Lisa Scaffidi + BHP

Due to the US regulators investigation into BHP’s hospitality for 176 foreign government officials at the Beijing Olympics,  it has been revealed that Perth Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi is one of those foreign government officials and personally received ‘hospitality’ amounting to circa $16,000. Amazing stuff.

The investigation culminated with BHP being fined $US25 million by the US Securities Exchange Commission over breaches of the foreign corrupt practices act. Who knows where it will end up for Ms Scaffidi.

It has been reported that the Australian Federal Police has referred Ms Scaffidi’s trip to the Corruption and Crime Commission.  Ms Scaffidi is quoted as saying that “It didn’t need to placed on a register is my understanding. That’s a legal opinion that the City of Perth had sought.”

I’d be really interested in knowing where that legal opinion came from. Whilst no lawyer, I can’t see how section 5.82 of the Local Government Act can be dismissed,
“A relevant person is to disclose in an annual return – a) the description and the amount of each gift received by the person at any time during the return period”. The Act describes a ‘relevant person as a council member or a designated employee.

Regardless though of whether the gift was entered on the gift register, section 12 of the Local Government (Rules of Conduct) Regulations 2007 states that a ‘notifiable gift’ in relation to a council member is between $50 and $300. A ‘prohibited gift’ is a gift worth more than $300. Hence no gift over $300 can be accepted.

The rules seem pretty crystal clear to me so am unsure how a lawyer can advise differently.

No doubt the Department of Local Government and their Standards Panel will also be investigating these revelations which have come from the US investigation. If a $3,000 bottle of Penfolds can topple a NSW Premier, I suspect an $18,000 trip will do the same to a Lord Mayor. And this is a great pity because no one can disagree that Perth CBD has blossomed under Ms Scaffidi’s time as Mayor.

Power to the people.