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GIFTS AND HOSPITALITY

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					                                                   GIFTS AND HOSPITALITY

BACKGROUND

The Integrity and Accountability discussion paper outlined current regulations guiding the provision of gifts and hospitality to public
officials. Members of Parliament are required to disclose gifts (including hospitality) over a threshold of $500 as part of the Register of
Members’ Interests but gifts are not treated as public property. Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries must report gifts above a
threshold of $300, which are treated as public property, but which may be purchased for the difference in value above the threshold
amount. Ministerial staff are covered by the same policies that apply to Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries.

The Public Service Gifts and Benefits Policy issued by the Public Service Commission actively discourages the receipt of gifts and
hospitality but the reporting threshold is $100 and gifts over $350 can only be retained with chief executive approval and if exceptional
circumstances exist. Each agency can implement its own gifts and benefits policy. The Queensland Police Service Code of Conduct
requires compliance with policies which align with the Public Service Gifts and Benefits Policy but provides additional guidance to assist
officers in assessing the offer of gifts or benefits.

The discussion paper posed one question regarding gifts and hospitality:

      Should policies regarding gifts and hospitality be the same for Ministers, Members of Parliament and public sector employees?


RESULTS OF CONSULTATION

A total of 34 submissions addressed the issue of gifts and hospitality, including submissions from the Crime and Misconduct Commission,
the Port of Townsville, the Australian Collaboration, the Information Commissioner, the Queensland Ombudsman, the Queensland Police
Union of Employees, the Integrity Commissioner and various individual submitters. The table below summarises the submissions
received on this issue.

Generally, submitters supported consistent thresholds and reporting requirements for gifts and hospitality across the public sector,
although some submissions supported an outright ban on the acceptance of gifts and hospitality while others believed that reporting
thresholds should be commensurate with the office. Some submitters believed that gifts provided to Members of Parliament should be
treated as public property.

Many submitters emphasised the importance of reporting and public disclosure of gifts received to ensure any gifts accepted are open to
public scrutiny.
SUGGESTIONS

Specific suggestions for improvements included:

