Perth Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi breaks down in tears as second penalty hearing begins

Perth Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi breaks down in tears as second penalty hearing begins

Perth Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi breaks down in tears as second penalty hearing begins

Updated 13 February 2018, 19:10 AEDT

Perth Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi reveals the emotional toll of a "tumultuous" expenses scandal as she gives evidence at a hearing that will determine whether she is suspended or disqualified from WA's top council job.

Perth Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi has broken down in tears as she gave evidence at a hearing that will determine whether she is suspended or disqualified from WA's top council job.

The State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) hearing is set to decide on a penalty for her 19 breaches of the Local Government Act which relate to a long-running expenses scandal worth tens of thousands of dollars.

The SAT originally found that Mrs Scaffidi breached the act 45 times by failing to properly declare gifts and travel, and she was handed an 18-month disqualification from public office.

But the Court of Appeal overturned 26 of the 45 breaches, paving the way for her to return to her duties last month.

The current hearing is determining her penalty for the remaining 19 breaches.

Mrs Scaffidi wiped away tears as she described media reports over the past few years that suggested she acted corruptly by not disclosing gifts properly.

"It was a very tumultuous time, the worst time of my life," she said.

"It's been a very emotional ride."

Scaffidi's recent disclosures questioned

The lawyer acting for the Department of Local Government and Communities, Carolyn Thatcher, has quizzed Mrs Scaffidi about whether she now understands the requirements for disclosing gifts properly.

Mrs Scaffidi has repeatedly told the tribunal she has "come a long way" in her understanding of the requirements.

"These days I'm disclosing everything … and making sure I leave no room for interpretation," she said.

Mrs Scaffidi outlined the new process for disclosure which was legislated in March 2016 in the City of Perth Act, including the requirement to disclose a gift within 10 days of accepting it, replacing the previous process of disclosing it in an annual return.

But Ms Thatcher challenged the Lord Mayor's understanding of the Act, when she asked what was required to be filled in on the disclosure form.

Mrs Scaffidi told the tribunal she was required to provide details about who gave her the gift — and whether they are likely to be affected by a future decision by the City of Perth — a description of the gift and the estimated value of it.

But she admitted to not being aware that she also was required to write the address of the provider of the gift, prompting Ms Thatcher to question whether she has in fact been complying with the new requirements.

A second witness, City of Perth governance manager Mark Ridgwell, told the tribunal he created the disclosure forms for the council in March 2016 to help elected members understand the complex legislation and did not include a specific provision for the address of the donor to be included.

Ms Thatcher also raised what she said were inconsistencies in Mrs Scaffidi's description of her trip to the 2008 Beijing Olympics which was paid for by BHP Billiton.

Mrs Scaffidi described it as both a "social" and "ambassadorial" trip on different occasions.

Ms Thatcher said it was difficult for the tribunal to rely on what Mrs Scaffidi said because her "story had altered".

Mrs Scaffidi responded by saying her story had not altered, but her words may have.

The tribunal will decide Mrs Scaffidi's fate at a later date.

Ratepayers deserve resolution: Minister

The Local Government Minister, David Templeman, said the government wanted the scandal engulfing Mrs Scaffidi to be resolved as soon as possible.

"I did see Lisa at a function a couple of weeks back and greeted her and said hello," Mr Templeman said.

"At the end of the day, I think for everybody involved, particularly the ratepayers and residents and businesses and the City of Perth, we just want this resolved as quickly as possible.

"Conversations between myself and councillors and leaders are varied but … we put very clearly what we think would have been the right thing to do.

"We respect the process the judicial process that's still to be resolved."

Mrs Scaffidi returned to her mayoral duties in January after standing aside for four months.