Redland City Council supports political donation ban

Redland City Council will urge the State Government to look at banning all political donations for election campaigns.

It also will call for an investigation into the public funding of election candidates.

The requests are included in Council submissions, adopted at a special meeting today (Wednesday), on proposed legislation emanating from the Crime and Corruption Commission’s Belcarra Report, a blueprint for integrity and addressing corruption risk in local government, as well as a Bill relating to the handling of complaints against councillors.

Redland City Mayor Karen Williams said Council strongly supported and commended the State Government’s introduction of the Bills to strengthen government transparency and integrity.

“But we would like to see it go further by prohibiting all political donations and supporting the public funding of campaigns to increase transparency in local government,” Cr Williams said.

“Council will ask the State Government to investigate legislative provisions that prohibit all political donations for government campaigns and for all candidates to be publically funded, as part of the Electoral  Act 1992. The mooted prohibition of political donations from developers should be extended to include all potential lobby groups.

“It will go a long way to ensuring the integrity of decision-making processes by removing the risk of third-party influence and uncertainty around the definition of a developer and lobbyist,’’

Cr Williams said Council supported the adoption of all 31 recommendations of the Belcarra Report.

“And we would like to see provisions for the resourcing of the Electoral Commission, Integrity Commissioner and the Department of Infrastructure Local Government and Planning to fully implement the report’s findings,’’ Cr Williams said.

“We would also like to see the personal conflict and influence provisions extended beyond the statutory meeting regime under the Local Government Act 2009 to include any meeting, workshop or event at which an elected member may have a material personal interest and ability to influence an outcome.’’

Council’s submission on the councillor complaints Bill calls for a provision for complainants to establish to an independent assessor that they are acting in good faith.

“Council strongly supports the recommendation from the Independent Councillor Complaints Review Panel that a standardised form is developed, including a declaration that the complainant is acting in good faith and has provided information that is true and correct to the best of their knowledge,’’ Cr Williams said.

“The provision prohibiting a complainant from disclosing a complaint against a councillor during an election caretaker period until the complaint has been finalised and substantiated should be extended to any time. Council believes this will deter frivolous and vexatious complainants and also reduce the number of unsubstantiated complaints received.

Redland City Council looks forward to the proposed amendments being made and working with the State Government to continue to uphold the transparency and accountability of local government in Queensland.”

The Local Government (Councillor Complaints) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 and the Local Government Electoral (Implementing Belcarra) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 were introduced to the Queensland Parliament this month and referred to the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee for detailed consideration.