Redland councillors call for clarity over political donations

CALL MADE: Cr Wendy Boglary wants political donations revealed at the time they are made, not months after elections.

CALL MADE: Cr Wendy Boglary wants political donations revealed at the time they are made, not months after elections.

DEPUTY mayor Wendy Boglary has asked the state government to change laws to ensure political donations are revealed at the time they are made, rather than months later.

Under the current system candidates are not required to reveal donations during election campaigns until 15 weeks later.

A Crime and Corruption Commission report says this appears to hamper voters’ ability to make an informed decision about a candidate before the vote.

In a submission to Parliament’s Planning and Natural Resources Committee which is investigating the Local Government Electoral (transparency and accountability in local government) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill, Cr Boglary said she supported the CCC view that campaign donations should be declared on an ongoing basis.

“It increases accountability to voters as to who candidates are aligned to either politically or with private donations (from sectors like) developers (or) conservation groups,’’ she said.

Mayor Karen Williams has written to the government, advocating a blanket ban on political donations and public funding of elections such as at state and Commonwealth level.

She told Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath that banning political donations was the best way to remove any doubt over the motivation for donations.

“The ban must apply across the board and not target a specific group of donors,’’ she said.

She said councillors and staff had been accused of corruption in dealings with developers and this was not true. 

Cr Williams received the lion's share of local political donations in the run up to last year's elections, snagging more than $80,000 – mostly from local businesses and developers.

In a separate report to Parliament, the CCC also recommended the government consider making it an offence for any person to publicise allegations of corrupt conduct against a councillor or candidate during a council election, without giving the CCC at least three months to determine whether allegations have merit.

Cr Paul Golle said in his submission said that for too long property developers had overshadowed elections through monetary and gift-in-kind donations.

The sector’s financial resources and societal connections brought to bear on an election campaign through clubs like Rotary showed a disregard for democracy.

Cr Golle said local governments should be made up of community members who had no connections or owed no political favours to any party.

Cr Paul Bishop said when vested interests backed candidates, these candidates necessarily became morally or strategically aligned to benefactors.

Tom Taranto, who stood unsuccessfully for council, called for the gift and donation disclosure to be reduced to $200 from $500 and that developers be banned from making donations.