A brand new city councillor has moved that a $200 Christmas hamper provided for some years to her colleagues’ and senior advisors’ spouses be cancelled forthwith.
On October 17, City of Bayswater councillor Catherine Ehrhardt rolled sitting mayor Sylvan Albert to be elected to the council’s South Ward.
Cr Ehrardt wants the $3200 returned back to the city’s general budget so it can be spent on something else.
“It has been a practice of the city for some time to provide Christmas hampers to the spouses and partners of councillors and directors as appreciation of the support of those spouses and partners during the year,” Cr Ehrhardt explains in a briefing paper seen by oneperth.com.au.
“The city does not have an unfettered power to spend money from the municipal fund.
“Section 6.2 of the Local Government Act 1995 states that ‘money held in the municipal fund may be applied towards the performance of the functions and the exercise of the powers conferred on the local government by this Act or any other written law’.”
Council staff have admitted there are no clearly defined boundaries in the Act in relation to gifts to partners and spouses.
However, the staff have sought clarification on the provisions of gifts to councillors and partners or spouses.
“The advice indicated that the giving of a Christmas hamper to a partner or spouse of a councillor is not prohibited by … the Local Government Act …,” the officials have advised.
“However, the broader issue is whether the provision of the gift would meet the reasonableness test, taking into account the amount of the benefit received and how it would be considered objectively by a person or body as being unreasonable, whilst taking into consideration the significant community contributions made by councillors, the long hours involved and the time necessarily spent on council business away from home and family; and the generally accepted practices, across public and private sectors, of recognising the support and contributions made by partners and spouses in this context.”
Cr Ehrhardt’s Christmas hamper ban plan is slated to be debated by Baywater city councillors on December 15.
Christmas hamper photo: Neal Whitehouse Piper, flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-sharealike 2.0 generic licence.