Register of Gifts and Contributions to Travel
Changes have been made to the Local Government Act 1995 regarding how and when gifts and/or contributions to travel are to be declared by elected council members and designated employees.
The City of Perth Bill 2015 has amended the Local Government Act 1995 (the Act) to provide that a relevant person who accepts a gift which is worth greater than $200 must disclose acceptance of the gift and/or contributions to travel within ten days of receipt to the Chief Executive Officer.
The CEO is required to keep a record of the disclosures by way of a register. This is to be published on the local government’s official website as well as made available for public inspection at the council offices.
Who is a relevant person? [Section 5.74]
A relevant person is defined under section 5.74 of the Act as a person who is a council member or a designated employee which includes:
- Council members
- The CEO
- Employees with delegated powers and duties under Part 5, Division 4 of the Act
- Employees who are members of committees comprising elected members and employees
- Other employees as nominated by the local government to be a designated employee.
What is a gift? [Section 5.82]
Under the Act, a gift is defined as any disposition of property, or the conferral of any other financial benefit, made by one person in favour of another otherwise than by will (whether with or without an instrument in writing), without consideration in money or money’s worth passing from the person in whose favour it is made to the other, or with such consideration so passing if the consideration is not fully adequate, but does not include any financial or other contribution to travel.
A contribution to travel is not a gift (such contributions are dealt with in Section 5.83).
When considering what constitutes a gift, the key question to consider is that posed by the definition: i.e. whether there has been a conferral of property or financial benefit where full consideration has not been given in return.
The particular context in which the gift was given – whether it be as part of a person’s role as an elected official or staff member, or in a private capacity – is not, for that purpose a relevant consideration.
- If the donor of the gift is a relative of the relevant person, no disclosure of the gift is required.
- If the value of the gift does not exceed the prescribed amount, no disclosure of the gift is required.
However, the proviso to the second exclusion is that if a person receives more than one gift from a donor during a year disclosure of a gift will be required if the aggregate value exceeds the prescribed amount, being $200.
For example: Gift one is $100 and gift 2 is $150. Neither are from relatives, either are considered separately, above the prescribed amount. Gift two causes the total value in the year from that donor to exceed the prescribed amount, therefore gift two is disclosable.
The value of a gift comprising property, other than money or the conferral of a financial benefit, is to be treated as being an amount equal to the value of the property or the financial benefit at the time the gift was made
What is a contribution to travel? [Section 5.83]
Under the Act, a contribution to travel is defined as each financial or other contribution that has been made to any travel undertaken by a relevant person at any time during a year.
In this context, travel is a journey or journeys away from where a person lives. It does not matter what the distance, duration or mode of transport is.
A contribution to travel will be something that facilitates such a journey(s). For example, necessary costs such as an airline ticket price and visa fees will be within the relevant category of contributions. Also included will be costs which might not be necessary, but can still be regarded as assisting in meeting the journey(s) costs. For example, optional travel insurance would be included.
The important consideration, is whether there is a clear link between the contribution and costs which can be attributed to the journey(s).
The Act also extends the ordinary definition of travel so that it includes any accommodation which can be said to have been incidental to a journey or journeys.
Because any journey or journeys away from where a person lives can be considered an instance of travel, any need for accommodation caused by such a journey or journeys can be considered incidental to the journey or journeys.
It is important to note, in this respect, that a contribution to accommodation can be a contribution to travel whether or not there is any contribution to the actual journey.
No distinction is made by the Act between the reasons for the journey (for example, whether private or council business).
Exclusions apply and the contribution will not have to be disclosed in any of these cases:
- The contribution was made from Commonwealth, State or local government funds
- The contribution was made by a relative of the person
- The contribution was made in the ordinary course of an occupation of the person which is not related to his or her duties as a council member or employee
- The contribution was made by a political party of which the person was a member and the travel was undertaken for the purpose of political activity of the party, or to enable the person to represent the party. A political party is defined as a body or organization, whether incorporated or unincorporated, having as one of its objects or activities the promotion of the election to the Parliament of the Commonwealth or of the State of a candidate or candidates endorsed by it or by a body or organization of which it forms part
- The value of the contribution does not exceed the prescribed amount ($200) or where there are multiple contributions from the same donor in a year, the aggregate value does not exceed $200. The amount of a contribution (other than a financial contribution) is to be treated as being an amount equal to the value of the contribution at the time the contribution was made.