NSW ICAC report warns Queensland government of underground donations
(Ozi Indian Tv Channel) Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said advice contained in the Premier’s submission to cabinet on Monday on banning donations from property developers to local and state governments would determine if the ban would be introduced before the election.
State cabinet will also receive advice on Monday on the outcomes of a similar ban in New South Wales.
“Personally I think that it is important that we do it (the donations ban) in this term, but I think we need to await the advice that will be included in the Premier’s submission to cabinet around whether or not this is possible,” Ms Trad said.
Ms Trad said the state government would look at banning union donations, but made the point that unions including the CMFEU had declared contributions “in full” to local government candidates.
She said she had faith in Queensland's local governments, despite the widespread problems found by a “very compelling” report from the Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission's Operation Belcarra on Thursday.
“I think the vast majority of mayors and councillors and local governments do the right thing and operate over and above what their positions require,” Ms Trad said.
“I have strong faith in local government in this state, I do,” she said.
“I think there are improvements we need to make to the system, but we need to do that collaboratively.”
Ms Trad, a former local government minister, said the state government was not considering re-holding local government elections, though it had the power to do so.
“There would need to be quite extenuating circumstances and, look, we are not even entertaining that,” she said.
Ms Trad said state cabinet would also receive advice on Monday on the ramifications of NSW deciding in 2010 to ban donations from property developers.
The NSW move survived a High Court challenge in October 2015.
Then in August 2016, the Independent Commission against Corruption released its Operation Spicer findings into the ways NSW politicians avoided declaring donations.
The ICAC report identified two Liberal Party slush funds: the “Free Enterprise Foundation” and “Eight By Five” used to mask donations to Liberal MPs.
Ten Liberal MPs left office after the report was issued.
On the other side of major party politics it identified scandals involving former Labor minister Joe Tripodi, the former NSW Right-faction powerbroker.
The ICAC report found Tripodi misused his position as a member of NSW Parliament to improperly provide an advantage to [developer] Buildev," and should be prosecuted for misconduct in public office.
University of Queensland election law expert Dr Graeme Orr said the ICAC report in New South Wales – which will form part of the advice to Queensland’s cabinet – showed property developers used “conduits” and a series of “front companies” to hide donations.
“It’s no good having just the law,” Dr Orr said.
“You obviously need to have good enforcement mechanisms,” he said.
Dr Orr said it was impossible to determine if ICAC’s Operation Spicer report had uncovered all undeclared donations.
“It may be that this is all that has happened and ICAC uncovered everything,” Dr Orr said.
“Or maybe that there was more widespread avoidance.”