A NEW code of conduct for councils is a double standard the state government doesn't set for itself, Blacktown councillors have said.
The mandatory code of conduct handed down by Local Government Minister Don Page bans gifts such as free meals and gym membership, prohibits binding caucus votes and councillors from using their positions to "gain a private benefit, financial or otherwise."
Blacktown councillors said the state government was asking them to abide by standards that they themselves did not.
"It's absurd," deputy mayor Russ Dickens said.
"To ask us to adopt a code of conduct put on us by another organisation that is fraught with problems, I think is ridiculous.
"It's do as I say, not as I do."
Labor councillors took offence to their caucus vote being banned.
Cr Alan Pendleton said the scrutiny on party votes would also affect Liberal councillors, whether they called it a caucus vote or not.
"It'll be not different for you Mr Mayor, you won't be able to rule over the roost," he said at the last council meeting.
"It's a further imposition on local government that [state MPs] don't impose on themselves.
Mr Page said the code strengthened standards and imposed punishments for dysfunctional councils.
The new rules were the result of extensive consultation with the community, the local government sector, the NSW Ombudsman's office and the ICAC, he said.
The code includes:
• Councillors who misbehave could have their fees suspended for up to three months or in extreme cases, could be barred from civic office for up to five years.
• A provision to punish councillors for making politically motivated or vexatious allegations under the code.
• New regional assessment panels will be formed to assess complaints made under the code of conduct.
• Creation of a role for the Division of Local Government to help councils administer the code.
• Make it possible for the Director General of Local Government to consider a councillor’s prior behaviour when deciding on sanctions.
• A ban on councillors and their family members receiving gifts of more than token value including free meals, gym memberships, free or discounted overseas travel.
• A ban on councillors using their positions to gain a private benefit, financial or otherwise.
• A ban on sanctions for councillors who fail to abide by caucus rulings before council votes.