The video below is a recording of the Webinar that ran on Wednesday 8 March 2017. It focused on the following key areas:
- Gifts that are exempt from declaration;
- What makes a gift ‘notifiable’ and ‘prohibited’;
- Obligations of all employees and additional rules for designated employees;
- Declaring other gifts over the value of $200.00;
- The consequences of receiving a gift.
To open this video in fullscreen please put your cursor over the right corner of this video and select 'open in new window'.
To download the webinar video for offline playback click
To download the PowerPoint presentation from this webinar please click
Question and Answer Session
The following are a range of questions asked during and after the Local Government Gift Declaration webinar held by WALGA on 8 March 2017:
What about if a Councillor's employer sends him/her to a conference with travel and accommodation included? Assuming the total is over $300 would it be prohibited?
The expenses are directly associated with your employment, and may even form a condition of employment. Therefore, they it is not a gift.
I received a birthday gift over $200 from a cousin who lives overseas. Do I declare?
A cousin is not defined as a relative, and the gift has a value of $200.00 which meets the threshold declaration value for a non-notifiable gift. Therefore, if you are an Elected Member or a designated employee, you must declare this gift within 10 days of receiving it and this information will be posted in the online register on your Local Government’s website.
As a long-time member of a not-for-profit community group and only recent Councillor, does one have to declare a $200 fee being paid for a Professional training that is from a project that I have to declare? What about the travel and accommodation included?
Yes. Any financial contribution from an organisation that is not exempt must be declared. Travel and accommodation (the latter being incidental to the trip) must be declared to the CEO as a contribution to travel, under Section 5.83 of the Local Government Act, and this will be placed on the register that appears on your Local Government’s website.
How should we treat prizes drawn at a seminar? Is a Lotto win to be declared as a gift?
Lotto is a game of chance that is open to the general public, so any win would not be a gift.
If you are attending a seminar or conference that is mainly attended by the Local Government sector (i.e. WALGA Annual State Convention and AGM) the Association believes that any prize won in a draw or raffle is not the same as winning a prize in a game of chance. This is because the audience is predominantly from the Local Government sector and the prize giver is likely to be associated with the sector as well, for example, as a supplier of goods and services. Therefore, WALGA’s advice is to declare the prize.
Country Local Government Fund training at $50.00. Do we declare?
No. Your Local Government is incurring an expense associated with your role as a Councillor so attendance at training, meetings and conferences where there is a registration fee are activities associated with a Councillors roles and responsibilities.
When mileage is paid for travel to meetings is this considered a gift.
Meeting attendance fees, annual allowances, reimbursements such as travel costs and expenses paid to Elected Members in accordance with Part 5, Division 8 of the Local Government Act are not gifts.
Are you required to declare a notifiable gift even if you don't accept the gift? In this regard, is the Councillor/Staff member required to declare an interest in an item where the gift giver is involved?
No, you are not required by legislation to declare a gift offered but not accepted. Some Elected Members choose to make a discretionary declaration of rejected gifts.
If you do not declare a gift, does this constitute a serious breach?
Non declaration of any gift, whether it is notifiable or any other gift values over $200.00, would have serious consequences including the potential for a serious breach allegation to be lodged with the Department of Local Government and Communities.
If a gift of food and/or drink valued over $50.00 is received by a team (as a gift of gratitude, for example), should it be declared and if so by whom?
A gift of this type should be declared by the individual accepting it. How the gift is dealt with after being received does not detract from the requirement to declare its acceptance.
If an accommodation supplier offers a local government rate, is this required to be declared?
Any discount offer made available to a Local Government as part of its procurement of goods and services do not equate to a gift. This is part and parcel of the negotiations that occur when the Local Government is making best value for money decisions in how it expends public funds.
As our webinar suggest, this answer would be different if a Councillor was making a personal booking and offered a discount because they are known by the accommodation provider to be an Elected Member. If the value of the discount met the gift declaration threshold, it would have to be declared as a gift.
I spoke in Council on behalf of an applicant. Some months later I went to his business to make a purchase. The product I requested was loaded in my trailer and he refused my payment of $100.00. I declared this as a gift. Did I need to?
