Magnetic Island North Queensland
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April 4th 2008
Developer Donations - Time to air the dirty laundry

Bill of Rights activist, Pat Coleman writes to Magnetic Times calling for local councils to make sure conflict of interests cannot be hidden behind party donations. His letter follows.

Les Tyrell (Bully 3/4/08) has highlighted something that has frustrated me for a long time.

The fact that developers and real estate speculators can donate to a party candidate through their political party, and either do it through its Queensland branch or that of another state or federal branch, and that that candidate does not have to declare it personally (unless it falls under the pecuniary interest register guidelines), is why we have come to this situation of developer controlled councils .

Why this system exists is because local government is the most important point for developers in the approval stage and also for activists in the environmental planning law sense.

If you check for instance, the Queensland Labor party's annual donations returns, you will find that year after year the same developer donors appear. Local government councillors across the state have voted on approvals concerning these developments without having to declare an interest in the vote (bias towards the application). And the labor party itself has profited from more donations in later years. That is, they are profiting from the decisions made. In some cases public funding or infrastructure has been provided.

This is akin to laundering public funds through the donations process for party gain.

Now is the time to air this dirty laundry and clean up the process with the powers the new council has at its disposal. What has occurred has been made legal by state and federal laws which council can't override. However, the Local Government Act allows for a councillors' code of conduct. I suggest that the new council can amend the current code in a manner "complimentary" to the Local Government Act and not inconsistent with it.

It should be in the code that it will be a conflict of interest for a councillor not to declare a party donation from the developer etc, and then voting on it. This will be a matter that the CMC will have jurisdiction over under s14 and 15 of the CMC Act 2000.

Pat Coleman
PH 0439839121

To add your comment, see below

Developer Donations - Time to air the dirty laundry
April 5th 2008
About time some action was taken on this issue it has been happenning all along the eastcoast for years, to many years.

What do you think? Send us your comments.

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