Developer donation ban will level the playing field, says mayoral candidate

PROPOSED laws to ban ­developer donations to local and state government election candidates have been welcomed by Mayor Allan Sutherland.

Cr Sutherland received $188,087 in donations for the 2016 council election, with his nearest rival reporting just $990.

According to the Crime and Corruption Commission’s Operation Belcarra ­report, 95 per cent of ­Cr Sutherland’s donations came from companies involved in the property and construction sector, including funds received through third-party Moreton Futures Trust.

“I have been calling for these kinds of reforms around developer donations for a number of years,” Cr Sutherland said.

“I’ve previously said that I believe the Belcarra report will bring positive reform to local government especially real-time disclosure of election expenditure, mandatory reporting of candidate’s property interests and political party memberships, and further restrictions on campaign donations.”

“I agree with the Minister’s statement that Queenslanders should be able to have confidence in their elected representatives and that the Belcarra Report provides a clear path for meaningful reform.”

The State Government last week announced plans to amend elections legislation as a result of the ­Belcarra report.

These changes will be considered by the Economic and Governance Committee.

“We’ve seen too often the risks associated with councillors accepting donations from property developers, and then voting on ­development applications from those same donors,” Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said.

“Given the potential for conflicts of interest in these situations, we’re seeking to prohibit political donations from property developers.”

Dean Teasdale, who lost the 2016 mayoral election to Cr Sutherland, said the proposed reforms would level the playing field.

“I think the region needs to elect the best candidate for the job and not just the one with the most developers’ money,” he said.

“Election after election residents have been left scratching their heads at the results.

“They haven’t known about the third party donations schemes funded by developers before casting their votes.

“These changes to ban developer donations … will have an impact on our next election.”

Mr Teasdale said the region faced a massive challenge to balance growth and development.

“Developers are an important part of balancing lifestyle and growth,” he said. “But residents and ratepayers must come first.”