Friday, 22 May 2009

Liberal shows contempt for residents

Newcastle Greens
22 May 2009

Newcastle Greens today accused Newcastle Council’s sole Liberal councillor, Cr Brad Luke, of failing to disclose where his council election campaign funding had come from, and of treating residents and the election funding disclosure process with contempt.

Greens councillor Michael Osborne said that Cr Luke was the only Newcastle councillor who had not disclosed any of his electoral funding for last year’s council election on 13 September in his electoral funding disclosure forms that are now available on the NSW Electoral Funding Authority’s website.

Under the election funding rules, councillors who headed a group ticket in the September election (such as Cr Luke, who headed the Liberal’s Ward 2 ticket) were required to lodge two returns: one as an individual candidate, and one as the head of their group.

Both Cr Luke’s returns on the EFA website tick the box “No political donations received and no expenditure incurred during disclosure period”. All other sections of both forms have been left blank.

“The public has a right to know who did fund Cr Luke’s campaign, and Cr Luke has a responsibility to provide that information,” Cr Osborne said.

In January this year, Cr Luke stated in the council chamber that he had received no funds from the Liberal Party for his election campaign.

“If Cr Luke funded his own campaign, his return forms should show how much he spent, and itemise the expenditure he incurred. If others contributed to his campaign, the forms require this to be stated. Every other Newcastle councillor has done this,” Cr Osborne said.

“Cr Luke and the Liberal Party are clearly treating the election disclosure process with contempt.

“Whilst the election funding process is not perfect, it is designed to ensure that residents can find out who funded councillors’ election campaigns, so they can monitor which councillors might have conflicts of interest.

“This is particularly important with councillors who consistently vote in favour of development interests – as Cr Luke has,” Cr Osborne said.

“But Cr Luke’s election funding returns make a mockery of the disclosure process, and provide no information at all to anyone who might want to check them to see who funded his election campaign.”

Cr Osborne said that he had lodged a complaint with the Election Funding Authority regarding Cr Luke’s declarations.

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