      Extend gift policies and registers to board members of statutory authorities (Residential Tenancies Authority) or prohibit gifts to
       political candidates based on Canada Elections Act (The Australian Collaboration).
      Open all gifts and hospitality received by Ministers, Members of Parliament and public sector employees to public scrutiny through
       online publication (the Information Commissioner).
      Amend the Public Service Gifts and Benefits Policy to require gifts of less than $100 in value to be reported to and recorded by
       supervisors and prohibit acceptance of gifts over $100 in value (Queensland Ombudsman).
No.        Submitter Name          Q6 - Should policies regarding gifts and hospitality be the same for Ministers, Members of Parliament and public sector
                                   employees?
5     Mr Gary Scanlan              No, not in my view. However gifts to MPs should also be treated as public property (but purchasable by the MP), and it needs to be clear
                                   that we are only discussing gifts given to MPs, Ministers or public servants acting in that capacity. A sensible approach should be
                                   maintained e.g. gifts of a reasonable bottle of wine to a public servant as guest speaker at a function would not be uncommon and
                                   requiring that bottle to be stored as public property would be a nonsense.
9     Ms Margaret Mack             No. Rules for public sector employees need not be quite so stringent, depending on how influential in politics the employee is seen by
                                   the public to be. e.g. a secretary to a minister needs to disclose gifts and “rewards” more openly than a Grade 4 clerk.
11    Mr James and Ms Kath         The main reason someone offers a politician a gift is to gain favour or influence. Politicians should not be allowed to receive any
      Robertson                    personal gifts. Gifts should only be received from overseas delegations and on behalf of the government. The culture of receiving gifts
                                   needs to be eliminated. Receiving hospitality is different to gifts. I would agree that Ministers and Members of Parliament should follow
                                   the same policies as public servants.
13    Dr Stanley Robinson          Yes. The policy for gifts should be the same - namely they are banned.
15    Mr Colin Hambrecht           Yes. Subject to a minimum value of $100 per gift or hospitality.
31    Ms Alison Christou           Every benefit should be recorded.
36    Mr Peter Kinsella            Yes.
39    Mr James Myers               Yes, should be compulsory reporting of ANY gifts. Should be blanket ban on government officials receiving gifts.
40    Moreton Bay Regional         Yes. Definition of public service employees should include Council employees and contractors
      Council
50    Mr John Van Der Klugt        Yes.
51    Mr Ian Smith                 Yes. Must be clear and concise.
58    Corruption Prevention        Yes, but in context that roles and expectations differ (e.g. Ministers and CEOs must represent government at official functions and token
      Network                      gifts/meals are part of landscape).
68    LGAQ                         Yes, however, each public sector entity should be entitled to formulate an appropriate policy having regard to portfolio requirements or
                                   activities.
82    Chris Lawson                 Yes, and the definition of public sector employees needs to include council employees and those who are engaged to work for council
                                   via non-traditional employment arrangements, i.e. via labour hire agencies or direct engagement of sole traders.
84    Centre for Governance and    Yes.
      Public Policy, Griffith
      University
106   Crime and Misconduct         Recommends that gifts and benefits policies and thresholds should be the same for Ministers, MPs and public sector employees, and
      Commission                   that the reporting threshold should be low.
107   Mr Colin Forrest             (1) No official gift that is given to a Minister or MP over the threshold retail value (which I would reduce to $300) should be retained as
                                   the personal property of the Minister or MP. Such gifts should always remain the property of the State and be retained by the State. (2)
                                   All gratuitous hospitality received by a Minister or MP (no matter the value), should be required to be disclosed in the Register of
                                   Members' Interests. Similar provisions should apply to Ministerial staff, public servants and police officers who received gifts and
                                   hospitality because of the position they hold.
108   Monash University            The receipt of gifts and hospitality should be banned for everyone. If no ban is implemented, then gifts and hospitality over $100 in
      Accountability Round Table   market value should be reported by all and the recipient should have to reimburse the State.
129   Mr Leo Talty                 Ban acceptance of gifts with specific exceptions to be listed where approved by a Governing Body
No.        Submitter Name             Q6 - Should policies regarding gifts and hospitality be the same for Ministers, Members of Parliament and public sector
                                      employees?
131   Queensland Greens Policy        In the interests of ensuring fair treatment of all of the mentioned groups, would support treating gifts to any person holding a pecuniary
      Working Group                   interest in the crown in the same manner.
134   Mr Andrew McMicking             Yes, but policies should be made publicly available.
142   NCWQ                            Yes.
150   Port of Townsville Limited      Disclosure requirements should be consistent across Government but reporting thresholds should be commensurate with the duties of
                                      the public official and take into account the value of gifts usually received by virtue of the office.
157   Residential Tenancies           Could include board members of statutory authorities.
      Authority
163   The Australian Collaboration    Yes - little justification for different thresholds. Recommends: regulatory regime to prohibit gifts to political candidates as per Canada
                                      Elections Act; and explicit statement of expected standards communicated by Premier and Cabinet.
176   Norm Wellard                    Public servants should not be able to receive gifts or hospitality from suppliers or potential suppliers to government regardless of value.
177   The Office of the Information   All gifts and hospitality received by Ministers, MPs and public sector employees should be open to public scrutiny through online
      Commissioner                    publication. All public officials should be guided by appropriate codes or legislation.
181   Queensland Ombudsman            Public service gifts policy should be amended to provide that: gifts less than $100 in value should be reported to supervisors; gifts less
                                      than $100 in value given in appreciation of performance should not be retained without supervisor approval; supervisors should keep
                                      records of all gifts reported to them; no gifts over $100 in value should be kept.
182   Queensland Police Union of      Yes. Should be common threshold amount for declaring gifts to public servants and Ministers and all gifts should automatically become
      Employees                       property of the State with the recipient having the option to purchase the gift.
193   Dr David Solomon                Difficult to argue that lesser standards should apply to Ministers and MPs than public sector employees. Current inconsistency between
                                      Ministers (can pay to retain gifts valued wholesale at over $300) and MPs (can retain all gifts). Difficulty in applying public sector rules
                                      about chief executive discretion to MPs (e.g. would party leader approve?).
195   Robert Beno                     Yes, a single uniform policy should apply across the board irrespective of function, responsibility and seniority to ensure not only
                                      consistency and integrity, but also certainty and fairness. Policies should err on the side of caution and impose an outright ban on the
                                      receipt of gifts and hospitality.
226   Irene Moss                      Consistency and uniformity is desirable across all levels of government.
                                      The $300 threshold might be too high.
                                      There should be a requirement to report gifts from a single entity with a cumulative total over the threshold.
                                      Register of gifts to public servants should be publicly released.

				
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