Thirdslide

Gifts and Hospitality Policy

Gifts and Hospitality Document No:   CPL40.5
Approval Date:   14 July 2015 
Approved By:  Council
Review Date:  14 July 2018
Responsible Officer:  General Manager, Strategy & Performance Version No:   04
Authorising Officer:   Chief Executive Officer 



1. Purpose

To establish guidelines for the acceptance of gifts or hospitality by Councillors and Council employees in order to avoid any potential Conflicts of Interest or breaches of the Local Government Act.


2. Scope

This Policy applies in relation to all gifts or hospitality offered to, or received by, Councillors and Council Employees from external sources.

3. References

  • Council Policy – Councillor Code of Conduct CPL40.7
  • Management Policy – Fraud Control MPL550.3.2
  • Management Policy – Staff Conduct
  • Local Government Act 1989 - Sections 77-81

4. Definitions

Gifts

Gifts are unsolicited and meant to convey a feeling of goodwill on behalf of the giver and where there is no expectation of favours or repayment. Some examples of these types of gifts could include:

  • Clothes
  • Products
  • Tickets

with a value of greater than $50.

Hospitality

Hospitality is the provision of food or beverages, travel, accommodation or entertainment, which is offered to convey goodwill on behalf of the giver, for which there is no expectation of favours or repayment. Hospitality is a form of Gift, but for the purpose of this Policy is considered separately. 

Tokens

A Token is a Gift (other than money) with a value of up to and including $50. Examples include:
  • Trinkets (ties, scarves, coasters, tie pins);
  • Flowers;
  • Single bottles of reasonably priced wine; and
  • Food, for example chocolates and cakes

Tokens should not create a sense of obligation in the receiver that will influence, or appear to influence, the exercise of their official duties.

Bribe

Means money, reward or service offered to procure an action, decision, or preferential treatment.

Conflict of Interest

Means any private or personal interest, which could influence, or be perceived to influence, a person in the performance of his or her public or professional duties (refer to the Local Government Act for a comprehensive definition).  

Cash

Means money, or vouchers which are readily convertible.


5. Council Policy

The City of Greater Geelong is committed to being open and transparent in its operations.  

Councillors and Council Employees must:

  1. Be ethical, fair and honest in the conduct of their official duties;
  2. Be aware that fraudulently receiving a Gift including Hospitality is an offence under both Common Law and the Local Government Act;
  3. Be fully accountable and responsible for their actions and ensure that the methods and processes they use to arrive at decisions are beyond reproach and can withstand audit processes and proper scrutiny;
  4. Not seek, solicit, or use their position with Council to obtain gifts or benefits from external organisations or individuals.
  5. Ensure that a person, company or organisation is not placed in a position in which they feel obliged to offer gifts or hospitality to secure or retain Council business; and 
  6. Report any incidences where a Bribe and/or cash is offered.

5.1. Acceptance of Gifts

Councillors and Council Employees must not solicit Gifts or Hospitality. Offers of money must never be accepted.

The following principles apply to Councillors and Council Employees in relation to the acceptance of Gifts or Hospitality:

  • Tokens that are of an infrequent nature and which are unsolicited may be accepted. (Refer 5.5.1)
  • Other than Tokens a Gift should be politely declined.
  • If a Gift or Hospitality cannot be declined or returned, or if refusal has the potential to damage a relationship, then it may be received, but must be reported immediately. (Refer 5.5.2)
  • It may be determined that Council retain or appropriately dispose of a Gift.

5.2. Hospitality

Councillors and Council Employees, in the normal course of their duties, will from time to time receive invitations of hospitality to attend various functions and events.

Where such hospitality is modest in nature and provides an opportunity to network or undertake business of a common purpose, it may be appropriate to accept such invitations. Where practical, approval should be obtained prior to the attendance.


Examples:

  • A business meeting to discuss matters of Council business at which a meal or refreshments are served; or
  • Attendance as a representative of the Council at promotional events, site inspections, meetings or activities where there is value to Council. 

If, however, acceptance of the hospitality is likely to create the impression of compromised impartiality of the Councillor or Council Employee, or could be perceived as a Conflict of Interest, the offer of Hospitality should be politely declined.

Any Hospitality estimated to be in excess of $50 must be reported in the same manner as a Gift (Refer 5.5.2).


5.3. Bequests

Any bequests to Councillors or Council Employees resulting from their position with Council must not be accepted. Arrangements may be made to donate the bequest to a charitable institution in the name of the donor, or returned to the immediate family.

5.4. Conflict of Interest

Councillors and Council employees should be aware that any Gift or Hospitality in the amount of $500, received from one source, over a five year period, will give rise to a conflict of interest, which must be declared in accordance with the Local Government Act.

Hospitality is not considered to be a Gift, for the purpose of establishing a conflict of interest where the following two conditions apply:


• The hospitality was received at an event or function that the person attended in an official capacity as the Mayor, a Councillor, a member of a Special Committee, or a member of Council staff; and

• The Hospitality was reasonable. That is, a reasonable person would consider it appropriate and not excessive.

All other forms of hospitality must be declared.

Hospitality does not constitute a Gift if it is paid for by Council, or by the person receiving the Hospitality.


5.5. Approval and Reporting

  1. Tokens. Details of any Tokens shall be recorded on the form contained within Attachment 1. Completed forms are to be forwarded to the Governance Unit.
  2. Gifts and Hospitality. Details of Gifts or Hospitality shall be recorded on the form contained within Attachment 2. The responsible General Manager, or the Mayor in respect of Councillors, and the Chief Executive Officer in respect of the Mayor, will determine the most appropriate treatment of the Gift or Hospitality. Completed forms are to be forwarded to the Governance Unit for recording in the Register of Gifts and Hospitality
  3. Gifts and Hospitality Register. A Register will be maintained by the Governance Unit and reported to the Audit Advisory Committee every six months. This Register will be made available for public inspection and contains the following information:
  • Date;
  • Description of the Gift or Hospitality;
  • Estimated Value;
  • Recipient;
  • Provider Name (Individual or Company); and 
  • Treatment.

6. Quality Records

Quality Records shall be retained for at least the period shown below.

Record Retention/Disposal Responsibility Retention Period Location
Gifts and Hospitality Register Governance Unit Ongoing Corporate Records

7. Attachments

  • Attachment 1 – Declaration of Token (where the value is up to and including $50)
  • Attachment 2 – Gifts and Hospitality Declaration Form (where the value exceeds $50)



Page last updated: Monday, 3 April 2017
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