An independent panel will be set up to sort out complaints about councillors in Tauranga, following a turbulent eight months after the election.
It's one of a series of changes to Tauranga City Council's Code of Conduct - a set of rules for how elected officials behave in their roles - that were agreed in a meeting yesterday.
Some changes were aimed at increasing transparency and clarifying breaches; others would help "depoliticise" the process of sorting out political disputes.
Under the new rules, the mayor and councillors could choose to have complaints dealt with by a to-be-established independent Code of Conduct Committee instead of by the council.
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The committee would be made up of three qualified people - potentially retired judges or QCs - who would convene when needed. The council has yet to decide how they would be paid.
The mayor also would no longer have a role in receiving and mediating complaints. Complaints would instead go to the chief executive who would forward them to an independent investigator for a first look and recommendation on what should happen next.
Complaints can only be made by elected members or the chief executive, who can act on behalf of council staff.
Several council clashes have spilled over into the public realm this term.
It started before the council term even began, with mayor Tenby Powell calling for councillor Andrew Hollis to resign over his controversial social media posts.
In March, Hollis made a code of conduct complaint against the mayor over an outburst in a meeting with staff and councillors where Powell called Hollis a "f****** climate-denying racist". The council voted to censure Powell and ordered him to apologise.
There was a mass walk-out from a council meeting in May after a debate was cut short.
Then in June, councillor Larry Baldock resigned from his post as deputy mayor after six councillors signed a letter calling for him to step down.
In yesterday's meeting, Baldock said the council had a "fairly divided first eight months".
"We should not be afraid have some independent people make some decisions about the way we behave towards one to another."
"...We will all fail at some time, and need to be brought to account."
In the meeting, he defended his reputation as "the standing orders freak" and said the council needed a robust way of dealing with issues and real consequences for breaches.
Standing Orders sit alongside the Code of Conduct and define rules for council meetings.
Baldock used the orders often, and was also no stranger to the code. Last term alone he made three complaints about councillor John Robson for alleged breaches of the code. Two were investigated at at cost of $15,755 and neither was upheld.
Others backed the call for an independent process yesterday.
Powell said Tauranga's was a "personality-driven council" without objectivity.
Robson said some might consider a person elected mayor as therefore the "most successful, cleverest, smartest politician in the city" - but they were still a politician.
"We need to take the supreme politician out of the process."
In a light exchange, Powell said he agreed "as the supreme admiral general you are making me out to be" and councillor Jako Abrie said he would avoid calling Powell "the Supreme Leader" due to "connotations".
Councillor Steve Morris said he would prefer the code not need to be "codefied" but said he trusted his colleagues to be objective.
Robson said he had real concerns about the potential for codes of conduct to be used to "chill debate, to threaten, discourage particularly those people new from exploring or challenging"
He referenced research by Massey University's Dr Catherine Strong who said in 2016 that some councils were using their codes to gag elected members.
Other changes to the code including adding free speech and transparency to the values it sought to uphold, and lowering the threshold for when elected members must declare gifts from a $100 value to a $50 value.