Labor discloses Toondah developer’s donations

Walker Corporation and related entities have recently been disclosed as making donations to the Queensland branch of the Australian Labor Party's s the preferred developer for the Toondah Harbour project

Lang Walker speaking at the announcement of Walker Corporation’s selection as preferred developer for Toondah Harbour

The Queensland Labor Party recently disclosed $28,000 in donations made by Walker Corporation companies during the first half of 2016.

As preferred developer of the Toondah Harbour Priority Development Area (PDA), Walker Corporation could benefit from various commercial and regulatory decisions made by the current Labor Government including:

  • Rights to develop on public land and open space including Moreton Bay Marine Park
  • Compliance with environmental and native title laws and regulations

Initial selection of Walker Corporation as preferred developer was made by the Redland City Council and the LNP State Government in September 2014.

After winning office in January 2015, the Labor Government reviewed the Toondah Harbour project and decided in June 2015 to continue with Walker Corporation’s plan for massive dredging works in environmentally sensitive Ramsar wetlands.

Donations listed in Labor’s donations disclosure for January-June 2016 include:

Date Donor Address Amount
17 March 2016 Walker Corporation Pty Limited GPO Box 5384, Sydney $5,000
31 March 2016 Walker Corporation Pty Limited GPO Box 5384, Sydney $5,000
16 May 2016 Walker Corp GPO Box 5384, Sydney $7,000
21 June 2016 Walker Group Holdings Pty Limited 21/1 Farrer Place, Sydney $11,000
Total $28,000

The out of office LNP got $5,000 from Walker Group Holdings, back in August 2015.

Walker Corporation has a long record of making political donations to whichever party is in power in the states where it wants to do big projects. Many of these projects, like the Toondah Harbour PDA, involve development rights to be granted by a state government over public land and waters.

Kew Cottages in Melbourne

Kew Cottages was a large area of land near Melbourne set aside by the government in 1887 for intellectually disabled children. In 2004 the Bracks Labor government initiated a public private partnership process which resulted in Walker Corporation becoming the preferred developer of accommodation on the Kew Cottages site which was to include a community housing component.

The Government signed a development agreement with Walker Corporation on 26 October 2006 just before going into pre-election caretaker mode. A few weeks earlier on 4 September 2006 Walker Corporation donated $100,000 to the Victorian Labor Party.

More information about Kew Cottages is available on the Kew Cottages Coalition website.

South Australia

Just before the 2010 South Australian election, Walker Corporation secured Government approval for an opportunity to develop 12,000 dwellings at Buckland Park.

Greens MLC Mark Parnell had previously criticised the development’s approval process saying in parliament:

Members should also note that the developer, the Walker Corporation, gave a donation to the South Australian Labor Party of $25,000 in 2005-06, the year the project was first announced; and Treasurer Kevin Foley was quoted in the Sunday Mail in June last year as saying, ‘We make ourselves available for the likes of Lang Walker.’

Two years later, Walker Corporation secured exclusive rights to prepare a redevelopment plan for the Adelaide Festival Centre carpark and Riverbank precinct. Following a process lacking transparency, in 2015 the Labor government surprised the community by giving Walker Corporation the right to develop a 24 storey office building on public land.

NSW and Operation Spicer

In 2009 the NSW Labor government legislated to ban developers from making political donations. Former NSW Premier Nathan Rees explained why he introduced these laws in the Sydney Morning Herald where he said that the people of his state were:

“… entitled to a planning and governance system free of innuendo and corruption. Nothing corrodes public confidence more than a belief that favourable decisions can be bought. It is the definition of corruption.”

The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) recently concluded its Operation Spicer investigations into donations to the NSW Liberal Party’s 2011 state election campaign. According to the ICAC’s media release:

The ICAC found that during November and December 2010 the Free Enterprise Foundation was used to channel donations to the NSW Liberal Party for its 2011 state election campaign so that the identity of the true donors was disguised. A substantial portion of the $693,000 provided by the foundation and used by the NSW Liberal Party in the campaign originated from donors who were property developers and, therefore, prohibited donors under the election funding laws.

Walker Corporation was one of the property developers investigated by ICAC. The Operation Spicer Report states on page 74:

On 22 December 2010, Walker Group Holdings Pty Ltd drew a cheque for $100,000 in favour of the Free Enterprise Foundation. The cheque was signed by Lang Walker. Victor Yee, the financial controller for the Walker Corporation, gave evidence that Walker Group Holdings is a property developer. Based on Mr McInnes’ reconciliation, that donation to the Free Enterprise Foundation was sent back to the NSW Liberal Party on 23 or 24 December 2010. The Commission finds that this was a donation that was directly affected by the agreement reached with Mr Bandle that he would clear money through the account of the Free Enterprise Foundation and send it back to the NSW Liberal Party.

ICAC did not have the legal power to make findings of corrupt conduct for breaches of the Election Funding Act.

Queensland Labor has been compromised

The Queensland Labor Party has made an error of judgement in accepting financial contributions from Walker Corporation while there are many key decisions to be made about the Toondah Harbour Project.

Possibly in December, the Federal Government will decide how environmental assessment of the Toondah Project will be undertaken. Walker Corporation has requested that the assessment of federal environment issues be overseen by the Queensland Government. This notion was already concerning given the Queensland Government’s poor record in managing environmental issues.

It’s inconceivable that the Queensland Government should have this role now it’s known that the Queensland Labor Party is being well funded by Walker Corporation.

