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The council has a conflict of interest policy, which was adopted in October 2018. It was developed in accordance with best practice, including guidance from the Office of the Controller and Auditor-General. The policy sets out the expectations and responsibilities for staff and acknowledges that potential conflicts of interest are inevitable and need to be appropriately managed. During September and October 2018 there was some media interest in the relationship between one of our directors and a company set up by the director’s wife that he had a shareholding in, which had done work for Environment Southland. The Council had put practices in place to ensure the director was not involved in any decision making related to the company. The Council subsequently commissioned a report by an independent advisor to review the situation which found that there was no evidence that the director was involved in any way in decisions to engage the company or in the monitoring of its work. The report also found the Council’s processes to be informal and made recommendations about formalising them. The conflict of interest policy was already in train at the time and operationalising it will go some way towards meeting those recommendations.
For more information please see the documents below and the column by Environment Southland chief executive Rob Phillips published in October 2018: https://www.stuff.co.nz/southland-times/opinion/107756450/es-how-were-managing-conflicts-of-interest
Another media statement by Rob Phillips, addressing conflicts of interest, was published in November 2018: https://www.es.govt.nz/council/news-and-notices/Pages/default.aspx?newsItem=id%3a23xj35wmp17q9shqmtjr
Report: Independent review of Council’s management of staff interests Conflict of Interest Policy Information released under the Official Information Act - October 2018