CEO’s trip top draw on gift list

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THE entry made by CEO Carl Cowie on Mornington Peninsula Shire’s gifts register is by far the most valuable yet recorded.

Mr Cowie’s estimated value of a Mediterranean cruise undertaken by he and his wife at the invitation of businessman Lindsay Fox is recorded as being $8400.

The next highest is $1202 for return airfares to Sydney, dinner and accommodation for the shire’s chief information officer to attend a Dell EMC forum in August 2017.

The lowest amount recorded on 10 pages of the register from 4 September 2015 to 19 December 2017 is $2, for a cloth glasses case and $2 for a necklace given by the Friends of Los Palos to the mayor and council support officer (“Airfares, AFL, wine and chocolates on gifts list” The News 27.3.18).

Mr Cowie’s July 2016 cruise was not added to the register until last week (“CEO cruise makes gifts list” The News 24/4/18).

The $8400 cruise is equally apportioned between Mr Cowie and his wife.

Mr Cowie has previously made it clear he did not think the trip – known as Mr Fox’s “conception cruise” – should be on the register as it was “a matter … between the CEO and the inviter. It was paid for fully by the CEO, the shire incurred no expense and therefore it was not required to be placed on the gift register”.

Mr Fox is generally regarded as one of the peninsula’s most high profile property owners as were several others of his guests.

The shire’s Gifts, Benefits and Hospitality policy states: “Gifts, benefits and hospitality received must not create a real or perceived sense of obligation that may lead to a perception of preference or conflict.”

The mayor and former CEO at several municipalities, Cr Bryan Payne, has previously said he thought the cruise should be declared on the gifts register.

He has also said that as a CEO he would not have accepted such an invitation.

The Seabourn Odyssey cruise ship chartered by Mr Fox can carry 450 passengers (guests, according to the shipping line’s advertising) in 225 luxury suites (“creating the highest space-per-guest ratio in the industry”).

Bookings for a seven-day Athens, Greece, to Venice, Italy, cruise on the ship in July this year are being available at between $5798 and $12,998, depending on which cabin or suite is required.

The ship can be privately chartered for about $200,000 a day.

The gifts registers are publicly available by contacting the shire’s governance team on 1300 850 600 to arrange an appointment for inspection.

First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 1 May 2018

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