New code of conduct for Melbourne council

Christine McGinn and Georgie Moore

City of Melbourne councillors have voted unanimously in favour of a new code of conduct following a sexual harassment scandal that rocked town hall.

The revised behavioural guidelines were sparked by an investigation which upheld misconduct findings against former lord mayor Robert Doyle brought by two female colleagues.

Councillor Cathy Oke, one of the complainants, told AAP the new code was an "important milestone" for the council and it sent a clear message.

"I am proud of how we have worked together to develop a code that reinforces our commitment to the community but also to each other," she said prior to the meeting.

Councillors adopted the new code at the meeting on Tuesday night.

Under the new rules, a councillor being formally investigated for alleged harassment or bullying would be required to take leave until the probe's completion.

Those who fail to participate in internal dispute resolution may also be engaging in misconduct under the Local Government Act.

An independent advisor will also be appointed to help councillors understand their rights and obligations.

The changes were proposed after Cr Oke and her former colleague Tessa Sullivan accused Mr Doyle of sexual misconduct.

An independent investigation in March upheld some claims, including that Mr Doyle grabbed Ms Sullivan's breast while the pair were in a chauffer-driven mayoral car in 2017.

The former mayor was also found to have put his hand on Ms Oke's thigh several times in 2014, and attempted to kiss her in his office following a meeting in late 2016 or early 2017, the report found.

All incidents occurred after Mr Doyle consumed "substantial amounts of red wine".

The investigation cost the council more than $600,000 and prompted the removal of alcohol from the offices of the lord and deputy mayors.

Mr Doyle denies the allegations despite standing down from the role in February.

The next lord mayor will be announced on May 21 after a by-election.