WALGA wants gift definition fixed
The WA Local Government Association (WALGA) says new laws requiring councillors to declare ‘gifts’ are too broad.
New rules were introduced after the state’s Corruption and Crime Commission found Perth Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi failed to declare tens of thousands of dollars in gifts and travel.
The legislation now requires local governments to keep an online register of gifts to councillors over $50.
WALGA president Lynne Craigie says transparency is vital in local government, but the wording is unclear.
“It now means an elected member has to declare gifts from family, from friends, of a personal nature,” she said.
“If you were given a birthday gift, for example, in excess of $200 in value you would need to declare it.
“If it was a gift from your family, your daughter, your son, surely that's overstepping the mark even when it comes to transparency.
“What my family were to give me, or any other elected member, as a gift surely shouldn't have to be recorded for the public to view, there's no way it could be seen as someone trying to influence my judgment on a matter.
“One of the examples given by the department was if someone borrowed a trailer or asked a friend for a trailer to move house on the weekend, that could be construed as having a value of $200 to $300, and that would have to be declared, whereas really that's something that everybody does.
“We just need a very clear definition of what is required, what is construed as a benefit to an elected member that wouldn't be given to anybody else.”
WALGA is holding talks with the WA Local Government Minister this week to push its case to tighten the legislation.
But Local Government Minister Tony Simpson earlier seemed unconcerned.
Mr Simpson says the only changes were declarations to be made within 10 days of the gifts and or travel happening.
He said WALGA did not appear to understand the existing gift provisions, which was worrying given that it is in charge of a review of those provisions.