City of Perth councillors breached act by accepting Hopman Cup gifts


The City’s interpretation of councillors’ entitlements to Hopman Cup entertainment has been disputed.  Picture: Andrew Ritchie  d461033
The City’s interpretation of councillors’ entitlements to Hopman Cup entertainment has been disputed. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d461033

CITY of Perth councillors breached the Local Government Act by accepting gifts worth more than $300 from Hopman Cup organisers.

When an application from Tennis Australia for City of Perth sponsorship of the 2017 Hopman Cup was discussed at a recent council meeting, Crs Jim Adamos, Janet Davidson, Keith Yong and Lily Chen declared a direct financial interest and left the chamber.

The councillors received hospitality at this year’s Hopman Cup which they used to “host stakeholders” of the City, according to Cr Adamos.

Crs Adamos, Davidson and Yong received hospitality from Tennis Australia to the value of $1152 each and Cr Chen $480.

The Local Government (Rules of Conduct) Regulations 2007 limits gifts, including hospitality, to $300.

A Department of Local Government spokeswoman confirmed the value of the gifts exceeded the amount permitted under the Act if the donor was likely to depend on a council decision in the future.

On October 11, Perth councillors supported a cash sponsorship of $95,380 (excluding GST) to Tennis Australia to present the 2017 Hopman Cup.

A City spokesman said the councillors had not breached the Act.

“Crs Adamos, Yong, Chen and Davidson all made appropriate declarations on the City of Perth Public Gift Register and in respect to the item before council, financial interest declarations were made and relevant members departed the chamber for the item and therefore have complied fully with the provisions of the Local Government Act,” he said.

The spokesman said after the March 2016 amendments to the Local Government Act, the City reviewed its approach to corporate sponsorship and changes included the abolition of group tickets in sponsorship deals.

However, the department spokeswoman said “the only change made in March 2016 related to the timing and mechanism for disclosing gifts and travel. The monetary thresholds for the disclosure of gifts and travel have not changed”.

Cr Chen said she was aware of the $300 limit.

“It was normal practice at City of Perth to go to the sponsored event to observe if it is an event of claimed standard and level for future consideration,” she said.

“I did not think the tickets would compromise my position; to the contrary, I have been thinking attendance of those events are duties of each elected member that enables us to make a proper decision by using ratepayers’ money wisely.

“If no one of us attends, how are we able to make an informed decision? Especially myself, as the chair of marketing, sponsorship and international engagement.”

Cr Chen said the City made elected members aware of the limit “after the new Act was enacted”.

“So many limits will also limit elected members from performing their duties,” she said.

Opposition spokesman for local government David Templeman said “this behaviour further reinforces my previous comments on the lack of accountability at the City of Perth”.