1.5.2 Why you need to think about real and perceived conflicts of interest
All public decision-making bodies, including district licensing committees (DLCs), must be independent and impartial and follow fair processes. As a member of a DLC, you need to be sure that you do not have any real or perceived bias which could impact on your ability to make an independent and impartial decision. You must be impartial and must make a decision based on a balanced and considered assessment of the information and evidence before you without favouring one party over another.
Every member or official of a public entity has professional and personal interests and roles. Occasionally, some of those interests or roles overlap. This is almost inevitable in a small country like New Zealand, where communities and organisations are often close-knit and people have many different connections. Elected members of council have extensive involvement in their communities and a great deal of local knowledge. This knowledge can help inform the decision-making processes of the DLC; however, this closeness to the community can also give rise to a conflict of interest or a perception of bias.
Conflicts of interest sometimes cannot be avoided, and can arise without anyone being at fault. They are a fact of life. But they need to be managed carefully.
Even where no conflict of interest exists, you must be careful to avoid any perception of a conflict of interest. You need to be impartial and be seen to be impartial.