PERTH Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi continues to cling to power despite being found guilty of 45 serious breaches of the Local Government Act by the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) yesterday.
Ms Scaffidi issued a statement after the finding was brought down, railing against “political interference” and “trial by media”, and refused to resign.
The Lord Mayor maintained she had not been dishonest, however the 103-page SAT judgement appeared contradict to that claim.
The judgement stated that “at an early stage of her evidence, Ms Scaffidi gave evidence she was generally unaware of occasions when a third party would pay for a trip or make a contribution to accommodation… at the time those payments were made”.
“However,” the judgement continued, “an expenses claim prepared by Ms Scaffidi (in June 2008) states… (event organisers) Congress paid airfare, accommodation and taxi expenses… It is therefore clear Ms Scaffidi was aware that some third parties paid for expenses as early as June 2008”.
Under questioning at the hearing from State Solicitor’s Office solicitor Carolyn Thatcher in regards to returns filed for 2008-09, Ms Scaffidi said, “at the time I believed the City of Perth was paying”, despite her own expenses claim from June 2008 suggesting otherwise.
The SAT judgement cited other exchanges between Ms Thatcher and the Lord Mayor that illustrated Ms Scaffidi repeatedly denied knowing about third party contributions to her travel over a number of years, then referred to correspondence demonstrating the Lord Mayor almost certainly did know of contributions in some cases.
The judgement stated that in respect to her attendance at the Future Cities conference in Dubai in 2012, Ms Scaffidi emailed a City staff member to “make sure they (the organisers) pay… also I don’t like average hotels so emphasize Hotel needs to be minimum 5 star… ask if airport/hotel transfers are included”.
Ms Scaffidi had admitted to five breaches at the hearing but contested the other 40 allegations.
The Tribunal concluded there were 45 breaches in total.
The findings led Premier Mark McGowan to repeat his call for the Lord Mayor to resign and Opposition Leader Mike Nahan also called on Ms Scaffidi to resign.
At the Perth council meeting last night, councillors Reece Harley and Jemma Green reiterated their own views the Lord Mayor should quit.
Cr Harley said the findings of the SAT were unsurprising.
“It has been my view for two years that the Lord Mayor should stand aside or resign,” he said.
Cr Janet Davidson offered support and said Ms Scaffidi should continue, while remaining councillors said they would wait for the penalty hearing before commenting.
The Lord Mayor told council she had spoken to both the Premier and Mr Nahan but had no intention of resigning.
She noted the SAT’s judgement said there was no finding of corruption.