Local government gift rules: review continuing

LOCAL GOVERNMENT Minister Paul Miles is continuing an investigation into rules governing gifts in the sector.

In a circular sent to all WA local governments on November 15, Local Government Department director general Jennifer Mathews said changes introduced via the passage of the City of Perth Act revealed “inconsistencies between current practice (by local governments) and legislative requirements” in regards to gift regulations.

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

This month a Department spokeswoman told the Guardian Express that Mr Miles’ working group is continuing its review and will report to the Minister when its investigation is concluded.

“The working group has been tasked with two discrete streams of work: the development of a more straightforward gift and travel declaration framework, and the identification of strategies to improve the sector’s understanding of the current requirements,” she said.

“The department will advise the Minister of the working group’s final recommendations once that process is completed.”

The Department spokeswoman said an investigation into specific alleged breaches of the gift provisions in the Local Government Act by City of Perth councillors is ongoing.

Late last year a City of Perth spokeswoman said the City had “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.”

She added that the City had undertaken a “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”.