Perth Lord Mayor admits not properly disclosing gifts to SAT hearing

Perth Lord Mayor admits not properly disclosing gifts to SAT hearing

PERTH Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi conceded today that she did not properly disclose three significant gifts involving travel and accommodation.

BHP-Billiton paid for the Lord Mayor to attend the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2009 Leeuwin Concert, and Hawaiian Investments paid for her trip to the 2008 Broome Cup.

The Lord Mayor is not contesting those three alleged breaches of the Local Government Act in her State Administrative Tribunal hearing, which began today.

Former City of Perth chief executive Frank Edwards was called as the only witness for the Department of Local Government, who are relying heavily on two large volumes of documentary evidence to make their case.

Mr Edwards, who served as chief executive at the City for more than 10 years, ending in September 2012, was asked about procedures and policies regarding gifts and travel.

He confirmed that every newly elected councillor is given a manual explaining their responsibilities, including the proper completion of annual returns.

The only witness for Ms Scaffidi was herself.

The Tribunal heard that a number of her annual returns included incorrect dating or failed to list the addresses of donors.

Her returns frequently did not include contributions towards travel.

Under questioning, the Lord Mayor accepted she had not been careful in filling out her annual returns.

Ms Scaffidi claimed she was not aware of third party contributions to her travel at the time, but representatives of the Department said an email from the Lord Mayor’s assistant to the Lord Mayor made it clear a third party would be contributing to travel to Singapore in 2014; the contribution was not included in Ms Scaffidi’s relevant annual return.

An email from Ms Scaffidi herself from 2009 made it clear she was aware a third party contributed to her travel from China to Japan and back – including comment from the Lord Mayor that she expected the third party – Perth Education City – to pay for business class fares.

The Tribunal adjourned for one hour at 1pm, and it is expected both sides will submit their closing statements later today.