Embattled Perth Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi has announced that she will return to her duties leading the Council early next year after successfully challenging an 18-month disqualification from office.
Mrs Scaffidi has been embroiled in a long-running expenses scandal over gifts and travel worth tens of thousands of dollars.
In September she was handed an 18-month disqualification from public office when the State Administrative Tribunal found she had breached the Local Government Act on 45 occasions by failing to properly declare gifts and travel.
The breaches were in relation to trips she made to the Beijing Olympics and the Broome Cup in 2008.
The Lord Mayor voluntarily stepped aside as she fought her disqualification in the Court of Appeal, and in early December 26 of the breaches were dismissed — allowing her to return to her full duties.
In a statement posted on Twitter immediately after the verdict came down she said she would not be returning to the role until she had clarity on when a fresh penalty hearing would take place for the remaining 19 breaches.
She has also indicated she was hoping a penalty for the breaches could be met via mediation with the Department of Local Government but instead a two-day hearing before the SAT has been set down for February.
Today Mrs Scaffidi tweeted she would be resuming her statutory duties she had been elected to undertake on January 8, 2018 — four months after stepping aside.
In a statement, Local Government Minister David Templeman said he was “disappointed” the Lord Mayor would be resuming her duties.
“Ms Scaffidi should have stood down a long time ago, in the best interests of the residents, ratepayers and businesses in the City of Perth,” he said.
“This saga has been damaging the standing of local government in the community.”
A second hearing in the SAT is still required to determine what penalties she should receive regarding the remaining 19 breaches, which she did not challenge or contest in the Court of Appeal.
The gifts in question included a $36,000 trip to the Beijing Olympics funded by BHP Billiton, a stay at a beach club in Broome and a hospitality package for a concert at Leeuwin.
Mrs Scaffidi will face a vastly different environment upon her return, with the Lord Mayor’s supporters significantly reduced in number since October’s elections.
Those results mean Mrs Scaffidi and her allies no longer enjoy a majority on the Council.
Perth City Councillor Jemma Green has been acting Lord Deputy Mayor in Mrs Scaffidi’s absence.
Earlier this week internal problems within the council were once again highlighted, when it was revealed Councillors James Limnios and Reece Harley had levelled serious misconduct claims against each other.