1 April 2011
Most State servants will be astounded by a comment from Bayleys Real Estate that a $9,000 business class trip to the Singapore Grand Prix given to an ACC manager is normal business practice. Malcolm Mason, imprisoned for corruption and bribery, clearly didn’t. Bayleys took the ACC national property manager on the trip in return for his involvement in securing a long-term lease for an ACC building.
Bayleys do not regard the incident as unethical, considering this sort of corporate hosting ais “normal practice” for people who “created business for the company”.
That is why agencies are required to have clear policies on the acceptability of gifts and hospitality, and transparent processes for their disclosure and registration. The State Services Code of Conduct includes a standard that officials must “decline gifts or benefits that place us under any obligation or perceived influence”. Guidance in Understanding the Code of Conduct explains what the standard means:
“We must be very careful about accepting any form of gift or benefit that is not provided by our organisation. There will usually be perceptions of influence if we accept gifts, hospitality or ‘quid pro quo’ exchanges of favours.
- We can accept something gifted to us in connection with our work only if specifically permitted by the policies of our organisation. To avoid perceptions of influence, it is essential that we are open about accepting any gifts or benefits.
- We must not seek or accept favours from anyone, or on behalf of anyone, who could benefit from influencing us or our organisation. This prohibition applies equally when gifts and opportunities are offered to organisations as a whole – for example, donations to social clubs and staff discount arrangements.
- When we are presented with ceremonial gifts, we should ensure that they remain the property of our organisation, reflecting the relationship that gave rise to the gift.
- We must be careful to comply with our organisation’s policies relating to air points and other product loyalty promotions, to avoid any perception of personal benefit.
- Hospitality is sometimes offered by businesses seeking access to decision-makers or to acquire an implied endorsement through association with government. It is usually inappropriate for us to accept hospitality that extends beyond common courtesy.
- We must not receive personal benefits or gratuities from third parties for carrying out our organisation’s functions, representing our organisation or undertaking work-related speaking engagements. We must decline any payments or pass them to our organisation.”
Staff at ACC, together with other State Services agencies, “must comply” with this standard.