redland

Published 2 February 2016 at http://www.redlandcitybulletin.com.au/story/3701508/cleveland-company-in-top-20-political-donors/

redlandss

JJ Richards and Sons Pty Ltd Third Party Electoral Funding disclosure published 16 May 2016 at https://www.ecq.qld.gov.au/candidates-and-parties/funding-and-disclosure/disclosure-returns/election-disclosure-returns/2016-local-government-quadrennial-elections/redland-city-council

The Queensland Electoral Commission this week published a number of electoral funding disclosure returns, including that submitted by the major waste management contractor J.J. Richards and Sons, a privately owned company that is one of the largest of its type in Australia.

In the company’s return it has been revealed that the firm donated $10 000 to the campaign of incumbent Redland City Council Mayor Karen Williams, who was re-elected with an overwhelming majority of votes at the elections held on March 16.

Williams is yet to lodge her personal electoral funding disclosure return – she has a further 6 weeks in order to so under the disclosure laws – but given that J.J Richards has a near $9 million contract that expires a week before the final date for lodgement of her return, and given further that she is likely to be part of the full council that votes on the renewal or otherwise of the contract, surely it is at the very least morally and ethically incumbent upon the Mayor to disclose the large donation that she has received from the company so that her massive conflict of interest in the award of the waste management contract is placed on the public record for all to see?

What is Williams doing accepting such a donation from a company that holds a $9 million contract – and at least another 2 worth probably nearly as much – anyway?

Is this what we call good government in Queensland? What next, the relaunch of the brown paper bag so favored by former Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen?

Now I am not for a minute suggesting that Mayor Williams is corrupt, not even for a second do I impute or infer such a thing.

But surely public perception is everything when it comes to open and accountable government and the spending of ratepayers money through the award of multi-million dollar council contracts.

And the bayside public have every right to be asking some serious questions about what influence the leader of their council may be able to exert in the process to determine which company will win the upcoming lucrative waste management contract for their city, particularly given that their Mayor hasn’t front-footed her conflict of interest by making an early declaration of the ten tonnes worth of cash her campaign received from one of the leading contract contenders.

It stinks this does, stinks to high heaven, and the stench is wafting all across the south-east and out toward Moreton Island.

Karen Williams has a whole big pile of questions to answer on this issue, and that’s no rubbish at all. Even the local kids are watching out for her next move.