ACT News


Wine, mangoes and pearls - a look inside Chief Minister Katy Gallagher's gift cupboard

Expensive wine, free flight upgrades and boxes of mangoes from the Pakistani ambassador - it's not a bad life being the Chief Minister of the ACT.

Over the past two years, Chief Minister Katy Gallagher has received more than 120 official gifts from ambassadors, business leaders, constituents and even royalty.

Some gifts are distributed around her office, particularly food and drink items, others were put on display in the Assembly, while the vast majority were locked indefinitely in an official gift cupboard - in the end, the Chief Minister herself rarely keeps gifts for personal use.

Gifts of food and drink weren't uncommon in the Chief Minister's office over the past two years, with two $200 bottles of wine received from the Royal National Agricultural Society, as well as four dozen eggs.

The high commissioner for Pakistan dropped off two boxes of mangoes in September and November 2013.


Over the past two years, Ms Gallagher and her staffers were given more than $1000 in free tickets to Brumbies' games, the National Folk Festival, international rugby matches and even the Russian circus.

A spokesperson for the Chief Minister said tickets to sporting matches were only used to attend the games after they were declared on the register.

Ms Gallagher rarely uses tickets given to her as gifts, and an updated gift policy for government staffers requires transferable tickets be passed to charities and other organisations.

The ACT's highest political official was given no fewer than six silk scarves during her China trip, bringing her total for the 2013/14 financial year to nine scarf-related gifts, including a "silk dense floating Ikat shawl" from the President of Singapore.

While in China in 2014 she was also given a string of pearls from Zenfa, which have yet to be valued. A spokesperson for the chief minister said the pearls had not been retained by Ms Gallagher for personal use.

Still, it doesn't matter if it was a $5 mug from Wanniassa School or a $150 desk clock from the mayor of Nara, Japan, it goes straight to the gift cupboard.

Out of the 121 gifts, the Chief Minister's department has returned two gifts - a Huawei phone which the Chief Minister was given during her visit to China and a tablet computer from Virgin. She kept the free Virgin membership for use on official travel.

A full list of gifts received by the Chief Minister between 2012-14 also shows the value her office ascribed to each item.

A spokesman for the Chief Minister said staff members Googled the items to work out their value, when the item was generic or clearly recognisable.

"More specialised stuff goes to a valuers... also for flight upgrades or tickets to a show, the value on the [organisation's] website for the tickets are put against it on the register," he said.

He said the process didn't take up much time while ensuring there was a corrolation between the gifts given and the value.

Some of the valuations might seem a little low however, with a "gold-coloured plaque on a velvet back" from the Mayor of Bucharest given a $40 price tag.

In addition, no locations were disclosed for gifts on the 2013/14 register. The spokesman said this was to avoid having to constantly update where items were as they rotated around the assembly.

"In order to maximise the amount of gifts that are displayed at different locations around the Legislative Assembly, an effort is made to rotate the gifts that are displayed in either the Chief Minister's office or in display cabinets around the executive floor," he said.

"Any recorded locations on the gift register would need to be updated on a regular basis, upon rotation, and in the interests of making best use of staff time, the location column of the register was not included in the latest version."