Frequently asked questions

What are my rights if I’m being investigated?

If you are the subject of an investigation by the Local Government Investigations and Compliance Inspectorate (Inspectorate) it's important to know your rights.

Inspectors of Municipal Administration are appointed under section 223A of the Local Government Act 1989 (Act) and their powers are stipulated in section 223B of the Act.

The Inspectorate investigates matters relating to council operations and breaches of the Act involving a councillor, a senior council officer or any individual subject to the conflict of interest provisions within the Act; or any individual where the matter relates to electoral provisions.

When the Inspectorate is investigating a matter, individuals accused of a breach may be invited to a voluntary interview under caution or may be required to appear under oath or affirmation.

Voluntary under caution means that you have agreed to take part in an interview voluntarily. You will be cautioned at the start of the interview that anything you say or do may be used in evidence against you in court proceedings. You will be informed of your rights and asked if you wish to exercise them. You are under no obligation to appear or to answer questions and you can leave at any time.

Required under oath means that you are required to appear before the Inspectorate for interview under section 223B of the Act. Unless you have a lawful excuse, it is an offence to fail to appear. The Inspectorate will serve you with a notice in writing if you are required to appear.

A person appearing before the Inspectorate is entitled to be represented by another person can exercise their privilege against self incrimination. This means the right to refuse to answer a question if the answer may incriminate the person.

In some circumstances interviews may be recorded. If you take part in a recorded interview, you will receive a copy of the recording.

The Inspectorate may, by notice in writing, request a person to produce any document in their custody or control that relates to any matter the Inspectorate may examine or investigate. However, while the Inspectorate retains possession of the documents, any person who would normally be entitled to access the documents has the right to inspect them at any reasonable time.

What powers do Inspectors have?

As set out in section 223B of the Act, inspectors may examine or investigate any matter relating to council operations, elections or electoral matters and any possible breaches of the Act.

Inspectors have the power to require a person to produce any document in the person's custody or control relating to any matter being examined or investigated; to give all reasonable assistance in connection with an examination or investigation and to appear for examination under oath or affirmation to answer questions.

How long do investigations take?

The Inspectorate conducts investigations according to best practice policy and procedures to ensure all avenues are explored in reaching an outcome.

Due to the volume of complaints received and the often complex nature of investigations, the investigation process can take some time. Each case is different and therefore specific timeframes cannot be given.

The Inspectorate will keep complainants informed of the progress of the investigation.

How do I find out the result of an investigation?

Investigators will inform applicable parties of the investigation outcome including the complainant, council CEO, interviewed parties and the person of interest/accused if appropriate.

Investigation outcomes may be made public through court proceedings should they occur. Where there are significant governance failures or serious breaches a report may be provided to the Minister for Local Government for consideration. The report may also be tabled in Parliament by the Minister.

Individuals may choose to make the outcome of an investigation public.

Can I make an anonymous complaint?

Yes. You can make an anonymous complaint however, the Inspectorate prefers to communicate with complainants to obtain further information and evidence and provide outcome results.

All complaints are dealt with in strict confidence. The Inspectorate is subject to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act). This means that if a Freedom of Information request is made to the Inspectorate, there may be a requirement under the provisions of the FOI Act to provide access to information or documents unless the exemption provisions under the FOI Act apply.  Details of the complainant will not be released by the Inspectorate.

The Inspectorate is unable to provide protection under the Whistleblowers Protection Act 2001 however, Ombudsman Victoria can.

Do I have to take part in the investigation?

The Inspectorate encourages people to participate in investigations to assist in identifying poor governance and/or corrupt behaviour.Witnesses may, in some circumstances, be required to attend an interview or offer assistance however, a person appearing before the Inspectorate is entitled to be represented by another person and can exercise their privilege against self incrimination. This means the right to refuse to answer a question if the answer might incriminate the person.

Can anyone be investigated?

The Inspectorate can only investigate alleged breaches of the Act by a councillor, a senior council officer or any individual subject to the conflict of interest provisions within the Act; or any individual where the matter relates to electoral provisions.

Do investigations go to court?

Where a breach of the Act that carries a penalty has occurred, it is an offence. If there is sufficient evidence to substantiate the allegation, the Inspectorate may undertake a prosecution. The Inspectorate utilises the Victorian Government Solicitors Office to provide advice on prosecutable matters and, if necessary, to manage the court proceedings.

Why can’t the Inspectorate investigate misconduct allegations?

The management of misconduct or serious misconduct matters is the responsibility of council.

As outlined in section 76C of the Act, council is required to develop its own Councillor Code of Conduct and is responsible for its ongoing administration, including internal processes for addressing breaches of the Code.

If a council’s internal process fails to resolve a dispute or is unable to deal with a particular matter, an application may be made by one or more councillors to have the matter considered by a Councillor Conduct Panel as outlined in section 81B of the Act.

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