– and it can with your help.
Dr Cameron Murray is an economist who has studied Council related planning and assessment corruption and conflict of interest issues in Queensland. He’s said that Ipswich and Redlands were the two City Councils with the biggest problems in this area as a result of developer donations to candidate’s campaigns.
Dr Murray showed that the best money-making scheme available in Queensland presently is for a developer to contribute to an election campaign or engage a well-connected lobbyist. For an outlay of around $40,000 one can typically obtain favorable rezoning or development assessments worth $2 million or more. See his paper here: http://ftp.iza.org/dp9028.pdf
A solicitor from the Qld Environmental Defender’s Office [QDO], Revel Pointon, has spoken about the recently passed State Planning Bills which come into effect mid-2017. She said that although these Bills improve accountability and certainty in some areas, they maintain the status quo on environmental protection and developer influence on planning – the issues with which we have the biggest challenges.
The Chief Executive Officer of EDO Qld, Jo Bragg, has said that developers are still able to choose assessment managers to decide their applications and gain exemption certificates from regular assessment. “..we will probably continue to see an ever increasing volume of developments in the code assessable category where the community is not even notified.”
For a summary of EDO’s assessment see this link: [political insight 7]
These Bills result from an ALP government and have been passed after the Queensland community had put in hundreds of submissions to urge the government to better provide meaningful community consultation and stronger environmental protection.
It shows that all political leaders at each tier of government, are on the side of big business and are not listening to community concerns. This makes reform to campaign contributions even more urgent.
Deputy Premier, Jackie Trad, has said “we want to ensure the SEQ regional plan reflects the values, needs and great ideas of the community.” But this is impossible due to developer funded influence in Councils.
The feedback Minister Trad needs is that State Government must reassert its commitment to ethical conduct in local government as many Mayors and Councillors are on unhealthily cosy terms with developers.
For example, in the Redlands Council campaign of 2004, Councillors Beard and Williams shared $105,000 funds from developers with the then Mayor Don Seccombe. Twelve years later and the situation is no better due to State Government inaction.
Gifts create obligations which ensures that Council’s focus will be on enhancing ‘profit per plot’ on behalf of developers through higher densities and questionable rezoning practices.
We have had principled and capable mayoral and council candidates grossly outspent by developer-backed candidates.
We will only get principled candidates back in when we get developer donations and conflict of interest ruled out.
Documents were tabled in Parliament a few days prior to the Council elections in March that detailed these conflict of interest and corruption issues in many Councils in Queensland but nothing has been done. We need to remind the community, the State Government and the Triple C of this.
We must urge Jackie Trad to hand over documents to the Triple C relating to these matters and we must urge the Triple C to investigate.
Independent MP Peter Wellington has said that it’s time to look into political donations in Queensland 20 months after the Palaszczuk government promised him it would take action. His concern has been ‘…the apparent power of the development industry over successive governments while I have been in parliament – and we have seen a range of them, both Labor and the LNP,”
A committee of enquiry won’t do, it would be comprised of individuals drawn from the major parties – that is, the beneficiaries of the financial largesse bestowed by political donors and thus inherently tainted by a conflict of interest. Similarly, contacting local State and Federal members will be a waste of time.
While the government cannot direct the State’s corruption watchdog, the parliamentary oversight committee can make recommendations into what it looks into.
Individually crafted letters carry more weight. Click here [Political insight 8] for key points you can use in your letter. If there are other poor planning outcomes you know of that result from business funded campaigns, include them also.
Don’t be squeamish. We have put up with over a decade of outrageous development approvals, secret meetings between developers and Council executives behind closed doors, lies, half-truths and obfuscation.
Addresses are as follows:
- Triple C, GPO Box 3123, Brisbane QLD 4001 or email:
- Hon Jackie Trad, Deputy Premier, PO Box 15009
CITY EAST QLD 4002 or email:
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Authorized by Graham Carter
67 Valley Rd Wellington Point 4160