Local Government Act 2020 requirements
The 2020 Act requires a Council to adopt a Councillor gift policy within six months of when the section comes into operation, which is on 24 October 2020. Some councils already have a gift policy, see below for examples. The Policy must make provision for the maintenance of a gift register and any matters in the regulations, including a minimum value of gifts that must be disclosed. Councils must also ensure their Policy complies with the public transparency principles.
There was no requirement for a Councillor Gift Policy in the 1989 Act. The purpose of this new requirement is to complement personal interest returns by recording gifts that may be below the threshold for disclosure in a personal interest return or that may have been received since the latest return was lodged.
It is an offence for a councillor to receive an anonymous gift that has a value of or more than the gift disclosure threshold. The gift disclosure threshold is defined to be $500 or a higher amount or value prescribed in regulations. A breach of these provisions could result in a maximum penalty of 60 penalty units and a requirement to pay the Council an amount equal to the value of the gift. A Councillor is not in breach of this clause if the anonymous gift is disposed of to the Council within 30 days.
The definition of gift remains the same across both the Local Government Act 1989 (1989 Act) and Local Government Act 2020 (2020 Act).
Resources : Council Policies
Other resources for Gift Policy
Below are some sample policies and guidelines that can be used to develop the Gift Policy:
- Model policies for agencies and boards Gifts, benefits and hospitality
- IBAC Local Government Integrity Frameworks Review
- IBAC Managing corruption risks associated with conflicts of interest in the Victorian Public Sector (Section 3.1.2)
You feedback - the survey is now closed.
As part of the consultation process, we worked with the sector on what support is needed in order to meet the requirements of a Councillor Gift Policy.
We received two responses to the below survey:
1. Cap the number of gifts.
2. "All offers of gifts and level of acceptance. eg declined, accepted for self, accepted on behalf of the Shire. Type of gift - event, cultural (painting or plaque for the organisation. All gifts should be registered- repeated gifts of $50 add up. As well as a gift register I suggest that there should be a register for attending business events that are paid for by external parties. Eg conferences held by software companies, dinners or lunches held by suppliers to demonstrate new products. Why - because these are often mixed up with events and we can't manage compliance if they are not reported. (Arts organisations do this)"
The above comments are useful for Councils to consider when developing their policy. Example policies are shown above.