AUSTRALIA POLITICS: Property Developers Will Be Banned from Donating to State, Local Government

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By Politicoscope October 4, 2017 12:48

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Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she fully supported two of the report’s 31 recommendations – a ban on developer donations and better means to deal with perceived conflicts of interest for councillors.

“I will ensure that developed donations are banned. I will not make rules for local councils that I am not prepared to follow myself, so any changes we make will apply to state as well as local government.”

Ms Palaszczuk said she was also concerned about councillors voting on developer applications when there was a clear conflict of interest.

“We will look at fixing that matter up as a matter of priority,” she said.

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AUSTRALIA POLITICS: Property Developers Will Be Banned from Donating to State, Local Government

Property developers will be banned from giving political donations at a state and local government level, under sweeping changes announced on Wednesday. It comes after the Crime and Corruption Commission recommended property developer donations be banned at the local government level, following Operation Belcarra, which investigated corruption allegations.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she fully supported two of the report’s 31 recommendations – a ban on developer donations and better means to deal with perceived conflicts of interest for councillors.

“I will ensure that developed donations are banned,” she said.

“I will not make rules for local councils that I am not prepared to follow myself, so any changes we make will apply to state as well as local government.”

Ms Palaszczuk said she was also concerned about councillors voting on developer applications when there was a clear conflict of interest.

“We will look at fixing that matter up as a matter of priority,” she said.

Ms Palaszczuk said the Belcarra report highlighted serious cultural and structural issues within specific councils and Queensland local government more broadly.

The government was considering all the recommendations in the report, and Ms Palaszczuk said she would take a submission to cabinet on Monday that addressed the report’s implications.

Ms Palaszczuk said the CCC’s report showed there was a need for sweeping reform to local government.

“I will take personal responsibility to ensure that it is personally fixed,” she said, speaking from the Brisbane Airport, before departing for COAG meetings in Canberra.

Ms Palaszczuk said she wanted to see the recommendations come into effect “as soon as possible”.

Local Government Association of Queensland president Mark Jamieson said banning donations from property developers was discriminatory.

“Prohibition rarely works because it drives activity underground,” he said.

Mr Jamieson said the Independent Commission Against Corruption’s Operation Spicer found a New South Wales ban led to funds being channelled to the NSW Liberal Party for its 2011 state election campaign and attempts to evade the ban.

But he said the LGAQ supported all recommendations except the donation ban and empowering councils to force councillors with a conflict of interest to leave the meeting.

Property Council Queensland executive director Chris Mountford said while his organisation did not donate to political parties, people should be treated equally under the law.

“There are many sectors and interests that are impacted by government policy, regulation, tenders or subsidy and the community should rightly expect that political donations do not distort decision-making in any area,” he said.

“All businesses, environmental groups, community groups and unions should be treated the same when it comes to donations.”

Greens candidate for South Brisbane Amy MacMahon called for the property developer ban to extend to all for-profit corporations, including mining and gambling.

Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls said the CCC report made for sober reading and he would seek an urgent briefing with Mr MacSporran to go through the recommendations.

“After the briefing, I will consult with shadow cabinet and we will then respond,” he said.

Mr Nicholls said there were serious questions around union donations and he questioned why they were being excluded from consideration by the premier.

“The law should apply equally,” he said.

CCC chair Alan MacSporran said the recommendations would make the system more “infinitely more transparent” and anyone seeking to avoid that would be taking a risk and would be more likely to be uncovered.

“No one’s going to for a moment guarantee that this is going to stop corrupt behaviour, but it’s going to make it much harder to engage in it,” he said.

“And the big winners are the voting public who’ll know more about who they’re voting for, what they stand for, who’s behind them, who’s supporting them and what, if any, conflicts of interest they might have.”

CCC chair Alan MacSporran says councils are a “hotbed for perceived corruption”. #qldpol pic.twitter.com/CFY8nG5a3o

— Felicity Caldwell (@fel_caldwell) October 4, 2017

Mr MacSporran said there was greater scope for “corrupt behaviour to flourish” in councils as opposed to state or federal governments, because they dealt with development applications and infrastructure.

“And it’s why it’s constitutionally valid to ban, or seek to ban, donations from property developers because it’s a known, evidence-based corruption risk as opposed to other interest groups, who may be thought anecdotally to be engaged in corrupt behaviour, but there’s insufficient evidence currently to warrant a banning on those donations,” he said.

He said there was a lack of evidence of corruption by unions, and pointed to difficulties in creating bans which would breach political freedoms where there was no evidence of a risk of corruption, following a 2015 High Court decision.

Mr MacSporran said it was “highly likely” the problems would continue if the CCC’s recommendations were not adopted.

“It’s not good enough to expose these things, you need to deal with them and you need to fix the situation,” he said.

Mr MacSporran said he would be very happy if both major parties saw the value in the CCC’s recommendations.

“Frankly, I can’t see any reason why they wouldn’t,” he said.

– S M H


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Politicoscope
By Politicoscope October 4, 2017 12:48

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There are more readers worldwide reading the Politicoscope daily news content than ever before. Unlike many other news media organisations that charge their readers subscription fees for the same daily news content and features we offer you for free, we do not charge all our readers to pay any fee. We depend on online advertising to generate the revenues to fund all these great news content and exclusive features provided to you for free. Currently, advertising revenues are quickly falling which is affecting our ability to offer you free online news content.
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"I visit Politicoscope everyday to read my daily news in world politics. I'm glad it's all for free. On my part, I'm happy to donate monthly so as to continue enjoying these free content because it's actually a small amount from me compared to paid subscriptions by other news organisations. I want to help Politicoscope grow more so that I and other readers can continue to have access to free and exclusive daily online news." - Denise H., from LA, USA.
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