Developer donation ban sought under Local Government transparency reforms

Published Tuesday, 06 March, 2018 at 12:34 PM

Minister for Local Government, Minister for Racing and Minister for Multicultural Affairs
The Honourable Stirling Hinchliffe

Increased transparency, integrity and accountability measures for Local Government, including a ban on political donations from property developers, will become a reality in Queensland under reforms introduced in State Parliament today.

Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the latest reform measures, recommended by the Crime and Corruption Commission’s Operation Belcarra Report, were the next stage of the Palaszczuk Government’s efforts to revitalise Local Government in Queensland.

“Prior to the 2017 State Election, the Government was progressing a comprehensive suite of reforms as part of a rolling reform agenda designed to increase transparency, integrity and accountability – at both State and Local Government levels,” Mr Hinchliffe said.

“Building on earlier reforms – such as real-time donation declaration laws – we had before the Parliament two bills aimed at further improving Local Government’s accountability.

“We promised the people of Queensland that these two bills would be reintroduced, were we to be returned to Government, and that’s exactly what we’ve done.

“Queenslanders should have confidence in their elected representatives and the Belcarra Report provides a clear path for meaningful reform.

“We’ve seen too often the risks associated with councillors accepting donations from property developers, and then voting on development applications from those same donors.

“Given the potential for conflicts of interest in these situations, we’re seeking to prohibit political donations from property developers.

“Importantly, this proposed ban will also apply at the State level because this government won’t make rules for Local Government that we’re not prepared to follow ourselves.
“The prohibition will apply from 12 October 2017, when the 2017 bill was introduced.

“Any donations received after that date will have to be repaid to the donor within 30 days of the commencement of the legislation.

“To show we are serious, failure to repay the amount within 30 days from the commencement of the legislation will be an offence potentially punishable by up to two years imprisonment.
“Another key area of the legislation relates to the management of councillor conflicts of interest and where appropriate, also applies to material personal interests.
“The new legislation establishes an obligation on councillors to report another councillor’s conflict of interest or material personal interest, where they believe, or suspect on reasonable grounds, that there is an interest that has not been declared.”
Mr Hinchliffe said the Palaszczuk Government supports in principle all 31 recommendations from the CCC to reduce the risk of corruption in councils and strengthen transparency
“We’ve never shied away from our commitment to ensure that elected officials are held accountable for their actions,” he said.

“That’s why we’re pursuing further reforms to give the voters, and all Queenslanders, greater faith in their elected officials and trust that they will represent them with the utmost integrity.”
The Local Government Electoral (Implementing Stage 1 of Belcarra) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 will amend the City of Brisbane Act 2010, the Electoral Act 1992, the Local Government Act 2009 and the Local Government Electoral Act 2011.

The Bill will now be considered by the Economic and Governance Committee.

Media contact: Martin Philip 0427 919 548