Grumblings on social media about Shoreline

Shoreline farming land 10 November 2014 comp

Shoreline’s development application was discussed by Redland City Council in November 2016

Conflicts of interest are an ongoing area of concern in local government. It’s often been said over the years that perceptions of a conflict are just as significant as any actual conflict of interest.

In concluding a recent assessment of Brisbane’s Lord Mayor, the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) decided to take no further action but highlighted how certain practices in local government may give rise to perceptions or allegations of corruption. The CCC said:

The CCC continues to remind public officials and elected officials of the importance of transparency and accountability. The CCC encourages the Government to take steps to require decisions-makers to demonstrate clearly that all decisions are equitable, transparent and represent value for money.

In this regard, it is the CCC’s view that allegations such as these may have been avoided by open and transparent declarations of all known interests in or related to a matter for decision. This includes the declaration of any known political donations, whether or not the declaration is required by law.

Back in 2006, a CMC report by Garry Crooke QC said in the area of conflict of interest, perception is all important because the test is:

…whether a reasonable member of the public, properly informed, would feel that the conflict is unacceptable.

The CMC report concluded that:

the appearance of a conflict of interest may be as serious as an actual conflict because it may reduce public confidence in the integrity of office that is held.

Redland City Council and conflicts of interest

Every agenda for meetings of the Redland City Council draws councillors’ attention to the need for any actual or perceived conflicts of interest to be declared. Any declarations of conflict (actual or perceived) are recorded in the meeting minutes.

The proper declaration of a conflict of interest requires (under the Local Government Act) that minutes of the meeting record “the nature of the personal interest, as described by the councillor”.

Cr Williams and the Shoreline decision

In November 2015, the development application for the Shoreline project was considered by Redland City Council. This was the biggest development application in the Redlands’ history, involving about 4,000 dwellings to accommodate 10,000 people.

At the point of having to declare any conflict of interest, Mayor Karen Williams said :

There has been grumblings in various social media forums etc as to my relationship with the applicant. I will have it noted in the minutes. However I will remain in the room and I will vote in the community interest.

Presumably, the Mayor thought these few words were sufficient to discharge her obligations under the Local Government Act..

But Councillor Craig Ogilvie moved a point order about possible conflicts of interest. He said “there was significant evidence that some of the applicants, people involved in the application, had attended functions that she had held as fund raisers”

Councillor Williams responded:

I’ve noted my perceived conflict Councillor and I have abided by the legislation as required and you have access to my gift return at any time as has every member of the public.

But of course she didn’t make any comment in her declaration about what might be the basis for any “grumblings”, the nature of the actual or perceived conflict of interest.

A lengthy meeting followed and subsequently Council resolved to grant preliminary approval to the Shoreline development on a vote of 6 to 5. Councillor Williams stayed in the room, chaired the meeting  and voted for the motion.

A formal complaint has been lodged

Councillor Williams’ declaration of a perceived conflict of interest over the Shoreline decision is now the subject of a complaint by he Birkdale Progress Association to the Minister for Local Government. The complaint documents a series of matters that might give rise to a perception of a conflict of interest, in that people or companies with an interest in Shoreline have:

  • attended a fundraising launch of Cr Williams’ 2012 mayoral campaign
  • transacted a multi-million dollar land purchase from the Williams family estate
  • made the use of commercial premises available to Cr Williams for use as headquarters for her 2012 mayoral campaign
  • occupied key roles in a community organisation which attacked Cr Williams’ political opponents at the 2012 election

Any one of these examples may have contributed to a perception of conflict of interest. None of them were disclosed by Cr Williams at the Council’s November 2015 meeting about Shoreline.

The complaint raised by the Birkdale Progress Association was tabled in state parliament today by the Member for Cairns Rob Pyne, together with other information documenting matters leading up to the Shoreline decision.

Questions

A number of questions remain unanswered:

  • At the November 2015 Council meeting to discuss Shoreline, did Cr Williams adequately describe her actual and/or perceived conflict of interest?
  • What was the nature of her relationship with the applicants and others who stood to benefit if Shoreline was approved?
  • Why did Cr Williams refer to just her gift return as being a defining source information in relation to any possible conflict of interest?
  • What was the nature of the personal interest, to be described by the Councillor as required by the Council’s guidelines?
  • When previous matters regarding Shoreline were debated in Council meetings, or discussed elsewhere in Council, did Cr Williams declare any actual and/or perceived conflict of interest?

