You might think that this is not worthy of much attention because it ‘only’ involves the Perth Lord Mayor. However, the overwhelming volume and nature of the misconduct in question – combined with the Lord Mayor’s contemptuous behaviour since – require that we take a moment to stop, assess, process and ensure the due excretion of this waste from public office. Some basic justice wouldn’t go astray either.
The Marcus Review has extensive and fully referenced coverage on how this matter has unfolded to date.
- 5 October 2015 – The WA Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) finds that Scaffidi had engaged in serious misconduct.
- 7 October 2015 – Noted WA journalist Paul Murray (not to cool Sky News one) bizarrely tries to defend Scaffidi. The Marcus Review provides a full copy of the official CCC report, together with a handy summary in retort.
- 9 November 2015 – Scaffidi is incredibly re-elected as Perth Lord Mayor.
- 1 December 2015 – Scaffidi’s ‘character’ begins to unfold.
The Department of Local Government (DLG) report
The Lord Mayor of Perth was last night refusing to stand down despite facing legal action over a damning West Australian government report that alleged she breached the Local Government Act 45 times by failing to declare gifts and overseas travel.
The investigation by the Department of Local Government followed an inquiry by the state’s Corruption and Crime Commission last year that found Lisa Scaffidi had engaged in serious misconduct by failing to declare gifts from mining giant BHP Billiton.
A new report, released yesterday, goes further, alleging the Lord Mayor took multiple trips between 2008 and 2014 that were paid for, either in full or in part, by third parties and were never declared to the City of Perth.
The travel included a trip to Taipei to watch the inauguration of Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou in 2008. The Taiwanese government paid for Ms Scaffidi’s business-class airfares to attend the event.
Ms Scaffidi also allegedly failed to declare trips to conferences around the world, including in China, the US, Britain, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, Spain and the United Arab Emirates.
She accepted accommodation and tickets to the 2008 Broome Cup from property group Hawaiian, as well as BHP’s offer of accommodation and tickets to the Leeuwin Concert Series in Margaret River in 2009 when Chris Isaak was the headline act.
According to the report, Ms Scaffidi refused to be interviewed by government investigators.
The following section of the report is particularly damning. Why did Scaffidi follow due process for 79 of her trips, but not the other 33?
 Within the period falling within the terms of reference (“the inquiry period”), the authorised persons identified:
(a) Sixty-five (65) instances of overseas travel by Mayor Scaffidi; and
(b) Forty-seven (47) instances of domestic intrastate and interstate travel by Mayor Scaffidi,
comprising of one hundred and twelve (112) instances of travel in total.
 Of those instances, all but thirty three (33):
(a) were funded solely by Mayor Scaffidi; or
(b) involved a contribution made to travel from Commonwealth, State or local government funds which did not need to be disclosed under section 5.83 of the Act; or
(c) were disclosed by Mayor Scaffidi in accordance with the Act.
How much were the ‘benefits’ worth?
Regrettably, the report does not give a dollar amount of the total benefits received by Scaffidi. It simply says that each benefit exceeded the relevant disclosure threshold of $200.
‘Hundreds of thousands of dollars or more’ seems like a safe bet given the following:
- The conduct in question occurred from 2008 to 2014.
- The benefits included trips to places including China, the US, Britain, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, Spain and the United Arab Emirates.
- Numerous ‘contributions’ were made towards business class airfares and accommodation.
- BHP’s 2008 ‘Olympic Hospitality Package’ alone was worth around $37K (USD):
At the time Mrs Scaffidi had been offered, and two days later formally accepted from BHPB, an Olympic Hospitality Package comprising an all-expenses paid trip to the 2008 Summer Olympic Games held in Beijing, China. The value of this package as estimated by BHPB was at least US$36,826.
(ref: Chapter 1, paragraph 1.1 at PDF page 7 of the CCC report).
Cataloguing Scaffidi’s responses
Scaffidi’s behaviour in response to this matter has been nothing short of contemptuous. Here’s some of what she has said and done so far:
- October 2015 – Scaffidi claims that she was young and naive, even though the conduct in question spanned from 2008-2014 and even though she seemed to know the right thing to do for 79 of her 112 trips (see above):
A defiant Ms Scaffidi was last night digging in, rejecting the CCC’s finding she had “signally failed in her duties as lord mayor” and blaming her actions on inexperience and advice from others.
- November 2015 – Scaffidi threatens to resign and take advantage of a legal loophole to prevent disciplinary action under the WA Local Government Act.
- March 2015 – Scaffidi personally attacks a journalist:
PERTH Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi has accused veteran journalist Liam Bartlett of having “bad breath” and “Botox” after being quizzed over more alleged undeclared travel.
The attack on social media was made just hours before a Nine News report into four more alleged cases of undeclared travel expenses.
- May 2016 – Scaffidi refuses to be interviewed by government investigators (see paragraph 6 of the DLG Report).
What a joke.
This isn’t going away
Full credit to the Department of Local Government for not letting this go:
Department of Local Government director-general Jennifer Matthews said “disciplinary action” should be taken against Ms Scaffidi over the “serious breaches” as she recommended the allegations be referred to the State Administrative Tribunal.
“It is considered on balance that the public interest is weighted in favour of taking disciplinary action, especially in light of the significant number of findings of failure to disclose gifts and contributions to travel over a significant length of time, the most recent being in 2014,” Ms Mathews said.
That being said, there’s still a long way to go. The next stop is the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) – with the Court of Appeal (of the Supreme Court) lying in wait after that.