05/10/2015 - 15:40

Scaffidi hit with misconduct finding

05/10/2015 - 15:40


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The Corruption and Crime Commission has found City of Perth Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi “signally failed in her duties” by not disclosing gifts and travel contributions from BHP Billiton and Hawaiian.

Scaffidi hit with misconduct finding
City of Perth Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi. Photo: Attila Csaszar

The Corruption and Crime Commission has found City of Perth Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi “signally failed in her duties” by not disclosing gifts and travel contributions from BHP Billiton and Hawaiian.

The CCC today released a report into the lord mayor’s acceptance and disclosure of gifts and travel contributions, finding Ms Scaffidi – who is running for a third term in the October 17 elections – had acted with serious misconduct, but had not acted corruptly.

Councillors cannot accept gifts worth more than $300, and those valued between $50 and $300 must be declared and their description put on a register.

The investigation related to Ms Scaffidi failing to disclose an Olympics hospitality package, comprising of an all-expenses paid trip to the 2008 games in Beijing, valued by her host BHP Billiton as being worth at least $US36,826.

The investigation into Ms Scaffidi began after the Australian Federal Police told the CCC about her involvement in the Chinese trip as part of a larger investigation into BHP’s global hospitality programs by the Securities and Exchange CCC.

The CCC went on to investigate commercial property owner and developer Hawaiian’s gift to Ms Scaffidi of a luxury holiday.

In 2008, Hawaiian offered (and Ms Scaffidi accepted) three nights’ accommodation for her and her husband at the Cable Beach Resort in Broome, on the weekend of the Broome Cup.

The investigation found both gifts were substantial; in the case of the Olympics package there had been “deliberate” and “evasive” intentions to keep it confidential and that both gifts had not disclosed.

It also found the time for any breach action had expired.

Ms Scaffidi told the CCC she blamed systemic failures in the City of Perth for her failure to record both gifts, however the CCC found these assertions were inconsistent with other statements.

During the CCC's examination of Ms Scaffidi, she said she viewed the Olympics trip not as a gift or personal trip, but as an opportunity to represent Perth and Western Australia in an ambassadorial role.

She told the CCC that while she had no formal speaking engagements in Beijing, she believed “hand on heart” that she attended in her position as lord mayor, representing the city and state.

She also told media in Beijing the trip had been sanctioned by the council, however the council and its media department were not aware.

“Because of the number of inconsistent explanations that Mrs Scaffidi has proffered, the CCC is unable to be satisfied that her motive and purpose for accepting the Olympic package was to advance the interests of the city,” the CCC said.

“It is more probable than not (that) Ms Scaffidi became aware she should not accept, or alternatively should withdraw from, the trip, but chose instead to avail herself of the opportunity of an all-expenses paid trip to the Olympics followed by a side trip to Shanghai, where she paid for her own accommodation.”

While both BHP Billiton and Hawaiian were involved indirectly in other developments that council (including Ms Scaffidi) later voted in favour of, the CCC found she had not acted corruptly, but rather had acted with misconduct and accepted gifts that tainted the appearance of impartiality.

Ms Scaffidi, who is running for mayor against one other candidate, fellow councillor Reece Harley, in the upcoming City of Perth election, has been contacted for comment.

One of Mr Harley’s election promises is to bring more transparency to council activities, including by restricting the current $13,360 per year expenses allowance for councillors – by removing allowances for clothing, haircuts and shoes and making gift registries accessible online.

Mr Harley told Business News the CCC report was a serious matter, and while he acknowledged today’s findings, he would not be making a statement at this time.

Business News has previously reported the number of people and businesses that vote in City of Perth elections has fallen, with less than 30 per cent of enrolled constituents voting at the last election and just over 2,700 people (64 per cent) voting for Ms Scaffidi at the last mayoral election in 2011.

In a brief statement, the City of Perth said it was not in a position to comment on the report as the matter is understood to be before parliament.

Later Ms Scaffidi made a statement on facebook saying she accepted that she had failed to comply with the relevant provisions in the local government act and for that she was truly and deeply apologetic.

However, she refused to concede she had failed in her duties, saying she would have more to say about the report's findings that she had hid the BHP invitation and trip.

"I'm continuing to stand, I am here to serve the interests of this city and that was the purpose at all times of the travel I have undertaken," she said.

"I am the best person for the job and given what I've been through, I will be even stronger, wiser and more prepared. The job is not yet done."



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