 

Redlands2030 – 16 March 2016

 

 

Please note: Offensive or off-topic comments will be deleted. If offended by any published comment please email thereporter@redlands2030.net

12 thoughts on “Grumblings on social media about Shoreline

  1. I’m 96.5% of the opinion that allegedly the feeling by the majority of the Redlanders is that the Mayor has a whiff of crookedness about her and in my honest opinion she shouldn’t be trusted with a piggy bank
    Good on you Rob Pyne, Craig Ogilvie, BPA, on balance and especially Redlands 2030 for attempting to shine a light where The Mayor presumably doesn’t want it shone.

    • It seems to me there should be a though investigation into the Redland Council. There has been far too many unexplained things Too many things the people of the Redlands are expected to just accept with out question. The so called consultation with the people is a farce. This is government by the council for the council. Good luck to Redlands 2030 for its help in trying to put things to right

  2. Where is the Redlands City Bulletin on this story. Is it snoozing or got its eyes wide shut. What is the point of a local newspaper that comes out once a week if it is silent on its on line services on an issue of this magnitude.

    Equally where is the Courier Mail? We had front pages a week or so ago…now nothing.

    If it isnt media bias it must be laziness. Irrespective the community and community interests are ignored and ignorantof the facts.

    At least R2030 put it out there….some people will be spewing at that.

  3. During 30 years living in Capalaba, with little or no community consultation, watching our once lovely flowing Coolnwynpin Ck with wild birds, platypus, koalas, vanish…due to intensive development that included bulldozing tonnes of earth into the waterway, today a no-go zone, nothing shocked me more than reading front page of Bayside Bulletin in bold lettering, stating SIX 6-STOREY APARTMENT BUILDINGS APPROVED FOR CAPALABA. We were led to believe by sign cnr Redland Bay/Mt Cotton Rds by Aramac Crt that approx. 45 units would be built on site. Cr Karen Williams was nowhere to be seen. Aramac Court residents… reeling from the news, held meetings & rally on roadside objecting to this massive development. Mayor Melva was present, but Cr Williams was nowhere to be seen. Member for Bowman Andrew Laming was on hand with phone glued to his ear. Media were conveniently kept away. Meeting with AWU loyal member of Labor Party Michael Choi attended one meeting with a Main Roads operative in tow…with nothing to say about entry/access to the site…except uttering the words “developer has a right to his apartments!”. Resident Christine Edmonds walked out saying ‘they don’t care’…or words to that effect and sadly, was misquoted in local BB giving readers impression, on behalf of local residents, that all was well with the development, Christine passed away soon after without ever having had the chance of enjoying her retirement years. Last meeting was held in caravan on Winter Memorial Park Cr Williams stole from elderly on the park, with council operatives offering no solutions to entry/exit, livability, traffic, etc. Cr Williams was in attendance but standing outside, keeping silent…and remained so to this day. AWU Labor State govt operatives (that Commissioner Dyson Hayden confirmed as being crooked and corrupt) have a lot to answer for in approving these buildings by one of the worst, congested 4-way intersections in Redland City…all with no community consultation. They should all hang their heads in shame.

  4. Council’s continued untruths continue to be disputed

    I am one of five residents issued with a letter from Redland City Council accusing us of defamation and threatening legal action. Alerted to this harassing harangue from Council while I was in Sydney with family for medical matters was most disturbing. Having to deal with this unwarranted allegation during a sensitive time, I issued the contrived apology as dictated by council in the short timeframe stipulated by them.

    After the medical emergency had passed I contacted the council disputing the allegation and requesting they provide copies of what CEO Billy Lyons asserts publicly was “continued, untrue, deeply offensive and defamatory material posted on social media”.

    Having made an apology (coerced as it was) people may be under the impression that I engaged in behavior described by the CEO. This is simply not true, evidenced when council could provide one only Facebook post. This post made no mention of, or allude to any council officers making the CEO’s other assertion that: “This organisation has a duty of care to protect the reputation of its officers and this city from such malicious and deceptive allegations” not only unwarranted, but its motivation highly questionable.

