Premier Daniel Andrews Photo: Jesse MarlowCouncillors who failed to properly sign a new code of conduct have been spared disqualification and will be able to comply by February.

Acting Local Government Minister Richard Wynne said there had been a failure of administrative duties by councils and incompetence in some cases.

He said ratepayers would have footed a substantial cost to install administrators until the council elections in October if the councillors were disqualified.

“We think this is simply not acceptable,” he said.

Mr Wynne said he had received letters from council executive officers admitting they had got it wrong.

However, three individual councillors were unwilling to sign the code or signed under what they considered duress, Mr Wynne said.  

The government is hoping to pass legislation to grant the extension this week and Mr Wynne said he had already spoken to the Greens who had supported resolving the problem.

Earlier on Tuesday Premier Daniel Andrews said several local government authorities admitted they had “stuffed up”.

“Councils, a number of them, have failed to comply with the law,” Premier Daniel Andrews said at a press conference.

“Councils have written to us and said ‘look we have stuffed this up, can you change the law, can you help us out here’… And in the interest of ratepayers that is exactly what the government will do.”

Mr Andrews said councils had admitted their mistake and a further announcement from a minister would be made soon. More than 100 Victorian councillors, and 13 councils, were disqualified on Monday for failing to comply with a new code of conduct.

But Municipal Association of Victoria chief executive Rob Spence said the government had attacked councils and released misleading information while failing to acknowledge there had been failures on both sides.

He said the government should provide clear guidance about the laws it introduces. In a statement the association said the vast majority of councillors had made a genuine commitment to comply with the code but in some cases had neglected to use the word “abide”. 

The disqualifications also include nine individual councillors from other councils. These councillors also failed to meet the new code of conduct requirements that were introduced following recent changes to local government laws.

All Victorian councils were required to adopt the codes of conduct by July this year.

Among the councillors dumped under the ruling is one of the chief opponents of the Bendigo mosque and one-time One Nation candidate Elise Chapman. Ms Chapman withdrew as a One Nation candidate before the election.

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