Local Government Dept boss says ‘inconsistencies’ exist in gift regulations

LOCAL Government Department director general Jennifer Mathews says “inconsistencies between current practice (by local governments) and legislative requirements” in regards to gifts regulations have come to light this year.

In a circular issued to all WA local governments on November 15, Ms Mathews said changes introduced via the passage of the City of Perth Act revealed the problems.

On October 12, Local Government Minister Paul Miles told State Parliament he had established a working group to review all gift provisions.

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A Department spokeswoman told the Guardian Express that officers were preparing proposals for the group, which included representatives from local governments and the WA Local Government Association, to consider.

“The most common inconsistencies/areas of uncertainty regarding gifts and travel have been identified and the department has been working to raise awareness in the sector of the correct application of the legislation,” she said.

“The department is also working with the City of Perth on a review of their gifts policies to ensure they are consistent with the Local Government Act and Regulations.”

A City of Perth spokeswoman said the City “expressed its desire to be consulted prior to the introduction of any legislative changes… to ensure consideration can be appropriately given to the objectives of the City of Perth Act”.

Asked if the City was aware of any inconsistencies between current practice and legislative requirements that have taken place involving Perth’s elected members in the past 18 months, the spokeswoman said “gift declarations are a matter for individual Elected Members”.

The spokeswoman said the City “has undertaken an organisation-wide review of processes as they relate to gifts, sponsorship ticketing and hospitality, and it is understood this practice exceeds the requirements set out in legislation”.