    My post to Facebook was not ‘online bullying’ as alleged – my post was nothing other than fair comment. It was also prefaced, and concluded with statements that indicated it is an opinion with a degree of uncertainty, rather than an accusation, or assertion of fact.

    Furthermore, I have two things that prevent me from doing as the CEO has publicly accused: 1) time constraints, and 2) integrity.
    Despite further correspondence to council no response has been received, nor any public correction or apology made by council. In fact they continue to trot out total untruths such as: “While council welcomes community debate, these individuals crossed the line and council was left with no option but to seek a legal remedy.” (Pyne puts developer donations back on agenda, RCB 9 March 2016).
    Tired of hoping this council will do the right thing I write hoping to set the record straight.

    Perhaps the election will put a halt to people being used as pawns in political games and determine exactly who has ‘crossed the line’.

    Debra Henry
    Thornlands

    • I too received one of those lovely threatening letters after posting the following statement on my Facebook page, “Best thing we can do for the Redlands is get rid of a Mayor who lined who pockets with developer donations instead of representing it’s residents like she is supposed to do. Let’s unload her and her cronies”.
      The mayor then inappropriately used council legal officers to represent her on a personal matter. Since September last year I have seen hundreds of similar comments posted, questioning the Mayors loyalty to developers over residents. Today I took the time to read the paper tabled in Parliament by Rob Pyne regarding undeclared conflicts of interest by Mayor Williams when it come to voting on proposed developments due to interactions/relationships with major developers within the Redlands. I believe until this is dealt with she should not be allowed to stand nor hold any office. One can only hope that the people of Redlands have seen mayor Williams, and her 5 muppets that make the Williams Six voting block, for what they really are.

  5. Thank you Redland 2030 and Birkdale Progress Association who have been working so hard to keep us well informed. I’d also like to publicly thank Rob Pyne for compromising his career for us. Coming from a strong Labor family it must have been extremely hard to resign from his party to become more effective in Parliament as an independent and get important information tabled. I’d also like to thank Councillor Craig Ogilvie for his dedication to the people of Redlands. In spite of some vehement opposition from many in Council he has continued to ask the hard questions and deserves our admiration. There are many of us who have done our bit but Elli and Graham Carter need a special mention. The recent videos they have put out from http://www.onbalance.org.au and Troy Robbins’ Save Toondah Harbour have been amazing . I know you all need a break, but I’m so hoping you stay united and strong for other elections coming up this year, especially the Federal one!

  6. Queensland’s Integerity Commissioner, Mr Gary Crooke QC (2006, pp. 1-2) advises statutory office holders that;
    In the area of conflict of interest perception is all important. The established test is an objective one, namely whether a reasonable member of the public, properly informed, would feel that the conflict is unacceptable. Essentially it means that such reasonable member of the public would conclude that inappropriate factors could influence an official action or decision. Because the test is an objective one, it matters not whether you as an individual are convinced that with your undoubted integrity you can manage what would otherwise be an unacceptable conflict of interest. The test does not permit you as an individual to be a sounding board.
    The appearance of a conflict of interest may be as serious as an actual conflict of interest because it may reduce public confidence in the integrity of office that is held.

    The above quote was taken from the CMC inquiry into the 2004 Gold Coast City council election titled “Independance, Influence and Integrity in Local Government”

  7. Residents in ARAMAC Court and surrounds are still angry about the Rhodes development which was pushed through by council and state government when councillor Williams was representing division 9, and was then elected as mayor. It appeared to be well and truly sewn up by the time residents got wind that it was going to be significantly bigger than previously proposed developments for this site on Moreton Bay/Mt Cotton Rd.

  8. Don’t be too hard: Cr Williams makes a big point of delivering on her promises. Just count Shoreline as a supplementary promise to the NO TIP FEES, BACK TO BASICS etc.
    Remember those mayoral candidate forums pre-2012 election? Grumbly people could see it coming then. Promises have to be kept.

    • But the ‘no tip fees’ mantra doesn’t mean using the tip is free because there’s a levy on rates to pay for it. During 33 years of living in the Redlands, I’ve never been to the tip and if you believe in ‘user pays’ then …

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