Councillors' Gifts and Hospitality Policy | City of Casey
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Approved: 19 June 2018

Councillors' Gifts and Hospitality Policy

Version 5.0

 Scope

The Policy is applicable to all Councillors at the City of Casey.

Context

There are occasions when Councillors may be offered gifts or other hospitality which could be perceived as influencing and/or improper in the circumstances. Council must operate in an open and transparent way, while minimising the risk of improper practices by the use of procedures that are practical and not complicated and time consuming.

The policy is in place is to protect both Councillors and Council by showing the importance that Council attaches to good practices, and aligns with the Good Governance Charter adopted by Council.

This policy ensures that Council operates in an open and transparent way which minimises the risk of improper actions reinforcing Councils commitment to 

  • At all times be ethical, fair and honest in the conduct of official duties
  • Ensure that a person, company or organisation is not placed in a position in if they feel obligated to offer gifts or hospitality to secure or retain Council business. 
  • Report any incidences immediately to the CEO           

 Local Government Act 1989 Requirements

The Local Government Act 1989 has specific requirements in regard to gifts. Councillors must include details of gifts received in their Ordinary Return, if the total value from a single person or organisation exceeds $500 in the five years preceding completion of the return.

Acceptance of gifts may give rise to a Conflict of Interest, refer to section 78C of the Local Government Act 1989.

If a Councillor is offered a gift or hospitality that does not fit in to the Token Gifts as defined above, the Councillor should politely decline the gift and or benefit, making reference to this policy and the restrictions under the Local Government Act 1989.

Policy

Roles and Responsibilities

Councillors are responsible for declaring or refusing gifts/hospitality in line with the requirements of the Act, this and any other relevant policy. This includes the responsibility to immediately notify the CEO of any bribes offered. 

Governance will be responsible for maintain the Councillors Gift & Hospitality Register.

Gifts and other Hospitality

Councillors and Council Officers do not expect to incur gifts or hospitality in the course of their business. Gifts or other hospitality will not be solicited and if offered should be declined unless once of the following exceptions apply:

  • The gift in question is of token value only, and
  • The acceptance of the gift or benefit would not create a sense of obligation on the part of the council officer concerned, and
  • It could not be perceived to be intended to or likely to influence the council officer in carrying out their public duty
  • Hospitality provided to Councillors as part of an existing service agreement or sponsorship agreement is outside the scope of the policy (i.e. is not considered a gift)
  • Council work related events such as training, education sessions, and workshops.
  • Council organised events where Council provides or pays for the hospitality.

Gifts/Hospitality over $50 offered, but not accepted 

If a Councillor is offered a gift/hospitality over $250 but declines the gift this should be declared to the CEO for inclusion on the Gifts Offered and not Accepted Register

Councillors will not accept gifts of currency regardless of amount.  

Gifts/Hospitality over $50 offered and accepted  

If a Councillor should decide to accept a gift or hospitality offered, the Councillor must declare all gifts or hospitality over the value of $50 to the Chief Executive Officer or his delegate, by completing and submitting a Declaration of Gift/Hospitality form.

Councillors may accept gifts only when:

  • The gift would generally be regarded as only having a token value and could not be perceived to influence the Councillor’s actions. 
  • Non acceptance of the gift may cause offence or embarrassment (i.e overseas dignitary visits or gift is culturally sensitive) in which case the gift may be accepted on behalf of
  • Council and becomes the property of Council. 
  • The name of the person giving the gift is known

At the conclusion of every financial year, a nil return form must be completed and submitted to the CEO or his delegate, for reporting by any Councillor that has not accepted any gift or hospitality over $50 as defined.

Council’s internal or external auditors may audit all or any aspects of Council’s procedures and documentation received from Councillors.

Official Gifts

Any gift received by the Mayor or Councillor on behalf of the Council will be declared and recorded with the Office of the Mayor. Gifts will be kept on display for the duration of the relevant Mayoral term at which point they will be archived and viewable as a digital record.

Disposal of Gifts

Where gifts are accepted because refusal may give offence, they should be forwarded to the CEO who may dispose of these gifts by any of the following methods:

  1.           by resolution of Council;
  2.           retention by the Council;
  3.           to other public agencies or authorities;
  4.           as a gift to a local recognised charitable, aid or non-profit organisation;
  5.           archival action by Museum Victoria or the State Library;
  6.           reduction to scrap; or
  7.           destruction.

The Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”) may delegate decision making powers in relation to (2) to (7) above to the Director Corporate Services.

Administrative Updates

It is recognised that, from time to time, circumstances may change leading to the need for minor administrative changes to this document. Where an update does not materially alter this document, such a change may be made administratively. Examples include a change to the name of a Council department, a change to the name of a Federal or State Government department, and a minor update to legislation which does not have a material impact.  However, any change or update which materially alters this document must be by resolution of Council.

Review

The next review of this document is scheduled for completion by 30 June 2022.

Breaches

Breaches will be dealt with under the provision of the following:

  • Section 76B of the Local Government Act 1989
  • Section 76BA of the Local Government Act 1989
  • Section 76D of the Local Government Act 1989
  • Section 81C of the Local Government Act 1989