On 27 February 2020 the Local Government Amendment (Disqualification from Civic Office) Bill 2020 (“Bill”) was introduced into parliament.
It proposes to amend s 275 of the Local Government Act 1993 to provide that real estate agents and property developers are disqualified from holding civic office.
Civic office means the position of councillor or mayor of a local council, or chairperson or member of a county council.
For the purposes of the Bill, real estate agent has the same meaning as in the Property, Stock and Business Agents Act 2002, and property developer has the same meaning as in the Electoral Funding Act 2018. The definition of property developer turns on whether the person carries on a business concerned with residential or commercial development of land for profit and whether that person has made 3 or more planning applications which have been determined in the last 7 years, or has a pending planning application.
If the Bill becomes law, it will not require a real estate agent or property developer to immediately resign from office. Such a person will be able continue to hold office for the balance of that person’s term of office, or 6 months, whichever is the shorter.
Also, a real estate agent or property developer can seek election to civic office, and can be elected, provided that if elected, the person ceases to be a real estate agent or property developer before the first meeting of the council after the election.
The Bill does also not propose to prevent an existing councillor who is a real estate agent or property developer being elected as mayor on a vote of councillors if that person is serving out the balance of their term (or the 6 month period if shorter).