Councillor seeks ban on developer donations
COUNCILLOR Megan O'Hara Sullivan said a ban on property developers donating money to councillors' campaigns was needed to stop any potential for a conflict of interest.
She's penned a letter to the Minister for Local Government and the Queensland Attorney General urging them to consider banning donations from property developers at a local government level.
"Through my experience as a councillor on Toowoomba Regional Council, I have determined that the interests of properly developers consistently conflict with the interests of the wider community," she said.
"It is an unacceptable conflict that those in a position to directly influence planning and development outcomes are accepting donations from property developers.
"This is why I have personally refused to take donations from property developers.
"I believe that passing legislation to ban developer donations will improve planning outcomes at a local government level and restore confidence in the decision-making processes of local government."
"The system is broken and it needs to change."
Councillors are required to report gifts given to them of more than $500.
After elections they must also list persons or organisations from whom $200 or more was received.
Councillors must declare a real or perceived conflict of interest and can absent themselves from votes on those matters in meetings.
The Chronicle does not allege improprieties by any of the Toowoomba councillors.
Cr O'Hara Sullivan said councillors were elected to vote on matters and should be in meetings to have their say.
She said an end to donations would remove any potential for a conflict of interest.
Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio said councillors needed to be mindful of those who supported them on their journey to be elected.
He said his campaign had been partly funded by companies run by himself and his family, and also by supporters in the community who were happy with the outcomes he had achieved.
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"On the other side of the coin that leaves me in a position where there are a couple of property owners and developers, whether agricultural or otherwise, who I'm not entitled to be in the room to vote for. This is a double-edged sword."
He said the Queensland Government made the rules regarding donations to local government and they were all being followed.
Cr Antonio said the reality of politics meant it was difficult for some to run a good campaign using only their personal capacity.
He said he would support any changes made by the government.