Absolutely! Because this person was involved in seeking a Local Government discretion, you received a notifiable gift. By giving you a gift, a gift giver becomes a closely associated person under Section 5.62(1)(ea) and you will be required to declare a financial interest should this person approach Council for any future decision.
What is the time frame post State Government election to finalise the gift legislation review?
This will be a matter for the incoming Government to determine, but it is our current understanding that amendment to simplify and clarify the gift provisions will receive priority.
What is the severity if you don’t declare a proximity or financial interest on a decision of council after receiving a gift?
Non declaration of a financial interest could lead to a serious breach allegation being made to the Department of Local Government and Communities.
What if my husband receives a gift in the form of a discount? Do I need to declare that?
Not if the discount was openly available to the general public. If it was not generally available, then the discount is still not a gift if the offer to your husband was completely unrelated to your role as an Elected Member.
If a farming neighbour (not a relative) lends some equipment to a Councillor or Staff member, does it need to be declared and what if the use constitutes a value over $200?
This is similar to the example covered in the webinar. The question to ask is whether ‘adequate consideration’ is evident; for example, do you regularly exchange equipment with your neighbour to the extent that it compensates to a similar value?
A gift would require declaration if there was no ‘consideration’ involved and the value of the loaned equipment met the gift declaration threshold.
Can a family member deposit a lump sum in a Superannuation account of mine?
What about old (over 30 years) friend wants to give a sum of money, for household issues, nothing to do with Council matters?
If the family member is defined as a relative (a parent, grandparent, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, lineal descendant of the relevant person or of the relevant person’s spouse or de facto partner; the relevant person’s spouse or de facto partner or the spouse or de facto partner of any relative specified) then the lump sum contribution is an exempt gift.
A financial contribution received from a person who is not a relative is a gift and must be declared.
If we receive an invitation from a community group to attend a function which includes a meal, do we need to declare the meal as a gift
It is WALGA’s view that on many occasions, the effort you put in attending local community meetings to perform the roles and responsibilities of an Elected Member can be offset against minor hospitality that is offered. This is an example of ‘consideration’ that was discussed in the webinar.
For my birthday a group of friends give me a skydive voucher worth $300. Do I need to declare this gift if I am a person who has delegated authority?
This is a gift that must be declared under Section 5.82 of the Act because you are a ‘designated employee’ and the gift is not ‘notifiable’ and is not exempt.
If you were not a ‘designated employee’ you would not have to declare the gift under Section 5.82. If the gift donors were not likely to seek an ‘activity requiring a local government discretion’, then you also would not have to declare it as a ‘notifiable gift’ under the Town’s Code of Conduct.
If a staff member or Councillor is getting married and invites non relatives to the wedding, is he/her required to declare wedding gifts over $50?
Only Elected Members and designated employees are required to declare a gift such as this. The gift is not a notifiable gift as it is unlikely the non-relatives will seek a Local Government discretion. If you are an Elected Member or designated employee, only wedding gifts valued at $200.00 or more must be declared.
I attended the screening of a film at an outdoor film festival which was held on a large grassed area on the Town’s premises. I paid full price for 2 tickets, the same as all other members of the public who attended, and got given 2 raffle tickets to go into the draw for a door prize, as did everyone else. One of my ticket numbers was pulled out of a hat and I won a gift voucher for $250 worth of ladies sportswear which I gave to a female friend of mine. Is this a gift that must be declared?
The $250.00 voucher is indeed a prize and not a gift as:
- you won the prize in a game of chance that was associated with paid entry to the venue and therefore was open to all members of the public attending the film festival;
- you attended the film festival in a private capacity, not associated with your roles and responsibilities as an Elected Member;
- you disposed of the prize and did not benefit.
You may notice that our advice differs where Elected Members win prizes at conferences, seminars etc that are intended for the Local Government sector. In this scenario, the prize donors will also be closely associated with the Local Government sector, as suppliers of goods and services for example, and there is an inevitable link between the gift giver and gift recipient due to this relationship.