October 12, 2005 | Graham

If taking donations from property developers is a sin…

Given that property developers and Queensland politics are so entwined I’ve been fascinated by the way the state government has set the CMC onto certain Gold Coast City Councillors. They may well be corrupt, but if they are, they wouldn’t be on their pat malone, and there could be even bigger skeletons on all sides of politics.
Good on them, for putting the pressure on, but is it too much to hope that they won’t stop with the Gold Coast?
The problem with running a political party in Queensland is that there is only one really big business, apart from mining and agriculture, and that is property development. You can’t fund a campaign without taking money from developers, and that shows in the Annual Funding returns of both the Liberal and Labor Parties.
You can check the donations to all parties at http://fadar.aec.gov.au/. What it shows is that for donations over $50,000 for both the Labor and Liberal Parties (the Nationals didn’t receive any donations over $50,000), property developers predominate. In particular, some crowd called Collingwood Developments has taken a substantial position in both – $75,000 to Labor and $206,231 to the Libs. I have no idea why George Cheihk, who appears to be the principal, is so generous. Nor why he also appears to have donated to the Libs via another entity called the Queensland Group, which put in a further $50,000, but with that sort of largesse he has a large stake in a little party like the Queensland Libs!
The Liberals also took $57,833 from Livesay Road Developments, as well as an entity called Forward Brisbane Leadership, presumably related to Lord Mayor Campbell Newman, and undoubtedly drawing on property developers.
There are other common elements between the Libs and Labor apart from Collingwood Park Developments. Multiplex for one, which gave $70,000 to Labor and only $25,000 to the Liberals. Labor took money from The Brisbane Future’s Committee, which is presumably associated with their council campaign and therefore similar in its sources of funding to Forward Brisbane Leadership. They also took money from Crosby Road Developments, Hatia Property Developments and Yu Feng – all apparently in the property industry.
Labor Resources was their biggest donor at $4,935,000. This is the investment arm of the party which also has property interests.
I guess the GCC Councillors being investigated are a little busy at the moment, but if I were them, I’d be trying to spread the net a little more broadly. Geoff Davies finishes up his inquiry into Bundaberg Hospital later this month. He could probably fit in another inquiry later this year.

Posted by Graham at 10:11 am | Comments (1) |
Filed under: Australian Politics

1 Comment

  1. Unless you are going to ban all electoral donations, there will always be developer involvement. As Graham has shown, its not just at the local government level, but nationally and the states as well. Gold Coast is probably no better or worse than most other Councils in this regard.
    Part of the concern at the local government level is that Councils make many of the decisions that will directly impact on developers and profit margins.
    The Qld Local Government Act was amended following an Inquiry in the early 1990’s (again into the Gold Coast) to make the disclosure requirements for electoral gifts/donation much more transparent.
    This is the right approach.
    It becomes unworkable when you start to put too many rules about who can donate. Becoming involved in elections at whatever level you choose is a basic democratic right, regardless of your daytime job.
    But… and its a big but – the process has to be transparent. Having disclosure after the election does not result in the elecotrate having an informed choice at the time they vote. The next election maybe – when people have mostly forgotten.
    So the question for this Inquiry should not be about the donations as such, unless there have been false declarations, but about whether a group of candidates worked together in a coordinated manner and hid this from the electorate. The Local Government Act requires candidates working as a group to declare this on how-to-vote cards (but not other election material) and also has a general provision against misleading voters.
    The outcome of this Inquiry may hinge on the definition of what constitutes a group, rather than the issue of who paid for it.
    I can’t help but note however, that this Inquiry would almost certainly never have been pursued if the Qld Government wasn’t copping such a maulling at the Health Inquiry and in desperate need of a diversion.

    Comment by Chilli8 — October 13, 2005 @ 10:59 am

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.