Over the next few days Queenslanders can have their say about new laws to ban political donations from property developers and better regulate how local councillors deal with conflicts of interest.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk introduced legislation to Parliament on 12 October.
The proposed new laws are in response to recommendations from the Crime and Corruption Commission CCC) set out in its report: Operation Belcarra – A blueprint for integrity and addressing corruption risk in local government.
The legislation being considered by Parliament is the Local Government Electoral (Implementing Belcarra) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2017.
The proposed new laws are now being reviewed in an inquiry by Parliament’s Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee which has invited submissions from the public by 26 October.
The Explanatory Notes say that the policy objectives of the proposed new laws are to:
- Reinforce integrity and minimise corruption risk that political donations from property developers has potential to cause at both a state and local government level
- Improve transparency and accountability in state and local government
- Strengthen the legislative requirements that regulate how a councillor must deal with a real or perceived conflict of interest or a material personal interest.
But the devil is in the details and it’s the details which are being examined by the Committee.
Things to think about
With any law making, some things to think about include:
- What activity is being required, or made unlawful?
- What is the penalty for non-compliance?
- How will the law be enforced?
Will the new laws achieve their policy objective, or will there be loopholes which can be exploited?
Redland City Council and it’s workshops
One of the CCC’s recommendations is that it be an offence for the councillor to influence or attempt to influence any decision by another councillor or a council employee in relation to that matter at any point after the matter appears on an agenda for a council meeting.
But prior to formal consideration of matters at public meetings, Redland City councillors routinely discuss development applications at non public ‘workshops’ and other non public meetings of councillors which would not be covered by the CCC’s recommendations.
This was discussed in some detail in a recent Redlands2030 story:
For reforms to deal effectively with local government in the Redlands, this offence should be written more broadly to stop any conflicted councillor from having anything to do with a matter involving a donor.
Some developers won’t be banned
Queensland is proposing to copy laws which have operated in NSW for some time. But this is likely to mean that some developers are not banned from making donations, as discussed in a recent Redlands2030 story:
Making a submission
The closing date for written submissions is Thursday, 26 October 2017 at 2:00pm.
Guidelines for making a submission to a parliamentary committee are available here: Guide to making a submission.
The guidelines explain that the Committee may at its discretion publish submissions on the parliamentary website.
Publication or disclosure of a submission that has not been authorised by a committee might not be protected by Parliamentary privilege.
Submissions should be sent to:
Acting Committee Secretary
Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee
Brisbane Qld 4000
Submissions should include:
- the author’s name and signature
- if the submission is made on behalf of an organisation, the level of approval (e.g. a local branch, executive committee or national organisation)
- mailing address (and email if available), and
- daytime telephone number