Push to disqualify Perth Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi from office over expenses scandal
Lisa Scaffidi is someone who is careless, deflects blame and is unsuitable to continue in a leadership role, according to lawyers representing the State Government.
The State Administrative Tribunal is set to decide on a penalty for 19 breaches of the Local Government Act relating to the Perth Lord Mayor’s failure to disclose gifts and travel contributions.
The tribunal originally found she had breached the Local Government Act on 45 occasions, but the Court of Appeal overturned 26 if those breaches.
Today lawyers representing both the Department and Mrs Scaffidi gave their closing addresses.
They differ in opinion over whether Mrs Scaffidi should receive a suspension or disqualification from office.
State Solicitor Carolyn Thatcher rejected the Lord Mayor’s assertions yesterday that she’d “come a long way” in her understanding of disclosure requirements.
“You can’t take her word for it when she says ‘everything’s fine, I’ve learnt my lesson, I’ve come a long way’,” Ms Thatcher said.
“This is not someone whose word can stand for much in this context.
“(Mrs Scaffidi’s) carelessness was a carelessness repeated every year for seven years and is a carelessness that is ongoing.
“It’s not appropriate for the respondent to continue in this leadership role.”
‘No hanging offence’: Scaffidi lawyer
But Mrs Scaffidi’s lawyer, Steven Penglis, said disqualifying his client from office for breaches that were not intentional, and for which she gained no financial benefit, would be a “remarkable result”.
“Being wrong is not a hanging offence,” Mr Penglis said.
“We can all be wrong. This tribunal was wrong. So be it.
“This is not a council of perfection, it is a council of real people. They have their flaws.”
He asked the tribunal to consider the personal toll the lengthy legal process had taken on his client.
“The impact on her is manifest,” he said.
“You should take that into careful account.”
Mr Penglis also noted that Mrs Scaffidi had been re-elected to the Lord Mayor position after a damning CCC report into her travel expenses, and said disqualifying her from office would be a disservice to those who voted for her.
“It would take her away and deny her constituents her service for the next two years,” he said.
“That is wrong.”
Mrs Scaffidi returned to her mayoral duties in January after standing aside for four months while her appeal against the original 45 breaches was heard.
The tribunal will decide her penalty on the remaining 19 breaches at a later date.
The SAT has 90 days to determine a punishment and publish its reasons.
If she disagrees with the penalty, Mrs Scaffidi again has the option to appeal.