Redland councillor takes aim at protest groups' political campaigning

CR Paul Gleeson has launched a full blooded attack on protest and green group campaigning, proposing that organisations like Redlands2030, CARP and the Koala Action Group be banned from making political donations or taking part in election campaigns.

MOTION PUT: Cr Paul Gleeson has moved to make protest groups declare activities.

MOTION PUT: Cr Paul Gleeson has moved to make protest groups declare activities.

Cr Gleeson put an urgent motion to today’s Redland City Council meeting seeking that councillors back the view that organisations like these who endorse or disendorse candidates or who run political rallies should be required to declare all donations and expenses in real time to provide transparency.

They also should have to provide evidence of their legal entity.

Cr Gleeson sought that this should be put as the council’s formal submission to the state government’s Local Government Electoral (Implementing Belcarra) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill.

It is a blueprint for addressing integrity and corruption issues in local government and follows the Crime and Corruption Commission recommendation that developers be banned from donating to politicians.

Cr Gleeson also sought to put a submission to the Local Government Association of Queensland that complaints regarding councillors not be handled by council chief executives but referred to an independent assessor.

He also tabled suggestions aimed at weeding out serial community complainants who made frivolous and vexatious complaints to council, the State Ombudsman and Crime and Corruption Commission.

Cr Gleeson said he had put forward the motion as urgent business because of an October 26 deadline to get submissions into government.

Cr Murray Elliott said he not only opposed the content of the motion but the urgency of the move which meant councillors had little chance to consider its ramifcations.

He said there was no reason why council could not call a special meeting, for which two days notice was needed, and handle the motion then. This would give councillors time to consider the subject.

“Why are we doing this on the run?” he said. “This is ridiculous.”

Cr Tracey Huges: Ditto.

The motion was put but then amended, with councillors voting to get a briefing on issues from council staff. After this a special meeting would be called to vote on the motion so as to make the October 26 cut-off date.

Cr Gleeson argues that he has been unfairly targetted with complaints. As evidence of this he points out that Alexandra Hills resident Dan Ling noted on Facebook in relation to a dispute the pair had: “Whether or not I am successful, it would still go up on councillor complaint register.”

Redlands2030 spokesman Chris Walker said it was amusing that a person who had been found previously to have engaged in inappropriate conduct would complain about serial complainants and single out community groups.

“Any attempts to restrict the involvement of community groups in election campaigns would be anti-democratic,” he said.

Mr Walker said points raised by Cr Gleeson seemed to diverge considerably from positions reached by independent reviews like the CCC’s Operation Belcarra and the independent panel which reviewed the councillor complaints process.