Gift inquiry

THE local government department has announced a new inquiry into gift and sponsorship arrangements at the City of Perth and Joondalup councils.

The inquiry follows probity audits at a number of metro and regional councils, and these two were flagged because of the sheer “volume, value and nature” of freebies given through sponsorship arrangements.

The department’s announcement says “while there may be valid reasons for elected members and staff to accept tickets to events in a professional capacity information obtained to date indicates that, the volume, value and nature of what has been obtained through sponsorship arrangements at both local governments, may be inconsistent with their obligations to use public resources appropriately and to declare financial interests when relevant matters are being considered by council”.

The statement says “while there did not appear to be systemic issues of concern relating to gifts and sponsorship, there were some issues that require further examination”.

For many years Perth city councillors accepted tickets in exchange for sponsoring events.

In some cases the city was getting more than 100 tickets to be doled out to councillors and staff as part of a sponsorship. Following changes to the local government act and advice from the state government, in April 2016 Perth council changed its policy to no longer accept tickets or hospitality in return for sponsorship.

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