See my media release here.
The story received some coverage in the Newcastle Herald.
I followed up with another media release after the publication of this story quoting from the officially adopted minutes of Newcastle Council’s Development Applications Committee of 27 January 2009 [these can be found on the council website.]
Councillor Brad Luke
Councillor Luke made a statement in relation to Item 2 – Review of Council Resolution Regarding DA 06/0675 – 71-79 Abbott Street, 67 Douglas Street & 108-114 Newcastle Road Wallsend particularly in reference to the Code of Conduct complaints. He advised that he had not mentioned Mr Hilton Grugeon when he presented the development application. He believed most people knew it was Mr Grugeon who had presented the DA. He raised two points – Mr Grugeon had donated funds to the Liberal Party and he had donated funds to several political parties over the years however Councillor Luke made a statement that this had not raised a conflict of interest for him as he had not received any funds from the Liberal Party so therefore could not have gotten a benefit from any of Mr Grugeon’s contributions and any contribution Mr Grugeon made to his campaign was below the amount required. Councillor Luke stated he would only be required to assess whether their would be a conflict of interest. He stated that after making that assessment, following discussions with Council’s Legal Services Officer, he had no conflict of interest in regard to this matter.
Councillor Luke told me last night that he is not happy with this quote from Newcastle Council’s Development Applications Committee of 27 January 2009, saying that he further clarified his position at Newcastle Council’s Development Applications Committee of 3 February 2009.
I am always happy to clarify things and quote from the official minutes of that meeting.
Councillor Luke made a statement in relation to Council Report Item 7 – Review of Council Resolution Regarding DA 06/0675 – 71-79 Abbott Street, 67 Douglas Street & 108-114 Newcastle Road Wallsend.
Councillor Luke indicated that his local campaign had received a small donation from Mr Hilton Grugeon below that which required him to abstain from debate. He understood that Mr Grugeon made donations to various political parties and that he had made donations to the Liberal Party in the past.
However, on the basis that Councillor Luke's campaign was totally funded by local sources and funding was not received by any other section of the Liberal Party, Councillor Luke did not consider himself to have a conflict of interest and advised that he would take part in the debate.
This seems to highlight what I have said in the past.
If Cr Luke funded his 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.
I have made the offer to Councillor Luke to publish details of the campaign donations he received and the campaign expenditure incurred here on this blog. Watch this space!
(Note however, this does not relieve him of his duty under the Election Funding and Disclosures Act 1981.)