- Poorly managed conflicts of interest:
- kickbacks to local businesses owned by associates
- decisions related to grants and planning
- difficulties in appropriately managing conflicts of interest in smaller communities.
- Improper influence – councillors directing or interfering with council staff.
- Unauthorised disclosure of information – to further their political status, campaigns or interests.
- Increased bias with councillor voting blocs on issues raised, with limited oversight and means to prevent this conduct. While this behaviour may be in contravention of the Local Government Act 2020 (Vic), it will not always constitute corruption.
- Electoral donations and political fundraisers connected to councillors’ political parties – metropolitan and interface councils. This issue was a key focus of IBAC’s Operation Sandon.
- While council staff are reporting that culture and integrity have been improved, they also perceive councillor conduct to be an area of increasing concern. While the alleged conduct is often in contravention of the Local Government Act 2020, it often would not reach the threshold required for corruption. The alleged conduct could, however, create the conditions for corruption to occur or could be used obscure or cover up corruption if it has occurred, or is occurring.
- Fraudulent procurement – contract or purchase order variations as well as misuse of contingency funds.
- Misuse of council assets – cars, machinery and technology.
- Misuse of grant funding – emergency relief and recovery funding.
- Improper influence – receiving gifts and hospitality.
- Favouritism – recruitment; issuing of licenses, permits of approvals; or procurement.
- Organised crime groups cultivating relationships with council staff and councillors to gain access to information, systems or commodities. Local councils hold valuable personal identifying information (such as addresses, phone numbers etc) and decisions by council can have monetary impacts on businesses and individuals.
- The May 2022 Insights Report from the Local Government Culture Project identified nine key ideas to address the following themes the project focused on. While this project did not focus on corruption or corruption risks, these three themes impact the culture and integrity of local government and shape the corruption prevention and detection strategies implemented.
- Leadership experience and capability – issues that relate to how roles could be better defined and how leadership skills could be built and maintained
- Councillor journey – issues that relate to support for Councillors throughout their journey to ensure they understand and can execute their role, particularly in the social media age
- Early intervention and effective dispute resolution – issues that relate to resolving conflict and preventing the escalation of poor behaviour and its impacts.