Audit Office guidelines for the local government election period are quite clear.
A local authority must not promote, nor be perceived to promote, the re-election prospects of a sitting member. Therefore, the use of Council resources for re-election purposes is unacceptable and possibly unlawful.
A Council’s communications policy should also recognise the risk that communications by or about Members, in their capacities as spokespersons for Council, during a pre-election period could result in the Member achieving electoral advantage at ratepayers’ expense.
In 2008/09 the OAG warned elected members.
Nonetheless, we encourage councils to consider the risks around large events in the pre-election period. We are aware that many councillors try to reduce the number of major events that they attend during the election campaign.
Given this, why is the council going into press release and policy launch overdrive.
What will the Auditor-General say about all of this – and will it be too late anyway. At the moment the incumbents seem to have an unfair advantage.
It wouldn’t be the Mayor’s first scrape with the OAG. In 2001 she was reported to the Audit Office over a conflict of interest involving one of her husband’s buildings. In 2005 she had to step aside from consideration of the draft plan part way through. She got better as time went by managing her conflicts such as Cobblestone Park and leaky buildings.
But has she paid strict observance of the election period rules in 2010? You be the judge.