PUT UP OR Shut UP

Mayor fires off let­ter to cor­rup­tion watch­dog boss

The Gold Coast Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE - PAUL WE­STON paul.we­ston@news.com.au

MAYOR Tom Tate is urg­ing the Crime and Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion to move quickly on its in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the Gold Coast City Coun­cil. In a let­ter to CCC chair Alan MacS­por­ran, QC, Cr Tate said it had been some time since the watch­dog had opened in­quiries into the con­duct of coun­cil­lors. “It is fine to say, as a de facto throw­away line in a me­dia re­lease, that all the al­le­ga­tions should be treated as un­sub­stan­ti­ated un­til an in­ves­ti­ga­tion is fi­nalised. But as the ju­di­cial maxim states: jus­tice de­layed is jus­tice de­nied.”

MAYOR Tom Tate is urg­ing the state’s cor­rup­tion watch­dog to move quickly on its in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the Gold Coast City Coun­cil.

A let­ter sent by Coun­cil­lor Tate to Crime and Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion (CCC) chair­man Alan MacS­por­ran, QC, this week re­quests that ei­ther he or an of­fi­cer meet with the coun­cil.

The CCC is in­ves­ti­gat­ing a num­ber of al­le­ga­tions into the Gold Coast City Coun­cil, in­clud­ing an ac­cu­sa­tion Cr Tate en­gi­neered coun­cil de­ci­sions to se­cure per­sonal gain.

The watch­dog is look­ing into whether Cr Tate and Deputy Mayor Donna Gates both failed to de­clare an in­ter­est and part­ner­ship in race horses; de­ci­sions around the filling in of Black Swan Lake; the sale of the Bruce Bishop Carpark in Surfers Par­adise; may­oral di­rec­tives to coun­cil CEO Dale Dick­son; a Surfers Par­adise Bowls Club deal; a new con­tract for the CEO; the Mayor’s pri­vately funded trip to China and whether he failed to de­clare a con­flict of in­ter­est into the build­ing of the Surfers Par­adise su­per­tower Spirit.

Cr Tate has al­ways said he “re­spects the con­fi­den­tial­ity of the CCC”. Mr Dick­son said he “will as­sist the CCC when, and if, re­quested’’. Cr Gates said she will “fully co-op­er­ate with the CCC if re­quired’’.

In his let­ter to Mr MacS­por­ran, Cr Tate wrote: “It is a con­sid­er­able pe­riod now since the Crime and Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion de­ter­mined it was in the pub­lic in­ter­est to in­ves­ti­gate al­le­ga­tions of pos­si­bly cor­rupt con­duct re­lat­ing to de­ci­sion­mak­ing by some City of Gold Coast coun­cil­lors.

“In the months since re­ceiv­ing a re­port from the State Depart­ment re­spon­si­ble for Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment, the Com­mis­sion has not en­gaged with the Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer or coun­cil­lors on rel­e­vant mat­ters.

“It is fine to say, as a de facto throw­away line in a me­dia re­lease, that all the al­le­ga­tions should be treated as un­sub­stan­ti­ated un­til an in­ves­ti­ga­tion is fi­nalised. But as the ju­di­cial maxim states: jus­tice de­layed is jus­tice de­nied.”

Cr Tate re­quested, given the de­lays, that ei­ther the CCC chair­man or “an ap­pro­pri­ate rep­re­sen­ta­tive” at­tend a meet­ing of the coun­cil to ad­dress rel­e­vant con­cerns.

“These need not re­late specif­i­cally to mat­ters un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion for po­ten­tially cor­rupt prac­tices,” he wrote.

But Cr Tate said the coun­cil needed guid­ance on “poorly drafted new state leg­is­la­tion” in which coun­cil­lors were re­quired to give more de­tails when mak­ing dec­la­ra­tions about po­ten­tial con­flicts of in­ter­est.

“The leg­isla­tively sanc­tioned penal­ties ap­ply im­me­di­ately but coun­sel and clar­i­fi­ca­tion are be­ing with­held,” he wrote.

“Even af­ter sev­eral lengthy work­shops with le­gal and other of­fi­cials, the con­fu­sion en­gulf­ing coun­cil­lors is now pos­ing a risk to sound demo­cratic gov­er­nance. I re­quest the Com­mis­sion’s as­sis­tance.”

The Bulletin yes­ter­day asked Cr Tate if he wished to ex­pand on his rea­sons for con­tact­ing the CCC, but in a one-line state­ment he replied: “I re­spect the con­fi­den­tial­ity of the CCC.’’

A spokesper­son for the CCC said: “The CCC will con­sider the cor­re­spon­dence and re­spond di­rectly to Mayor Tate. As the CCC’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Gold Coast City Coun­cil re­mains on­go­ing, it is not ap­pro­pri­ate for the CCC to com­ment fur­ther.”

The Palaszczuk Gov­ern­ment last Oc­to­ber backed the 31 rec­om­men­da­tions from the CCC’s Op­er­a­tion Bel­carra re­port which fol­lowed an in­ves­ti­ga­tion and pub­lic hear­ing into the 2016 coun­cil elec­tions.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion was sparked by the Bulletin’s Tro­jan Coun­cil se­ries of re­ports, which put the spotlight on do­na­tions and op­er­a­tion of po­lit­i­cal par­ties in the in­de­pen­dent poll.

Cr Gates last month re­signed from the coun­cil’s plan­ning com­mit­tee, say­ing the lengthy dec­la­ra­tions would waste time and de­lay de­ci­sion-mak­ing for her col­leagues.

The re­forms have deeply di­vided Gold Coast coun­cil­lors, with some em­brac­ing the wider re­port­ing, oth­ers con­fused and some be­liev­ing they are time con­sum­ing.

Pic­ture: AAP IM­AGE

Mayor Tom Tate has asked the CCC to ex­pe­dite its in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

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