LORD MAYOR Lisa Scaffidi is personally responsible if she has broken the law, Local Government Minister Tony Simpson and the City of Perth’s administration say.
Ms Scaffidi maintains her alleged breaches of the Local Government Act arose because she was unaware she was not declaring her gifts in the correct way blaming dysfunctional systems at the City.
At Tuesday’s council meeting, Ms Scaffidi said the City had had a “basically non-existent system” for compliance.
After the meeting, Mr Simpson told the Guardian Express, “regardless of the City of Perth’s requirements, the disclosure provisions of the Local Government Act and Regulations apply to all local governments in Western Australia. If any inconsistency exists between the City’s policies and the legislated requirements, the latter prevails”.
Mr Simpson said “responsibility ultimately lies with elected members” who “have an individual responsibility to ensure the necessary declarations and disclosures are made and to seek advice if they are unsure of the requirements”.
On Tuesday, Ms Scaffidi asked, “as a new Lord Mayor, was I to know?”
She said the systems “are being overhauled” in what was a “steep learning curve for administration and councillors”.
The following day, a statement appeared on the City’s website attributed to “The City of Perth administration”, offering a “clarifying statement”.
“Upon being elected to office, all City of Perth Elected Members are provided a comprehensive induction on their roles and obligations under the Local Government Act 1995 by the City’s Governance team”.
It said the City’s “administration is unambiguous in its advice that the content of Annual Returns and Gift Registers are the responsibility of the individual. Suggestions to the contrary are incorrect and do not accord with the legislative requirements”.
“Administration, through the Executive and the Governance team, provides frequent written and verbal advice to Elected Members on their obligations to comply with the Local Government Act 1995, including requirements to disclose travel, hospitality and gifts.”
The administration added that they “…provide Elected Members with detailed, prescriptive instructions on the accurate completion of Annual Returns, including by providing case studies and examples of correct returns”.