Ministers' Office Handbook
Although Australia is not traditionally a gift giving country, in a business or political context, in certain circumstances, it may be appropriate for Ministers to present gifts on behalf of the State of New South Wales. Other countries’ customs, good manners and goodwill may mean that it is necessary or appropriate to present a gift.
General comments about gifts
The decision to present a gift is at the discretion of the Minister, having regard to both appropriateness and economy.
Gifts may be appropriate, for example, where given as a memento of an official visit or as a small token of appreciation.
However, gifts should not be given with the purpose, or in circumstances where they could be perceived as having the purpose, of inducing favourable treatment.
Ministers should be particularly careful when considering gifts to other governments or government officials to ensure that the giving of those gifts is not inconsistent with the laws and policies applying to that government. If in doubt, Minister should seek the advice of the Protocol and Hospitality Unit in the Department of Premier and Cabinet.
Gifts may be purchased as needed on an occasional basis, or purchased and stored for future use.
Gifts need to be purchased in accordance with NSW Government procurement policy (e.g. having regard to ethical standards and using a contract supplier where available).
Inexpensive gifts do not require a quotation process and may be purchased over the counter. Complete records of all gifts purchased and given should be kept by Ministers offices.
Funding of gifts
Gifts may be funded from the Minister’s office budget, or by the relevant department/agency, whichever is the appropriate funding source having regard to the circumstances of each case.
Departments / agencies can assist with the clear identification of the relevant official purposes, compliance with procurement policy, adherence to this policy, and the distinction between official and private circumstances.
Gift giving may be generally considered in the following two situations
- Giving of gifts on official overseas visits and to official overseas visitors to NSW
Selection and Purchase
Gifts should be chosen having regard to their quality and/or Australian/local character and, where possible, items should be purchased at source. However, for practical reasons, purchases may also be made through galleries and retail outlets. Wherever practicable, products should be obtained from New South Wales’ designers and suppliers.
Choice of Gifts
The choice of gifts is at the discretion of the Minister within Ministerial financial allocations, as determined by the nature of individual visits and their importance. It may be appropriate for discreet enquiries to be made well in advance of visits of likely presentations and their value to ensure that appropriate custom and good manners are adhered to.
It may be prudent for advice to be sought on their behalf from the Protocol and Hospitality Unit of the Department of Premier and Cabinet as to the nature and value of an appropriate gift. This may avoid embarrassment, either because a gift is considered inappropriately modest or overly extravagant.
Issue of Gifts on behalf of the Premier
In the case of a Minister, Parliamentary Secretary or Member formally representing the Premier, the Premier’s office is to write to DPC's Protocol and Hospitality Unit requesting that a gift be made available for presentation.
- Gift giving under other circumstances
Public funds appropriated to the Premier and Ministers may be used to purchase and present gifts on behalf of the State of New South Wales, consistent with this policy and where appropriate and necessary in the course of delivering the recurrent services of the Government.
The following principles always apply. Gifts must only be given:
- In connection with official purposes only and only where good manners or goodwill necessitate the presentation of a gift;
- Consistent with Australian and locally-operating laws (including the laws of other countries that operation extra-territorially such as the United States Foreign Corrupt Practices Act);
- Consistent with reasonable community expectations;
- Ensuring that no conflict of interest exists or appears to exist.
Gift giving for private purposes such as personal events and celebrations must be funded privately.