SAT investigation into Perth Lord Mayor could hinge on definition of a gift

City of Perth Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi.
City of Perth Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi.

PERTH Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi’s trial will hinge largely on legal construction and the definition of “gift” under the Local Government Act.

In opening statements at the State Administrative Tribunal investigating into Ms Scaffidi’s alleged failure to declare gifts, both sides appeared to agree that the facts were mostly not in dispute.

Rather, the Local Government Department and Ms Scaffidi will grapple over the whether the “transactions” involving mostly travel and accommodation not declared in the Lord Mayor’s annual returns constituted gifts.

Lawyer for Ms Scaffidi Steven Penglis argued that the transactions either did not represent a “financial benefit” to the Lord Mayor or were not gifts because the Lord Mayor had provided consideration in return; either a speech or some other service.

Representatives of the Department of Local Government said their case relied heavily on documentary evidence, and submitted two large volumes of documents.

The Department called one witness, former City of Perth chief executive Frank Edwards.

Mr Penglis cross-examined Mr Edwards largely about what training was given to new councillors when elected.

Mr Edwards said each new councillor was provided an induction manual explaining their responsibilities and obligations, including the rules around annual returns.

The tribunal adjourned for a short break at 11.15am.