk even if only a perception of advantage may arise from staying in the chamber.  It's a wise person therefore who, under these circumstances, leaves the room.  Leaving the room puts an end to perceptions, doubt and questions.


Municipal Association of Victoria Releases Guidelines For Councillor Conflicts of Interest

(10/6/06 - C)  Descriptions of who could be considered a Councillor's "close associate" are fascinating...

Here's what the MAV website says about the Guidelines:

"Guidelines on disclosing interests and conflicts of interest have been prepared by Mallesons Stephen Jaques for the MAV to assist councillors and members of special committees in understanding when they have an 'interest' under section 77A or a conflict of interest. The guidelines explain the meaning of phrases used in these sections which are not defined in the Local Government Act, including the meaning of 'a person with whom the councillor or member is closely associated'.  Any comments regarding the Guidelines should be directed to Alison Lyon, Director Legal & Corporate, 9667 5522."


MRRA Says:

Examples of 'close associates' listed in the Guidelines turn our mind to some occasions when some Macedon Ranges Councillors should perhaps have walked out of the room while a decision was made, but didn't.  For example, during last year's attempt to get an amendment exhibited for Braemar College, some Councillors declared their children attended the college, but didn't leave the room. In fact, former Councillor Donna Petrovich (who declared she was a Fellow of Braemar College Ltd and her children attend the college) actually moved the motion to send the amendment to exhibition (click here for the archive).  According to the MAV guidelines, the school attended by a Councillors' children can be considered a 'close associate' for the purposes of declaring a conflict of interest and not taking part in the decision.  Click here to see the MAV Guidelines.


We wonder, would a Councillor have a 'close associate' conflict of interest if they were to meet privately with developers and/or planning permit applicants?


Macedon Ranges’ Councillor Marty Evans Named In Parliament

(24/10/05 – C)  Independent MLC Dianne Hadden asks Local Government Minister Candy Broad to investigate alleged conflict of interest


Here is the draft Hansard extract:


Hansard: 20 October 2005 COUNCIL


1              Macedon Ranges: councillor


Ms HADDEN (Ballarat) -- My question without notice is for the Minister for Local Government. The minister is well aware of the importance of local government councillors being required to declare a conflict of interest in a matter under consideration immediately before the matter is under consideration or discussion. Cr Martin Evans of the Macedon Ranges Shire Council remained in the council meeting on 14 September whilst a matter in which he had a conflict of interest was under consideration -- namely, planning application no. P205-0244, in which the applicant was a casual employee of Cr Evans's business. What action does the minister intend to take against Cr Martin Evans on this breach of section 79 of the Local Government Act?




Ms BROAD (Minister for Local Government) -- Local governance is certainly something which this government does take seriously, and that is why we have presented legislation to this Parliament, which the Parliament has passed, to include provisions about such matters as conflict of interest that were not there under the Liberal government


Hon. Bill Forwood interjected.


The PRESIDENT -- Order! Mr Forwood!


Ms BROAD -- So there are now provisions in the Local Government Act, thanks to the Bracks government -- --


Hon. Bill Forwood interjected.


The PRESIDENT -- Order! I have called Mr Forwood to order. He has totally ignored my request. I ask him to desist and to stop immediately from interjecting or I will use sessional orders to remove him from the chamber.


Ms BROAD -- These are matters which the government takes seriously, and that is why we have introduced provisions to require the declaration of conflicts of interest.


In response to the member's question the house will also, I am sure, be relieved to know that it requires more than an assertion by a member of Parliament or anyone else for a breach of the Local Government Act to be established.


As I have advised this house on many occasions, if members or anyone else wishes to supply myself, my office or my department with details of matters they have concerns about, be it a conflict of interest or any other matter, if it can be established that they, prima facie, constitute a breach of the Local Government Act, those matters will be investigated and they will be pursued, as have a number of matters recently. They have not always turned out the way perhaps Mr Forwood would have preferred but a number of matters have been pursued in exactly the way I have just described.


If the honourable member wishes to provide the information about this matter she has referred to today, it will be investigated as to whether it constitutes a breach of the Local Government Act. If that is established, actions will flow as a result of that.


However, it is important that these matters are properly investigated in the first instance, and that it is not simply a matter of members of Parliament standing up in this place to attack people who are not here and are not able to represent themselves, particularly as it turns out in some instances that those accusations are groundless, as has happened in some instances lately. In this matter I invite the member to provide any information she has to myself or my department.


Supplementary question


Ms HADDEN (Ballarat) -- Why is the Minister for Local Government supporting the blatant flouting of her Local Government Act and allowing a councillor to not only remain in the meeting during consideration of the issue on which he belatedly declared a conflict of interest and, as recorded in the council minutes of 14 September 2005, vote for the motion?


That was one of the few planning applications approved by the council at that meeting.


Honourable members interjecting.


Ms HADDEN -- It is on the record! All you have to do is read the council minutes. You can go to the web site in the library. It is there if you want to look at it.


Ms BROAD (Minister for Local Government) -- The house may not be surprised to know that with 79 councils in Victoria I do not read all of their minutes. I am sure they will be relieved to know that as well. If the information is provided -- --

Honourable members interjecting.


The PRESIDENT -- Order! Enough!


Ms BROAD -- I reiterate that if this information is supplied, it will be examined.