In the words of former NSW Premier Nathan Rees:

Nothing corrodes public confidence more than a belief that favourable decisions can be bought.

 

Redlands2030 – 10 September 2016

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12 thoughts on “Labor discloses Toondah developer’s donations

  1. We need another pleblicite …. Would the people ban developers making political donations?
    But the question wont get asked, so people will have to yell it from the roof tops. On this question the winner is NSW and never even challenged by Queensland.

    At the same time, when will Jackie Trad show some leadership and put the sorry Toondah debacle to sleep. While it might have fitted Seeney’s mindset, it was thinking from the 1960’s and the “white shoe” brigade. Come on Jackie, call fulltime on Seeney’s fantasy.

    Jackie Trad should admit the mistake, clean up the mess by starting again. Toondah looks like a dog financially, environmentally, socially, economically, politically …… It just doesnt add up… And there is no business plan, no benefit cost analysis, no sign of the infrastructure agreement (to be released earlier this year), no commencement in sight ( promised to start in 2016), no enough jobs to sustain the residents, no enough car parking for residents etc etc

  2. Maybe Mr. Walker is thinking he should have donated more money to the State Government as he has now had to ask for a fifth extension. Doesn’t matter Mr. Walker how much money you donate to the Labor Government, you still shouldn’t be allowed to develop on land or water that is covered by the Ramsar Convention. This land and this water in Moreton Bay where you and the Govt. want to put this monstrous Toondah development won’t be built. This land is precious and the majority of people want to see it saved.

  3. Note where Australia is on the worlds least to most corrupt countries- http://www.transparency.org/cpi2014/results

    Australia is ranked 11th

    It’s no surprise, but this is just plain bribery and is illegal in most stable countries when it comes to ruling parties in Govt.
    Keep in mind these corporations are denying people their democratic rights.
    Joh type behaviour has never stopped since the Fitzgerald Enquiry, they have just got smarter hiding it and bribing certain parties to turn a blind eye.
    Queensland will not move forward till this has stopped.
    Example: we are in desperate need of infrastructure in Queensland, we have a big hole out the back of the black stump. It’s been dug and sold by overseas mining companies and Queensland has not benefited from it, other than tax and wages. If you disagree, then have a look at Alaskan oil and Norwegian oil. The people and the the consolated fund has got the benefit of the proceeds.
    Time for a change with the management of this state perhaps??

  4. Well … who’d have thought that this would be the case. I don’t know how these people can sleep at night with their development-at-any-cost approach. If this project goes ahead, the Walker Corp would have the bargain of the century at $28 000. It does seem very cheap – perhaps there’s more somewhere. Neither major party can be trusted on the issue of donations to political parties and John Hewson recently called both ‘dumb’ if they do not listen to the message the public is sending them. Only The Greens have a responsible solution. No wonder increasing numbers of people are voting for minor parties and independents – even the ones with hare-brained policies.

  5. Developers have been running this state for decades…. since the Joh days. The property development industry has been responsible for more destruction of nature in south-east QLD than any other factor. They have destroyed over 100,000 hectares of eucalypt forest and woodland in the last 50 years for urban development and killed millions of native animals. I look forward to the day when they themselves go extinct.

  6. The whole political donations thing stinks! Political donations by Corporations should be banned but be sure they’ll find a way around it…! Money, not Government, runs this Country in every way.

  7. Well, well!
    Conflict of interest!
    Developer funds go to the political party in power : Premier and Minister have to deliver.
    No wonder Walker wants State Government to oversee the environmental aspects.
    Does he think he’s got that base covered?
    Any money gone Canberra way?
    Mr Walker, you may think your donations will let you walk on water, but we are not going to let you build on our water.
    State Government, you’ve blotted your copybooks!

  8. The whole donation process…foreign governments, developers, corporations, and unions makes politics smell. The odour taints all parties, across local, state and federal and all politicians. How is it that “organisations” that don’t vote can make their voice louder than people.

    So Toondah looks and smells tainted and the boil should be “lanced”

    Jackie Trad and the Premier should step up, and in the public interest clean up the whole rotten carcass of the vested interests, donations and our body politic.

  9. So it’s true then the words I read in an email a year ago that Lang Walker of Sydney, had boasted he could buy any government to get what he wanted. Do all donations have to be revealed that developers with deep pockets give politicians to get what they want? I say this because I read in Courier Mail some years ago of Maha Sinnathamby who built City of Springfield in what can be said in a short space of time, admitted openly to ‘greasing the palm’ of pollies to get things moving. So how much is admitted to, and how much is not…since as my late husband Paul always said … ‘we can all be bought’.

  10. If I get a gift from a supplier at work that is over $100 I need to declare it as it would be clearly seen as something intended to influence decisions I would make toward that supplier. Walker gives the Labor Party $28,000 and we are supposed to accept that this does not or was not meant to influence decisions over Toondah Harbour?

    Really? Does anyone actually think this is correct. The Greens have called for a Federal ICAC and reform on political donations for years. Maybe time for the community to demand it as well.

  11. Which is why we need a Federally appointed ICAC to look at donations into all levels of government – federal, state and local. When you see the outcomes of the NSW ICAC and then consider such outcomes would be confined by state borders, in the words of that great prophet ” you would be dreaming”. After the initial commission presented its findings, a permanent body would then need to be appointed to examine “gift registers”.