Response to Supreme Court summons

Kiama Council


Kiama Municipal Council was earlier today summoned to appear in the Supreme Court by Councillor Karen Renkema-Lang.

The summons relates to Council’s decision made in November 2023 to censure the Councillor.

As many in the community will understand, Council cannot comment on specific legal matters whilst while they are on under way.

The use of public ratepayers’ funds in defending this course of legal action is regrettable, especially when considered in terms of the current financial circumstances of the Council.

The summons states the Councillor is seeking costs from Council.


Councillors must comply with the State Government’s “Local Government Model Code of Conduct for Councillors” once they are sworn in.

Like all new employees in any business, Councillors received induction and training in the Code of Conduct requirements and they are expected to uphold these behavioural requirements at all times:

Code of Conduct for Councillors

When complaints about a Councillor’s conduct are received they must be processed in line with the State Government’s Model Procedures known as “Council procedures for the administration of the Code of Conduct”:

Code of Conduct Administration Procedures Kiama Council

External conduct reviewers are appointed and the findings are then reported to council.

To date Council has spent over $20,000 on this complaint.

Having received the final report, Council made a lawful resolution concerning the censure at its November ordinary meeting.

The Councillor could have chosen to appeal the decision of Council using the prescribed methods outlined in the Procedure above or the Code of Meeting Practice.

Specifically, the Councillor could have chosen to either:

1. Use Part 8 of the Procedures for the Administration of the Code of Conduct called “Oversight and Rights of Review” and sought an appeal.

2. Lodge a rescission motion in line with the Code of Meeting Practice (as described in Section 17 Decisions of Council (page 32).

Neither of these methods would have required the use of additional rate payer funds.

Council takes all complaints received seriously and follows the required State Government procedures and our own policies.

“The organisation is currently experiencing an extreme amount of pressure and stress associated with well documented financial and governance matters. Legal fees for the organisation are already excessive and this new matter does create an additional financial burden on the business,” CEO Jane Stroud said.

“The Performance Improvement Order and the recent Rayner report clearly explain what ought to be the focus of both the Councillors and the administration right now.”

“I hold specific concerns and worry about the worsening functionality of the Council, when in such uncertain times and uncharted territory, what is really required is cohesive and collective effort to correct the course of the organisation”.

/Public Release. View in full here.