Gifts, travel list dis­ap­point­ment

Western Suburbs Weekly - - News - By JON BAS­SETT

THE WA Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment As­so­ci­a­tion (WALGA) is dis­ap­pointed it was not in­volved in a State Gov­ern­ment de­ci­sion about coun­cil reg­is­ters for gifts and travel.

“We are... ex­tremely dis­ap­pointed not to have been pro­vided with the op­por­tu­nity to gauge our mem­bers’ re­sponse and con­trib­ute to the pro­posed amend­ments, as there has been no for­mal con­sul­ta­tion from the State on this,” WALGA pres­i­dent Lynne Craigie said.

In Oc­to­ber, Perth Lord Mayor Lisa Scaf­fidi was found to have not de­clared a $36,000 BHP-Bil­li­ton paid trip to the Beijing Olympics.

Af­ter in­tro­duc­tion to State Par­lia­ment of the new City of Perth Act re­cently, it was amended so all coun­cil­lors would have to dis­close gifts and travel within 10 days on­line from July 1 next year. Mrs Craigie said WALGA sup­ported trans­parency in lo­cal gov­ern­ment and did not see any prob­lems with the changes or cre­at­ing on­line lists, which could help some coun­cil­lors with their jobs.

A gift list has op­er­ated at Clare­mont Coun­cil for about 10 years,

Clare­mont Mayor Jock Barker said an on­line list was a “sim­ple thing to do” be­cause he and Clare­mont coun­cil­lors did not ac­cept gifts.

“There’s noth­ing new in it, but per­haps a hard copy would be also bet­ter for some peo­ple to view at the coun­cil,” Mr Barker said.

The Act is now await­ing Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil ap­proval.

Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Min­is­ter Tony Simp­son said his dis­cus­sions with “in­ter­ested par­ties” had pro­vided him with enough ev­i­dence, in­clud­ing those gift lists al­ready op­er­at­ing around WA, of an “over­whelm­ing de­sire” for declarations to be made on­line in 10 days.

“While the cur­rent Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Act says coun­cils need to make cer­tain in­for­ma­tion avail­able Mon­day to Fri­day, and be­tween 9 and 5, quite frankly, this in­for­ma­tion could and should be avail­able on­line 24/7,” Mr Simp­son said.

There will be no changes to the rules about what gifts and travel must be de­clared, and their value.

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