I think it is understandable that some Councillors have an attraction to politics and, ergo political parties. But I wonder whether the public has a right to know what, if any, ties their Council representatives have with registered political parties. As such I am considering moving a motion that the City of Bayswater introduces a Political Interest Register. I seek your view on this.
A couple of Bayswater Councillors now have their own developer contact register. I’ve never, ever felt pressured from a developer so don’t actually see a need for it, but because there may be a perception of conflict, I created one.
On the same vein, whilst I have been a long term member of the Liberal Party, and yet never hesitated in supporting motions which have benefited Bayswater over the Liberal Party, I believe there may be a perception of conflict. As such, being as open and transparent as possible seems to make sense.
The motion I am considering is:
That the City’s Code of Conduct be updated to include a requirement for all Councillors to advise the CEO of the following, if applicable, and that this information be made publicly available through the City’s website.
- Membership of a political party.
- Employment by an elected representative of a political party.
- Employment by a political party.
- Any immediate family member who is, or has been, an elected representative of a political party.
The beautiful thing about Western Australian local governments is that there is no political party involvement (overt involvement anyway), and Councillors are free to vote on each item as they wish. This motion is not to suggest that Councillors who have ties to registered political parties are incapable of acting impartially, however it might be challenging to speak out against an aligned party if you are actually employed by an elected representative of the party. And this is more common than you may think. There are Mayors, Deputy Mayors and Councillors throughout the State who are employed by members of parliament. Regardless of whether or not they would be prepared to support a stern letter written from council to their actual employer, I think residents should have a right to know about these connections.
A contrary argument is that as there is not meant to be any political party involvement in local government, do the public have a right to know about a Councillors political ties? How far do you take disclosure; religion, sexual preference, taxable income? There needs to be a balance between what the public is entitled to know and what should remain confidential.
What do you think, should any ties to political parties be made public?
Power to the People.
(Please be aware that these views are my own and have not been endorsed by the City of Bayswater)