Policy to protect council staff whistleblowers up for debate

By Mike Barrington of the Northern Advocate -
Steve Ruru. Photo / Northern Advocate
Steve Ruru. Photo / Northern Advocate

Kaipara District Council will consider protecting staff who blow the whistle on unlawful, corrupt or irregular activities involving council employees or funds.

A new Protected Disclosures Policy is on the agenda, with chief executive Steve Ruru recommending its adoption when the four commissioners governing the district preside at a council meeting tomorrow.

The purpose of the policy is to ensure the council deals with information about serious wrongdoing in or by the council in accordance with the Protected Disclosures Act 2000, Mr Ruru says in an agenda report.

The policy would apply to all council staff, former staff, individuals seconded to the council, people contracted to the council, members of the council's executive management, and appointed governance members such as the commissioners.

"Serious wrongdoing" covers financial matters, criminal activities, conduct causing public health risks, negligent staff behaviour and other matters.

The proposed policy includes a process for council staff to make disclosures and measures to keep the identities of those staff confidential.

The council would be required to respond to any disclosure of serious wrongdoing within 20 working days after the date of disclosure.

The commissioners will look at adopting rules to cover their own conduct.

The Code of Conduct Commissioners policy, compiled by council policy analyst Kyle Whitfield, lays out standards of behaviour expected from the commissioners in their dealings with council staff, media and the public.

The 10-page code of conduct covers honesty, integrity, objectivity, and accountability for the commissioners.

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