The regime on disclosure of gifts and contributions to travel (‘the gifts disclosure regime’) which governs the local government sector confuses or challenges many in the sector. This is partly because the structure of that regime is governed by the LGA as well as the Local Government (Rules of Conduct) Regulations 2007.
Many officers and councillors do not fully understand how the gifts regime works. They are unsure as to what constitutes a gift or contribution to travel, if they can accept it, whether it needs to be disclosed and if so, how disclosure should be done. This confusion was highlighted by the controversy raised by the amendments to the disclosure regime legislated in the City of Perth Act 2016 (WA) and bulletins issued by the Department of Local Government and Communities (“the DLGC”) and WALGA and LGMA in 2016.
During 2016, Civic Legal recognised that this issue is widespread and the risks of non-compliance high.
In collaboration with the City of Vincent, we took the initiative to address this issue by creating and distributing a series of flowcharts to all local governments in WA. The Four-Chart Guide has been approved by the DLGC and distributed in consultation with WALGA. They guide a reader in judging whether a gift or contribution to travel should be disclosed, and if so, then whether it should be disclosed under the LGA, the Rules of Conduct Regulations or both. Our aim was to give practical and effective guidance about an issue that most local governments were facing, rather than just adding to the debate.
Civic Legal has received positive feedback to this initiative, specifically that it has been a highly effective way to address a common issue to the benefit of the entire sector.
To help local government councillors and officers to understand and comply with the regime, Civic Legal created a comprehensive seminar. We can present this Gift Seminar to any local government in Western Australia.
“Civic Legal’s “Challenge of the Gift Seminar” was presented in a clear and concise way that afforded Councillors and staff with a clearer understanding of their obligations in dealing with and declaring gifts and contributions to travel. The Flow Chart commissioned by the City of Vincent and prepared by Civic Legal is a fantastic ready reckoner in determining one’s obligations.”
CEO, Shire of Nannup