Section 165 makes it an offence for a public servant to accept or obtain, or attempt to do so, a gift from a party with whom they have official dealings – even if there is no evidence of any official favour shown. Such a gift creates a conflict of interest – whether real, apparent or potential. All are problematic, especially for a minister.
These 24 charges are just as serious as the two charges under the Prevention of Corruption Act – involving gifts allegedly in relation to public contracts – and one charge for obstructing justice.
The case has inevitably attracted comments that high ministerial salaries do not stop corruption. But high salaries never were intended to be the perfect antidote, and never will be. They are but one of a suite of measures to having a strong Cabinet.
It is important to pay our elected officials and civil servants salaries that recognise their role and contributions and to attract individuals of calibre. But high salaries also mean that they are held to high standards of probity and performance.