PUT UP OR Shut UP
Mayor fires off letter to corruption watchdog boss
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.
Mayor Tom Tate has asked the CCC to expedite its investigation.